The excitement built early on an apparently fine Sunday morning. Cyclists began arriving, shoes clicking across the tarmac and the hall floor even as registration desks were being set up; as the start banner was being tied to trees on the road outside. Trays of cakes were handed in.
Strathaven’s Gala Queen, Carly Redmond-White, and her Champion, William McVeigh, counted down, and hundreds of gears clicked round as slowly the peloton headed for the countryside, nervously anticipating the roads ahead, some drooling, desperate to reach Sandford.
The weather changed, and those roads became very challenging as the riders headed west. A detour this year took them to Loudoun Hill, and as they threw the bikes through the bends so that mighty volcanic plug disappeared as the clouds descended, drookit, windswept. Before long though they had the wind at their backs, and the Sandford tea urn was on the boil.
Not for all was the lure of the cake too tempting. The lead riders were checking in to St Pat’s in indecent haste, whilst others were still feasting. Orin McConville and Rhuari Yeoman, both from EK Road Club, led the field home, by some distance. They must have known there were more cakes and gallons of tea at the finish.
Meanwhile out on the roads weather conditions became kinder, and as the family run began in the afternoon the kids were blessed with sunshine. The long slog up to Ardochrig, where the total climb for the main run rose to over 2,500ft, was packed with parents being pulled along by energy-charged children, looking for their downhill section through the former forest section, turning at Whitelaw to pick up the tail wind on the run back to base, where certificates were grasped as parents wheezed and climbed tenderly from the saddle.