Cycle sportives : Argyll style

Pete Creech moved to Argyll 15 years ago. Last year, along with his wife Sue, he started the Crown House B&B in Ford. He is the coordinator at Blarbuie Woodlands, a mental health charity/social enterprise in Lochgilphead, and also finds time for some maintenance at Kilmartin Museum, the occasional roofing job and to volunteer for the Scottish Beaver Trial. A keen cyclist, walker, coastal rower, photographer and wildlife enthusiast he can usually be found attached to a bicycle.

Pete Creech

Cycle sportives are a phenomenon of the 21st Century. Long hailed as the exclusive preserve of the MAMIL (Middle-Aged Men in Lycra) brigade there are now a bewildering range of events to take part in. From lung-busting 100 mile plus rides over unspeakably hilly terrain to gentle 10 mile ambles through the countryside, on or off road, all tastes, ages and genders are catered for.

Typically, Argyll has its own take on the sportive format. Some, such as the Oban Sportive and Kintyre Ultra conform to the more ‘traditional’ format with a high-level of support, feed stations, first aid provision and technical back up.

Others, such as the Ride of the Falling Rain on Islay are literally a group of folk getting together for a ride and meeting up at various points en-route, in this case coffee shops and a distillery!

Some are community-run and will benefit a particular local charity or organisation (such as the Mull Sportive and Oban Sportive), others are club-confined.

The Mid Argyll Triathlon and Cycle Club have run a sportive over the last couple of years stretching from Kilberry to Kilmelford. You can do both or either of the loops and there is a lunch stop in the middle. Again, not the traditional format, but then what would you expect in Argyll?

If it’s your first attempt. Relax! You can find an awful lot of information on the Internet about preparation, fitness regimes, and sport-related food products (for this read a range of gels and ‘nutrition bars’). Happily there has been a bit of comeback for real food. The Oban Sportive advertises its ‘legendary home-baking’, available at the feed stations. Bananas, flapjack, oatcakes, jelly babies and chocolate provide most of my nutrition along with a hefty porridge, fruit and toast breakfast.

Liquid is vital. Drink every 10 miles at least, more often if it’s hot and always before you feel thirsty. Likewise with food, eat before you’re hungry. Hitting ‘the wall’ after 90 miles will find you trying to cram an entire bar of Cadbury’s in