Strong winds end Matt Page's North Coast 500 attempt while up on Mark Beaumont's sub-29 hour record
Strong winds caused Matt Page, a former cycle courier, to abandon his North Coast 500 record attempt earlier this week, while the Welshman was up on the record time.
Page set off on the 500 mile ride around the north of Scotland on Monday morning, hoping to break the 28 hour, 35 minute record set by Mark Beaumont in October last year. However, he abandoned his attempt 21 hours in, before making it to John o' Groats at the top of the UK. When he turned the corner at the top of Scotland, he was 45 minutes up on the record time.
The route starts at Inverness and runs in a clockwise direction through Muir of Ord, Applecross, Gairloch, Ullapool, Scourie, Durness, Thurso, Castle of Mey, John o' Groats, Wick, Dunrobin Castle, Dingwall before heading back to Muir of Ord and then Inverness.
Page said that it was the wind, and the inability to eat in it, which forced him to stop.
"It was a mixture of things, which all seemed to happen around the same sort of time," the 38-year-old explained to Cycling Weekly on Thursday. "Obviously, I was expecting to get tired, but we a really tough section with a strong headwind that came at the same time as it was starting to get dark, and very cold.
"I think the cold seemed to hit me. I wasn't able to eat on that section, because the wind was too strong. That also took it out of me."
"The wind was very strong. Any time that I wasn't going in exactly a north easterly direction was hard work," Page continued. "If I was going west, and especially southwest it was, it was really hard to the point that I had to stay off the preferred bike on some sections, because the wind was just too strong. I wasn't able to control it even on a road bike with with deep section wheels.
"It was a real handful. That was that was difficult. But I knew that I was up on time. When I got to Durness in the far north, I was 45 minute up. Although afterwards I had the big dip, I was in good spirits because I had a lead."
Despite this failure, Page has not given up on beating Beaumont's time, and sounds confident.
"Yesterday [Wednesday] I thought no, I'm not going to do it again," he said. "It's too hard. Today, I feel very differently. If we can make it happen again - obviously, there's a lot that needs to be put in place - but I'm confident in myself. I know I can take the record and we have a fantastic team.
"If we had just slightly better conditions, and a few things went differently, and now we've got a bit more experience as well, I'm pretty confident. Not that it's going to be easy, because the consistency Mark had for his record is incredible. I think we would be pretty evenly matched. It just comes down to a bit of luck and conditions."
Page's next target is Paris-Brest-Paris in August, which he hopes to complete as close to the front runners as possible.