Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Snow Roads Audax report

Neil fraser got back early and sent in this report from his 300km Audax at the weekend

This audax must be some kind of milestone for WLC - Four Clarion riders in a field of 40 meant that we were 10% of the field! Pretty good going for a hard event starting and finishing up in Kirriemuir. Only one of the local clubs - Angus Bike Chain - had more riders in. Anyway, now the ride report -

The Snow Roads is a 300km event designed to take in most of the main snow-gated passes through the Eastern Cairngorms. The big name climbs are Cairn O'Mount, The Cabrach, The Lecht and Glenshee but there are a few more colls thrown in for good measure, giving 4800m of climbing over the 301km distance.

http://bikeroutetoaster.com/Course.aspx?course=245495 shows the route, but don't believe the altitude data, it was tougher than that.

It was tough! Fourth time I've ridden this event and this one felt the hardest. A strong NorthWest wind just ratcheted up the pain on the climbs and killed the average speeds on the flats, making a long day a lot longer. Weatherwise it was much colder than I expected, with very heavy showers turning to sleet and hail on the higher ground.

I spent most of the ride with Simon and spent most of the time struggling to keep up with him. For his second ever audax (the first being last year's 3 Glens) he seemed amazingly comfortable with the audax way of doing things - ride hard for a few hours, stop in a cafe, eat loads of food, ride hard for a few hours, stop in a cafe...

A summary of my ride -
Fast run out from Kirrie to the bottom of Cairn O'Mount. Got up the climb feeling fairly fresh and enjoyed a good blast down to Banchory. Breakfast in Morrison's Supermarket Cafe. Then a flattish stage up to the next control at Oyne, a cafe with great soup and sandwiches. Immediately after this stop the rain started and the waterproofs stayed on for the rest of the day.

Stiff headwinds up to and over the Cabrach, even had to pedal going down the other side. Cafe stop in Dufftown for a toastie and cake. Bad crosswinds on the run up to Tomintoul, turning to tailwinds when we finally got to the road for the Lecht. Climb of the Lecht wasn't too bad, it's steep but the final climb is really quite short.

Quick pint in the ski station cafe before a fast descent, made scary by strong crosswinds. Two more tough climbs in torrential rain before we reached Deeside and the chip shop in Braemar. Haddock Supper provided the essential fuel for the last 70km to the finish, which turned out to be the highlight of the day. The rain stopped before Glenshee and the clouds parted, letting the moon appear for a tailwind assisted stomp along Glen Isla.

Riding at dusk is a good time to see the wildlife and Glen Isla didn't dissappoint - young deer, owls, bats, hedgehogs and rabbits all on show. From a 6am start myself and Simon finished at 10:30pm, Peter came in about an hour later and Tobias arrived at 1:30am.

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