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An Ormsary man is about to embark on the challenge of a lifetime as he cycles over 1,000km in a bid to be crowned BikingMan Oman 2020.
Lindsay McCrae, 49, will be one of only 100 cyclists to take part in BikingMan Oman, part of a series of ultra-endurance cycling events where competitors test their limits of strength and stamina.
In 2014, Lindsay bought a road bike through his employer’s cycle to work scheme and what started out as an active commute with a few local races thrown in for fun, soon became an opportunity to challenge himself in some of the toughest races on two wheels.
His first big win came in the gruelling City to Summit duathlon from Edinburgh to Ben Nevis. The race was a half marathon of road running, 184km ride through Glen Coe then back on foot for the final off-road marathon summitting Ben Nevis and finishing in Fort William.
Bitten by the cycling bug, he went on to win Revolve 24 at Brands Hatch race circuit, completing 433 miles and ascending 37,000 feet in 24 hours. Adding a second-place finish in last year’s BikingMan Portugal event against some of the sport’s top athletes means Lindsay has truly made his mark on the endurance scene.
Lindsay said: ‘In my first few races I just wanted to see how I would get on but now I’m definitely in it to win it. I think I’m just stubborn and that’s what keeps me pushing on when other people take rest breaks.’
Lindsay, who works in sales/technical support for an aquaculture equipment company in Inverness, fits his training around his job, spending one to two hours on a turbo in his garage three or four times a week, with longer rides of two to five hours at the weekends. His father’s greenhouse in Ardrishaig proved to be a useful training venue to shelter from the elements over the Christmas holidays as he prepared for his biggest challenge yet.
The BikingMan Oman race starts in Muscat, Oman’s capital city, before heading out on the Arabian Peninsula, through the Hajar Mountains, across the Ash Sharqiyah Desert and along coastal roads back to the capital. The competitors will climb over 9300m during the race, that’s the equivalent of climbing Ben Nevis almost seven times.
Unlike cyclists on the Tour de France, BikingMan athletes are unsupported so must carry all their food and equipment with them.
For Lindsay, one of the biggest challenges will be the weather. ‘Temperatures at the moment are around 15-28 degrees but can reach higher which can be difficult to manage on the steeper sections of the course. That’s where my nutrition and hydration strategy will need to be spot on.’
But in case it all sounds like hard work, Lindsay highlights one of the main benefits of his high-octane adventures: ‘The best part is definitely refuelling after the race. I will burn about 25,000 calories over the 40-50hours of my target time, so my recovery will mainly involve eating cakes and other calorie rich foods.’
Lindsay grew up on the Ormsary Estate and attended Lochgilphead High School. His family still live in the local area and will be following his adventures closely over the five days of competition.
The race takes place from February 22 to 27 and Lindsay will cover 1,060km in a bid to take the title.