Thursday, February 20, 2014

A wee winter ride in the alps

After the fantastic weather of last weekend, which was my working weekend, this week has been a bit unsettled. I had been planning all week to head out somewhere rocky on a solo ride, as all my usual riding buddies were entombed at work, and I needed some proper riding and fresh air. The Ayrshire mud can be tiring during a spell of weather like this.

I had considered a few options, but most rides I had thought of were too high, as there is snow everywhere above 4 or 500 metres, and anything lower than that that ain't rocky is a bog at present. I could have headed to the all weather, yet familiar trail centres in the borders or Galloway, but I wasn't inspired. They can be good fun in a group, but a bit dull on your tod.

So, I decided to head up the A82 to Arrochar, just west of Loch Lomond, to do a loop I haven't done for what must be around 8 years, the Glen Lyon circuit, also known sometimes as the allt coire grogain due to the fording of that particular 'allt', more on that later.

As I had did this route before, and started on the dull fire road climb out of succoth, by Arrochar, I opted instead to head up the beginning of the cobbler path, which links into the aforementioned fire road. This presented a problem. When I reached the junction, I was keen to see how far I could get up the cobbler, as the weather wasn't as bad as it was when I left the shire. It transpired that the path was clear of snow right up to just before the Narnain boulders, at around 500 metres high. Good stuff.

This was really the first ride that I had the Yeti out on the type of terrain that I really wanted it for, big rocky, steep and techy descending, but riding on your lonesome tends to make you hold back a bit, but the bike felt way more capable than the guy sitting on it!. I look forward to a summer of riding stuff like this on a bike that feels it was made for it, indeed, it also felt pretty capable in the climbs too

After that, I peeled off north along the forestry drive to my original intended target, loch sloy. After a mile or two, I noticed a ribbon of trail peeling off down towards Arrochar, so I stopped to have a look. Wow. It looks a pearler, like something that has been designed for fun, so a mental bookmark taken, and I'll be riding it next time!.

By the time I made the long uphill trudge to the top out point, I realised that I had another problem! The fording of the burn, which unbeknown to me had become a river, not a burn, and due to the snow melt, didn't look too welcoming either. I pondered it for a few minutes, had a look upstream. Nothing. Had a look downstream, again nothing. Aw naw.

It was too deep to have a run at, and I didn't fancy wading through with boots on, and having freezing wet feet for the rest of the ride. Ah well, only one thing for it. Socks and boots off, trews rolled up and get the feet wet. In the name of Christ it was cold, but not as cold as the snow that coated the far bank!. It was also far deeper and faster flowing than it looked, thank god I had a bike to act as a crutch.

Onward and downward, a mental fast rocky wide track that leads to the highlight of this loop, the rolling descent into Arrochar. Really good, but all over within twenty minutes really. I think that this loop is now only worth the drive north of it's combined with the cobbler, I suppose I was a different rider 8 years ago.

Good day though, and great to get out in the mountains, despite the sleet, rain and wading.



Not much point going up there.



Signs of spring!


Saturday, February 1, 2014

Fairlie grim.....


I'd been looking forward to a wee Saturday ride up the moor all week, and the blue sky in the morning promised a fine days riding, even though we knew that due to the previous weeks rain that the trails would be challenging. About an hour after the blue morning skies were sighted, the grey, cold rain and wind moved in for the day. The tone was set.

Anyway, after getting the train to Dalry to meet robin and mejulie, we headed up on the long Tarmac climb to the good stuff. The only downside of gaining height (the Kaim hill trails climb to over 1000 feet, and descend to sea level) is that if there is a wee wind at sea level, you can guarantee that it'll be blowing a hoolie at the top. And it was, a really cold south easterly too.

There was a wee bit of snow up there too, hopefully a sign of things to come, as I for one am a bit fed up of riding through mud, and want some crispy, frosty trails instead. It didn't last long, as soon as we descended from the quarry, back to the mud. :-(

All the trails were riding really tough, the tyres squirming for grip all the while, but I don't know if there's a tyre about that would have made much difference today. We than headed down and rode the kilruskin sweet singletrack stuff, that has suffered a wee bit with fallen trees due to the recent winds. I'll need to get up with the chainsaw soon, and clear it again.

Back up the road, and then a final descent down fairlie glen. Which always delayed due to Julie being a wee Jessie, not wanting to ride over the burn, or walk over it, as the stepping stones were covered because the water is really high. Cue our ulster knight in shining armour!.


We were all getting bloomin cold waiting for her!.

There is only one thing that gazumps the final descent into fairlie glen. The village inn, good food and awesome real ale. The liver and bacon was in my thoughts from about Thursday!.