Sportive Update – Mull Sportive 04.06.17

Thanks for this great update Alex

I have just completed the Isle of Mull Sportive and thought I’d give you a report. Although Steve is probably leading the way with his literary prowess here goes.
I had thought about doing this sportive last year but couldn’t fit it in. I had previously done the Bealach Mor and was interested in doing another highland cycle event. This one was listed in Cycling Weekly’s top sportives and only cost £25 to enter which is a lot cheaper than some of the other more prominent sportives in Scotland. The event is run entirely by volunteers and all the entry money goes to charity, on top of that the scenery around Mull is spectacular. It was also a chance to get away for a few days. In my preparation I had completed a couple of long hilly rides (80miles plus) as well as the usual running and swimming. The bike was in good shape having just upgraded the wheels and groupset I just had to worry about the the big lump sitting on it! The other concern was the weather and I studied the BBC weather forecast all week.It varied from rain, heavy rain , lightening and even hailstones at one point with sunshine thrown in when the previous conditions allowed it. But the accommodation was booked (a static caravan just outside Tobermory)and the ferry tickets bought so short of a hurricane or typhoon putting the event off it was all systems go. My partner and I travelled up on the Friday and the weather was glorious especially on the train journey to Oban and the ferry crossing to Mull. The weather for Sunday had improved as well with only some showers forecast. Saturday was spent “tapering and carbo loading ” and preparing the bike for the next day. Sunday morning arrived and the sportive for the long course (all the way round the island 87miles) was due to start at 8.00am. The weather was grey and overcast and by the time I got to the start point it was heavy rain and people were huddling for cover under the eaves of any building they could find. One of the organisers promised that the south of the island was sunnier but I got the impression that nobody was believing him. A quick summary of the rules which was basically be nice to each other and don’t drop litter and then we were off. We headed south towards Craignure with just a couple of gentle climbs on decent roads. I nearly missed a cry of “well done Alex ! ” from local legend Crawford Whyte who was standing in a lay by near the top of an ascent. I don’t know if he congratulating me in actually turning up for the event or for managing to summit one of the many hills! Anyway it was good to hear some support. The first 30miles were ok,the scenery stunning and the weather had began to clear I think for the most part it was going to be a decent day. The first food stop was at 31 miles and I stopped to refill a water bottle and eat one of the best Cadburys double deckers I had ever eaten! A descent was next followed by some undulating but relatively flat sections. After a few miles of this I found myself cranking up the speed but I found myself fatiguing too easily so much so that I had to stop on two or three occasions. I decided that I had simply gone too hard on the flatter sections and decided I needed to reign it in a bit. The scenery up the west coast of Mull is stunning at some points I had high cliffs to the right on the single track road I was travelling on with the sea on the left with virtually no traffic. The roads on the whole were in pretty good condition. The next feed stop was at 61 miles and although the road started to kick up a bit I felt better going at a slower pace. The feed stop was a primary school at the top of a hill and all the cyclists funnelled in for coffee, tea and sandwiches. The room was quiet a combination of tiredness and knowing that the real hilly sections were yet to come. After eating and a trip to the loo I made my way back onto the bike and headed off again. Sure enough a couple of real nippy climbs ensued on already tired legs as we headed north back to Tobermory. The weather also turned, grey overcast and then rain but the miles ticked by and my trusty garmin read 80miles done with only seven more to go and then we hit Dervaig…. A lovely town I’m sure but it had a climb out of it the equivalent of the tak or the crow road, not what I was needing at this point in time and it had also started to rain harder! Miserable. The thought did cross my mind to stop for a breather but just down to sheer stubbornness I ploughed on. Eventually reached the top by which time I was running on autopilot and happy to amble into Tobermory. Route completed in 6hrs and 35minutes but I was just happy to complete, get off the bike and eat some real food. A fantastic sportive especially for the scenery but I don’t think I’ve completed one with such a tough finish. Definitely go back to Mull, but maybe I’ll drive round next time.☺Also shout out to Emma Lamont who completed the course as second fastest female and Julie Fitzpatrick third fastest. Congratulations to them.