Day 6 signalled the end of England and the start of Scotland. A huge landmark for these riders although with eyes firmly focused on the prize at John O’Groats many simply cruised through the ‘Failté’ signs and pushed on up towards Glasgow.
It was with relief that day 6 dawned clear and dry and the riders could get on the road again. After a damp start it was good to see people smiling as the bodies warmed up and the smooth flat roads took them towards Carlisle. It always seems that the lowest point for riders is when they stumble out of bed at 5.30am when the sky is still dark and the cold of the night is in the bones. However, after a pee, some tea or coffee, some porridge, cooked breakfast and a brushing of teeth the sky is bright again and they are ready to ride another 100 miles. Considering the majority of people spend their time in heated or air-conditioned offices, it is extraordinary how much time people spend discussing the weather. For Deloitte RAB riders though the difference between wind, rain, hot and cold is enormous. It affects everything from how you sleep, to what it is like on the camp. That said, the class of 2012 are a philosophical bunch and are taking it all in their stride.
The route of Day 6 took people along a steady flat stage up into Scotland. This meant that we had quiet wide roads for people to gather together and ride as one as the Scottish hills began to rise around them. The reports of the group-riding coming in remain positive with one example where a chaperone rode up to a group without his official gear on and the riders who had started the week with minimal knowledge were welcomed him in, explained rider etiquette, calls and hand signals before he politely informed them he was a highly experienced cycling coach. A proud moment for Route Director Andy Cook.
With far fewer traffic lights or junctions to contend with the pace was quick with all the riders in well before the broom wagon cut off at 7pm. After the wet of Hutton-in-the-Forest it was a welcome relief to be on solid ground at Hamilton racecourse. The site was equipped with the usual things, but with a comfy bar, a huge dining tent and plenty of dry floor the riders spread out and basked in the warmth in preparation for a big Day 7
Due to wanting to get the riders through Glasgow when they were fresh, Day 7 had always been scheduled as big one. We made the call early to put in a ‘Queen stage’ of 127 miles. However, with the inclement weather causing a landslide and over-running bridge works on the route we have had to extend this to 134 miles! During the briefing there was a tense atmosphere as the team ran through the coming day. The focus for everyone was to be on two things.
- Safety of all riders on the road and at basecamps.
- Ensuring we get as many people across the line as we can
In a change from the usual light-hearted banter, it was a time to all focus in and to do everything possible to ensure the above. Advice on kit and nutrition strategies from James Cracknell was accompanied by pacing advice from Andy Cook and also an appeal to the riders to help one another. With bad weather forecast, Day 7 may well be the defining day of the ride. Nobody will remember the fastest person, but all will remember those who help others in a dark patch and get them across the finish line as one. A day for More Is In You.
Day 7 –Hamilton to Fort William, 134 miles
Riding from Hamilton Racecourse to Fort William is on a par with the first two days of the Ride with regard to toughness. The day begins with riders tackling the Glasgow suburbs to the East of the city, prior to crossing the Campsie Fells, skirting the edge of the Trossachs and passing through Glen Ogle. Then, they will cross Rannoch Moor and the famous Glen Coe Pass before finishing for the night at Fort William. The final ten miles of the day are flat! However, this is the longest stage on Deloitte RAB at 134 miles. It should be noted that the climbs in Scotland are much less steep but tend to go on longer… With strong Westerly winds in prospect it’s going to be a tough one.