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Make mine a double

| Cycling Plus, Features | 24/11/2010 14:35pm

Paul Howard heads to the Hebridean island of Islay to sample whisky, meet Graeme Obree and ride a tandem in this web exclusive Cycling Plus feature…

What a combination: a chance to go cycling on the Inner Hebridean island of Islay and to sample some of its most famous export – whisky. Not just any whisky, I might add, but single malt whisky from the prestigious Ardbeg distillery.

Come to think of it, it’s not just any cycling either. The charms of Islay are clear enough – magnificent scenery, not many people, even fewer cars – but the rugged beauty of the proposed route was only one aspect of the planned ride. Further enticement, if it was needed, came in the form of legendary former Hour Record holder Graeme Obree, who was due to accompany us on a spin around the island. Add to this the fact that the event was called the ‘Gourmet Ride’ and involved the promise of a luxurious dinner afterwards, and this was clearly an opportunity not to be missed.

Paul and Ian double up on Islay

However there were several obstacles to overcome before a commitment could be made. First was how to get there: Islay is a long way away from everywhere, but in particular from Brighton, and is poorly served by air and train transport. A car and preferably another driver would be needed.

Of greater concern, however, were the twin challenges of keeping up with Graeme Obree and other extremely fit cyclists, first on the bike and then in the bar at the distillery. With limited miles in my legs and an even more limited tolerance to whisky, travelling without a companion (read: chaperone) seemed risky.

Fortunately, the appeal of the ride meant there was no difficulty in persuading Ian – a cyclist and native Scot to boot – to volunteer for the ride, and to share the driving. And then came a moment of sheer inspiration: why only share a car when we could share a bike as well?

There, in front of me, was a brand new tandem waiting desperately for its first big adventure. Surely this was the answer? With a route devoid of major hills, our combined power might actually allow us to maintain a decent speed on the flatter sections, and possibly have enough breath left to converse with our fellow travellers. Most importantly, should the post ride whisky drinking become excessive, I would have someone to steer me home – literally.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, November 24th, 2010 at 2:35 pm and is filed under Cycling Plus, Features. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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