Bealach Beag 2017 (Andrew)

“When’s the worst time to get a puncture – the start or end of a race?”

We were about five miles from the finish of Bealach Beag – a 45 mile race around Applecross and over the UK’s highest road: Bealach Na Ba.

We’d just passed a rider changing a tyre at the side of the road.

“If you get a puncture at the start then that’s really annoying as you’ve just started and you have to stop. But, if you get a puncture at the end, you’re thinking that you don’t have long to go when, suddenly, you’ve got to wait and change your tyre.”

We didn’t answer the questions. We came to a short hill, a fast descent and sudden climb. I’d read the course profile and knew that the last two miles were downhill. I thought if I made a break for it now then Iain wouldn’t keep up.

I was right.

I was first over the hill. I kept going as fast as I could for two miles, looked back and knew he wasn’t in sight.

It was an easy victory.

Until I had to wait at the finish line.

And wait.

And wait some more.

Eventually, 20 minutes later, far, far longer than he should have been, Iain cycles into Sheildag.

“I got a puncture just after you left!”

He tried to claim that meant my victory was void, that professionals who get a mechanical in the last stage of a race are given the same time as the winner.

I pointed out that I was the first to climb Bealach Na Ba – a six mile, 626m climb, that takes you from sea level to mountain top and back down again. Some parts have a gradient of 20% – which is almost like doing a wheely without your bike leaving the ground!

I also pointed out that I was the first round Applecross and had waited for him.

But still he insisted he was given the same time.

So, I said: “That’s okay, you can have the same time – but you don’t see Chris Froome handing over the yellow jersey! It’s the same time not the same place! I’m still the winner!”

Same time then, but, a much needed victory in the Todd Championship to claw it back to 3 – 2 to Iain!

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