It’s the final day of the year and of the Festive 500. Getting to spend so much time on the bike has been a fantastic way to top off the year, but it has also meant that I’ve been neglecting my family a touch. So, after looking at the winds for the day, a plan is hatched to meet them at the harbour in Stonehaven for lunch. Catching a tail wind for the majority of the ride will be a nice finish to the 500!
– THROUGH THE WOODS –
The route is pretty straightforward today and carries me through lower hills of Angus farmland and into Aberdeenshire. After heading though Edzell and Fettercairn, the road starts to climb to the foot of the Cairn O’Mount. This is the biggest climb in the area. While it’s not incredibly long, at 3.2km, it climbs 323m and starts from flat to a 16% ramp and finishes with ramps of 17% – even though the sign at the bottom reads 16%.
It’s a beaut of a climb and definitely deserves to be in the 100 climbs. But today I turn right at the base and instead head up the 12% climb into Drumtochty Glen, a lovely winding bit of single track road that carries you through forests and past Drumtochty Castle. I then head on to the second castle of the ride, Dunnottar (oh Scotland, you do spoil us!).
– CASTLE TO HARBOUR –
After a quick photo op at, what surely has to be, one of the UK’s most scenic castles – it’s a short, quick blast downhill into Stonehaven where I meet my wife and daughter for some celebratory eats. My little girl is incredibly excited to see me – jumping up and down on the spot, before sternly telling me I’m banned from cycling for the next six days. Unless I ride out with her.
– FIN –
It’s with a huge sense of relief that I climb out of the saddle and – after a nail-biting wait while I try to get a phone signal – find that Strava has indeed recored the ride in full. I immediately order a beer.
It’s been an incredibly varied set of rides – borderline hypothermia, a snow filled solo century taking me through highlands and farmlands, a spin to the shops, a classic loop in Edinburgh with mates, a solo gran fondo through little known glens, and finishing with riding to a lunch date with family. All the while celebrating the holidays and the food and drink that goes with it, without any of the guilt!!!
Despite the stormy weather and other challenges along the way, I’m already certain that I’ll be signing up again next year. I’ve loved seeing all the photos and stories from all over the world, as others get in their 500km.
If you’ve been thinking of giving it a go, but just haven’t quite worked up the motivation yet, then 2017 could be your year. See you out there!
Roll on 2017