THIS week’s "thundersnow" was not enough to deter Fullarton Wheelers.

Spotting a Saturday morning weather window, 14 riders jumped at the opportunity for an outdoors club run.

The Saturday morning run to Largs and back is a regular year-round fixture.

In the summer, it is a fast training ride on a moderately flat course with coffee and cake at the end. The winter brings with it the welcome addition of the ‘broom wagon’. This means Club Captain Gordon Graham has to reign in his extreme levels fitness to follow up the rear at a steady pace, ready to sweep up the stragglers as the attrition rate increases firstly on the hill up into Seamill and again on the final hill into Largs. There is another reason for this regular coastal route.

Not only is quiet on a Saturday morning, but being near the sea there is rarely any ice. Not so two miles inland at the Barn where, at 10:00, everyone met up. Stephen Gillon, not known for winter forays outdoors, was sporting a tattered hole in his shorts after a minor spill.

The rest of the club, meanwhile, tottered down the snow encrusted road from Benslie as if their stabilisers had just been removed. Into Kilwinning and the brave folk from North Ayrshire Council had been through with the gritters, so it was off towards the Three Towns for Dave Walker’s first puncture of the day. With two thirds of the group latched onto Gordon Stead’s wheel and speeding off into the distance, this seemed like a good moment for the Broom Wagon to form up.

The pace was pleasingly brisk and it was great to have our latest superstar rider, Vicky Pincombe, in the peloton and getting her eye back in with group riding.

On the flat terrain before Seamill the views over to a snow white Arran were spectacular; but it was cold. Up and over Kinnin Brae, it was down the gears to accelerate past Portencross and Hunterston, the Firth of Clyde glinting in the rare spectacle of January sunshine. The bunch fell silent for the drag before Fairlie, then it was a final heave up to the junction with the Haylie Brae before freewheeling into Largs and Fullarton’s favourite Bagel Basket Café.

We were served like lightening with delicious bacon rolls and coffee before an exact replay of the outbound leg, complete with Dave Walker having another puncture. The distance covered for most riders was approximately 40 miles in surprisingly pleasant weather.

WITH this week’s Saturday Run to Largs firmly in mind, now imagine translating the A78 coast road through Seamill to Cape Town, South Africa. This was the virtual road course chosen for Winter League Event Six.

Organisers Stephen Cassidy and Jim Seenan described the course as ‘easy’ and ‘tranquil’. None of which was true, of course.

Nineteen riders turned up to The Barn and rapidly degenerated into red-faced perspiring wrecks on the new turbo trainers.

Once again the results were extremely close. Catherine Logan pipped Natalie Hunter by four seconds to win the Female competition in a time of 16:55, with Rebecca Murdoch coming over the line in 20:05 In the Men’s competition Sean Barron took no pleasure whatsoever in beating club chairman Derek Skinner into second place by 20 seconds, with a time over the ‘easy, tranquil’ course of 13mins 25 seconds.

In third place was John Todd followed by Gordon Graham, who scraped in under the 14-minute cut off.

This has been an incredibly close and hard fought competition. The overall standings after six events are: Catherine Logan, Natalie Hunter and Rebecca Murdoch in first second and third places respectively.

In the men’s overall standings are first place John Todd, second place Sean Barron, and third place Chris Blakely.

The handicap competition is currently headed up by Catherine Logan, followed by George Gass and David Reid. Winter League Event 7 is on January 29.

Fullarton Wheelers' (very) early season time trial, the aptly named Ice Breaker, is scheduled for Sunday, February 9. Entries opened last week and sold out within 24 hours. Event preparations are now well underway, with a full team of marshals and catering volunteers on board for what promises to be a fun and exciting event.