Once again I returned to the Forfar/Kirriemuir area for an Audax event. I completed this route last year in a brisk Westerly gale, this year the wind was coming from the East and was equally as lively. I had the bonus of being accompanied by my son-in-law, so I was hoping to be towed around the course.
This year the 300km Snow Roads event was being covered by BBC Scotland’s The Adventure Show. If I thought that I was to get my 15 seconds of fame on TV, I was out of luck, they had left at 6.00am.
We started bang on the stroke of 9.00am, and it was a brisk pace all the way to Forfar, even though there was a brisk wind blowing from the East. I was pleased with my progress thus far, as I was keeping pace with the bulk of the riders from the local cycling club. However this ended on the first brief climb of the day, out of Forfar on The Vennel and Lour Road. After reaching the top the leading group had evaporated into the distance, and I was left riding with a couple of other participants.
This next section set the tone for the rest of the event, wide open countryside in reasonable sunshine. A further 14 minutes riding, through some stunning scenery, took me to the first Information Control at Whigstreet. After the control the route turned into the brisk easterly wind. Despite this I was able to maintain a steady 18 to 20 mph to the next control at Carmyllie. Oil seed rape was much in evidence in this area, lending a vivid yellow carpet to many of the fields.
At Carmmyllie the Corn Kist Cafe accommodated the first manned control, a great place for a stop and well stocked with all a cyclist needs to refuel. The Border Collie and Jack Russell outside the cafe must have been totally knackered after all the cyclists left, they conned almost every rider into throwing a stick for them, which they duly retrieved. However, after a refreshing tea and cake and a few throws of the stick we were on our way through Guthrie and onto Brechin. Once again the gorse and oil seed rape added a spectacular yellow tinge to the countryside. It was on the section to Guthrie that a deer jumped into the road just in front of us, paused to take a good look and then bounded up the banking to clear a five foot fence at the top. I wish I could do that!
The next manned control was at Stracathro Hospital restaurant, where a full gambit of food was on offer. Twenty minutes break saw us refueled and ready to go on the final stage. With the wind at our back now we were making good time until we hit the final climbs of the day between Croachty, Pearsie and Corrach. Here I lost touch with my fellow rider who obligingly waited at the top of the climb. After passing between Castle Hill and Meams Hill it was a simple hurl downhill back to the start.
Once again we were treated to steak brides, almost worth the drive up from Kirkintilloch themselves, and copious volumes of tea.
Thanks must go to Alex and Alison Paterson and Angus Bike Chain for a most enjoyable event.