Ride Reports

Saturday 19th July 2019

3 Days in Scotland - Vincent George
It was agreed days before via text that we would depart Forton Services by 6.30am in order to get North of Glasgow in time for a decent first day of cycling. The initial plan was to cycle from our base in Arrochar on the banks of Loch Long, probably skirting the southern bank of the former torpedo testing range and head past Fastlane and around to Loch Lomond. This would hopefully prove a good warm up for the next days more demanding route further North.
A slight misjudgment of the relative location of Forton services and the junction onto the M6 meant we found ourselves North of Forton, not a major issue apart from John was currently sat at Forton services waiting our arrival. A quick call and a rearranged rendezvous at Burton-in-Kendal services.
We made good progress and arrived at our hotel in Arrochar for 10am, conditions were ideal but there was some concern for the next two days weather forecast. A quick review of options and a decision to head further North and complete one of the more demanding rides to make best use of the good weather whilst it lasted. Heading to Taynuilt to the start of the ride, the route was based on the Oban Sportive, a route that came highly recommended by several members of North Argyll CC, comments such as “a spectacular ride and awesome” stood out, maybe I should have taken more notice of “challenging” particularly as these were comments from local riders accustomed to the Scottish undulations!
The early start, getting up at 4.30am, challenging route in hot conditions and lack of food had taken its toll. We arrived back at the car around 7.30pm tired but having enjoyed a fantastic ride. By the time we got back to Arrochar every commercial kitchen in a 10 – 15 mile radius appeared to have closed down for the night. Eventually we found a takeaway in Garelochhead, recovery food was abandoned for doner kebabs, chips, burger and pizza in extra larger potions and then a quick dash back to the hotel to top up with alcohol. What a great start to the trip, if we had got up the next day, polished off the Scottish breakfast and headed home it would have been a great trip in itself.
Day two and the conditions pretty much decided the second days route. Had the weather been more favorable the plan was to head further North to Callop and complete an 84 mile loop taking in Loch Linnhe and Loch Moidart. As tempting as the route may have been the prospect of heavy rain all day whilst trying to negotiate a long and exposed route did not appeal. The original day one ride was deployed instead, heavy legs pushed down the A814 along the South side of Loch Long, the steep but short climb at Portincaple convinced everyone that maybe the more challenging ride may have been a bad choice that day for reasons other than heavy rain.
The route was relatively short at 45 miles and only had around 2000ft of climbing, and whilst probably not the most scenic of routes it suited a day like today, heavy legs from the previous day and poor weather making a long day on the bike unappealing. Whilst not as scenic as the first and next days ride it did have interesting sights such as the heavily protected Faslane naval base, watching a nuclear sub being towed up Gare Loch and the worlds longest running anti nuclear peace camp which appeared abandoned.
In my mind at least the real attraction or selling point of the ride on a day not made for a long ride was the opportunity to get to Lomond and find a pub for a proper pub lunch and then a gentle ride back to the hotel. Not beans on toast or sausage barms today, good old pie and chips, or maybe gammon and chips, a fish finger sandwich.. (beer optional).
It’s a British tradition to enter into debate within the confines of a pub, particularly when having had one too many beers. And today was no different, our pub lunch raised many unanswered questions, no nothing to do with the merits of the nuclear deterrent or peace camps, Brexit or whether you can really tell the difference between genuine Castelli shorts or Chinese Castelli shorts. No, the real questions were what does 8oz of cooked gammon really look like? When is gammon over cooked, just right or intentionally under cooked by the chef who has wiped the floor with it before serving with two strategically placed fried eggs to teach customers not to complain? Is a fish finger sandwich (butty?) a proper meal? Can a man like another male cyclists tanned legs and still claim to be hetrosexual?
But one question was answered, a former NHS chef (no names) appeared to have the lowest expectations in terms of standard of food, maybe explaining why hospital food in a certain part of East Lancashire was so poor in the 1980s.
Day three John had to depart early to get back home for lunchtime. The plan for the final day was to head South of Glasgow for the final ride of the trip so as to avoid any rush hour congestion late in the day. Heading over to Biggar we set off on a 52m 3000ft loop passing through Peebles, Innerleithen, alongside St Marys Loch, Meggethead, Talla Water, Tweedsmuir and back round to Rachan Mill. A quick stop off at Biggar to refuel on pie and chips, chips with two fish – why do all Scottish chippys always give you two fish? And pizza.. then the drive home.
Three really enjoyable days in Scotland, three very different days, three very different routes but as good as the routes, scenery and weather were it was the great company that ultimately made the trip. Same format next year with a new set of routes to explore.

“Pick a number between 1 and 100.”


“Second right. Pay attention to the road signs and name.”

Ford Lane is best avoided in winter and after precipitation. On this occasion it simply provided a wheel wash. On through Goosnargh we rode as the random numbers selected Barton Lane and Jepps Lane and then a short excursion west of the A6. By the time we had ridden towards Guy’s my legs had had enough climbing for the day. Bill and Peter kindly gave me a tow, opting with Chris to find a pub. I opted to find a bath.

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