just as you leave debbie's cafe and head towards bruichladdich distillery, there's a small, almost inisgnificant road on the right leading up to conisby. if this were the mainland, or a less rural society, conisby would signify perhaps a significant number of dwellings with a shop and perhaps a pub. on islay, place names often refer to one house; in the case of conisby, it refers to a gaggle of houses, most of them recently built and the preserve of the incoming retired with a few dollops of cash in the bank.
the road itself is nothing to write home about, providing views of the darkened distillery bonds on the left, and open fields on the right, but the road's significance, as far as we are concerned, is that it heads in an upward direction towards consiby. that is, it has gradient. in 2010, we used that road for the very first ride of the falling rain hill-climb, and there is a strong proabability that it will receive gainful employment of a similar manner in 2011.
for those who have not travelled to the principality on previous occasions for rotfr, it is ultimately necessary to arrive, at the very latest, on saturday evening off the late ferry from kennacraig. however, many refer to disembark anytime from friday afternoon, though the majority reach islay on saturday morning. things are a little slower over here, so it took us a year or two to realise that islay now had a substantial amount of cyclists twiddling their gear levers on saturday pm; all dressed up and nowhere to go. this was particularly socially inept of us. Continue reading....
therefore, in the 2010 running of the ride, the hill-climb was born in order to occupy that portion of saturday afternoon, allowing a frothy cappuccino (one of your five a day) prior to competition, and another post ride for consolation or victory. the gradient and length of this hill-climb does not preclude the younger members of our entourage from taking part, and though there may be a prize or two in the offing, it's more the spirit of taking part than who you were able to soundly trash without changing gear.
the ride of the falling rain will this year take place on sunday 7th august, leaving from debbie's cafe in bruichladdich at 10am and arriving back at same whenever you finish. the ride incorporates more escape routes than colditz, and the total distance of 100 miles is simply an ideal; you can ride as much or as little as you feel capable of. the midway point (more or less) is the old kiln cafe at ardbeg distillery, where you can be fed and watered to your heart's content, before deciding whether the return trip should be circumlocutious, or perhaps a tad more direct. most folks completing the full distance arrive back in bruichladdich at around 4-4:30pm
the touristy bit: the route is designed to give maximum exposure to this beautiful island, taking in the atlantic coast as well as the craggier coast along the south of the island. the return trip from ardbeg rides through pretty much the central part of islay, but due to the bumpy bits being round the edges, there are only a couple of climbs that will make use of bottom gear. aside from the stop at ardbeg, the route takes riders past, bruichladdich, bowmore, laphroaig, lagavulin and kiclhoman distilleries, though in the interests of better cycling, it's better not to stop, but just look. though august is the height of islay's summer season, and there are more cars on the roads than at present, relative to the mainland, it's very quiet.
this is, as rapha would say, an unsanctioned ride; there are no marshals, no feed stops (other than ardbeg) and no official mechanical support. however, since much is across single-track roads, we'd advise that you take heed of motorised traffic behind and in front; be as courteous as possible, and everything works fine. take some food and drink with you, and at the very least, a couple of spare inner tubes, a tyre lever and a pump.
it is now traditional to hold an apres ride pasta party, and we have every intention of doing the same again in 2011, though this early in the season, we don;t yet no where. though there is no entry charge for the ride, there will be a small charge for the evening's food, and we do ask that every rider make a voluntary donation of £10 that we donate to charity. there will eventually be a downloadable form on the ride of the falling rain website, simply to give us an idea of how many riders to expect, and how many will be partaking of the evening's repast. i'll let you know when it's there.
as mentioned above, islay is busy in august, and the availability of accommodation is limited, so i'd advise that if you intend making rotfr one of the season's objectives, now would be avery good time to book. the fact that the islay half marathon is held the previous day does not help with this availability, so don't dilly dally (see websites below). if you will be arriving by car, it is essential to book your return ferry passage; similarly air travel if that's your preferred method.
if you've any queries, feel free to e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, and it would be very nice to see you at the coffee binge on sunday 7th august.