Ayr Roads members take on El Pico

Ayr Roads trio of Alastair McGibbon, Ed Clifton & Scott Knox above Sierra Nevada.
Ayr Roads trio of Alastair McGibbon, Ed Clifton & Scott Knox above Sierra Nevada.

The Pico de Valeta in Spain’s Sierra Nevada mountains, boasts Europe’s highest road.

It is less well known than the Tour de France Alpine climbs, yet surpasses them in many ways. At over 11,000 feet, it tops the French and Italian icons by another 3,000 feet.

Only a few riders from Ayr Roads/Harry Fairbairn Cycling Club have tackled the mountain. The latest to do so were, Scott Knox, Ed Clifton and Alastair McGibbon, who spent last week cycling in the Sierra Nevada region of Spain’s Andalucia province. The Sierra Nevadas may not be as well known as the Pyrenees but the cycling is certainly on a par, with quiet, well maintained roads, courteous drivers, challenging climbs and (thankfully) water fountains in every village.

Based in Granada with its magnificent Alhambra, the trio enjoyed some great runs in the vicinity, clocking up well over 250 miles of mountainous terrain. They even managed to take in the route of the 15th stage of the Vuelta Espana, that had taken place a few days before.

Their goal however, was El Pico, which has a 43 Km climb passing the Sierra Nevada ski station, before the last gravel section at the summit. The return is not for the faint hearted.

With these sort of miles in their legs, all three should now be well prepared for the club’s annual hill climb of Carwinshoch in a couple of weeks time.

Only a few open road races remain this season, with some members now focusing on cyclo cross events. On Saturday, John Gemmell took part in the local Doon n Dirty cyclo cross at Craigengillan, where he took second place in his category. Already a bronze medallist in the Scottish National championship, his next race will take him to Kingussie next week, where he will compete in the fifth and final round of the SXC Mountain Bike Series. John has had a great year and is the current leader after four rounds of the series. All hopes will be on him taking another Gold for Ayrshire.

The last open road races of the season likely to feature Ayr Roads riders will be the Tour de Trossachs 30 mile Time Trial, which takes in the Dukes Pass from Aberfoyle on October 1st. It will be preceded by The Rothesay Cycling Festival this week. It’s then the club’s final event of the season, with the Carwinshoch Hill Climb. The outcome of which will determine the club’s League Champion for the season.

Meanwhile Roads club members were out in force last week. Most suffered the vagaries of the weather, with the exception of Michael McClelland who did a 93 mile circuit of the Island of Mull on Saturday.

All credit goes to Andy Conway, who rode The Pedal for Scotland Sportive in atrocious conditions, where he completed the 155 km route.

Sunday’s club run was a relatively short one taking in the east Ayrshire villages, by Stair, Mauchline, Springs before returning via Corraith and Loans.