Participants will pedal away from the Mini-Market in Bruichladdich on Sunday morning in the annual soggy bike ride that was christened “Ride of the Falling Rain” following a particularly squelchy occasion a few years ago. It actually hasn’t rained much since, but the moniker has stuck.
After dragging aching limbs around a traditional course that totals 100 miles around Islay’s tired and crumbling road network, those that stay the distance will return from whence they started, exhausted but triumphant.
The cycle ride is entirely informal and all shapes and sizes and abilities take part from lycra clad roadies to ladies with baskets up front and children behind. There is no registration, no fee and little organisation. Enthusiasts simply turn up and ride.
No-one has any idea how many folk will set off. There are no rules, no marshalls and no support. Nobody has to do the whole course, or even half of it. Exactly when it started is known to only a few, and how it grew to be the semi-legendary event it has become is poorly understood. The foremost authority is Mr Washingmachinepost, el presidente of the mythical ‘Velo Club d’Ardbeg’, so check out his top website should you need to know more.
And it is at Ardbeg that participants congregate for lunch and a complimentary dram after having completed roughly half the course. The hospitality is always top class.
Bruichladdich colours will ride the course aboard a beautiful new ‘Stoater’, a go-anywhere steel bike hand built by Steven Shand of Shand Cycles in Livingston. Photographer Paul Monaghan of The Kirky Studio popped down to grab a few shots of it being built.
Bike buffs might be interested to know that it sports a Shimano 105 Groupset, Chris King bottom bracket and headset, Spyre disc brakes and Jagwire cabling. The wooden mudguards are by Woodguards while a set of big 35mm Schwalbe Marathon Plus tyres and a Brooks B17 saddle will make for a comfortable ride. Not that anything feels that comfortable after 100 miles…
If you are on Islay, do please join in. Dust off that old boneshaker that you have been hiding in your shed and simply turn up on Sunday morning, around 9.45am. Le Grand Depart will be sometime after ten. Even if you only make it to Port Charlotte you will have had a blast and will be able to tell your grandchildren of the day you took part in one of Islay’s great sporting events. Slainte!