No Fuss Tour de Ben Nevis 2011 - Adam’s Story…

September 30 2011

Adam Proctor is the Orange Bikes sales rep, he also rides bikes...

At the World Cup in Fort William in July I shook hands with John to do the Tour de Ben Nevis after having a beer or two. Well I thought it would be OK, we have a few months to train and it seemed like a good event last year when I was looking after the van with the display bikes.  The months rolled by and although I rode the bike quite a bit I just never really got around to getting any big rides in of a similar distance to the tour. As the event got closer I would speak to John to see what riding he had been doing and again that was very little.  The last visit when he was in the factory we both had a joking/serious conversation about not doing it but neither of us would actually say the words “I don’t want to it”…

Orange Bikes Adam Proctor

Awkward game face...

So on a wet morning in September we were stood on the start line waiting for the start of the tour, I wasn’t too sure if we would make it round, there seemed to be quite a lot of “athletes” on the start line and I don’t think John and I fit into that category.  As the race rolled out all I can remember is John describing the first climb as being quite brutal from when he was driven up the previous year to take photos. 

Orange Bikes Tour de Ben Nevis

The Fort William High street, so it begins...

The race started with a road climb that eventually changed to a track.  When I agreed to do the Tour with John we agreed to do it together and look after each other. I think this lasted for about ten minutes until I lost him in the pack after chatting to some friends, when I stopped to take my jacket off  riders passed me and I didn’t know if John was behind or in front so I just kept on riding. I would wait at the top for him or hopefully catch him if he was in front. After climbing for what felt like forever I arrived near the top. John arrived after stopping to take lots of photos on the way for the website and Facebook.

Orange Bikes Adam Proctor

The waiting game...

Special stage 1 then awaited, this was the best riding of the whole day, perfect technical singletrack, water bars, rocks and more rocks… It could also be known as puncture alley! Judging by the amount of people mending punctures at the bottom on the road.

Orange Bikes Tour de Ben Nevis

Punctures aplenty, a clear run keeps you on the optimum line... 

Next there was another brutal road climb, which had even more elevation than the first one, part of this climb was special stage two and that was an uphill climb with rough sections where it had recently been resurfaced, this climb hurt a lot!! Again I lost John when he was taking more photos and maybe the peanut butter sandwich he ate at the bottom before the dibber wasn’t helping his climbing speed. So after all this climbing we thought there must be another awesome descent, how wrong could I be, yes it did drop but not as much as you would have though for the effort we had put in on the climb. Then there was a long section where you ride along side a loch. The loch was beautiful just like all the mini lochs we were riding through that were on the track after all the rain Scotland had over the previous week.

Orange Bikes

Mini-lochs kept the tracks intersting,..

We approached the infamous river crossing, I had been a bit worried about this being neck deep and getting washed away. I was relieved when we arrived and it had been moved downstream to shallower waters. A paddle across the river and then the start of special stage 3. This one was the hike a bike! And not a little hike a bike but a push and carry that seemed to last forever! This is the point I lost John until the end of the race.  I was a little way up the climb and turned around to see John taking more photos, after all that was the reason why he was doing the tour and I decided that I was going to keep going. It was cold waiting around all the time and I wanted to be home that weekend!

Orange Bikes Tour de Ben Nevis

The hike-a-bike was a real challenge, fell running skills a definite bonus... 

Feeling a little guilty about abandoning him I dug in, pushed, carried and rode (a very small section) to the top. Then there was a boggy lottery descent where you had no idea when you hit some of the boggy bits how deep they were so keeping your weight back was key to getting through them. Eventually I arrived at another river crossing and this was the end of special stage 3. There were loads of riders filling their hydration packs up from the water and plenty people refuelling before the long forty mile an hour fire road descent. Normally I would be really mad if I had climbed so hard and for so long to lose all the height and descend on a fireroad but today I made an exception, it was so nice to feel the miles ticking away as you cruise down the fireroad not having to pedal. 

Orange Bikes Tour de Ben Nevis Adam Proctor

Content after ticking off a few easy miles...

Arriving at the feed station at the bottom of the descent I stopped to talk to Michael one of my colleagues and I said to him I felt pretty good, how wrong was I. I turned into the woods and started to ride along this rough, muddy slightly uphill singletrack and just seemed to blow. The riders in front of me were pulling away and the ones behind were catching.  So after plodding along for about a mile, I decided to stop for some Haribo… Booommm

Orange Bikes Haribo

BOOM!!

Luckily there wasn’t too much climbing left to do because when they ran out I knew I would hit the wall again. Arriving at the top of the final climb up to the Blue Crane felt awesome and a relief that the 1700 metres of climbing were complete. Just a special stage decent down some of the manmade sections at Aonach Mor which were superb, and then a spin back along the road into town to the finish.

Orange Bikes Adam Proctor

Home and dry, well, home...

Over 7 hours riding done and I was surprised how I felt, yes I was tired but pleased that I had completed it. I would have been pleased finishing in the top half so when we got the results 97th out of 320 I was pretty happy. Finishing quite well in the downhill stages brought up my overall result.

Orange Five Tour de Ben Nevis Adam Proctor

The perfect Tour de Ben Nevis setup?

 Will I be back next year? I sure will, it’s a great event, great people, proper mountain biking, and I want to get fitter and see if I can beat this years result… I might even train next year to beat Dave! 

 

Dave: GAME ON!!

 

 

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