Category: iain

Aberfeldy Middle Distance – Bike Course (Iain)

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Whilst Andrew was failing to escape from Alcatraz, I was in Aberfeldy visiting our parents. They were staying here, instead of at home in the Western Isles, as my Dad had a hospital appointment to attend.

During his appointment he had to sit a memory test. To pass, the test required a score of at least 82 out of 100. If he failed then he could lose his driving licence.

This seems very unfair as I only needed 40% to pass my university exams and, with that limited knowledge, I’ve been in charge of things much more dangerous than a car.

During the test, one of the question was name an object beginning with P. He said penis. My mum was appalled. He was then asked to name the President of the United States, he couldn’t remember. I suspect he’d have got it correct if he’d also said a penis!

The Aberfelday Middle Distance Triathalon bike route starts in Kenmore. The town is famous for being the place where the first cast of the salmon season takes place. Less well known is it’s a town evil Iranian dictator Colonal Gaddafi bought property in!

http://www.eveningtimes.co.uk/news/14496744.Libya_claims_ally_of_Gaddafi_bought_hotels_in_Highlands/

I wonder if any other dictators have property in Scotland? Maybe North Korea’s Kim Jung Un has a little flat in Saltcoats? Maybe Syrian President Bashir likes nothing better than a day on the beach at Prestonpans?

Unfortunately, I’m away when the Aberfeldy race is on, but, if you are doing the event, here’s what you need to know.

The first three miles are flat. There is a single lane bridge with traffic lights in Kenmore. I assume a marshal will be here and wave bikes through if it’s clear otherwise your race would stop before it’s barely began.

After three miles of flat it’s nearly five miles of uphill. It’s a straightforward climb but keep a look out for the turn onto the Schiehallion road. I missed it and had to turn back. Again, I assume a marshal will be at this point.

Once on to the Schiehallion road it’s mostly flat and fast but there are some tight corners where you can’t see what’s coming. I had to brake in case a car was coming the other way. The roads aren’t very wide so I didn’t want to drift into a car’s way. The descent on the way down to Kinloch Rannoch had two steep sections with tight corners.

Once in Kinloch Rannoch its virtually flat all the way round the loch. The road was good quality and I used tri bars all the way round.

The climb back up Schiehallion isn’t as bad as the first time as there’s less of it! It’s then virtually downhill all the way back although watch out as some of the corners are tight.

Overall it’s a enjoyable ride. Nearly 850m of climbing but with lots of places you can get the head down and bike fast.

End Of Month Report (Iain)

My plan for May was not to have any mileage goals but instead complete a number of events:

  • Helensborough 10K – I was hoping I’d get under 45 minutes for one of my 10K’s this month. I surprised myself by managing it in the first race. Link here
  • Bealach Na Ba Race 44 mile race (with the aim to do the climb twice) – My aim was to beat Andrew but he beat me due to a puncture. We didn’t do the climb twice due to the puncture. Link here
  • Loch Leven half marathon – the aim was to beat Andrew but he beat me easily! I was happy with my time so I can’t complain…too much. Link here 
  • Antonine Trail Race 10k – great race. I’ll sign up for the half marathon when it becomes available. Link here
  • Caledonian Etape 81 mile bike  – My aim was to beat Andrew but he cheated 🙂 Link here 
  • Dumbarton 10K – I didn’t make it to this race which I think is the second time I’ve entered it but not made it to the start line.
  • Shettleston 10K – Last race of the month. I was tired and hungover but my time was okay. Link here 

The theme of the month was “My aim was to beat Andrew but….”

Thankfully, despite these losses, the Todd Championship is still close. It’s currently 4-3 to Andrew. Overall, I enjoyed the races and got PB’s for the biking so it was a good month.

My plan for June is not to have a plan. Iron Man Edinburgh is the next goal (at the start of July) so I’ll concentrate on keeping everything ticking over so that I’m fit and healthy.

I also don’t want to let Andrew know what my plan for this month is to ensure I win! I have a secret idea….

Here’s a selection of photos from May. If you want to see more then follow me on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/twinbikerun/

Shettleston 10K (Iain)

The Shettleston 10k is misnamed – it wasn’t in Shettleston. It was in Glasgow green.

The Edinburgh marathon works under a similar ruse. Visitors think they’re going to run through one of the worlds great cities but instead the race heads out of the city. Before you know it, your running thought a council estate in Prestonpans.

It should be called the “leaving Edinburgh and running through crap towns” marathon.

I did the race when the course was in Edinburgh. Andrew had trained for months to do it. I got a place at the last minute when someone else dropped out. I hadn’t trained. The night before the race, I drank shots in a bar til 3 AM.

The race started at Meadowbank stadium. the first mile was a brutal climb of Arthur’s seat. I felt ill. I kept pace with Andrew till the halfway point and then I retired.

The winning time for the Shettleston 10k was the fastest 10K time in Scotland this year. The man who ran it is called Wayney Ghebresilassie. With a surname like that its not a surprise he’s good at running! He cruised round in 30.11.

I was slightly hungover having attended a wedding the day before. Having learnt a lesson from my Edinburgh marathon experience I didn’t drink shots till 3AM. I drank beer.

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Caledonian Etape (Iain)

“Bum cream?”

I’m standing in a bike shop in Pitlochry waiting for Andrew to buy an energy gel. I notice a man standing next to me.

“Bum Cream?” He asks again.

I think the man is a shop assistant. I’m not 100% sure – but I hope so.

“Not today, thanks!” Is the only thing I can think to say.

“Are you sure?”

I wonder why he thinks I need bum cream? Is there a sale on? Does he get commission? Or is there something about the way I walk which made him think – that man really  needs bum cream!

After leaving the shop I tell Andrew what happened. He replies.

“It could have been worse. He could have said arse lube!”

This year was our seventh race here. In 2016 I wrote “This year I thought I’d win. I didn’t.”

Well, this year I thought I’d win. I didn’t.

I’ll let Andrew write about his victory but I was pleased with my performance. I got a PB and I got round without needing bum cream.

Antonine Trail Race 2017 (Iain)

18527515_10155211882748162_4568199255582701328_nThe Antonine trail race is a 10K trail run on a beautiful but challenging course.

At the start line I bumped into someone I knew from the Glasgow Triathalon Club who’d done the race before.

He said to me: “Don’t start off too fast. It’s downhill to begin with but then you’ll have to come up Croy hill”

So, what did I do? I started fast. I then came to Croy hill. Fast became slow then slower then slower then…he passed me. Thankfully he resisted the urge to say “I told you so!”

The course was a great mix of hill running, forest tracks and some gravel trails. The volunteers were excellent. There was lots of encouragement and cheers from them. This was the only race briefing I’ve been to where everyone was specifically told to “high five the volunteers” I think most people did. The volunteers must have had sore hands by the end.

I was happy that I was able to run the whole course as it was very hilly. Some people walked the hills. That was a wise move as those people then passed me on the downhill sections! Note to self: practice running down hills just as much as going up.

The race is called Antonine because it passes along Antonine’s Wall. This was the furthest the Romans made it into Scotland. I prefer to recognize it from the book World War Z which is about a zombie apocalypse. The wall was the last line of defense in Great Britain against the zombies.

Thankfully I didn’t spot any on the night although my slow shuffle on Croy hill might have made people think I was one!

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Loch Leven Half Marathon 2017 (Iain)

Scottish Athletics bans the use of headphones during road races.  This is a major issue to me because, instead of listening to music, I have to listen to Andrew’s chat.

This is his “banter” from Saturday’s Loch Leven half marathon.

He spots a tree – “Look there’s a tree!”

He spots a hill – “Look there’s a hill!”

He spots a sheep – “Look there’s a cow!”

Animal recognition isn’t one of his strong points.

Quite frankly, after his umpteenth, “Look there’s a ….” I was quite happy to let him run off. So, at mile 9, I decreased my speed and let him go ahead.

He thinks he ran off because I was tired. Yes – I was tired of his chat!

Bealach Na Ba (Iain)

The Bealach Na Ba sportive was the first bike race I entered. It was 2007 and I’d read about the event in the Glasgow Herald.

“The Bealach Na Ba road is engineered similarly to roads through the great mountain passes in the Alps, with very tight hairpin bends that switch back and forth up the hillside and gradients that approach 20%. It boasts the greatest ascent of any road climb in the UK, rising from sea level at Applecross to 626 metres”

It captured my imagination. It looked like a great challenge. I convinced Andrew to join me.

There was one issue – we didn’t know anything about bikes or sportives. There was a second issue  – we didn’t know that we didn’t know anything about bikes or sportives!

Therefore, I turned up at the start line unaware that I was under-prepared. Unfortunately, Andrew didn’t make it to the start as he had the flu. He did volunteer to drive a van round the course and check on how I was doing.

Every other rider had a road bike. I had a mountain bike. I thought all bikes were the same. They aren’t! The race started. Everyone else raced off. I was soon last. I realised why road bikes are called road bikes. It’s because they’re good on roads. D’OH!

The other riders wore skin tight lycra and their bikes had water bottles. I wore shorts, a hill walking waterproof jacket, and I had a backpack filled with food and a 2L bottle of water.

The other riders had trained. I rode one long ride of…. 30 minutes.

I’m proud to say I made it to the top of Bealach Na Ba. I wasn’t even the last rider up it. Although I did have to walk quite a lot.. I dropped out of the race as soon as I made it down the other side. I was knackered. Thankfully, Andrew was there, so I got a lift back to the start.

We weren’t going to let Bealach Na Ba defeat us so, five years later, Andrew and I went back. This time I’d learnt my lesson. I didn’t use a mountain bike….I used a hybrid! I thought it was the same as a road bike just with different handlebars. It wasn’t. It takes the slowness of a mountain bike and combines it with the looks of a road bike to make something that’s not good on roads or mountains!

We made it round the course although we were virtually the last to finish. All I remember about the event is the endless up and down road from Applecross to Sheildaig. My legs were so tired by the end I had to walk some of the small climbs. That section is much harder than the actual Bealach climb.

So, to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of our first race we went back to do it again. This time I learnt my lesson. I used a road bike – I didn’t have to walk once!

Helensburgh 10K (Iain)

I’ve appeared onstage at the Tramway Theatre. It was a play by Harold Pinter. I played a criminal. It was a short scene at a breakfast table, with an older lady.

Before we went on she said: “I think my character is northern. I’ll do it in a Sheffield accent. What are you doing?”

I replied. “I’ll just be myself, but a bit louder, so the people at the back of the theater can hear me.”

It’s fair to say I wasn’t a very good actor.

At the end of the play the acting tutor came up to us and said to the lady: “You were amazing! I loved what you did with your voice! Incredible!”

He then turned to me: “As long as you enjoyed yourself.” Then turned away quickly.

I’ve never been on stage since.

Afterwards I was asked “Is it hard to stand up in front of a bunch of strangers?” Not really. I don’t know any of them. The real challenge is performing in front of people I know. If it’s bad then they’ll remind me of it for ever more!

Similarly, I prefer not to have people come out and watch races as

a) races are pretty boring to watch; and

b) I don’t want to have to look for them as I plod round.

The only time I’ve taken someone to a race was my first attempt at the Helensburgh 10k in 2011. I said to my girlfriend at the time.

“You never support me! Come out and cheer me on!”

She replied “No thanks! Its boring!”

She must have seen point a.

I made her go to the race. The whole time running I looked out for her. I was hoping for a shout of “Go Iain!” Or “Iain, you da bomb!” Which is what cool kids said in 2011.

After 5k – nothing. After 8k – nothing. After 10k – nothing!!!

I was raging. I collected my medal and I went to look for her. I found her in the school (which was being used for the finish line of  the race).

“That was amazing! Races are so much fun!” She said.

“But I didn’t see you!”

“I know. I was too busy eating the home baking and having massages.” The event had supplied massage therapists and she’d used them all before the runners had come back. The home baking was also for the runners.

So the lesson is don’t come to a race to support but do come if you like baking and massages.

It’s six years since I did the race.  I did it in 47 minutes then. This time I decided to try for under 45 minutes. I immediately regretted that decision as it meant running faster than I’d intended to but, once I get an idea in my head, I felt I had to give it a go!

I made it round in 44 min. At the end I looked out for a friend who was running and gave him a “Go Robbie” shout to make up for the one I didn’t get 🙂

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End Of Month Report: April (Iain)

My plan for April was:
– The Dirty Reiver race (you can read about it here
– Bike (on average) 110 miles a week – I managed 129
– Run (on average) 16 miles a week – I managed 16.3
– Do yoga at least once a week – done!
– Swim twice a week – I failed. I managed three swims in a month. I need to do better!
– Plaster the hall. I phoned a man and he’s doing it next week 🙂

I’m happy with how April went. I had a two weeks vacation. I call it a Scottish compass holiday because, by the end of it, I’d visited the north, south, east and west of Scotland!

In the north, I visited Findhorn. A very spiritual community of hippies with eco-homes. I found this book – “Your Pet’s Past Lives & How They Can Heal You”.

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I have so many questions:
– does my cat have nine past lives?
– Was my cat a cat in a previous life? If not, is being a cat a punishment or a reward for past behavior?
– how can my cat heal me? He seems pretty lazy and selfish. I suspect he’s planning to kill me.
– the author is a whale whisperer??? What are whales saying ? And how do you whisper underwater?

and WHO BELIEVES THIS TOSH?

In the south I visited the Garden of Cosmic Speculation. A wonderful garden that’s only open once a year. One of the grass mounds in looks like an ass which meant they needed this sign:

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Which is a motto I live my life by.

In the east I biked from Edinburgh back to my home in Lennoxtown. On the way I passed this sign:

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How many people get shot in Falkirk that’ve had to put a sign up telling them not to?!

And, in the west, I went home to Stornoway. I visited the Callanish Stones. They were much more redder whiter and pointy-er than I remember.

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My Plan for May is not to have any mileage goals as I’ve got loads of events to do:
– Helensborough 10K run
– Antonine Trail Race 10k run
– Dumbarton 10K run
– Shettleston 10K run (which despite the name isn’t in shettleston!)
– Caledonian Etape 81 mile bike race.
– Bealach Na Ba Race 44 mile race (with the aim to do the climb twice)

Here’s a selection of photos from April. If you want to see more then follow me on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/imacivertodd/

The Dirty Reiver (Iain)

“If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”

If a bike race takes place in a forest and no one is around to see it, did it actually happen?

The Dirty Reiver (https://www.dirtyreiver.co.uk/) is a gravel race held in Kielder Forrest -the largest man-made woodland in England covering 250 square miles. The race has a choice of distances – 130KM or 200KM.

Andrew and I choose the 130KM option as it sounded more fun and less of a slog than the longer race. The course was on “gravel” which actually meant 50% was on a good gravely surface, 25% was a larger stone rubble surface, 10% was road and 15% was rough as f*&k!

There was an online debate before the race about what bike suited the course. Most competitors choose a “gravel” bike. Which is a tougher more off-road friendly road bike.

I don’t understand the popularity of gravel bikes. If Colin MaCrae (famous rally driver) was alive then he wouldn’t go to a Ferrari garage and say “‘I’d like to take this off-road. Can you put fatter tyres on it?”

No! He’d get an off-road car with proper suspension.

Therefore I decided to “Colin Macrae” it and use a mountain bike. Andrew decided to “Sebastian Vettel” it and use a road bike with fatter tyres.

The success of our choices can be summed up by our reactions at the end of the race.

I said: “That was great. I really enjoyed it!”

Andrew said: “I’m never doing that ever again!”

Also, during the first hour of the event, I saw 35 people stop due to a puncture. Not one of them had a mountain bike!

The race was great. 2200M of climbing over 80 miles. There was barely a flat section to the course. The course was more barren of people than a Theresa May supporters party in the Gorbals. The only time we saw anyone other than riders was at the two food stops.

I’d recommend it to anyone who fancies a bike race that’s a bit different – but bring a mountain bike and make sure you know how to fix a puncture!

And to answer my original question. Did it happen? Yes – its on Strava so it must be true 🙂

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