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Cairngorm Classic - 13/06/2009

Peter MainPeter Main Posts: 60
A short report, just a bit late

the idea is to die young as late as possible


  • Peter MainPeter Main Posts: 60
    Cairngorm Classic
    Friday June 12th was a beautiful day, blue skies, warm sun, and no wind; I could happily have gone out and cycled 100 miles with a nice café stop somewhere along the way. Imagine my feelings at 7am on Saturday 13th when I looked out of the window at the torrential rain. And it was cold! Ah well, another wet sportive; why do I do these events?
    Cairngorm Ski Area car park is a great place to start an event; lots of facilities including the café/bar with roaring log fire. As I was early, I sat in front of the fire enjoying a leisurely cappuccino. I was pleased to see that the organisers had listened to feedback from last year by improving the starting system (the single scanner has gone thank goodness) and moving the start to a much better position just outside the café. I stayed by the fire to keep warm until five minutes to go.
    The three mile descent at the start was cool but not as agonisingly cold as a year ago and the rain seemed to be easing, so, as I dodged puddles at high speed, I averaged 24mph for the first 10 miles (all downhill). Then I got in with a nice steady group and we made good progress towards Nethy Bridge and the start of the climbing. Groups broke and re-formed over the steep Bridge of Brown (Brig o’Broon) and I was passed by a large group of faster riders. A missing sign resulted in the herd instinct taking over and many participants carrying straight on to Tomintoul instead of turning left down Glen Livet; I turned left. I was picked up by that same group of about 50 riders as they came screaming down Glen Livet at up to 30mph. The awesome feeling I had as I clung onto the back this group answered my earlier question of “why?”. It was like being sucked along by a reverse wind machine. Knowing that I couldn’t keep up with them for much longer, I stopped at the second feed (many didn’t). We crossed the Spey and cycled along the delightful road from Ballindalloch to Grantown. Passing an outdoor activities group preparing to go canoeing on the Spey, I thought of my former job as an outdoor instructor, but to be honest I’m glad all that is now in the past. The feed at Grantown was welcome and, as I started the long climb up and over Dava Moor found that I was on my own for a few miles. The route turned towards home and the light wind was now in our faces as I went through a slower patch (not that bad, just slower.) Carrbridge definitely felt like the home straight and yet another feed at Boat of Garten helped restore my energy. After Boat I hitched lifts with a few small groups and watched my hopes of finishing in under 6hrs fade away. I wasn’t too bad until we turned left onto the ski road; any power now seemed to be lacking and I was glad of my triple chainset. It took all my remaining strength to ride all the way up that hill to the finish. I almost blacked out after crossing the line such was the effort on the final hill.
    My official time was 6.19.58. My Garmin GPS said I was riding for 6.03.00, stopped for 16.58, climbed 5810 feet and consumed 6555 calories, my pulse averaged 143, 84% of maximum. I was 144/227 overall and 3/6 in the 60+ age group. The fastest time was 4.43.53. I had a good day although was a little disappointed by the fatigue I felt on the final climb. There’s a lot of summer left (I hope) and I’ve held back a bit this spring in the hope of keeping best form for later.
    The event organisation was spot on and it was good to see that the organiser (HandsOnEvents) has re-acted to feedback. The route is superb and not too hard compared with the likes of the Étape du Dales or the Cumberland Challenge. The atmosphere amongst the riders was brilliant and all in all I would strongly recommend this event, even if you can’t sleep in your own bed the preceding night.

    the idea is to die young as late as possible
  • joestevejoesteve Posts: 21
    Hi Pete

    I also did the Cairngorm Classic and it was my first Sportive and first real experience of riding in a group. Mine was a similar experience a cold miserable start then quickly latched on a fast group that pulled me along for a bit. I was in a small group when we reached the Glenlivet turn off at the same time as the large faster group after they had retraced their steps. It was quite scary heading down a narrow twisty road going round blind corners at 30mph six abreast with faster riders trying to come through the group.

    I managed to hang onto the group all the way round stopping at Grantown only long enough to fill a water bottle and grab a banana, after Grantown I even managed a few turns on the front. Once we got back towards Colyumbridge I concentrated on staying near the front. The pace dropped and things went a bit quiet as we contemplated the hill ahead. I wanted to make sure that when I started to struggle up it I had plenty of wheels to hang onto as riders went past. When I got there I stuck to the wheel in front and hung on. I could sense the guy in front was struggling so went ahead to take my turn. I looked back a few minutes later and he and most of the group had disappeard. In the end I think 3 people passed me going up the hill and I finished an astonsihing 33rd in 5h17mins. Having set out with a target of breaking six hours I was over the moon.

    All in all a truly memorable event well organised and marshalled. My only minor niggle is aroung the claimed elavation gain for the course. I didnt think it felt that hilly apart from the obvious climb back up to the ski station and two or three shortish climbs. The info on the website claims 8837ft/2222m which just doesnt add up. I make 2222m equal to 7290ft and you have measured it by GPS as 5800ft. So which one is closest to the truth?
  • Peter MainPeter Main Posts: 60
    Well done, an awesome ride for your first Sportive, you'll be up there with the leaders if you do any more. I wish they had had these events 20 years ago when I was 20 years younger than I am now, I would also have been up there. Having said that the best 60+ was about 5hr 30min which is pretty impressive.
    As for the amount of climbing who can tell. I think the figure I got was probably about right. Anyway, I'm up next for the Radar 105, pray for a nice day!!

    the idea is to die young as late as possible
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