AS THE Olympic Torch makes its way through South Carrick this Friday, locals will start celebrating a full weekend of sport as the area plays host to two major cycling events.
The “Weekend of Cycling” opens in Girvan on Saturday the 9th of June with the new Highwayman Audax; an event giving amateur cycling fans the opportunity to experience the route of the elite South Carrick David Bell Memorial Race first hand, taking in beautiful vistas including the ascent of Tairlaw and a visit to scenic Barr, nestled in the heart of South Ayrshire. The Audax has inspired 150 riders to take up the challenge of riding the 100km and all for a good cause too. Proceeds from the event will go to the MS Society and South Carrick Community Leisure.
Riders will roll out from Girvan Academy at 09.30 to start the challenge named Davie Bell’s popular column in the Ayrshire Post in which he wrote as ‘The Highwayman’, and everyone to complete the endurance test deserves a big cheer!
The action continues into Sunday as Ayr Roads Cycling Club organise the biggest event in their history – the South Carrick David Bell Memorial. Cyclists from all over the British Isles flock to Girvan for the 47th edition of the classic race.
The organisers of the event this year have chosen a route which will suit both the riders and that will also give spectators maximum opportunity to view the spectacle from as many locations as possible. The riders will complete their ceremonial lap of Victory Park in Girvan before heading out for the first South Carrick Community Leisure Sprint contest in Dailly at 11:19.
With the riders having a chance to warm the legs up as they will head into the “Ayrshire Alps”, starting with 800ft ascent of Glenalla, eta 11:55. For some close up action of the riders, the coming hills will make an ideal opportunity. The riders face a steep slope at the beginning, before reaching the exposed moorland above which will prove a real test of strength should there be a headwind on the ascent. A fast paced descent leads on to one of the main attractions of the race; the fearsome Nic O Balloch. The most feared section of the race, spectators with have ample opportunities to view the action and to be glad they are not in the saddle. With its’ constant steep gradient (up to 24% in places) and long straight sections of road, the Nic will be a psychological test as well as a physical, as climbers compete for the William Grant and Sons King of the Mountains Trophy.
Riders pay homage to Davie Bell as they pass the monument to him at Rowntree Toll before the route heads for Barrhill and the second sprint point of the day coming at the halfway point around 1305. The riders then return back to the ‘Ayrshire Alps’ via the picturesque village of Barr and the twisting ascent of ‘The Screws’.