IT's a quiet time of year for racing but not for training.

Judging by the activity, Fullarton Wheelers members are posting on their ride apps (viewable on the FWCC website at all sorts is happening in preparation for the coming season.

From regular training sessions at the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome, individual ‘turbo’ sessions in garages and sheds across the county, to various gruelling tests in FWCC’s indoor facility, The Barn. Some riders have even ventured outside. Saturday saw the regular Largs Run take place despite the blustery winds. Regulars John Todd, Sean Barron, Gordon Stead, Alan McCall and promising junior rider Cameron Raeside took up the challenge.

On the bike, the route to Largs seems more or less straight but it is in fact U-shaped. This means the strong wind blowing off the sea changes direction all the time, making it particularly arduous. Nevertheless, an impressive average speed of 18mph was attained over this fast 35-mile training route, not including the café stop at The Bagel Basket in Largs

The weather took a definite turn for the worse on Sunday. Strong winds gusting to 40mph, heavy rain, mist, poor visibility and more rain. FWCC’s reputation for true grit and determination was well evident as less than two percent of the membership (i.e. Garry Arneil, Mikey Allan, Guy Walker and Allie Kinnaird) pedalled their way through the murk to The Portal in Irvine, for the less than grand depart at 9.30am. One option was to make straight for the café at Sprockets Cycles but it was decided to put the youngest rider in the elite group to the test with a sprint up to the Barnweil Monument. To get there required a tailwind assisted ride across to Drybridge, Old Rome, Earlston, and past DeWaldens Garden Centre where a wave to the staff inside reserved the group's table for later.

Then it was right at the Caprington Golf Course to the foot of the climb towards Craigie. The small peloton pedalled out of view as the drizzle thickened towards the summit, and the normally fast descent from Craigie village was severely stunted by the strengthening headwind. The Barnweil Monument, which is normally visible for miles around, was hidden in the clouds. This climb is well known among local cyclists and even mentioned in world champion Graham Obree’s book.

The club's young elite rider was none other than Ally Kinnaird who, if not Kilmarnock’s best young cyclist is certainly in the top 500. He tackled the climb with aplomb and the group convened at the top for a celebratory picture. Only then did the grimness of the weather really hit home.

The gothic Barnweil tower was shrouded in mist and looked rather sinister in the grey half-light. The wind was howling through the telephone wires, water was streaming back down the hillside, and the riders were all completely soaked. Fortunately a restorative bacon roll and coffee at DeWaldens got everyone back in good shape ready for a ride home which included Dundonald Hill. The headwind on the downhill section needed almost as much pedalling effort as going up had. Total distances ranged between 30 and 40 miles. Certainly not the longest Sunday Run in FWCC history, and with an average speed of 15 mph not the fastest either, but in the conditions it was a good effort. But then again, it is only rain.