Caledonian Cogal V

Caledonian Cogal V

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Perfection

The fifth Cogal to be held in Scotland will tackle what is considered to be the UK’s toughest road climb, the famed Bealach Na Ba (Pass of the Cattle) Wester Ross. Rising from sea level to 626m in 10km, this jewel is the closest thing to a true Alpine pass that Britain has to offer. For anyone thinking that this is it, be advised that the total climbing for the 144km ride is 2770m and this is only on day 1. Day 2 will be shorter (70km)but being the Scottish Highlands will not be flat. Did I not mention that this is a weekend event? Hell yes!

Lodgings are available in the Kinlochewe Hotel where pre ride espresso and post ride recovery beverages will be taken. The hardy will share the attached 12 bed bunkhouse whilst those who demand a greater degree of comfort can stay in the hotel itself. Tel 01445 730253 to book in.

Join us UK based Velominati, for what will undoubtedly be a rugged classic.

Route Day 1: http://www.strava.com/routes/98589 Day 2: To be decided over beer.

VLVV

JohnB

Event Details

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Date/Time
Date - August 23, 2014 - August 24, 2014
8:05 AM - 8:30 PM

Location
Kinlochewe Hotel

Cogal Details
Route Details

Ride Classification

// Casually Deliberate (No Drop) // Cogal

  1. Foch me.  This looks bloody brilliant!

    If I had a larger pair, I’d come up with some way to trick the wife and work into letting me make the trip over.  I’ve never been to Scotland and would dearly love to do so.

    Mother’s maiden name -Robertson.  Her Mother’s maiden name – Sutherland.  My Grandfather’s first name was Athol for fuck’s sake – couldn’t imagine a more legit Scottish handle than that!

    The Highlands is in my blood!

  2. @JohnB

    @strathlubnaig Bloody work but unavoidable I suppose. You’ll be missed.

    Looking forward the weekend and also hoping for decent late summer weather and few midges. The little biters are apparently now immune to Avon Skin So Soft woodland spray. Researching the latest effective potion.

    Don’t worry. My wife is a magnet for bitey insects – anything boasting a penetrative proboscis within 50 miles will be forming a queue for blood, and leaving the rest of us alone.

    My eldest son is the same, with the added bonus that he comes up in massive bites afterwards.

    Works for the rest of us. But I suppose in fairness I should remind her of the need to bring something repellant, other than me.

  3. I’ll be driving up from Callander and will have a space in the motor for one extra Velominatus and their steed – any takers?

  4. @JohnB

    Anyone visiting this site for the first time and on seeing the map wondering if the Kinlochewe Hotel is indeed in the middle of Loch Tay, be assured it’s not.

    I don’t know – it does rain a LOT in Scotland. The loch level might just rise enough . . .

    Why didn’t this kind of fun exist when I lived in Scotland? I had to make do with time trials and Audax 200 rides back in the day.

    Have a blast and fingers crossed for dry roads and sunny skies.

  5. @JohnB

    @JohnB

    @strathlubnaig Bloody work but unavoidable I suppose. You’ll be missed.

    Looking forward the weekend and also hoping for decent late summer weather and few midges. The little biters are apparently now immune to Avon Skin So Soft woodland spray. Researching the latest effective potion.

    Bollox! Just bought Skin So Soft with this weekend in mind, guess I will just have to ride in a boiler suit and a balaclava.

  6. @eenies

    @JohnB

    @JohnB

    @strathlubnaig Bloody work but unavoidable I suppose. You’ll be missed.

    Looking forward the weekend and also hoping for decent late summer weather and few midges. The little biters are apparently now immune to Avon Skin So Soft woodland spray. Researching the latest effective potion.

    Bollox! Just bought Skin So Soft with this weekend in mind, guess I will just have to ride in a boiler suit and a balaclava.

    Not stopping helps I’ve found…

  7. Only a couple of weeks to go now, really looking forward to this one! When is the appropriate time to start the excuses…

  8. @campbellrae1

    Only a couple of weeks to go now, really looking forward to this one! When is the appropriate time to start the excuses…

    January

  9. Smidge is the stiff that works the best against the midge.

    Oh, and below is a rough guide wot I wrote about cycling speeds in the hielans.

     It occurred to me that for the visiting cyclist to the highlands of Scotland, a general ready reckoner to bicycle speed may be useful. This may be because they do not have a cyclometer or do not wish to switch on their mobile phone in order to avoid roaming charges, who knows, but I have written this handy guide which they could print out and tape to their stem.

    -1 You are still in the pub

    0  Stopped or near stationary due to steep incline, midges feast upon you, ticks make camp. Move faster or die a terrible death.

    1. Midges easily catch you, ticks can still latch on as you crawl past shrubbery. Clegs (horse flies) commence aeriel assaults.

    2. You are dropping the midges like sprinters on an alpine stage, the clegs still easily draft behind you and continue to chew on your flesh.

    3. The clegs toil to land, but the back of your knees is a weak point. You can see a caravan in the distance.

    4. Insects are in the broom wagon, you are drafting behind a caravan.

    5. You are able to put the hammer down and barely pass the caravan at a passing place. The driver goves you a severe look, looking surprised.

    6. A tractor towing hay bales provides a handy drafting opportunity, but be aware of when they turnoff, no brake lights or signals.

    7. Its FSA now, you can easily scoot past the convoys of caravans. Loaded log trucks still blitz past you though, but the blow past gives you an extra 5k.

    8. A good idea to keep the mouth closed, otherwise you will swallow flies, bees, wasps etc. Direct hits to the face leave a bruise.

    9. Pretty dang fast, collision with a spooked grouse or pheasant will kill the bird and break a spoke, or worse.

    10. Terminal velocity, any errant sheep jumping out will result in the likely death of both parties, or worse, severe damage to the carbon frame.

    Happy cycling.

  10. @kixsand get yirsel over here man, you can pretend you are me and have my bunkhouse spot, nae excuses.

  11. @strathlubnaig So the optimum range is between being attacked by insects and ingesting them.

    Weather look tricky but I guess we’ll get a better idea later in the week.

    From the wind warning in today’s forecast: “The public should be aware of possible minor disruption to transport and of the risks to those engaged in outdoor activities.”

    At least that should deter the midges.

  12. I’m going to be leaving Glasgow reasonably sharp on Friday morning and will head out for a ride in the afternoon if anyone fancies joining me(or wants a lift)? So long as the weather isn’t too Rule #9… Probably spin down to Torridon then along the Lower Diabaig road and back, I think it’s about 62km, but with a couple of really hard climbs between Torridon and Lower Diabaig.

  13. @campbellrae1 Sorry, forced to head up after work so not arriving until evening. Hopeful to depart about 4.30pm. 4 hour drive at best.

  14. Completely doing my nut in missing this, however I have officially given up my bunkhoose slot (2 nights) so anyone who needs a spot get in quick.

    Enjoy yirsels, barstewards…..

  15. @strathlubnaig I tried to get another club mate who is home from his offshore stint to take your slot but he’s racing. Making the most of his time at home but needing brought back from the dark side. Saturday he was bronze medallist in the Cross Triathlon World Champs (40 – 44 age group) in Germany. A Cogal would have provided the perfect opportunity for some Rule #3 guidance.

  16. Just looked at the forecast – we may need jerseys with sleeves

  17. @the Engine

    Just looked at the forecast – we may need jerseys with sleeves

    9 Celsius maximum – that’s a differential of about 25 degrees from my current average riding temperature.

    And a 50% chance of rain.

    There are not going to be enough layers.

    One day I will have a nice cogal, maybe.

  18. @ChrisO

    @the Engine

    Just looked at the forecast – we may need jerseys with sleeves

    9 Celsius maximum – that’s a differential of about 25 degrees from my current average riding temperature.

    And a 50% chance of rain.

    There are not going to be enough layers.

    One day I will have a nice cogal, maybe.

    I’m sooo sorry I couldn’t make it!  I couldn’t help notice the reports for an Arctic Blast with possible snow in Scotland in the paper yesterday.  Next year let’s plan for something in June or July!  Have a great one – looks like UK will be the home for Rule #9 Cogals again this year.

  19. I’m taking a big bag filled with options for almost all weather conditions.  Saturday looks showery and as @ChrisO has pointed out, cold up and over the Bealach. Sunday looks dry for now. We’ll be fine. Fuel stop at the Applecross Inn, lets hope they have a fire burning.

    Scotland in August eh? June or July is just as much of a lottery!

  20. @JohnB

    I’m taking a big bag filled with options for almost all weather conditions. Saturday looks showery and as @ChrisO has pointed out, cold up and over the Bealach. Sunday looks dry for now. We’ll be fine. Fuel stop at the Applecross Inn, lets hope they have a fire burning.

    Scotland in August eh? June or July is just as much of a lottery!

    I wasn’t necessarily thinking about Scotland in June or July next year………..

  21. Snow on Ben Macdui today. But thats a bit higher than the Bealach, so dont fret. I dont want to be reading about any abandonments next week, so keep Rule #9 in focus and Rule #5 front and centre. Remember, climbing off only feels good for about ten seconds.

  22. @strathlubnaig I’ve packed full winter gear.

    I may even not ride in V-kit if it’s really grim (and don’t forget I reach my lower-grim threshold a long way before you guys) but I will still do my best to Look Fantastic.

  23. @Teocalli Good thinking. France.

  24. If anyone is at the bunkhouse this evening and fancies some dinner, I will have enough for another person(chicken and chorizo pasta). Let me know if you want it, otherwise it’ll be going to waste. Will probably be eating some time between 6-7.

  25. Brief update now I’m home. The beauty of a Cogal on the Highlands as well as majestic scenery is no 3G signal and ropey ‘free’ wifi.

    Suffice to say at this time that a damn fine time was had by all, the weather was, in the main, quite agreeable, Highland road surfaces are a cut above the rest of the country, @ChrisO is a pedalling machine and the Kinlochewe Hotel has a magnificent range of ales.

    Report and some pics to follow.

  26. @JohnB

    Brief update now I’m home. The beauty of a Cogal on the Highlands as well as majestic scenery is no 3G signal and ropey ‘free’ wifi.

    Suffice to say at this time that a damn fine time was had by all, the weather was, in the main, quite agreeable, Highland road surfaces are a cut above the rest of the country, @ChrisO is a pedalling machine and the Kinlochewe Hotel has a magnificent range of ales.

    Report and some pics to follow.

    Nice one all.

  27. Braw effort loons, look forward to reading a highlights report thru my green tinged shades.

  28. Thanks @JohnB for organising a braw weekend on the bikes, great roads and company and home with sore legs and only a few midge bites.

  29. another who’ll read with green tinted glasses.

    Did you know Cherbourg to Caen (Ouistreum) is 128km by bike? Or that Caen to Dieppe is 158km? by happy coincidence all three places are ports, served by overnight ferries from the UK? And I belive France is home to some great bars.

    I’m just saying, that’s all……

    David

  30. @davidlhill

    another who’ll read with green tinted glasses.

    Did you know Cherbourg to Caen (Ouistreum) is 128km by bike? Or that Caen to Dieppe is 158km? by happy coincidence all three places are ports, served by overnight ferries from the UK? And I belive France is home to some great bars.

    I’m just saying, that’s all……

    David

    I like your thinking.

  31. @JohnB

    @davidlhill

    another who’ll read with green tinted glasses.

    Did you know Cherbourg to Caen (Ouistreum) is 128km by bike? Or that Caen to Dieppe is 158km? by happy coincidence all three places are ports, served by overnight ferries from the UK? And I belive France is home to some great bars.

    I’m just saying, that’s all……

    David

    I like your thinking.

    Or Cherbourg St Malo for a longer distance……..though I think their altitudes are a bit out!

    http://www.mapmyride.com/fr/saint-malo-brittany/france-st-malo-gt-cherbourg-route-682247

  32. A great weekend indeed, cheers guys! Legs are just about recovered now.

    Like the suggestion for the one way ride in France, never ridden in that area so would be keen! Are they served from the same port in the UK?

  33. Ferry to ferry in a day, sounds good, need to work out logistics of it unless some kind soul drives a support vehicle. Anyway, fars the foties of the weekend ?

  34. @JohnB was the designated photographer in your absence, I’m sure they are in the pipeline somewhere.

  35. I’m just back in wi-fi range after another 12 hour drive yesterday – the Kinlochewe Hotel was lovely, with fine breakfasts, excellent ales and a magnificent whisky selection but rubbish internet.

    I’m just uploading and sorting photos and will post some soon. But just to say it was a great trip, and what a fine bunch the Scottish Velominati were. Mrs ChrisO and Fitz the Velomidoggie also say hi.

    Thanks for organising and thanks even more for making Mrs ChrisO realise that I do not have more bikes and more kit than anyone else on the planet, and in fact I am a modest and reasonable man.

    Apart from the cycling we had a lovely anniversary weekend. Monday was an utterly glorious day – I did a dawn ride to Gairloch and back, and later we drove back there. The beach is beautiful and we had lunch sitting outdoors in t-shirts with not a midge in sight. It’s a stunning part of the world.

    The only blight was my bloody Garmin played up and has gone haywire for the second half of the ride. It did at least get the Bealach section but isn’t recording my time against the Strava segments. I would have been in the top 50, but c’est la vie.

    Oh and Ron I have a story to add about latex tubes – not a pretty one and it could have ended in nasty disaster but more later. First and last time I use Vredestein.

  36. @campbellrae1

    A great weekend indeed, cheers guys! Legs are just about recovered now.

    Like the suggestion for the one way ride in France, never ridden in that area so would be keen! Are they served from the same port in the UK?

    St Malo, Cherbourg, Caen are all served by Portsmouth………

    But come Autumn the overnight crossings become scarcer. For example, if an October Cogal was planned using over night ferries that would probaly mean Caen to St Malo.  Ferry leaves Portsmouth around 11pm, depositing us in Caen at 7am. The ferry leaves st Malo 8.30pm on Saturday. And only 200 km between the two ports!

    David

  37. just noticed – Le Havre to Caen could be a 137km ride along the coast, taking in Honfleur, Deauville and Cabourg……..

    Must do some work!

    David

  38. If you’re tackling Caen-St Malo I’d expect something along these lines in terms of the amount of style on show.

    Lifted brazenly from the FB profile Sthilzy mentioned on the rules page…there’s days to be lost there.

  39. @Mikael Liddy

    If you’re tackling Caen-St Malo I’d expect something along these lines in terms of the amount of style on show.

    Lifted brazenly from the FB profile Sthilzy mentioned on the rules page…there’s days to be lost there.

    If only July 9th 2015 had been on a weekend.  Though it does raise the possibility of a close reproduction on say the 11/12 July.  Vintage bikes preferred?

  40. Caledonian Cogal V or as it became known, The Tour of the Cattle Grids.

    This being the 5th Cogal to be run in Scotland since October 2012, it was appropriate that the occasion was suitably marked.  I live in a scenically dull part of the country and in any case the 2nd Scottish Cogal ran by pretty close to home.  There was only 1 place #5 could be held to pay due respect to The V irrespective of the best (or worst) of a Scottish summer.

    The Bealach Na Ba (Pass of the Cattle, although nowadays they won’t get very far unless all the side gates are left open) is as near as it gets in mainland UK to an Alpine pass. Rising from sea level to 626m in 10k with sections proudly signposted as 1 in 5 and with hairpins, the remainder of the route with a further 2000m (that’s metres) of berg like ascent and some corkscrew descent ensures that post ride recovery beverages will be well earned.

    The 7 participants, reduced by 1 thanks to a late work enforced call off by a most pissed off Strathlubnaig, travelled north on Friday 22nd. For some this was a 12 hour journey, for those closest it was still 3 hours drive. The Engine, plus ChrisO his VMH Sophie and VMD Fitz had elected for the comforts of the hotel while the other 5 shared the attached bunkhouse with 6 walkers, facing the delight of ‘last in gets the top of the triple bunks’. I looked on it as altitude training but if I did need the loo in the middle of the night while still half asleep there was going to be an almighty crash and probably tears.

    Enough of the scene setting. To the ride. Saturday morning was as wet at the forecasters had predicted although there was a hint of watery sun poking round some very dark clouds off in the distance. A steady westerly faced us but let no-one claim Rule #9. It was Scotland in summer, positively balmy for 144kms.

    Mrs ChrisO was the co-opted DS and carried the full waterproof layers if required for later. From the off, a climb up and over to Achnasheen was the warm up, from there it was a flat run to Lochcarron. Forming 2 lines ChrisO casually swung his right arm and 18km of through and off commenced, only lining out when Single Track with Passing Places was reached for the first of many times that day.

    After 57km, turning left onto the Bealach, the group settled into their own rhythms to the summit. As the road rose sharply and on the views opened up ahead, I could see a figure in the distance. Such was the climbing speed my first thought was, that’s got to be somebody on a moped. But it wasn’t. The quote later from ChrisO was ‘it was an FTP climb, I kept it at 360 watts for the first 20 minutes then I knocked it back to about 320′ Another reason not to have a power meter. I don’t need something else to tell me how crap I am.

    He may be a climbing machine but ye cannae beat the laws of physics and for every action there must be an equal an opposite reaction. Following the summit photo stop the group set off to enjoy the descent. Again no-one saw ChrisO until the lunch stop at Applecross, but this time I couldn’t be the only one thinking ‘Well, he can climb but his descending must need some work’. He appeared eventually in the team car with a tale to tell.

    Just after the restart, his rear tyre had split and disintegrated, the latex tube wrapping itself round the cassette bringing him to a swift halt on the rim, still upright and looking for the sniper or the spiky haggis that he had run over as it crossed his path. We never could figure out what had caused a good condition open tubular to split on a decent road surface. Karma was the conclusion. Velominati come prepared though, he had a spare tyre in the car.

    The rest of us had flown down to Applecross but not all without incident.  I passed Campbellrae1 stopped against a drystone dyke on a sharp left but not admiring the views. Thankfully the dyke was there or he was off the tarmac and down a rocky slope. Maybe that’s why it’s there?

    Post lunch with the Alp behind us it was on to the succession of bergs that make up the Applecross peninsula road. The sun peeped out, the road surface dried, the wind became side then tail and the roadside livestock didn’t give a…. as you rode past. The cattle grids were also less concerning when dry. They still have to be hit square on and at speed though and watch for an entry lip.

    The group stayed together long enough to pick up a passenger on a fine looking steel Herety apparently using us to chase Strava segments. Cheating? Probably.

    However such was the pace, the rest of the ride was soon done in pairs as ChrisO rode everyone off his wheel through Shieldaig and Torridon trying to beat some rather ominous heavy looking clouds that duly dumped on the rest of us. I’m claiming that heavy dowsing as my ice bucket challenge and have duly donated.

    OCD ensured I dried and lubed the bike in prep for day 2 before hitting the shower and the post ride recovery beverages. What a fine selection of ales and whiskies has the Kinlochewe Hotel but it seems I drank them dry of Highland Park 12 year old. It must have been a small bottle.

    Day 2 was for me, more of a hangover recovery ride, 70km out and back to Gairloch where the beach is golden, the coffee Jamaican, and the scones homemade and huge. This was another ride to be savoured. A long primarily flat run to the coast with only 1 climb in and out of the village that would normally be attacked hard but not today.

    Thanks go to The Engine, Campbellrae1, ChrisO, Eenies and newbies JoeT and EuanR for a damn fine weekend of bikes, beer and banter. Chris and Sophie, I hope you enjoyed the rest of your wedding anniversary stay in a very beautiful part of the planet.

    Photos at https://www.flickr.com/photos/88612068@N03/sets/72157646573335489/

    Next stop should be Scottish Midwinter Cogal #2. Bring it on. Who’s organising?

    VLVV

    JohnB

  41. @JohnB   Chapeau to all.  Great photos.

  42. I forgot to mention. In the photos of the climb disappearing around the shoulder. The speck is ChrisO. Look hard.

  43. As they say, chapeau to you boys. Good job I was too busy to go anyway as I wouldn’t have managed that distance! Been up from the applecross side once on the bike and that was bad enough.

    as for the mid winter cogal, I will endeavour to get back on the bike at the end of September so I can rip your legs off this time, (irony, don’t you just love it).

  44. In the pictures of the dog watching you all pass by I like to think he is thinking “see that shit, fuck that for a laugh”

  45. Great account Coach, still pissed I missed it, but savin’ Scotlands oilfields took priority. #voteYes

  46. @JohnB great write up and photos! Thanks again for organising a fantastic weekend.

    I would offer to host the mid winter but I suspect the urban sprawl at the start and end of the ride may not make for the best day compared to our other options…

  47. Chapeau! I think two-day Cogals in gorgeous environments are exactly the thing!

    I want to join you mob for a ride in Scotland!

  48. +1 JohnB, thanks for the write-up, photos and organisation. It was indeed an excellent weekend, and we went on to have a lovely couple of days in the Highlands.

    Monday in particular was utterly gorgeous and Mrs ChrisO had to agree with me that even without the cycling it was a beautiful weekend. Just doing our bit to show some English love before you lot start to divide the record collection.

    Euan by the way could justifiably have Sur La Plaque inscribed on his top tube – he seemed to always be in 53×12, although he did admit to using the small chainring on the Bealach. I imagine he does a good TT.

  49. @ChrisO Yep, Euan has a big diesel engine. I’m surprised he was able to find the wee ring, normally his front derailleur is seized. Handy in a TT right enough. He has the ability to simply switch off and pedal. He’s planning a 24 hour TT next year. A horrible thought.

  50. A 2 day Cogal in late December at 57 North may be pushing it a bit, but offshore rota dependent, i may try to organize the mod winter metric, stay tuned.

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