Celtman 2022 – Bike (Iain)

Near the start of the bike leg

The forecast for the bike leg was wet, windy and sunny. A typical Scottish weather system – it couldn’t make up its mind what it wanted to be.

It was straight up hill from Sheildaig onto the main road. Thankfully, I left the bike in transition set to a low gear but from the sound of gears clanking and competitor muttering “FFS” a few others had not.

The first section was nice. It was slightly uphill and there was a nice tail wind. The route went through Torridon valley. It was very pretty. I felt good. I had brought my TT bike intending to use it but due to the windy weather I’d made the decision to switch to my road bike. I think I was one of only three people who did the race on a road bike with no tri bars. I knew it wouldn’t be quick but I felt safe and comfortable.

A few competitors came flying past me on the early stages of the bike course, before I settled in to a group who would see each other on and off over the next 100K.

My brother had gone back to the house to pick up his wife and daughter so I knew it would be about four hours into the bike before I saw him again. I was ok with that, i had enough water and food to last.

The section down past Loch Maree was straightforward. A few wee climbs and few bits of head wind but nothing too bad. The only issue was when I reached a narrow bit of road and discovered it was blocked. A supporters vehicle and a bus had got stuck.

I used it as opportunity to drink and eat whilst they tried to sort it out. Which was tricky as the bus driver only spoke German and the bus driver only spoke gruff Scottish. A very hard to understand dialect even for me.

There was a few heavy showers after this. I was glad I was wearing a Gore-tex top and shorts. It meant I never felt cold even in the worst of the weather.

After four hours Andrew turned up. This was a boost to my morale. Biking is easier when I know I’m not completely on my own. He had some Hula Hoops with him and they went down a treat.

There was a very fast down hill section alongside little Loch Broom. I hit 75km/h at one point. Which went down to 10km/h when I reached the bottom of the Loch and I had to turn into an uphill head wind. There was about six miles which felt like I was cycling in treacle with a puncture.

I was not looking forward to the Ullapool road as I though I was going to have a headwind all the way along it until I reached Garve. I was wrong. There was a tailwind and the sun come out. I also got a boost as my brother told me that a friend of mine who was also doing the race was only 5 minutes ahead of me.

I took off all my Gore-tex and raced off down the road. Determined to catch and pass my friend.

I caught him and passed him which gave me a mental boost. I didn’t want him to catch up so I concentrated on putting a good performance down until it would be time to turn off the road at Garve and head back to the start.

At Garve I turned into the headwind, and knew there were over 40km still to go. The wind was brutal but not as bad as I thought it was going to be. So that was a small positive.

I got my head down and battered through until the end. My aim for the bike was to average 25km/h to reach the end in less than 8 hours. I managed it….just.

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