Kelly HargieRonnie IrvineSinéad Kennedy
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The Belles Take on the Big One!

Posted on September 10, 2013 @ 12:16 PM in Cycling

Now the sensible thing to do on a Saturday morning, after the severe weather warnings for the North Coast proved to be oh so accurate, would have been to not even get out of bed, never mind drive up at 5.30am to the start line of the 2013 Giant’s Causeway Coast Sportive. But how many people would describe the Belles as sensible?!

In winds of 25-30 mph and torrential rain, the 4 girls set off to tackle the longest of the 3 route choices – 182km also known as the 'Giant killer'! 

The very start itself set the tone for the day – Julie and Andrea nearly colliding over the timing mat and crashing out before they even began. Yip, the wind was to blame?!

Sections of the route had already been closed by 9am, due to dangerous conditions, and from the very beginning extreme cold was also to be a key challenge for many of those taking part.

The first 50km was truly horrendous, and many who had set off with the intention of doing the long course, aborted at this point….which brought you back near the start area before heading off on the remaining 135km. The Belles, did a quick pit-stop at the van to find more layers and they did debate (not even a “heated debate”, as the heat would have been nice!) not continuing and just throwing the towel in and heading to the nearest coffee shop. But no, the girls continued.

Two miles down the road the decision was already being questioned, and Julie asked “shall we flip a coin to see whether we’ve made the right decision”. Cathy replied, “we don’t have a coin”. Julie responded, “let’s flip a bike then”.

The Belles soldiered on. (with a banjaxed bike! joke!).

By the 2nd feed stop at 100km conditions were a tiny bit better, but warmth was a distant dream. By the 3rd feed stop at 150km there was maybe the first feeling of not being totally frozen – aided by delicious soup, sandwiches, cake, flapjacks, jelly beans, tea and coffee.

The last 35km included a couple of testing climbs – which also aided the thaw-out! As did the sumptuous and tasty, spicy pasta at the finish line.

The stormy conditions were a headache for the organisers, but they were amazing in their practicality and their upbeat attitude.

This is a top class sportive with second-to-none planning, mechanical support, food stops, and en route support. It boasts amazing routes, with spectacular (when visible!) scenery and roads.

As for the weather? The hellishness made it heaven to complete. Sweet satisfaction overriding how gruelling it was at the time! Anybody that made the start line on Saturday is a true Giant of spirit. Anybody that made the finish is a true…..nutter!

The Belles next BIG challenge is the 2014 Race Across America but to help them get to the start line they need to secure some sponsorship so if you know anyone that would be interested in sponsoring them take on this huge challenge please get in touch with The Belles via their Facebook page.

Andrea Harrower
Andrea Harrower  The Belles

Eternal adventure seeker.... A sports enthusiast, who competes at a high level but who has as much passion for encouraging other females and kids into the great outdoors. Along with 3 other like-minded girls she founded The Belles in 2009!

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