A weekend away racing had been on the Velo29 cards for a while. September soon came round and the team headed off to the Isle of Bute, just off the south west coast of Scotland for a couple of days of bike racing and partying. We packed the cars and set off on Friday afternoon to try and make the 7.45 ferry. After AA route planners and sat nav estimations me and Chris were seriously doubtful of making it, Dan, however staying his usual relaxed, easy going self (some describe this as lazy and unorganised) was quietly confident. With a journey involving team radio banter, cheesy music, a camel (don’t ask) and a coffee stop we arrived at the ferry port with 20 minutes to spare. Here we met Marcus, Sonya, Edward and Karl who had been waiting a while. Over on the island Julian and Jenna had already arrived and figured out the location of the accommodation. This made a party of 11 in 2 massive houses and we were soon off to the shop and take-away for some well needed nourishment. Julian and Jenna had already found a bar a few doors down (how convenient) and while most of us headed for a few drinks Mike G decided to stay in and watch the news……….well, he is old! As it was quite late we had decided on a couple of drinks then bed, but things don’t always turn out as planned and after about 4 drinks Chris decided he wanted to do rounds of Sambuca and Drambuie! Now, being cyclists we don’t have a great tolerance for alcohol, especially rounds of shots after pints of lager and beer. Jenna however is a student and was in her element. We managed to burn a plastic shot glass from lighting the alcohol and I couldn’t even say what state the bar was in when we finally got kicked (literally) out at 2am. We proceeded to try and sabotage bikes for the next day and continued the party by drinking more wine and generally being partying drunkards. After hitting the sack at 3am we reluctantly crawled out of bed and started to prepare for the first race, which was a short hill climb. I was pleased that it only lasted a few minutes as my hungover head couldn’t have handled much more. The second race of the day was a 2up 21 mile time trial around the island in the afternoon which gave us an extra hour or 2 to try and recover from the night before. Dan and me managed 4th in this, sorry Dan managed 4th while I suffered on his wheel. We were quickly learning that success in bike racing doesn’t come from getting hammered the night before. Saturday night proved to be a bit of a more relaxed affair as we headed into the town centre to surf a few of the local bars. Karaoke seemed to be the order of the night as we endured drunken scots belting out their best. It would seem the scots can smell the English as they quickly locked the nightclub door as we approached. After a few of the lightweights from our group headed off home we again finished the party drinking beer and wine in the kitchen until 3am.
Sunday dawned for most of us with a much milder hangover, a 10 mile time trial and a road race. Dan and myself came 3rd and 4th respectively in the time trial while Dan took 3rd in the road race, a race he has won for the last few years. What happened Mr Smith? A rather quick shower and pack up of the car and a rush for the 5.30 ferry followed, just making it by seconds. The drive back involved more cheesy music, Shane, Mike G and Dan singing along fuelled by Cappuchino and Espresso but no camel this time. Next year I will be sure to do some drink training rather than bike training.