So I read on Friday that the Mediterranean blow torch was on its way. Not a result of the Scottish referendum which is another whole blog post which I won’t be writing but rather a band of warm weather that is headed up to the UK from Southern Europe. It is the last blast of an Indian summer and the driest September on record.
So Saturday was a day to hit the pave on the bike. Initially I had planned to take the road bike on the ferry and cycle around Arran which is a great ride but it meant taking up the whole day catching the train down to the ferry at 8:30am and only getting back to glasgow around 5:30pm. So I planned shorter and had a lazy morning in bed and then pulled back the curtains to the torrential rain.
Now here is a plug for an app for the iPhone and iPad called dark sky – it is a paid app but one which I have found to be really accurate. It even tells you where the nearest rain is so you could plan a route according to where the rain is and what direction the wind is blowing.
Well it was 11:15am and although it looked like a monsoon outside it said it was stopping at 11:30am so I got the bike out the cupboard / man shed and got dressed and filled the bidon and bang!!!!! Rain stopped just like that.
I left the flat in blazing sunshine with the rainwater still shining on the roads. I was on my touring bike – it’s hammered stainless mudguards actually being put to work rather that just looking beautiful like they normally are. The plan was to cycle up towards aberfoyle grab some lunch and then head back around 70-80km.
On the bike I was immediately smiling the sun was bright the weather was warmer than I thought and my vest bidon came off and I had to unzip my long sleeve Rapha top nearly to man medallion level to get some airflow. I was cursing that I had packed a full pannier to test the weight distribution of the bike and neglected to pack a short sleeve jersey.
The wind was very light and it seems that every bug and insect in scotland had taken to the air for one last sh*g pre death and I made the conscious decision to stop smiling to avoid having to pick the bugs out of my teeth all night. There was a lot of plant seed being plucked and floating through the air and the light was glorious.
There are so many times when I go out on my faster bike a Lynskey Cooper and a lot of the ride is spent gazing at my HR, cadence average, average speed trying to work out whether there are strava sections worth grabbing or Strava ‘friends’ to overtake on the leaderboard that I sometimes think I am missing the point.
As I neared Aberfoyle there is a section of the national bike network that leads into the town so I turned to go into town and ran smack into a friend who was up in that area for a wedding and who was out for a quick jaunt on his bike with a friend. He is more familiar with the area so i asked him which pub would be good to eat at …. He mentioned the one with the best selection of Ales which isn’t the best idea when cycling. But my appetite whetted I went in for a soup some chips (fries) and a cheeky half pint of Ale. I think that Mediterranean diet of drinking at lunchtime had sunk in along with the air blowing north.
Aberfoyle is at the bottom of the Dukes Pass a small hill climb that I had never been up on the bike. The climb from the North side is pretty easy. But I went up from the south. I have a triple on the tourer but a compact 32/50 and an 11-28 is adequate with most people coping on a 17/19
It’s 2.5 miles at an average of 4.5% from the North, but quite a bit steeper from the South, average 8.5%
At the top I took a pic of the sign got to the summit and debated whether to turn around. But the sunshine once again called to me and I headed along the loch to aberfoyle and then on to the road south again to Lake of Monteith and pass the monastery.
Wiki to the rescue – The Lake of Menteith (Scottish Gaelic “Lake of Menteith”), is a loch in Scotland, located on the Carse of Stirling, the flood plain of the upper reaches of the rivers Forth and Teith, upstream of Stirling. Until the early 19th century, the more usual Scottish name of Loch of Menteith was used. On the Blaeu Atlas of Scotland, 1654, it is named as Loch Inche mahumo. The only settlement of any size on the Lake of Menteith is Port of Menteith.
There are a number of small islands in the loch. On the largest, Inchmahome, is Inchmahome Priory, an ancient monastery. The priory served as refuge to Mary, Queen of Scots, in 1547. She was only four years old at the time and stayed for three weeks after the disastrous Battle of Pinkie Cleugh in September of that year.
The Loch is not particularly deep and can freeze over completely in exceptionally cold winters. If the ice becomes thick enough — at least 7 inches (18 cm)— an outdoor curling tournament called The Bonspiel or the Grand Match is held on the loch. The event can attract thousands of curlers despite its rarity. The last Grand Match was held in 1979. The planned 2010 Bonspiel was abandoned on health and safety grounds……..
I stopped here to phone home and say my mobile signal would last but that I would be back about 6:40pm …. Got in put the bike away and went down the road to my gym for a steam and to ease the muscles after those 125km …… What a great day….
Tested bike bits and thoughts.
Brooks saddle B17 – this is from my old brompton and had 500miles on it from Iraq so well worn in and very comfy. Weighty but fine for a touring bike where weight is not the issue.
mercian vincintore 631 Reynolds frame – like the saddle very comfortable.
Nitto rando bars – still not convinced as that are quite narrow at the top and I felt that I was gripping harder that I normally do and my arms were a bit sore that evening. Not sure if it is due to width of handlebars or the fact that the steel front fork carries more vibrations through it compared to the carbon fork on the lynskey.
Continental 4seasons 28mm tyres. Comfy and smooth.