Bealach Mor

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Bealach Mor

Postby Nebulous » Mon Sep 05, 2011 7:22 am

Well folks as a new cyclist I do some stupid things - fools rush in and all that! Looking around in early spring for something to do I signed up for the Bealach Mor. 90 miles, biggest climb in Britain, what could be eaier? I received lots of advice - and even took some of it.

I got up there the night before, did about 20 miles to stretch my legs, but was dismayed by the wind. The climb up out of Kinlochewe was heavy going, with a strong headwind, and nowhere had that climb been mentioned as being of any significance at all.

The day dawned, very little wind but some persistent rain. I started about 9.15 and got in with a group that suited me and we made good progress. We were about 13 miles in heading along the side of the loch, going at almost 25 miles an hour when a well organised group went through as though we were standing still. I got to the big hill with very little drama, set off what I now recognise was far too fast, and overtook quite a few people. It went on forever- and then a bit more. I was thinking I must be almost there, this was easier than I expected, when I rounded a corner and saw the steepest bit stretching ahead, leading up to the hairpin bends. I don't know if my brain, my legs or my lungs gave up first - though it was probably a photofinish. I pushed myself a little bit further but then had to stop. Then I couldn't get clipped in because the hill was too steep - so I pushed my bike up to a passing place where I could launch myself sideways to get started. Meanwhile all the people I had passed, and quite a few more, made their way past me. I finished the climb in a disappointing 60 minutes.

The rest of the course went fairly uneventfully. Some good company, lots of sharp little hills that had a cumulative effect, some people fading away quite dramatically, other coming through looking quite fresh. I tired and really slowed towards the end, but then I realised I was on for 6 hours, saw the 5 mile to go sign, and did the last 5 really quite fast. Final time 5 hours 58, which is about as good as I could expect at this point in my life / training.

It was a great day, pouring rain, not a lot of wind, a real challenge - with the only disappointment being blowing up on the hill. Oh and the midgies - my legs are absolutely covered in bites. I never saw any of the other Ythan folk all day, but they were likely back, fed, showered and changed while I was still on the course!

Roll on next year.

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Re: Bealach Mor

Postby Andy D » Mon Sep 05, 2011 9:26 am

Well done James, that is by no means an easy acheivement getting sub 6 hours on that course in tough weather.

I read your write up with mixed emotions. I have tried (and failed) on 3 attempts (one serious) to get round in sub 5 hours and I just can't do it!! Last time was a couple of years back and I have vowed never to try again after a hurricane and pouring rain (I saw a full grown man blown off his bike, literally, in front of me at the top of the big hill).

BUT reading your account it reminds of those great roads again and my desire to ride round them in glorious sunshine, I am still kind of interested in doing it again but I have made a vow - can I stick to it?!?

Congratulations again on your ride, now have you tried the Cairngorm 100?? (I'm still having nightmares about failure in trying to crack the 5 hours on that one :roll: )
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Re: Bealach Mor

Postby Colin A » Mon Sep 05, 2011 3:02 pm

Well done Jim,

I've been blown off my bike on that hill :o , I can still remember turning a corner and seeing carnage in front of me and then being hit by the wind.

I have never seen the view form the top as it's always crap weather and I don't believe there is one.
May I remind you of that scene
with your arms aloft in Aberdeen
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Re: Bealach Mor

Postby Fiona Fudge » Mon Sep 05, 2011 5:29 pm

Well done Jim, very impressive effort.

I have also been physically blown off of my bike on that climb and have vowed never again!!! (Mr Duncan... NEVER AGAIN!!!)

For me the hardest part is the section around the coast after the big climb that goes up and down and up and down and up all those bloody little bumps!
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Re: Bealach Mor

Postby Bondie » Thu Sep 08, 2011 7:39 am

I notice that John Dougan was 15th overall with a time of 4:43:09 - (climb 41:29)
Lee Smith was 27th with a time of 4:52:36 - (climb 38:32)

I'm so impressed with both of these performances but John is the Ythan Sportive King and I've become complacent about, and not a little jealous, how well he does at every event.
Lee's performance on that climb must have been something to witness however - 38 minutes, can't believe it.

But far and away the most impressive thing is Jim the Rookie's time of under 6hrs.
I was dead on my feet at the end of the much shorter Beallach Beag so an additional 45 miles sounds absolutely impossible for my brain to compute.
Well done Jim, now you've set yourself a target to beat, you'll have to be back next year. And how about tackling your first century (almost) by doing the Cairngorm 100? (It's also great training in June for the Beallach Mor in September).

Great to see Ythanites doing so well and conquering so many great challenges. Well done.
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Re: Bealach Mor

Postby Bondie » Thu Sep 08, 2011 8:32 am

Interesting article in the Daily Record.
http://blogs.dailyrecord.co.uk/ironman/ ... IronMan%29
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Re: Bealach Mor

Postby leedelazouch » Tue Sep 13, 2011 11:57 am

Well done everyone including Gordon who forgot to dib in and I'm sure would have been well under 6 hours.. not bad considering he's only done about 500 miles since April and nothing for the 2 weeks leading upto the event.

38 mins prob sounds better than it looked... at one point the pace was so slow I thought I was going to topple over the side. I'm just gutted I left too early and got stuck for 22mins at the bottom of the climb :evil: Never mind.. theres always next year.
I must remember the Avon - Skin so soft ... An ex marine told me its great for Midgy repellent... I wonder how he figured that one out :?
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Re: Bealach Mor

Postby Andy D » Tue Sep 13, 2011 3:51 pm

Definitely no advantage setting off early, in my experience. Better to wait it out at the start and seek out a decent looking bunch to tag along with.

Johnny Dougan is the master of that and has posted some good times at various Sportives throughout Scotland and beyond using that technique and use of some good climbing legs.
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Re: Bealach Mor

Postby leedelazouch » Tue Sep 13, 2011 6:54 pm

Will def have to remember that for the next one.... these sportives are addictive.

Whats the Ullapool one like? Looks hard on paper
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Re: Bealach Mor

Postby Andy D » Tue Sep 13, 2011 9:31 pm

On paper it would be a nightmare, much better on tarmac!!

Only done it the once and weather was brutal, a common theme for me and Sportives. Not a particularly hard route, from what I remember, a couple of hefty-ish climbs but nothing in the Bealach bracket. Would recommend it though, as it is a lovely part of the world. They just need to sort their weather out.
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