|by Wallace Shackleton (Fife & Kinross DA)
The Forth Flattie - 105 km Audax. The Flattie is a good
opener to the New Year, an almost flat run from Dalgety Bay to Bo’ness,
and then to Stirling, a control point at Bridge of Allan, then back to
Dalgety Bay by way of Alloa, Kincardine and Culross.
The weather considering it was mid-winter could not
have been better, sunny though bitterly cold, which ensured a good turn
out: 105 riders were registered 95 started from Dalgety Bay.
As the pack moved off I assumed my traditional position
near the back of the pack, giving the “roadies” a better chance to form
a more orderly the queue for the soup at the finish. From the start all
went well until the run up to the Forth Road Bridge, fog and frost covered
the bridge the fog also made my asthma to become worse; the cold moist
air plays havoc with my lungs. Full marks to the bridge authority for
gritting the service road, not a good place to skid; the ditches on both
sides are rather deep and very water logged!
Stopped by the bridge control building to don my reflective
waistcoat made in three subtle shades of migraine; yellow, orange and
3M reflective and to switch on the backlights. It was strange riding in
the fog, small hills looked like mountains and by this time I was alone,
out of 95 riders on the road I was alone. The fog had another effect -
frost. I could feel it on my moustache and see it building up on my gloves
and in my water bottle. I had underestimated this run, this is one for
real cyclists, not just summer day-trippers!
A short stop at a secret control point then off to
Bo’ness, felt a strong pull to go down and see if there were any choo-choos
around, however common sense won the day and I cycled through the town
to Grangemouth. Cycling past the refineries brought out the industrial
tourist in me, I had heard there was a building with the Scottish Oils
insignia, a relic of the first Scottish oil boom, and a founder company
of British Petroleum I think I found the building at the end of the row.
After that boredom set in, it was not too far away
to start with, for something to do I decided to wide within the limits
of my heart rate monitor.
Out of Grangemouth, through Skinflats and Airth in
the company of Andy and his recumbent trike, learnt a lot on the way,
the most important lessons were not to pace a `bent on the flat and they
are hopeless to draft behind! Some day I would like to ride the Flattie
on a `bent, at least I would not have to worry about numbness and saddle
Said my goodbyes near Throsk, needed to slow down for
a bit, well that was the plan, except that I met up with Douglas McArthur
and was towed along for a bit before common sense kicked back in. Stopped
briefly at Fallin to have a look at the memorial to the miners killed
in the Polmaise No. 3 & 4 pits… what a way to earn a living. On to Stirling
I was not looking forward to the town roundabouts, however they turned
out to be uneventful - safety in numbers was a big help. A canoeist in
the river around the old bridge reminded me that I was not the only one
foolish enough to be out in the cold today. Past the prison and on to
Bridge of Allan and the Allan Water Café control point, until the moment
I stood in the queue to get my card stamped I was set on continuing on
without stopping, but I am glad to say that the sight of so much good
food got the better of me. A baked spud, a slice of caramel shortcake
and a cappuccino set me on the right road. Now onward to Alloa, I wanted
this stage over with as quick as possible, this case of red road phobia
was entirely justified… aaarrgh Sunday drivers, they’re out to get me!
I managed to make up some time, catching up and shamelessly
drafting behind Loraine and Charlie Brown. Later on I started to flag.
Clackmannan, one little hill and we were descending down to Kincardine.
Round the town and we were out on the road to Culross. My head was starting
to pound, too long in the saddle at high heart rates; oh dear I’m going
pay for today’s fun! A quick stop in Culross for a swig at my ice bottle,
pop a couple of painkillers and I was off again, this time on my own.
Through Low Valleyfield, past another mining monument, then Newmills where
the pack caught up with me and then up the penultimate hill to the Cairneyhill
roundabout. Went around without any problem then out on the last leg to
Rosyth, I dropped off the back of the pack only to rejoin at Rosyth, around
the Admiralty, Inverkeithing and Dalgety Bay roundabouts, nearly there….
one last hill and it was all over, a good hour longer than my previous
100s. This was certainly a challenge, the Iditarod of Central Scotland…
now what’s next?
My thanks must go to Dougie Latto and everyone that
turned up to help… not forgetting the staff at the Marconi Club and those
rejuvenating bowls of soup.
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