Pedal for Scotland final

Gary Laird, Ross Glass, Scott Parkhill, Scott McHutcheson, David McLenaghan, Martin McCadle.

Pedal for Scotland

For some reason this didn’t feel or even seem like your normal run of the mill sportive – normally you’d have loads of cyclist huddled around inspecting bikes and long queues of people at the Portaloos/toilet. No, this sportive felt like a family day out with club cyclists infiltrating in on a rather large family day out on a bike – that was the impression I got when we were heading down to Glasgow Green! The guys that were cycling the 100 miles passed us, not many cyclist was my first thought – a couple of big groups with between 20 to 30 riders and a few single riders. My second thought was why are some of those riders not wearing helmets? I found it strange that there wasn’t that many 100 miler cyclists as most club cyclists tend to go for the longer route, then I thought ‘well this is the last PFS maybe people just aren’t bothered’.

Well once ACC had reached the Glasgow Green we were met with the customary pounce on a passer-by for the photo opportunity. Once the photo session was done the ACC group split up with guys going to meet up with friends & family to do their pre-arranged cycle, so down to 4 team members it was then! Off we went down to the start line – well, you’d imagine that was the plan. We actually did go to the start line in a roundabout way, we got to the start by cycling through crowds of cyclists which seemed like they were going the wrong way, but nope it was us four that was going the wrong way! Through the crowds just like a salmon swimming upstream, we got to the bridge at the bottom of high street. We went through some barriers that was stretched across the road right at the official start line (I wondered why barriers were there), so off we went merging into the masses of cyclists. The security guys looking bemused at what was going on in front of them looking at us and more than likely wondering ‘will we stop them or not?’.

Off we went up High Street, weaving our way through the masses of cyclists. One of our group set off like a bat out of hell (no prizes for guessing who and if strava was involved!), this was happening whilst some of us were still trying to get our bike computers switched on. Nobody actually said that we weren’t going to be using the conventional start line like everyone else, but anyway we were off and cycling. Like I said earlier this sportive didn’t feel or seem to be like any normal sportive. Yes, it was going to be the last PFS so we did expect it to be busy with every kind of cyclist you can think of – from small kids on three wheeler bikes to people dressed as clowns on tandems. It took until Glenmavis to actually start seeing some sort of open roads in front of you (well, I say open roads what I really mean is see a safe passage through a thinning crowd of bikes!). At Glenmavis church Billy Cargill from ACC had set up a bike repair stand and what looked like an extensive food station To my surprise, when we actually got to the church there was Billy working on someone’s bike like a proper mechanic with the tool box open and everything! I was surprised at this simply because of the distance that was covered, it was only about 14 – 15 miles into the ride and some poor guy had a major mechanical. I hope Billy managed to get him going again. When I elected to do the classic route rather than the big belter, 45 miles seemed in proportion to the training that I had done (nil or very little). On leaving Glenmavis the hope was that we could stretch our legs a bit perhaps pick up a bit of speed as up till then the waves of cyclist dictated the speed you had to travel at. In my opinion, the roads where in good condition. Yes, there where

potholes but because these roads are the roads we ride, not only with our club but as individuals, we knew what to expect and what lines to take. Except Scott, he found every single pothole from Glasgow to Edinburgh – even when he was cycling right behind you on your wheel! It was very surprising he didn’t get any punctures, he hit some of those potholes rather hard and some of the cries from him didn’t sound too good either!

Getting to Linlithgow was a struggle, not because of the masses of cyclist on the road – nope, we managed to weave our way through them. Not long after Glenmavis it was a mechanical. Yes, just one mechanical, definitely not punctures from Scott hitting an abnormal amount of potholes! I’ll explain, one of our club members has diabetes so we stopped so he could check his blood sugar levels and get some nutrients (jellybeans), this would be what you’d consider a normal stop. A couple of minutes then off you pop but no, once we’d finished eating I newly nicknamed Scott (Pothole Scott). He tried to clip into his pedal only to find his cleat had come off his shoe & stuck to the pedal. After 20 – 25 minutes (possibly even longer) we managed to fix the cleat and set off again heading towards Linlithgow and the feed station. By this time we seemed to have found ourselves back in the masses again. So we just took it nice and easy, weaving our way through the cyclists yet again, although this was a closed road event there was some junctions we had to stop at, so every time we stopped we’d shout at Pothole Scott “don’t take your right foot out the pedal!” for fear he’d lose the last remaining screw that was holding his cleat to the shoe. If he lost that it would mean that pedalling would be rather tricky!

Cycling through Linlithgow’s cobbled main street was good – the sun was out and everyone was clapping and cheering us on. At this point a decision had to be made, do we stop at the feed station or carry on? It was decided that we’d carry on due to the long stop we had earlier. We wanted to try and stay ahead of the masses if we could, but this proved to be tricky as every couple of miles we’d hit large groups of cyclists out for a joyful day with they’re family and friends. They were absolutely enjoying themselves, you’d look at the small kids literally beaming from ear to ear. It just put a smile on your own face.

Nearing the finish of what was a fantastic morning out, Pothole Scott was concentrating so much that we weren’t getting much chat back from him unless you asked him was everything ok. You’d then get a half-hearted reply ‘…AYE’. The last couple of hundred yards into the finish wasn’t the greatest, to be honest it was diabolical, I couldn’t help but think that the PFS organisers had let everyone down by adding this section onto the route. Up until now the roads were great, no issues what so ever (well accept for Pothole Scott hitting every pothole he could find!). So anyway, the last couple of hundred yards was a path full of gravel and stones. You could see everyone being bounced all over the path with the proper inexperienced cyclists not being able to hold a straight line. Some even electing to get off and push, this section was dreadful. With every turn of the pedals you could hear the chips & stones hitting your rims/spokes and down tube and to be honest when you’ve spent a lot of money on your bike, this is definitely the last thing you want to hear. This event was surprisingly good, well organised and well attended. I’m not sure if this year’s event was better attended due to it being the last one or if it was as busy as this on previous years. But at the finish, standing in the park, you couldn’t help but think how sad this was as PFS was now over and never to be organised again. You felt a sense of disappointment for those kids with the big smiles on their faces cycling with their families, a sense of disappointment for those people that use PFS to raise vital money for those charities and a sense of disappointment for those people that use PFS as their 1 and only outing of the year that helps them keep fit.

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