Last year at the Caledonian Etape Iain tried a break away at mile 70. We were heading to Aberfeldy, on a long flat stretch, he had his brand new aero bike, he turned round, took one look at me and started pumping his legs as fast as he could. He was off.
For the next three miles he didn’t look round. He kept his head down and his speed up. I sat on his wheel, waiting.
At Taymouth he finally looked round, I knew in his mind he was thinking “my job’s done, I’ve dropped him” but that’s when I picked up speed, went straight passed him and didn’t look back.
That was my fifth victory in a row.
This year, I thought it would be closer. I was wrong. I picked up speed at mile 20 as I thought we’d entered a sprint section. In previous years this section was just a mile long. This time it was 10 miles. I thought Iain was with me and we’d have a race towards the finish but, as the miles passed and I realised that I’d miscalculated I also realised Iain had not kept up. I was on my own.
I was feeling good. Despite a cold during the week I was breathing okay and not coughing too much. I kept going, setting small goals for myself. Keep up with this group. Join this chain. Pass these people on Schiehalion. Use the drops on the way to Taymouth.
I know the course so well. We would go on summer holiday to Aberfeldy and I’ve cycled parts of the route many times. It makes such a difference to know the course. You know when to push, when to relax and how long it takes between places.
With every mile I still felt fresh so I just kept going. I had some gels in my pocket so didn’t need to stop so I wondered how fast I could go. I’d hoped to finish in under 4hrs 30 mins. In the end I finished in 4 hours 11 minutes, 18 minutes faster than my previous personal best.
The twinner* again.
*twin + winner = twinner (trademark pending)