Made the most of the easter break and a slight break in the weather to head up the road from Glasgow to see my girls who were on holiday at their grans the other side of Perth.
Planned the route on Strava and off I headed taking the touring bike with a load and choosing some hills so that it was also a sort of training session.
halfway up the Crow road – first time I have stopped and taken pics
Crow road nice surface – good for 75kmph on a good day
Headed over the crow and the route goes NE and the wind was from the NE so wind in the face all day.
Up to Stirling and then up a really steep wee route up the back of the Wallace monument up Sherrifmuir road past the pub that looked so inviting.
Onwards into the wind and then greeloaning Gleneagles passed the golfers cursing the wind then past Dunning where i stopped to greet the witch ..
Got a few niggles with the bike – one is brakes that don’t wrap around the fender enough … and a heavy bar bag that means hands off cycling is hard … but on the plus side shelters the hands from the wind and keeps them warmer.
Sugar then a night at Grannies with the girls.
and the weather improved for a different route home.
One road discovered where i was joined by two very pleasant ladies in their 20’s who were practicing for the eTape as well. This road has great ascent and then smooth downhill … try it if you going anywhere near Perth … HERE
Down to Falkirk and then an easy ride down the canals home – thinking of cake sped me on and I had some easy PR’s on the canal although I think the other time was a 29er into the wind and this time it was behind me.
250km over 2 days but the highlight was what I saw – heron, buzzards, lots of future mint sauce baby lambs and that witch monument. the highlight seeing my girls who had made bunting and sewn me a special medal …
Friday morning, I look at the forecast and it looks good for the weekend. I decide to do the 5 ferry challenge and take the touring bike with panniers and spare just in case the scottish fine weather also includes hail, snow, sleet and pouring rain as it is want to do.
Friday evening and a few too many whiskies whilst listening to my new valve amps …. so Saturday 7am blurry eyed I wake and zip into town to get tickets and the 8:30am train from Glasgow to Ardrossan. There is comic con in town so lots of weird and wonderful kids (and kidults) in costume are everywhere.
long weekend and on this Saturday morning everyone with a bicycle is getting squeezed onto the Ardrossan ferry for the sailing to the island of Arran. I have done trips to Arran many times and have never seen anything like it. There is carbon and ti bike porn everywhere, skinny tyres and portly riders in a long snake pushing onto the vessel.
Breakfast on the ferry is a custom so despite only cycling 5km so far – I have to partake.
Up the east coast – its 19 miles to Loch Ranza but its slow going as I stop about 5 times to take pics – letting the portly 3 musketeers overtake me 3 times and then i catch up again.
The road throws in one fairly stiff climb before the descent into Lochranza. Quick photo and i just make ferry number two.
We climb and then drop down to work our way up the coast road to Tarbert. It has a busy harbour fringed by tourist shops, cafes and bars we miss this ferry by 3 minutes and see the ferry pulling out so I head back with 2 other roadies to a cafe for soup …
The ferry takes us across Loch Fyne to Portavadie and another climb. There are stiff little grunting climbs, but the views are wonderful.
Over on ferry number four to the small island of Bute for quite an easy section of riding. This is a good thing as my legs are shot. In Rothesay I admire the loos as I have been here a few times on the yacht … but I don’t need to pay to spend the proverbial penny this time …
Boat then train home – a very quick steak then out to the pub with a pal and a perfect excuse for 4 pints
The good lady had her birthday yesterday and it coincided that it was the first day since Saturday that has seen sun.
Saturday she picked up her new bike on cyclescheme – a genesis Tour de Fer touring bike – which has been delayed due to some issues with the fork.
Was a peachy day – but don’t think I have ever cycled so slowly – she better speed up or she will be touring alone (or still cycling whilst i set up tent, cook dinner, watch a movie and have a wee nap)
But lovely to take in the views and enjoy the sun with a real feel of spring in the air.
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 gilet 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 gatorskins 28mm tyres. Comfy and smooth.
Now before i set off i knew that the forecast was for a strongish wind picking up as the day went on … I didn’t know that 40km/h was going to feel so strong when venturi’d across a moor. Top that with a bike with front handlebar bar and panniers as well as a route with a long incline and we can safely say it was a bit of a slog (but then no rain either)
Started off great and wandered up through Pollock park taking a pic or two at the house.
Then out to Eaglesham and then across the moor. My legs were screaming and I had to use the triple chainring on the grandad setting. I was crawling up the road at 10km/h. Past the wind turbines WHITELEE WIND FARM – my there are a LOT of turbines …. then into the relative sanctuary offered by a pine plantation near the end of the moor.
At the junction where i could have looped up i chose to head back to Glasgow and with the wind on my back and a steady decline I was hitting 40km/h with nearly no effort … and no apparent wind on my face either.