Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Port Light 200 Audax Report

Clarion riders Neil (Centre left), Peter and their pal, Stephen, who wrote this report took part in the Port Light 200km Audax over the last weekend.

This Audax takes in a number of Scottish islands so the riders have to time their rides to catch the ferries. Here is the report:

Left the house at about 4.00am to be there before 6.00am start. Conveniently, the rain stopped for the first leg -a 55KM leg to the 9:30 ferry at Oban. The coast road round to Oban is a great ride anytime: At about half six with the sun on the hills over the water, no particular rush to get anywhere it was most pleasant. Rode and chatted with various folks, before getting caught in a cold heavy shower on the drag up before Oban. We took over Tesco's cafe in the town - loads of blokes in lycra with stupid slidey shoes buying bacon rolls with fancy looking bikes piled up outside.

On the ferry, I found a window in the sun and I dried out and dozed off before Mull.

On Mull, Ronnie came along side and started going fast to latch onto Robert McCready's wheel up ahead. I wasn't really ready for this, but I thought, well lets just catch Robert. I got on, and looked round and Ronnie hadn't made it! I thought "Och well, I'll sit here until I get knackered, then go easy until I'm caught" I Hung on for a bit. We stopped to disrobe as the sun had come out but on the restart my bike seemed incapable of going at the same speed as the others and over the big climb I dropped back. From the top the view was breathtaking: white beaches, bright blue sky and sea with big waves over the rocks. 

There followed a lovely twisty descent then a nice tailwind along the coastline. High cliffs with waterfalls, clear blue sea and no cars. Brilliant! It was also easy cycling here, flat, tailwind and noone in sight either behind or in front. I got to the North coast and turned right along to the ferry, which I could see over the water. 'Great!' I thought, 'I've caught the early one'. I took my time here, but actually I only just made it. I got on and saw others arriving just as the ferry left the port...

Back on the mainland now, at Lochaline I was now about 1.5 hrs ahead of the others. The road from Lochaline to the Corran Ferry was magic. Just glens and moorland, hills and lochs. One big climb then an awesome descent to sea level. Long straight roads, no traffic, a 50mph descent. (I was too scared)

Another cold shower before the Corran ferry, but I didn't mind. I was by myself and just touring. I was even fortunate enough to have a 10 min wait on the Corran ferry as the sun came out again after the rain.
105 miles in the bag: Heading back to the finish, and really glad to turn off the main road towards Kinlochleven. It was actually quite warm now. Lovely, wee, twisty, lumpy road with tailwind and tons of vintage motorbikes from a rally in Kinlochleven made this bit memorable. I looked over the water before the "turn" at Kinlochleven and I saw a bus up in the sky. Hmmm, it'll be hillier that side then! And it was! With a headwind too, so I got the granny in. You can keep yer compacts, y'canny whack the granny!
Finished. Pretty slow, mostly on my own. But a memorable ride.
The 3 Ferries is not quite so accessable as the 5 Ferries, but it makes a cracking 200 Audax.

More breathtaking photos of the event here here

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