Etape Caledonia ~ Jai Watson
long drive to the highlands of Perthshire took around 10 hours,
including rest breaks and fuel stops; covering approx 1,000 miles by
road for the round trip.
A trip made much
easier by the presence of my lovely girlfriend Kaylee, who was a great
co-driver and excellent race support crew! ; ) Oh - and pretty good
company too, I should mention!
The weather was
a little cold and damp when we arrived late Friday evening, with rain
overnight on Saturday and early Sunday morning before the race started
at 7am on Sunday.
The roads were
wet from the overnight showers, but the rain held off for the duration
of the race and the roads had dried by the time we had covered around 20
miles of riding. At which point the skies cleared, the sun was
shining brightly and the temperature reached a pleasant 20*C; which in
Scotland is practically tropical!
the surrounding areas had snow, hail stones, heavy rain and high winds
earlier that week, so if you want to experience four seasons in one
week, then go to Scotland!
filtered in to Pitlochry one by one from Friday to Saturday evening and
assembled in their thousands at the
start area on Atholl Road in the centre of town. The temperature was
around 6*C at 7am, a little cold but thankfully no rain or strong winds
for the riders to contend with.
attractions to this event are the
closed roads of this challenging course. 81 miles of spectacular
scenery of the beautiful Perthshire region with rolling hills, forests
and natural expanses of water such as Loch Tummel and Loch Rannoch.
the main features of the landscape along the course, which the riders
pass by en route to Mt.Schiehallion. The road runs alongside Loch
Rannoch (above) for around 40 miles
with breathtaking views across the water during the ride.
The race attracted some
4,600 entries, of which 3.635 riders took part in the race, with 3,587
finishers. The ride entrants
were approximately 90% male and 10% female.
There were many
strong female riders, with the eventual fastest female winner who had
ridden with our group for around 40 miles finishing in 3:44:45 hours -
an incredible performance.
She was also
around 40 years of age, proving that age and experience can conquer
youth and natural talent!
I took my place in the
second wave of riders, setting off at 7:02 with about 130 in our group
and 250 riders ahead of me, including the first wave who had a 2 minute
contained several professional athletes including James Cracknell, the
former Olympic rower and many members of the British National Alpine Ski
team of 11, featuring four Olympians; Andy Noble, Dave Ryding, Noel
Baxter and Finlay Mickel .
Such a fast pace
was set by the first wave of riders once they had set off, that they
remained out of sight until the end of the race. The race winner
finishing in just 3:29:51, covering the 81 mile hilly route at an
average speed of 23.3mph!
The hardest part
of the race was the climb to the top of Mt Schiehallion, (measured in
minutes taken from the start of the climb to the bottom of the descent),
taking the fastest riders just 17:46 mins to complete with the slowest
riders over an hour. (It wasn't me by the way! - I was the 123rd rider
over the mountain in 21:30:01).
I completed the race in
3:42:10 hours, finishing in 52nd overall position
and inside my target finishing time of 3:45
by just under 3 minutes.
riders' finishing time in 2009 was 3:44:05 hours, so this year the
course record was smashed and it seems many more competitive riders took
part who really increased the pace, making it a very competitive race.
I have already
booked my accommodation for next year and will return to see if I can
better my time and overall finishing position in the event in 2011.
Many thanks to
you all once again for your support and I am now ready for your
contributions to begin flooding in! ; )
I am pleased to
announce that my cycle race in Scotland went very well on Sunday and
with your help I have managed to raise just over £300 in donations to
the Macmillan Cancer Support charity.
are very much appreciated and now I have completed the event I hope to
collect contributions soon to complete payment to the charity. Thank you
all again for your very generous donations and your support in raising
money for this worthy cause