Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Powdery night ridin'

Last nights night ride at Fairlie moor should hopefully become a weekly ride, climbing the fairlie moor road twice in a ride should be good training for the forthcoming enduros and ultimately, our Italian alpine sojourn. Robin, Des and myself met at fencebay smokehouse for a blast in the snow and hard mud, which was treacherous in places, but an absolute joy in others. In particular, the traverse around the side of black hill was great, with hard ground meaning direct power from legs to tyres, and the powdery snow providing surprisingly good grip.

The fairlie glen descent then preceded another grunt up the moor road, to ride the newly discovered woodland singletrack down kilruskin glen. About 80 minutes riding in near perfect almost windless conditions was great, but the weather looks like next week will see a return to the usual mudfest.

Des and Robin
A few of my riding buddies are off to the Lakes this weekend, but it's my working weekend, hey ho, can't win them all....


Monday, January 21, 2013

The bonnie, bonnie banks...

Saturday morning saw me heading up the M77 to Milngavie, to meet up with the club for our annual 'sociable ride' out the West highland way to the Oak tree inn at Balmaha. This was the clubs fourth time doing this ride, but my first, so I was looking forward to something new.

We left around 11am, after some pretty good coffee at bullands cafe, and kept a reasonable pace for a group of over 20 riders, reaching Drymen at about 12.30, just in time for more liquids!. Half the group made for coffee and a spot of lunch at the Drymen Inn, the other half opting for beer at the Clachan. You may be surprised to read my opting for coffee, but the night was young...

After some pretty shoddy service and frozen scones at the Drymen Inn, beer filled bellies were dragged up to garadh ban forest and the beginnings of Conic hill. There is actually a pretty decent rocky descent to conic hill, but that was quickly forgotten as the trail turned to a treacherous mix of bedrock and inch-thick ice. Pretty much most of the climb was covered on the heather at the trail side with bikes up on shoulders. It was all worth it though, as the view over the bonnie banks opened up in front of us....

This caused us to pause awhile, to soak up the vista, you just don't get to see the loch like this very often. I'd never ridden on Conic hill before, but looking at the ice laden path down to Balmaha made me long for a return when the trail can actually be tackled, as its a right rockfest. We had another stop on one of the wee whale back tops on the way down our chosen grassy descent, which was incredibly fast due to the rock hard ground beneath. We actually stopped quite a few times, as if to almost suggest that we didn't want to hit the bottom, and give up on the beautiful sunset....

The last wee section is super steep, but loads of fun, and then drops you onto the lochside path, the it's a couple of miles along to Balmaha, for beer, dinner, beer and a well earned sleep. The food was pretty much your average pub grub, but the 70 shilling was a lovely pint, and the bunkhouse itself proved fabulous value considering a full Scottish was included in the morning. After dinner I had a blether with lots of different members of the club that I hadn't met before, as I've only been a member for just under a year.

We headed back along the westie the following morning, fuelled by haggis, sausages and all the other MTBers favourites, no stops in Drymen this time though. Sunday wasn't as nice a day as the previous day was, and was a fair bit colder due to us having turned around into the chilly easterly which had been at our backs the day before. It was a pretty split up group which rolled back into milngavie, for many reasons, but mainly a liberated pannier, which had gone undiscovered, hangovers and weary legs!.

More coffee and cake, and it was time for the drive home. Really good weekend, I'll do it again, and I'll definitely be back up for a return to Conic hill, probably doubling it up with a wee mission up Ben Lomond. That's one to really look forward to.


Thursday, January 17, 2013

A week in one post...

As I said in my last post, it's great finding new trails to ride, but sometimes some maintenance is required to squeeze the best out of these ribbons of fun. With that in mind, Des, Robin and myself headed you to our recent find with the chainsaws and other implements to clear windfall trees and do some drainage work and the likes. Two and a half hours later, and the whole descent of around a kilometre is completely clear, ready for action. Pictures to follow!.

No biking on Sunday, as it was my daughters sixth birthday, family duties followed.

Monday was spent at Ayr university grounds, where the authorities had decided that some beautiful big old trees just had to come down... Idiots. Anyway, never one to look a gift horse in the mouth, I got two loads of logs for next years winter warmth.

Thursday brought another cold and crisp day, so I decided to go and get myself a decent set of secateurs and head up to Annbank to prune some eye height branches on a local strava segment descent. Wasn't the best of light, so not much opportunity for decent pics, but I got a couple.

Trails are still really cut up due to the amount of rain we've had recently, but the cold weather has crisped them up a little, giving a little more speed and grip.

Today - Thursday 17th January, my prize for winning the MBR readers photo competition finally arrived. I'm not really going to get too excited, as it'll be going straight on eBay as I'm waiting for the osprey 2013 bags to come out in the spring.

I won it for this image.

Anyway, I've spent too long on here, I need to go and get my biking stuff ready, as I'm heading off with the bike club this weekend, for a sociable ride and stay over on the bonnie banks. Bikes, beer, pizza. All good.


Sunday, January 6, 2013

Old patch, new trails...

To my mind, there is nothing better in biking than riding a new trail. This is even better when it is a new trail that is so close to your old trails, so close in fact that you must have rode past it so, so many times!.

I had the pleasure of doing such a thing today. I had seen some trails in a wee woodland a few months back, and stored it to the memory bank. A few of us were riding on fairlie moor with Iain, a fellow GMBC member, who hadn't ridden up on the moor, and was keen to see what the trails were like.

After dropping from kaim game, we entered the woods, and what a trail!, like something from one of the big budget movies shot in BC, a narrow ribbon of pine needled perfection was rolled out in front of us. After recent winds, there were a couple of big trees down, and promises were made to return next weekend, armed with the necessary two stroke sculptors to despatch them.

The trail then flows on for another mile or so, and after the amount of rain we've had, it is in amazingly good nick. I for one can't wait to ride it after we have a days work at it, in its unbroken, flowing state. As we all know, there is a law which states that what comes down, must go up, and this applies straight away, meaning the steep fairlie moor road has to be tackled to get back up to the fun stuff!.

After another sloppy, rooty descent back to the village inn, for the customary coffee and tablet, the train back to civilsation beckoned, and the prospect of a night shift to follow... Oh, joy.


Thursday, January 3, 2013

Fairlie moor from Dalry.

My wee student riding buddy, Craig miller, Steve Muller from Glasgow MTB Club and myself had a ride in very mild winter conditions in my favourite local riding spot, Fairlie moor. Meeting Steve at Dalry railway station, we had a climb for 5.5 miles on quiet country roads to the high point of the moor road.
Then the gradient gets ramped up and some serious mud is thrown in to the mix, although its not a long climb, so nothing to worry about. Before the kaim hill descent, there is a wee narrow traverse around the hill, then it's down down down on my favourite descent in the 'shire - Kaim game on Strava if you want a look.
The rest of the descent into fairlie is on some lovely swoopy woodland singletrack, with some burn splashes and rocky double track thrown in for good measure. Coffee n tablet in fairlie at the village inn (too early for ale!) then Steve departed for the train back to Dalry. Myself and Craig then carried on along the shore path, then up the devilish haylie brae, in search of the rumoured Largs DH track.
Turned out to be a bit disappointing, which is a shame, as there is scope for some serious gravity up there, with the hills being almost right on top of the town. Train home, steak pie, and Lego in front of the fire with my daughter, Maria. Good times.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Back to square one.

My name is Greg, and I'm a lazy blogger. Glad to have got that off my chest. I started this blog in 2011 after coming home from a mountain biking holiday in Andalusia, southern Spain. I wanted to have an informal journal of my time there, so that I could look back and not just rely on my memory.

I posted up the first day, and never bothered after that. Well, I'm now back on blogger and intend to keep it going this time. I may get round to posting up the details of that holiday one day, we'll see. In the last year I've been lucky enough to cycle in some really, really good places (all in the UK this year though!) and I feel it's time to get it all written down somewhere.  I need to break the habit of not taking pictures when I'm out in the saddle, it's tough, when you're on a trail that is both beautiful and great fun, stopping and getting a camera out is not exactly top of the to do list.

As you may have already guessed, this blog will be pretty much all about mountain biking. Sorry to disappoint, but you have been warned.

The last MTB ride of 2012 was a nice wintry ride on the isle of Arran - that's where the header image came from - with a few mates, Robin, Les and Craig. Was a really good day, starting off with a lung warmer of a climb up fairy glen to cnoc na dail viewpoint, then round and over clauchlands which has some lovely, techy singletrack.

Then after much deliberation due to a combination of fading light and Robins usual faffing, we cut the ride a wee bit short. Descending down into glen cloy was fun, then another lungy climb up the goat fell main path, before peeling off to take in the lovely descent down the side of the merkland burn, finishing at Brodick castle.  Good day indeed.

That was the last MTB ride of 2012, I had a couple of road rides around new year, but that's dull, so I won't subject you to that. Happy new year, hope it brings all the bikers I know some great singletrack.