Monday, 11 April 2011

Mull It Over Audax report

Neil Fraser sends in this great report from the Mull it over Audax - inspiring stuff!

I thought it was going to be good, but it was better than that! Best ride I've done in a long time. Starting by getting a ferry to Mull meant that I had the chance to enjoy Calmac's finest full cooked breakfast, not the usual bit of toast before a 6am start. As soon as we hit the road on Mull the sixty riders split into groups. I found myself in the second group, going all out to complete the 75km round Mull quickly enough to get an early ferry over to Morvern. About 2 miles from the Ferry terminal at Fishnish we say the ferry coming across from the other side. We hammered the last two miles and managed to get into the ferry - just. As soon as I was up the ramp they were raising it behind me.

Having gained 45 minutes by getting that ferry, I spent the next 40 minutes sitting in the sunshine outside the cafe at the other side, eating a lovely venison burger and drinking coffee. Let most of the group leave without me then headed off with Kevin from Musselburgh, who I spent the rest of the ride with.

By the time we got to Strontian we were overheated and our water bottles were empty. Que a 10 minute stop at the post office to re-fill the bottles and enjoy an ice-cream. Strontian to Glenfinnan was probably my favourite stage, despite being the hilliest. The scenery was excellent - big open vistas of sea lochs and mountains alternated with close-in views of ancient forests of scots pine.

At Glenfinnan control we stopped for soup, sandwiches and a wee beer. Met about a dozen other riders there so had a good chat before heading out again. Had a choice of routes from there to the next control at Kinlochleven - main road via Fortwilliam or back road round the South shore of Loch Eil and down to the Corran ferry. We chose the Corran ferry route and it was lovely. First time I'd been down that road but I really liked it - good surface, cracking views of Ben Nevis, no traffic. Just missed the ferry at Corran so had to wait half an hour for the next one. Luckily there's a good pub at the ferry terminal so the time wasn't wasted.

At Kinlochleven we had a snack from the Co-op and put the lights on for the final leg back down to Oban. The 50km from Ballachulish down to Oban is one of my favourite roads and as usual it was smooth and quiet. Not as interesting in the dark as it is in daylight, but we saw a few owls, deer and bats. And Kev kept the conversation up all the way to the finish. After a final sprint to avoid the drunks in Oban I finished at 11.10pm, giving me a time for the route of 14hrs 50 minutes. Didn't break any records but it was really too good a day to hurry.

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