On Saturday, I took part in the Brewdog Sportive. In its first year, this event is organized by Let’s Go Velo and based at Brewdog’s brewery in Ellon, Aberdeenshire. The ride has 30 mile and 60 mile options. I’d opted for the 60 mile, challenge, option, although leading up to the event, it wasn’t clear whether this was 70 miles, 60 miles or 104 km, depending on which website or Facebook page you looked at!
The weather was fine on the day, in the low 20s Celsius. Parking was provided at the near-by Ellon park and ride, a short distance from the brewery. Registration was quick and easy, and we were piped off in groups of 20, every two minutes.
Immediately after the start, most of my group shot off up the road, but I held back with a couple of others to get a bit of a warm-up. In the first 5 km or so there was a short climb of 12%, then the road levelled off. The course led East from Ellon along rural roads, following the river Ythan to the small village of Colliston. From there, we followed the coast up to Cruden Bay, with views over the North Sea and of Slains Castle, the inspiration for Bram Stoker’s Dracula. We then headed North, before turning back towards Ellon and to the food stop at Hatton village hall, stocked with sandwiches, bananas and water and, most importantly, toilets. After Hatton, the route headed back to Ellon, crossing a couple of main roads. Once in Ellon, the 30 mile route finished back at the brewery, while the longer, challenge, route headed past Ellon golf course and North-West towards Methlick, where there was another food stop at the 75 km point. Again, there were ample supplies of bananas, sandwiches and water, plus a convenient public toilet.
Leaving Methlick we headed south into a head wind through Tarves. From there, we headed East through Udny Green, and then turned North to take advantage of the tail wind over a short climb back to Ellon, then rode through the centre of Ellon back to the Brewery.
As usually, I could have done with a few longer rides, leading into the event – I’d done 80km the week before, but prior to that, my longest ride had been about 50 km. Again, at the end, I was feeling pain in my neck and shoulders, so I think I need to tweak my position on the bike a bit more. Oh, and my bike’s still got the annoying click from somewhere that I can’t find.
The event was fairly well organized. The route mostly followed quiet, country roads with little traffic. And the route signage was fairly good, but could have been better, with perhaps some advance signing of the turns. For instance, at around the 30km mark, the was a T-Junction immediately after a blind corner – there was no warning of the impending junction, or advance warning of which way to turn until right on the junctions. At another point, we turned right on a busy road in the Ellon – however, again, there was no advance warning of the turn. Additional signage would have allowed us to positioning ourselves safely In the traffic before the turn. However, these are minor criticisms, and certainly won’t prevent me from returning next year.