Fi and I cycled the short loop of the Tour O' The Borders today, we completed 53 miles in 4hrs 35, although we missed out the Dreva climb to save time. Most importantly, because it has been hanging over our heads for a while, we rode up Talla.
I was very nervous about cycling The Wall of Talla, I asked people who'd already cycled it if they thought I'd get up, I had no idea what to expect and I just wanted to get it over with. I have trained on a few hills recently in preparation, and the steep side of The Sware in Peebles is very similar to Talla but I've never cycled up a 20% climb.
It was a pleasant cycle to Tweedsmuir, where we turned for Talla and then a nice flat road along the reservoir, the problem for us was that we had no idea where the climb started but then the steep road just appeared. My heart started beating very fast, my breath was fast but I had no choice but to get on with it. Eventually I got into my stride and kept a nice pace, I tried to ride out of the saddle once but my legs were having none of it. I just let my legs grind away and thought "if you can cycle up The Sware you can do this." A friend told me last week and this is a good tip for anyone who hasn't done it yet, that there is a grit bin where the climb stops, once you see it the climb is done- that really helped me and towards the end I just thought about the grit bin. I made it to the top and let out a little scream of joy, I had cycled all the way and I knew I'd be fine for the Tour O'.
Up until now I was unsure about doing the longer route for Tour O', I thought 74 miles was beyond me when I haven't got much time to train during the holidays but after today I'm converted, I want to do the longer ride and I think I'll be able to do it without any problems. I pretty much did the short route today and could have gone further, I'll complete a 55-60 mile cycle in July, then get in some hill rides and turbo the rest of the time.
If you were thinking about entering the Tour O' The Borders but unsure whether you could do it, let me tell you- you should do it, be it the long or the short ride. It's a great route and with closed roads it'll be a great experience with no pressure to go fast. The views around Talla and Megget especially are beautiful and make it all worthwhile. It will be a great day and I can't wait.
Before the climb.
At the top!