Charity Bike Ride
For me this ride was quite eventful, our plans to ride together as Team Clan Pompey were short-lived, the wheel Jamie had sold me lasted about 100 metres from the start line before buckling under the weight of all the carbohydrates I had consumed the night before. As Jamie disappeared round the first corner I decided I would just have to nurse the bike round the 81 miles to protect the weakened front wheel. After a few miles as we rode around Loch Tay I succumbed to the temptation to get more involved and jumped on to the back of a group of fast riders, (a peloton). After 28 miles this tactic backfired as the two riders in the peloton touched wheels and went to ground, despite slamming on the brakes I crashed into the back of the group, falling on to the handlebars of another rider's expensive carbon fibre bike, injuring my (well protected) ribs.
Having picked myself up and dusted myself down and denied all responsibility for damage to bikes or bodies I set off again. perversely my front wheel seemed to be truer than before the crash, even so I borrowed a new wheel from the support crew.
After 40 miles, the halfway point, I realised I'd lost my camera and waterproof in the crash but then noticed an increasing number of cyclists attending to punctures on the side of the road, there were dozens of bikes standing upside down whilst their riders turned the air blue and picked tacks out of their tyres. Thinking that I'd had my share of bad luck already on the ride, I hoped I would escape any further mishaps, but trying to pick a path through the tacks was impossible, they were a quarter of an inch long and black so invisible to the human eye from the height of the saddle. Slowly I made my way through the wreckage until BANG, the back tyre went down instantly. Was this more of Jamie's skulduggery to ensure I remained behind him?
I fixed the puncture, made all the more difficult by my aching ribs and continued to the foot of the Schiehallion climb. I decided to ditch my winter gloves there as the sun had come out and I wouldn't need them again that day. I made it to the top of the climb with ease only to be stopped at the top of the hill along with hundreds of other cyclists as the race organisers halted the race to allow further stretches of the course to be cleared of tacks.
A 45 minute wait, in the wind and cold shade of the trees did little to improve my mood and those around me were already devising a plan of what they would do to the saboteur when he was found. We were allowed to descend slowly from the top of the hill though there were still many casualties of the tacks on the final 20 miles of the route, I suffered one more rear wheel puncture before cruising back to Pitlochry to be reunited with the half of Team Clan Pompey. Jamie had managed to avoid all of the above dramas to post a very creditable time of just over 5 hours for the 81 mile route.
"Where the **** have you been?"
Arriving about 2 hours later than originally planned I was greeted with the now traditional welcome from Mrs Wiggins, no hugs, kisses or concern for my welfare, but a " where the **** have you been? Stanley's been going mental and I've been standing here for 2 hours, 2 hours of my life that I'll never get back, my back hurts and I'm hungry and this is the last time I ever come to see you finish anything". All hail the conquering hero !
Of course Jamie is loving this, adding fuel to the fire as the Wiggins marital harmony goes up in flames. We return to the cars where Jamie's wife Rhona had brought a lovely picnic lunch. As we sat there the irritating clown on a bike who had been scaring Stanley all morning (no it wasn't Jamie) cycled past the car one more time to terrorise Stanley.
"Do you know how fast you were travelling sir?"
Jamie, his friend John and I return to Jamie's house, en route we were flagged down by a police officer waving a radar gun at us and asking us to pull over to the side of the road. Excuse me gentlemen he says "do you know how fast you were travelling? This is a residential area and the speed limit is 30mph, you gentlemen were travelling at 42mph in a 30mph area"
Now most cyclists would boast about being stopped by the police for speeding and so would we if it weren't for the fact that the bikes were on top of Jamie's car at the time. A little white lie about having no points on his licence and we were allowed to carry on our way without penalty.
Postscript - at present a 62 year old local church elder has been charged with endangering lives by laying carpet tacks on a 20 mile section of the Etape Caledonia route, if prosecuted he faces potentially a claim from each of the 3500 cyclists for their entrance fee and new tyres. His objection to the race is that the roads in the area are closed for part of the Sunday morning so locals cannot get to church and farmers cannot get between their fields. There is some local opposition to the ride even though it is worth approx £500,000 in tourism to the area and raises about £400,000 for charity each year.
Edinburgh marathon - 31st May 2009 - no such drama in this second part of my fundraising campaign. Despite the unseasonal hot weather I completed the marathon in 4hrs 11 minutes, just outside my personal best. Thanks to all of you who sponsored me.