Trekking through the rain

4 intrepid riders met up on a very wet and windy day last Saturday to take on the 200km Audax Highwayman Challenge, writes David Knox; David Kaminski, 2 of my friends (Gordon and Simon) and myself. While in Girvan Academy car park we had to decide whether to follow in Noah’s footsteps and make a grab for some hammers and nails or should we just grab the bikes and man up, thankfully we chose the latter.

Just as we set off we were joined by another two hardy riders; Robin Ti and Mountain Man. We made good time to the 1st check point despite the wind and the rain. On our way to Newton Stewart David Kaminski managed to find a pot hole which punctured his rear tyre and broke one of his spokes. The tyre was easily fixed however the wheel was not. David manfully carried on although he had started to resemble a Latin dancer as his buckled rear wheel wobbled about! Further delays were experienced when Gordon managed to pick up two punctures from the same pot hole and this is all before we hit the Raiders road. Thankfully the group escaped any further punctures over the 7 miles of unsealed dirt track that is better known as the Raiders Road. Following our second check point and a quick refuelling on homemade pancakes we decided to push on to the Metropolis that is known as Moniave.

70 miles in we reach Moniave, Mr Kaminski aka Snake Hips spots a pub and suggests lunch, he was outvoted 5:1 and the group headed to the local Café. Snake Hips then disappears inside the café first whilst clutching a fiver. When the rest of us arrive we are informed by the staff that they are hosting a “wedding” and would it be OK if they serve us lunch in the pub attached to the cafe. There was no sign of Snake Hips fiver after this point!!! Following a well-deserved lunch and meeting the breadth of Moniaves population our group managed to escape and headed up the hill out on to the moors. Here Gordon picked up his third ever puncture on a road bike and David managed to loose yet another spoke. Following this David changed his dance style from Latin to Hawaiian but still he struggled on!!

Upon arrival at Loch Doon (95miles in) the weather suddenly changed and a bright yellow ball appeared in the sky this proved Snake Hips ascertain that “It cannot rain for the full 129 miles” Yet another section of unsealed road awaited us and we were all concerned as to whether David’s rear wheel would make it, but make it it did!! At this point Mountain Man pointed out that Wheel Craft are one of the best wheel smiths in the country (excluding Walkers obviously) and they even deliver internationally. As quick as a flash David picked up his phone but was disappointed to discover that although they deliver internationally they cannot deliver in a moment’s notice!!! This was the last we saw of Mountain Man and Robin Ti

Next stop Straiton on dryish roads and no rain!!! It was here that some of us managed to acquire our “going home legs” which was just as well because the hill that greeted us out of Straiton was a Duracell Bunny. So just as we are starting to dry out and reach the top of the hill the heavens open and we find ourselves reconsidering if we should have grabbed those hammers in the first place!! We struggled on through this deluge whilst looking on the bright side – “At least it is cleaning off the worst of the dirt”

After 11 hours cycling in some of the worst condition I have ever experienced 4 very tired but surprisingly cheery cyclist complete the 129 miles of the Highwayman Challenge. So after a cup of coffee and some cake in the school we all thought we had survived this epic cycle unscathed, however as we made our way down to the car park Snake Hips discovered that when you have your hands full you cannot actually pull on your brakes!! So off he went careering down the hill towards a brick wall. Thankfully he managed to stop just before the wall!!! A great ride with some fantastic company and thankfully no injuries apart from some minor cases of trench foot.

Did I mention it was raining?:lol!:

Meanwhile over in the 100km event, newcomer Andy Mitchell joined a field of 30 riders and headed southeast out of Girvan and up the hill to Barrhill. The tricky route took him through Pinwherry and on to Knowe where he had first puncture of the day a mere 2,300 metres from the first control point. His journey then took him to the climb up the Shalloch past the Davie Bell memorial. At this point the rain was coming down in sheets and mist was making visibility poor near the summit. A sharp and fast descent took him to the second control point in Straiton with only a nice run in to the finish at Girvan. He completed the 100km in 5hrs – very creditable for a cycling newbie.