Oct 14 2011 by Lizzie Smith, Kilmarnock Standard
THREE Walkers Cycling Club members headed to Spain for an adventure in the sun – but their trip to the Costas was hardly a relaxing holiday.
Pete and Sheila Forsythe were joined by Gareth Barnes for the Challenge Barcelona 2011 event which is a demanding swim-cycle-run competition in very hot conditions.
The full ironman challenge consists of a 4km swim, followed by a 180km cycle and a marathon to finish.
Teams of three can enter as well as individuals, and the Walkers contingent had all signed up for the cycle leg in their respective teams.
The race started on the beach at Calella at 8.30am and, as the sun rose out of the Mediterranean, 1000 wet-suited bodies plunged into the sea. The fastest swimmers completed the 4k in around 48 minutes.
The WCC competitors were all on the road 75 minutes after the start, with Gareth first away followed by Pete and then Sheila.
The cycle leg consisted of two 40-mile laps and a shorter, 32-miler all on the same smooth stretch of tarmac between Calella and Barcelona.
Conditions for the first lap were perfect, with no wind and a temperature of 26°C. But the wind and heat increased for the second and third laps, bringing average speeds down.
Gareth completed the 180k in an awesome four hours and 49 minutes, Pete in five hrs 26m and Sheila in five hrs 52m.
Conditions were equally tough for the run as, by then, it was really hot. But all three teams completed the event.
Gareth’s team claimed third spot overall which was a fantastic result, in a time of under 10 hours. Pete’s team were seventh out of 14 in a time of 10h 19m and Sheila’s (all ladies) team finished in a very respectable 11h 44m.
CYCLOCROSS enthusiasts from Walkers CC swapped their weekly training session at Irvine Beach Park this week for a longer road and off-road run at a fast pace.
The group set off from Kilmaurs and pedalled through Kilmarnock and up the Grassyards Road to Waterside, continuing towards the Whitelee Forest on the road to Craigends.
In complete darkness the hardy riders battled a tough wind as they worked their way through the forest on newly constructed windfarm roads – some of which are better surfaced than the main thoroughfares of Ayrshire.
As the clouds cleared the group were treated to awesome views across the newly-felled forest, with the ghosts of half-finished turbines sending a shiver through the cyclists at every hilltop.
They eventually reached the spine road which took the riders round the east side of Lochgoin Reservoir and on to the Eaglesham Moor road.
The journey back down the A77 to Kilmaurs brought the evening’s mileage to 26.
A WET and windy Wednesday night saw three Walkers CC members and a prospective new clubmate take the direct route from Kilmaurs to Irvine in an effort to avoid foot-deep puddles on the back roads.
The idea was to make for Marine Drive to check out the interclub training route used by other Ayrshire cyclists on a Wednesday night.
However, the party started earlier than they thought, at 7pm, and the other riders had gone home by that stage.
The Walkers bikers did manage two laps but encountered a strong headwind which slowed them up at the Gailes end. The highlight of the ride was the fleeting appearance of two deer.
The Marine Drive route is a popular frost free circuit with good lighting and an excellent surface, providing cyclists with an opportunity of maintaining fitness levels during the winter.
Total mileage on Wednesday was 25.
The Thursday night leisure run also went ahead despite the rain and flooded roads.
A depleted turnout of three members left Kilmaurs for Stewarton, but had to change direction when confronted with deep floodwater at the railway bridge next to Wheatrig Farm north east of Kilmaurs.
The next challenge was to meet the series of rises on the way up the Cutstraw Road out of Stewarton, but a strong tailwind eased the pain.
From the top the trio circled downhill and round into Laigh Fenwick and alongside the M77 on the slip road into Kilmarnock.
Before Southcraigs they turned right and continued on to the Fenwick-Kilmaurs road where they veered left and downhill past the Rowallan Castle entrance to the start point.
Total distance was 17 miles.
On Saturday, the weekly Walkers ride from the shop in KIlmaurs took a different format when the regulars teamed up with Loudoun Roads Club for an anniversary outing on their own Irvine Valley territory.
The 50-mile trip took the riders along the A71 to Galston and Newmilns, moving on to a track at Darvel and climbing the cemetery road to follow a route via Caldermoss and Mossmulloch through the Ardochrig Road into Strathaven.
The return route followed minor roads alongside Glengavel Water before the cyclists were able to rejoin the A71 at Loudoun Hill for the rest of the ride to Kilmarnock.
THE popular interclub Wednesday night training session hosted by Dales RC resumed last week.
Seven riders turned up, two from Fullarton, one from Glasgow RC and four from Dales. The earlier rain will have put many cyclists off for this first gathering of the new winter season.
It did however remain dry for the hour’s riding, although the wind was a killer in parts of the course.
A new circuit was used due to the continuation of roadworks on Ayr Road.
The usual Marine Drive section had the addition of a loop down to the old Ayrshire Metal roundabout to make up the distance.
Four laps of the changed course equated to just over 21.5 miles.
The new route, of approximately five miles per lap, succeeded in avoiding the hold-ups on the old course and was deemed virtually traffic free by the participating cyclists.
Dales RC would like to remind anyone interested in taking part that this training session is open to all and riders will be placed in groups of similar abilities.
If you are interested, meet on Wednesday nights at the Magnum car park, Irvine, at 6.45pm for a 7pm start.
FULLARTON Wheelers were yet again battered and buffeted by heavy rain and strong winds on their weekly club run on Sunday.
Eight dedicated riders set off from Irvine Cross under a grey sky.
With the wind howling straight in off the sea at Gailes, the bunch gamely grappled with the difficult weather conditions.
At Barassie the group joined the cycle route and managed to enjoy a brief respite from the gusty sea winds but came across a heavily flooded section just outside Prestwick Airport.
What initially looked like a deep puddle soon turned into an undersea voyage for three plucky Fullarton riders.
At one point the murky brown water was up to the riders’ knees as they slowly pedalled through the rising deluge, but it was too late to turn back.
The five remaining cyclists wisely chose an alternative route.
At Monkton the bunch re-grouped and took to the back roads over to Underwood. The rain continued to fall heavily and the flowing surface water on the country roads had to be handled with great caution. It was only on the last leg when the rain and high winds started to ease off. The bunch quickly passed through Dundonald, and by Drybridge village, riders had started to peel off and head for home. Total distance on a desperately damp day was 35 miles.
AYR Roads made a grand closure to the season with a podium finish in the SWSCP Road Race at Loch Ken on September 25.
The 24th SWSCP event was to be contested with two laps around Loch Ken and three Ayr Roads riders, Kenny Armstrong, Mark Skilling and Robert Kelly took part.
Armstrong and Skilling managed to stay away in the early morning breakaway but soon cramp ruled him out of contention.
Armstrong, clearly the strong man of the break, was soon closed down in his many attempts to go clear and ended up with a third-place finish.
Meanwhile, drama was unfolding in the main group as a major crash looked as if it would rule Kelly out. On the contrary, superhuman Kelly got back on his bike to finish the race.
The damage was assessed later as being mild concussion and everyone wishes Robert “Bernard” Kelly a speedy recovery.
On Sunday, the club saw its annual hill climb competed for on the slopes of the dreaded Brown Carrick Hill at Carwinshoch.
Blustery and extremely wet conditions made the event difficult, as did the river which had formed over the road at the start point. This did not deter the nine riders that took part, however, including two juniors.
Bookies favourite John-Paul Baxter proved to be too light for the weather as it was the stronger riders who took claim to the hill climb this year, Kenny Armstrong putting in a strong 3:23 after an extremely hard season, but closely followed by Ed Clifton with an excellent 3:25 performance.
Aidan Kerr took the youth category in his first appearance with a 5:40. Other times were: J.P. Baxter 3.30, C. Johnson 4.00, G. Kerr (junior) 4.02, Gareth Higgins 4:14, Ross Lyall 4:46, David F 4:48, A. Kerr 5.30.
The last Ayr Roads-organised event of the season will be the National Hill Climb Championships at Fairlie Moor on Sunday, October 23. This will see the best hill climbers from all over Scotland compete for the title, in the following categories – senior, youth, junior and women.