The Perfect Downhill
Originally uploaded by Andrew Birkett
I’ve spent a lot of time over the past two weeks figuring out what the perfect downhill would be. It would start out high up, obviously. But if it descends too quickly, it’s wasted – you end up on the brakes in case it gets bumpy or gravelly. So you want a steady gentle slope where you can get up to 30mph or so and glide along. However, if it’s just a constant slope then you kinda get acclimatised to it, so it’s much more fun to have a bit of a descent, then a bit of flat, then a bit more descent, and so on. And, although curves are fun, a straight road has to be top choice for a purist’s perfect descent – get into an aerodynamic tuck, stay there and fly.
So it was an unexpected and pleasant suprise to find that this hill actually exists, on the east side of Loch Ness . The sting is that you have do the brutal, unrelenting 400m ascent from Fort Augustus to get there. The climb is too steep to spin up in my lowest gear, so I stood up in second gear most of the way, punching out a steady rhythm on the pedals and concentrating to keep on a sustainable pace. For some reason, the song ‘you will have a fishy on a little dishy’ keeps coming into my head on these steep climbs – must be the right tempo! It’s the kind of climb where the car drivers coming in the other direction give you incredulous looks. Anyhow, once you are at the summit (the real one, not the two or three false summits on the way there) you are rewarded by the sight of the road leading off towards the horizon in a series of gentle undulations. It brought a smile to my face, despite the rain that made a brief appearance at the summit – you can see how much fun it’s going to be.
On the way down, I think probably i travelled nearly 2 miles without pedalling a single time. It goes on for long enough that you have time to wonder if this is some kind of crazy cycling dream from which you’ll soon wake. But it’s not. It’s real. It’s just well guarded – by the most killer ascent i’ve seen on this LEJOG ride. Awesome! Diem carpe’d 🙂