Andrew and I were nearing the end of the Caledonian Etape (the annual 84 mile cycle sportive in Perthshire) when I began to increase my speed. Just a little. Just enough to see if he’d keep up. I went a little bit faster and was starting to build a gap when I heard him shout.
“IT’S NOT A RACE!”
I knew then that I’d won.
The Etape started in 2009. We’ve done it since 2010 and Andrew has beaten me every time. Most of the time he wins because he’s better at biking than me but occasionally he uses underhand tactics…
- One year he arrived at the start having bought a road bike knowing that I had a hybrid. Unsurprisingly, I couldn’t keep up with him.
- Another time we agreed at the start that if we got separated during the race we’d meet at the next food stop on the course. The race started. He immediately biked off. I didn’t worry about it because I knew I’d get him at the next food stop. I arrived at the food stop. He was nowhere to be seen. I waited 10 minutes. He didn’t turn up. I realized I’d been tricked. He went on to win the race easily because he didn’t stop once!
- Last year, he brought a “ringer” from his work. The “ringer” was a man who could cycle sub 4 hours for 80 miles. Andrew biked behind the “ringer” to get a pull round the course.
This year he had no underhand tactics….that I’m aware of. Although, I didn’t sleep well the night before the race. Maybe he upped the temperature in the hotel room to disturb me.
The weather forecast was for sunshine. It hadn’t rained in the week before the race. Unsurprisingly, it was wet at the start! We were off at 0632 which meant we got away before the majority of riders. The first five miles were uneventful until we came to a corner. I could see the road kicked up after the corner so I changed to a lower gear before I got there.
As I took the turn I heard the unmistakable sound of a gear clanking away and coming loose as some poor rider tried to get into a lower gear. I thought to myself “What idiot wouldn’t notice the hill! You’d have to be a right twat to not change gears in advance. Who’d be that stupid?”
“IAIN!!!” I heard Andrew shout. I looked round. The idiot was Andrew.
Impressively he’d managed to wrap his chain round his bike crank in such a way it was impossible to pull off. Thankfully a moto-bike mechanic turned up. He looked at it and said “Wow! I’ve never seen one wrapped that tight.” Thankfully after ten minutes of pulling and chain splitting we were able to sort it.
I could at any point have cycled off to ensure I’d win the race. I stayed. Not because I’m nice but so I could spend the rest of the ride reminding Andrew that I could have ridden off and therefore he should declare me champion by default!
We finished together but Andrew knows in his heart I won. Next year I expect him to use every underhand trick he knows to get his Etape crown back!
Some points on the race
- The course has altered slightly this year as the organizers have added in a hill. Its not a tough climb but it breaks up the first half of the course nicely as I got nice views on the descent.
- Their was no sports nutrition bars or gels this year. Each stop only had a banana or a flapjack.
- The registration pack came with a complimentary bike cap. The first time the race has ever given away something for free!
- The race used to be sponsored by Marie Curie cancer. They didn’t appear on any marketing this year. I’m not sure if that means its not more of a private for profit event.
- It rained on the course for a couple of minutes which means we still have never had an all dry Etape.