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A Potter For Tea  

While many in the club were anticipating a day out on the Etape Caledonia, I was traveling to Kirriemuir to take part in the latest Audax event. There was a choice of distances, the monster 300km Snow Roads and the more sedate 100km Potter for Tea. Since I have lately been feeling my age I opted for the less demanding of the two. This was to take in Forfar and Brechin before returning to Kirriemuir, all on the quiet lanes of Strathmore. Looking at the map prior to riding it looked fairly undemanding, but little did I know that there was a sting in the tail of this gently potter.

The drive up was fairly quiet with the promise of a day of sun and showers. I was surprised that the journey took only an hour and forty minutes on relatively empty roads; the advantage of making an early start.

The start was located in the Northmuir Hall on the northern edge of Kirriemuir. The hall had been open over the Friday night to accommodate the 300km participants who were making a 6am start. On arriving I was provided with a cup of tea and a bite to eat; very welcome asI had eaten at six before leaving Kirkintilloch.

We left at 9.03am in a brisk westerly wind and threatening showers, which thankfully held off for most of the day. The route initially followed the B957 towards Brechin soon turning right (4.7km) on an unclassified road, toward Forfar. Up to this stage I cycled with a group of triathletes in the hopes that they would drag me round the course. However, just after the right turn, one of them puntured, I stopped and waited. This was a grave mistake as it seemed to take them about 15 minutes to change the tube. I guess triathletes don’t change tubes often. Under way once again we picked up the B9128, just after crossing the A90, and rolled into Forfar High Street. After a quick left we were on our first climb of the day up The Vennel and then the Lour Road towards Whigstreet via a left and right turn onto unclassified roads. This section began to set the tone for the rest of the ride being very pastoral with brilliant yellow, heavily scented oil seed rape, in full bloom. I suffer from hay-fever and at this stage I was finding breathing a little difficult, although I had chosen to ride with a guy from Manchester who was going like a bat out of hell, which may explain the problem. I liked his style, he was visiting friends of his wife’s in Dundee and had sloped off to ride this event. Much to his wife’s disgust. I ‘d never get away with it myself!

Whigstreet required us to turn left onto the B9127 ( sign posted Arbroath) and with the brisk westerly behind us we were soon tramping along at a respectable 23 to 25mph, on a beautifully surfaced flat road. Arriving at the junction with the B961 we turned left and into the first control at the Corn Kist Coffee Shop at 27km. Once my card was stamped I settled down to a couple of coffees, a piece of carmel cake and a chat with a group of four mountain bikers who riding the event. These guys had passed me while I was waiting for the puncture to be fixed and had motored it to the first control before I caught them. Good going on mountain bikes.

Suitably refreshed, it was right from the control and up hill through Redford and left onto back roads. Once again the area is very pastoral with the dark brown earth of the tattie fields now much in evidence. It was on this section that the mountain bikers disappeared off the back and I pushed on to catch a couple from Aberdeen riding a tandem. Boy can a tandem shift when the riders put their minds to it! I stuck with them until the next control and enjoyed a good chat with them throughout the next 20km. This is the aspect I most enjoy about Audax riding, you can always find someone to share the road with and socialize.

A quick right left to cross the A932 and then onto Guthrie, after which we crossed the B9113 and passed through the Montreathmont Forest to Brechin. Once again we were on quiet country roads with good surfaces; a delight to ride. The forest afforded shelter from the wind which was beginning to strengthen. The birdsong on this section was tremendous.

We entered Brechin on the A933 and filtered around the outskirts to finish on the B966 heading towards Edzell. 2km on we took a right to Ballownie and into the back end of the Stracathro Hospital and the control in the hospital restaurant and refreshment.

After a bite to eat and a pot of tea it was onto the final leg, retracing to the B966 and then right through to Little Brechin, Careston, Noranside, and Memus. Although this was relatively flat section I was riding alone into a strong westerly wind with showers gusting at about 25mph. With no one to hide behind this was becoming hard going, I should have waited on the folks I had got to the last control with. However, once again it was a fine ride with good views of the Braes of Angus and the mountains beyond. I was shortly to get a closer look at the Braes on the climbs to Cortachy and Pearsie crossroads. One final climb of Meams Hill and then a flyer into Kirriemuir and Northmuir Hall where beer and steak bridies and lots of other goodies were on offer to all finishers.

A cracking ride and all for £4! No closed roads, no support but good social event in the hall at the end.

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