Tuesday, 11 May 2010

East Calder Group venture into Fife

Last Saturday saw the East Calder group complete thier final preparation for the Etape Caledonia, Neil Lovett tells the story

We had a eclectic mix of riders for the East Calder Saturday ride; comprising, ladies first. unless going up hill, the majority of the 'Red Devils' ladies group from Kirknewton (Isla, Leslie, Julie and Miriam), Ken from the Sky Etape team and Rob, John and myself of the usual riders. The Red Devils are so called for their similar red jackets for those not of the know. The route of choice (although none other being offered) being to head north across the Forth Bridge towards Dollar before striking east to and returning home via the Cleish Hills and Kelty.

Heading out of East Calder, we immediately hit some confusion with the ladies team having verbal calls as opposed to our hand signals. The sudden loud shout of 'hole' from the back of the peleton left us male riders breaking hard in somewhat confusion. Was there a puncture already, had Grant Craven somehow sneaked onto the back of the group to claim a further notch in his tube of punctures? After a brief clarification we set off again with the occasional calls from the back of 'hole', 'bump' and 'car' puncturing (poor joke) our route to the Bridge. The sun was out and although chilly with a moderate head wind the ride was looking to be more than enjoyable.

The ladies also offered a different perspective to our normal route finding, with the advice of short cuts we could have taken and did we know the hills were really steep on the road we were on. Is there such a thing as 'back peleton riders'? (forgive me Lesley, only joking) Well, I admit I did know it wasn't the most direct route and that there were some steep hills, but that was part of the enjoyment - I think.

Returning to the ride, we headed up through Crossford and Saline (silent 'e' apparently) and to Powmill through superb rolling countryside on quiet roads. We got to see near and distant views of homes of various relatives of the ladies as we passed by, including stopping outside Lesley's ex-boyfriends house - amicable parting allegedly. Julie left us on this section due to time constraints. Powmill Milk Bar provided our cafe stop, where a quick reshuffling of our parked bikes was required, as we had blocked the owners shelves for selling plants and had also received the advice not to scratch her car (mmmm.... we were more concerned about scratches to our bikes - its all relative). Once in we were faced by a long counter filled with cakes, fruit pies etc, etc. This was going to prove a difficult choice, so to avoid disappointment a number of the group elected to obtain two samples of the offered fare - wise move. Isla who had decided upon an overstuffed with cream double meringue made a stunning save as the tray it was on lost contact with the counter running shelf, and with only a minor loss of whipped cream.

The next stage ran further east, through very quiet, scenic, and mostly pot hole free roads to the foot of the Cleish Hill. Cleish Hill for those who have not been up it, rises, from north to south, approximately 500ft to height of 900ft with dramatic views overlooking Loch Leven and beyond. Ken showed us a clean pair of cycling shoes on the ascent, while the rest of us 'cruised' up - note use of exclamation marks. Heading generally south via Kelty, Crossgate and Inverkeithing we had gravity and a tail wind pretty much in support all the way for a quick return to the Forth. Taking an unofficial short cut through the Queenferry Hotel on the north approach, raised a query from one of the girls of, 'where are were we going?' John's suggestion of "for a pint" was not unfortunately taken seriously - shame, as it should be part any athlete's training schedule.

Returning to East Calder, we cut through Almondvale Park after covering 66 miles at an average speed of 13.5 mph and total cumulative climb of 4,400 ft. Again another terrific run and great company. It is good luck to all those riding the Cally Etape next Saturday, and particularly the Red Devils - don't get too good mind.

See our club run details on our website: www.westlothianclarion.co.uk/clubruns

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