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Southern Upland sportive

Peter MainPeter Main Posts: 60
What an excellent event. The pre-event organisation as well as the arrangements on the day were impeccable and any criticism would be minor to the point of ‘nit picking’. The weather on the day was perfect for a long event; dry, some sun, some cloud and not very windy. The course was a challenge for everyone; it was easy to be fooled by the start from the top of Mennock Pass followed by the easy section alongside the delightful River Nith. Next came Dalveen Pass and the Devil’s Beeftub both reminiscent of alpine passes with their long easy gradients. After the hors d’ouvre came the main course; the climb of Talla! My reaction on first view was something like, “****** hell we’re not going up there are we?” Well we did; it was steep, but fortunately not too long. The road back to Moffat was a long climb with an irritating head wind. After Moffat, we climbed the lower bit of the ‘Beeftub’ (missed earlier) before an easier section to Elvanfoot. With almost 100 miles on the computer, the remainder were tough, uphill to Leadhills, more uphill to return to Wanlockhead and then for dessert the 5km climb to 725m and the radar domes on Lowther Hill. After 100 miles it was very steep and very hard. I crawled across the line at just under 7 hours on the bike having enjoyed a superb day; quiet (if bumpy) roads and some great group riding. Highly recommended, provided that the weather is nice 8)

the idea is to die young as late as possible


  • nickwillnickwill Posts: 2,735
    The Southern Uplands Sportive must be one of the very best sportives in the UK. The arrival at the top of Lowther Hill after 105 miles has no counterpart in any other UK event, and will live in my memory for a long time. The event has all the elements needed to become a classic.
    As stated in the previous post, the professionalism of the organisation and the friendliness and efficiency of the whole team were first rate.
    I got to the finish in 6 hours 37, and was right on the limit by the time I got to the top of Lowther Hill. I've never been on a sportive which started with as fast a pace as this one. The contrast couldn't have been starker with the pale shadows of men (and women) who were fighting every inch of the road at the finish.
    It was the most memorable sportive of the year for me.
  • Captain FagorCaptain Fagor Posts: 1,768
    Another big nod of appreciation for the organisers of this event. On paper, I don't think it looks too difficult, but both times I rode the course (a recce and the event itself) I've been pretty shattered afterwards!

    At the start I deliberately went off the front of group 11 to make sure I had the descent to myself. A number of riders followed, and we got into a good group. This included Catriona Morrison ( and her husband, and we worked well together (what she describes on her website as a "steady pace"!) until the first feedstop. Just as we reached the first feedstop a really fast group caught us and they all carried on as I stopped to get water.

    A few minutes later, I set off again with two others to catch the group again - no chance! I tried my best, and didn't make a dent in the gap. I soon got collected by two other blokes which grew to five or six, and we stayed togather until it all broke up again at Talla (me going backwards with three of the six). This particular mob stayed together and grew a bit on the way to Moffat, fracturing a bit on the way up to the second feedstation, with me going forwards for once.

    Beyond the feedstation, me and two other blokes stuck together and rode all the way to Wanlockhead. The nearer we got to the hill the less was said, as we were all bricking the thought of Lowther with 103 miles already under the belt! Anyway, I got dropped on the climb and slogged my way up on my granny gear (unashamedly 30x27) and even that was difficult!

    Don't know my exact time, but somewhere just under 6hrs, which I'm quite pleased with given my limited training this year. Would definitely recommend this event to those considering an event in Scotland.
  • Brian BBrian B Posts: 2,071
    It was a great day out. Feed stations were great and the whole event was well run. I unfortunately and quite stupidly went like a bat out of hell for 60 miles in under 3 hrs. I was thinking i had just 2 weeks ago did the 140 miles sportive in wales and therefore 105 not too hilly should prove no probs.

    Then the cramp gods decided on the road too Moffat that i should be afflicted and then I died a thousand deaths until the next feed station against the head wind. I felt better with some food and sodium and the cramps dissapeared and started to feel well again.

    Unfortunately I snapped a spoke on my Kysrium Es back wheel 2 miles from Wanlockhead and it was so far out of true it would not turn. I walked a fair bit perhaps a mile with my bike on my shoulder until I got a lift for the last mile or so. I lost perhaps 20-30 mins but I reckon I came in about 6hrs 40mins or so. I was a bit gutted as I could see the Radar top for miles and to come so close annoyed me somewhat but I have climbed it before on my own so did not let it spoil which otherwise for me was a great day out.

    Thankyou Peter Smith and all who organised and helped - Its a great Sportive and should continue as it a classic in the making.
    Brian B.
  • BillR1BillR1 Posts: 271
    Well done to all. Well what a day me and Stevie had, absolutely mental start and under 2 hours to the first feed which seemed crazy fast due to our group containing a certain Mr McGarrity from Dooleys. We stopped briefly and recharged with a few ham rolls and bananas filled the water bottles and off we went this time on our own working in a chain to keep the momentum going. When we hit the side of Talla reservoir we knew we had blown it as our speed at the start had been too high and now we were going to suffer on the climb. Thankfully it was short and sharp but sore all the same managed to churn up without getting out of the seat. We headed down the other side towards the road back to Moffat which seemed to drag on for ever and the head wind was now making us suffer for our earlier heroics. We arrived at the feed station feeling a little tired and weary not knowing what lay ahead, thank god for that !!! We spent too long getting our act together and ended up quite cold and stiff now, everything was hurting. We left the feed station alone and slogged our way back to the bottom of the radar climb. We stopped again just outside Leadhills for a stretch and 2 gels each in prep for the big boy. Once we reached it I took it steady and never got into my threshold so managed quite well and only got out the saddle once. Stevie was feeling it big time and nearly gave up but I encouraged him all the way and he crossed the line then fell on his back and died. I was running 34x26 and Stevie 34x27 so thank goodness for compact chainsets.
    We had a total time of 6hrs 48 mins and stopped for a total of 28mins so considering it was our first ever 100+ we manged quite well but next time we will not get sucked into the flying start. A lesson well learned !!!
    All in all a fantastic event, well organised and we met a great bunch of people on the day.

    Rgds, Bill
  • bahzobbahzob Posts: 2,195
    Another thumbs up for a great event. Did the Vaujany and Marmotte sportives on the previous 2 weekends so made 3rd in a row with a mountain finish. Would be good to have others on the UK calendar with similar.

    PS was anyone here the rider who, with impeccable timing, managed to throw up at the exact instant he was crossing the finish line and getting his photo taken??
    Martin S. Newbury RC
  • Peter MainPeter Main Posts: 60
    Southern Uplands Challenge
    Some Statistics
    Distance (GPS measured) 105.3

    Graham McGarrity 5.16.30 20mph average
    Fastest Female
    Catriona Morrison 5.27.03 5th
    Finishers 178
    Lowther Hill
    Best time
    Bill Craig 15.31 7.7mph
    GPS measured 7387’
    Cateye 7200’
    Tracklogs Mapping Programme 7387’

    My own time was 7.08.19 which put me 133rd with an average of 14.7mph and on Lowther Hill I was 69th fastest with 21.19, at 63 I’ll never be up there with the fastest. Of course it’s not a race, just a challenge!! 8)

    the idea is to die young as late as possible
  • Captain FagorCaptain Fagor Posts: 1,768
    Just realised: the organiser has emailed everyone that took part a list of the finishing riders. Graham McGarrity was fastest with 5:16. Catriona Morrison was 5th fastest overall.

    Nice picture of the hill top finish too, at 715 metres above seal level.

  • Captain FagorCaptain Fagor Posts: 1,768
    You beat me to it, Peter!

    My Suunto measured 2158m of climbing (7080' in old money), which correlates pretty well with the figures you mention.
  • gavintcgavintc Posts: 3,009
    Peter Main's description was spot. A lovely ride - well within limits till we hit the end of the reservoir - then up, up, up.. The problem was we could see the road from some way off. It was a tantalising teaser for the main event, the climb to the summit of Lowther Hill. That was hard.

    It was a superb event, extremely well organised and supported. This event has to be sustained as an annual event. Indeed, I think it would work better with more entrants as the groups took some time to form and I cycled for a significant part of the route on my own. I was pleased with 6 hr 37 min, but will plan to beat 6 hrs next year.
  • That was a great event. Thanks to Peter and the whole team for putting on such a well organised event. And thanks also is due to NATS who in the present 'climate' could so easily have said 'no way', and also to the other groups.

    A great day out. I started in the second group and after passing a couple of people and being passed by a few others I didn't see anyone else for about an hour and a half and was kicking along on a 20mph+ average. I was beginning to think something awful had happened behind me. But then others appeared behind/around me after the M74, and after Talla my earlier enthusiasm was 'rewarded' and the headwind on the road to Moffat took its toll. After struggling for about 2/3rds of the road to Moffat I latched on to the rear of a group and was 'saved' (I usually like to take a turn but was too tired - sorry)

    The climb up Lowther was something special. On the day I was getting very concerned about how steep the top sections were becoming, a 39x27 gear wasn't enough for me, but I'm already looking back with good feelings and thinking about next year.
    Why the name? Like the Hobbit I don't shave my legs
  • Peter MainPeter Main Posts: 60
    Hey, that's me in the picture with the red(ish) top crossing the road. Looks like I'm having trouble walking, which I was. Have not touched the bike since, the soreness has just gone away and will try an hour 'twiddling' tomorrow and see how it feels. Next event is the Inverness 100k in August, another really big hill out of Fort Augustus to descend and climb again. 8)

    the idea is to die young as late as possible
  • gavintcgavintc Posts: 3,009
    Is that your white bike up against the white van? If it is, I will offer my apologies properly for knocking it over as I parked my bike in front of it. I was a little bit weary and not terribly steady on my feet and I think I just touched the front wheel. Sorry, it was a bit silly of me.
  • Peter MainPeter Main Posts: 60
    Nope, mines the blue on on the ground, like I was a few seconds earlier! 8)

    the idea is to die young as late as possible
  • lochindaallochindaal Posts: 457
    If you're interested my full report from the day is now on my blog site. Follow the link in my sig.

    Still got a sore butt, new shorts ordered! :D
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  • bahzobbahzob Posts: 2,195
    lochindaal wrote:
    If you're interested my full report from the day is now on my blog site. Follow the link in my sig.

    Still got a sore butt, new shorts ordered! :D

    Congrats, you could have chosen an easier event to do your first hundred miles...
    Martin S. Newbury RC
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