Jul 6 2012 by Lizzie Smith, Kilmarnock Standard
SIXTEEN members of Walkers Cycling Club (including one temporary member co-opted in from Ayr Roads CC) tackled Le Grande Route des Alpes in a week of tough pedalling.
The group started in Thonon-Les-Bains near Geneva, climbing many famous cols to their final destination in Menton on the Mediterranean coast between Monte Carlo and Italy
In total, the Kilmaurs-based group covered 450 miles, climbing 50,000 feet over such mighty ascents as Col de la Colombiere, Col du Galibier and Col du Telegraphe, to name just a few, before finishing with Col de Turini on the last day. The route took them from the ski slopes in Northern France through Val d’Isere to the lush green of Provence.
The seven-day adventure included six days of hard riding in the hills and one very welcome day of gentle acclimatisation. The sun shone for all but one morning and temperatures were well in to the 30s most days.
Despite the challenges of moving on every day the group enjoyed great local food and wine all the way through, encountering many cyclists from different parts of Europe en route.
Covering so many hills consecutively was an epic challenge which will be difficult to match, but should have made all 16 that little bit fitter for tackling any of the lesser climbs in Ayrshire.
Interestingly, going down was as much of a challenge as going up - some mountains presented long sweeping descents that were enjoyable to cycle while others offered narrow, twisty stretches, busy with both vehicles and other bikers. All though were generally in better condition than UK roads.
There were a few incidents throughout the trip but thankfully no one came to any harm. Russell Mowat broke a spoke on the first day, resulting in a short van trip to the top of the Col de la Colombiere and a swift wheel change. David Baird suffered a blow out when descending the Galibier.
Harvie Millar hit something on the road leading to bottom bracket trouble. Alexis Barnes hit a drain in the road, suffering a blowout and some rim damage. Alexis also punctured the following day. Scott Russell had a puncture on the last day. Pete Forsythe impressed the group by successfully controlling a speed wobble on a descent. On the last day Julie Nimmo ventured off route but was found safely a wee while later.
The Alps mission was just another entry in the sporting diary of Walkers CC’s intrepid marathon men and women.
THE TV schedules might be jam-packed with cycling activity, but the start of July is never a good time to run a local bike race, Fullarton Wheelers have just discovered.
The Irvine club has cancelled this Sunday’s 25-mile three-up time trial because of a shortage of entries.
Organiser Jim Ryland reckons the poor response is due to the start of the summer holidays.
Jim, about to head off on holiday himself, has a point – because every other Fullarton event this year has had cyclists queuing to take part.
And so instead of racing up and down the by-pass at Caledonian Paper, Ayrshire’s time triallists will have to opt for non-competitive club rides or watch Le Tour on the box.
Fullarton have now opened up entries to their two races in August.
First is a 10-mile TT from Eglinton Park on Sunday, August 5, and second is the annual Marymass race from the same start point on Wednesday, August 15. The midweek time trial sets off at 7pm.
Fullarton Wheelers had a turnout of 14 members on their Sunday club run.
With nothing but moody, overcast skies on every horizon, the bunch set off at a lively pace towards Troon.
On the Gailes road it was all systems stop due to a rear wheel puncture. In true F1 pit stop style, the tyre removal and tube replacement was smooth, slick and fast, and the group were up and running in no time.
Aided by a swift tailwind, the Fullarton 14 soon swept cleanly through Barrassie, Troon and Monkton. A detour onto the Underwood/Ladykirk back road heralded in the first of the many tough climbs of the day. A blazing pace on the main uphill was interrupted by a sudden rear wheel puncture. Another speedy repair ensured the bunch didn’t have long to wait, and everyone was soon en route to Tarbolton.
A blistering tempo, employed by one club member on the climb up to Tarbolton, left everyone’s legs feeling drained. The frazzled bunch were certainly relieved to regroup at the hill peak to savour a well-earned breather before quickly passing through the village.
On reaching the main Galston road the now slightly-grubby group began another uphill slog towards Craigie. An initial smooth section of climb quickly gave way to a surface which looked like it had been pounded senseless by a sledgehammer chain gang. With the rough Craigie hill road eventually conquered a regroup gave some hungry members the chance to refuel on delicious Kendal mint cake produced by one generous club member.
The last section saw the bunch head over to Gatehead via more twisting back roads. Three riders peeled off at Gatehead, and the remaining 11 had to tackle a testing headwind on the main road back to Irvine Cross.
Total distance on a lively, fun and engaging Sunday run was 50 miles.
HOLIDAYS and long term injuries meant only three members of Stewarton’s RGCC set off from the Cottage in Main Street for their weekly Monday meander.
Conditions were wet but not too uncomfortable as the group headed out the old Kilmarnock road and down into the town itself. They proceeded through the town centre to Shortlees and then up the hill to Craigie before turning right to Bogend. Despite the hill, the group were maintaining a steady 12mph but this dropped to 10.5mph as tiredness overtook them on the return back to Stewarton via Gateside, Crosshouse and Kilmaurs.
Taking the shortest route back to base (the main road out of Kilmaurs) enabled the trio to get their cakes and coffee in the nick of time before the Cottage closed at noon. The group were quietly satisfied with their 25-mile trip and almost 1000 feet of climbing.
ON Wednesday five riders turned up at Nurseries Direct for CTC Ayrshire’s midweek ride under the leadership of Malcolm Smith. It was a damp morning with the promise of better to come as the group headed east to Catrine and Cronberry before going south-east to follow Glenmuir Water as far as Dalblair where the less-covered riders had to fend off the local midges around Kyle Castle.
Glimpses of blue sky proved misleading as drizzle set in. A number of stretches of recently refurbished road were a welcome change from the patched and re-patched sections that have made rural cycling difficult. The return journey by way of Logan, Cumnock and Ochiltree gave a ride of about 37 miles with the prospect of hot coffee on return to Nurseries Direct.
Sunday’s sortie from Barr had an on and off-road option which, despite unpromising weather, attracted eight CTC Ayrshire riders who met at the Village Hall to decide on their choice of route.
Three opted for the on-road run while the others went for the more adventurous route.
The road trio headed down the Stinchar Valley towards the A714 Girvan road, leaving it after a couple of miles at Pinmore to head past Tormitchell Quarry where they decided on a late change of direction.
Instead of descending to Dailly then back to Barr by Glengennet, the three reckoned they could possibly meet the off-road group if they joined the Hadyard Farm track at the car park just past the treatment works on the B734.
It worked perfectly, meeting the others as they headed towards them just past Penwhapple Reservoir where they shared a lunch spot unconvincingly sheltered from a cooling wind by a turbine substation. Following the farewells and cries of ‘see you in the tea room’ they continued east to descend to Glengennet and back to Barr, the altered route knocking only a couple of miles off the intended 25-mile target.
The larger off-road group took to the Changue Forest track to the east of the village, passing near Kirstie’s Cairn and attracting their fair share of midges, flies and other airborne creatures. Leaving the trail after a tricky downhill spell they joined the road away from the Nick of the Balloch then headed west alongside the River Stinchar, taking to the hills again as they ascended Glengennet.
At the highest point, they joined the tracks westward through the windfarms. Having met the ‘on-road three’ who should not have been anywhere in the vicinity the two groups stopped for a sandwich break. The sight of turbines disappearing and reappearing in part or altogether as the cloud base varied had the group fascinated as they munched.
Next up was the Old Dailly to Barr road reached via more windfarm access roads, unsealed but quite rideable, and interspersed with muddy farm tracks. Real roads (the B734 Screws route!) eventually provided the welcome return to Barr.
Some 2000 feet of climbing was involved in the ride, making the participants feel all the more deserving of coffee and cakes at Barr’s Community Centre.
More details of all CTC Ayrshire activity including this weekend’s Arran options at www.cycleayrshire.co.uk
AYR Roads Cycling Club, sponsored by Harry Fairbairn BMW, came back from the British Master Track Championships in Newport at the weekend with a haul of medals.
In the 70+ age category Straiton’s Vic Possee won a superb gold medal in the Points Race and bronze in the Scratch Race. Fellow septuagenarian John Mason was also in top form, winning two silver medals in the Sprint and Time Trial Races.
Kenny Armstrong and Mick Robb finished in the top 20 in the 25-mile Time Trial Championship held on Sunday over the Blair Drummond Course.
Club confined 10 mile time trial (Loans A78 course) results: 1 Mick Robb 22:06; 2 Mark Skilling 22:59; 3 Brian Nicol 23:54; 4 Neil Campbell 24:01; 5 Trevor Wilson 24:06 (PB); 6 Alex McAllister 24.06; 7 Alan Mooney 24:24; 8 John Paul Baxter 25:02; 9 Toni McIntosh 25:42; 10 Lynn Wardrop 26:00; 11 Andy McKinlay 26:51; 12 Paul McGhee 26.53; 13 Ross Lyall 27:15; 14 Sam Wakeling (unicycle) 33:31; 15 Jennifer Nicol 34:43.