Once again this Saturday 5th November, TARGETSPORTS will attend the highlight of the Cycling Social season – the Braveheart Cycling Fund annual ride and dinner.  For a couple of days each year, Elite cyclists from all over the world descend upon the unlikely venue of Kilmarnock, just outside Glasgow, Scotland – alongside hundreds of Club riders for an end of season party.  We will be joined on the 44 mile ride through Ayrshire with our good friends from Errea Sport, our resident Sports Massage Expert and numerous Club-mates from the Liverpool Century Road Club – not to mention a couple of interlopers from G.C. Metro.

A chance to join 500 others riding alongside a handful of current and former professional riders, including Alex Dowsett, Russell Downing and the legendary ever present Sean Kelly does help to take you mind off the “Scottish miles”.  A 44 mile route should not, in theory, be too daunting for most Club riders.  A couple of hours, give or take, should see them home and dry – but not this route: Braveheart Route Map.  The surface could generously be described as “grippy” – energy-sapping is more accurate.  Traditionally, the weather is at best “dreachy”.  It WILL be cold.  There WILL be a headwind ALL the way around the loop.  And it WILL rain.  And that’s before we consider the rather lumpy profile: Braveheart Ride 44 mile Route Profile.  Its no wonder they breed them tough up North.

Following a few hours in the saddle, comes the centrepiece of the proceedings – the Dinner & Auction, where those too scared to ride will join us – including representatives of the Bicycle Film Festival and Red Bull.  The cycle-chic glamour for the occasion is supplied by Filles a Velo founder Leigh Marshall and the self-styled Queen of Cycle Sportive writing Holly Blades from Cyclosport.org.  Skilfully hosted by Eurosport Cycling’s very own “anchor” David Harmon, the evening is always enjoyable.  Interviews with the Star Guests, a fantastic meal – perhaps a wee dram or two.  There is even some X-Factor reject and a magic bloke called Dynamo providing entertainment.  It’s not really why I go back every year – but there’s something for everyone at the Braveheart.  So finally, to the reason why we are all there – the charity auction.   Last year’s event raised over £20,000 to help young Scottish riders make their way in a sport that remains especially difficult to break in to if you are from the UK and find yourself outside of the British Cycling Academy programme.   With the sale of each unique item of cycling memorabilia – generously donated from the world of professional cycling – grow the hopes of another aspiring young athlete, who have dreams of one day emulating the fund’s patrons Sir Chris Hoy and David Millar – by carving out a career on the track or the road.

So, if you are not fortunate enough to make it along to this year’s sell-out events – then make sure you sign-up early next year.  In the meantime you can still contribute via the “Make a Donation” section on the website.