2014, The Year That Was……………Pt.2

Part 2 as promised..

No radio this time as I obviously covered it in the previous chapter.

Back to cycling or an ‘oot’ as I tend to refer to them as now…

After earlier visits to the Isles of Great Cumbrae and Bute, where could Bob go next? I did have plans for another island jaunt but logistic problems..

Auchengaich Dam

Auchengaich Dam

It was on a hot and I mean hot mid June day I set off west towards Gourock and the short ferry trip to Kilcreggan where I’d head westwards through Cove whilst geocaching en-route and in true fashion, I didn’t bag the first one…only two failed me on the first part of this journey, I headed out past Peaton beach to the now very secure area of Coulport, it was more a reminisce than a visit as I’d spent my 21st birthday fishing on the beach but it was another destination I had in mind on this day, I steadily climbed toward the summit of the road east and as a matter of principle I kept going until I summited and then turned back towards my cut off road that would take me down to the west side of the Gareloch and scran break at Garelochhead.

The Gareloch

The Gareloch

In retrospect I should have stayed on the road out of Coulport as it would have meant missing extra climbing out of Garelochead and joining my intended road just above Whistlefield. Lunch was taken at the usual bench on the loch side, I could see the magnetic micro geocache container still in its hiding place.

A gentle climb out of Garelochhead then it was back to serious business, up and up until the roundabout which would take out the Haul Rd to just south of Luss. I had regularly used this road as it is the drop off point for both Beinns Chaorach and ‘a’Mhanaich but I have never cycled it and later as I dropped down to the A82 I thought ‘Phew! that was an experience!’, I had of course taken a diversion up to Auchengaich reservoir for yes, you guessed it.

The road is a looooooooooong steady climb from Whistlefield and I was down in the ‘granny’ gears getting there slowly, I thought I’m near the top but my head fell at a ‘Slow Low Gear’ sign ahead and I just stopped….I soon found out that I’d stopped just below the summit, Doh!. From there it was up and down like a rollercoaster until the almost flat run down Lomondside.

Looking up the Gareloch

Looking up the Gareloch

I suffered badly from the heat and had to stop every so often to take on liquid.

A run down the track beside the river Leven then up over Erskine Bridge, Bishopton and soon I was on Route 75 and home, over 66 ml logged. Over 3,400 ft of ascent….Good.

Blog post HERE

The next trip followed the same start and as I had noticed a trail of geocaches (17 in all) placed along a forestry track in the hills above Kilcreggan towards the high point of Peaton Rd. It was a gamble on the condition of the track.

I left Kilcreggan Pier to find the start to this track and at the entrance car park area, I set about finding the first cache and off I headed upwards on what is a relatively excellent track although on one or two short sections I walked the bike due to what looked like water damage but 99% was doable on the hybrid. I soon rose out of the tree line and on to open countryside and I diverted towards the highest point, Clash MacKenny, apparently the Clash part means ‘large hollow or cavity’..I’m baffled.

There was a rough track out to the trig point and a nearby well-placed picnic bench. A well-earned rest enjoyed before a run mostly downhill to the Peaton Rd before a quick descent. I decided this time I’d head over by Helensburgh for a look-see but before I hit the town centre I started working my way up the side streets before taking the A818 (to the Arden roundabout on Lomond side) then at the high point of the road I nipped on to the parallel cycle path and after I reached Arden I returned the same route as the previous run.

Polly having a well earned rest

Polly having a well earned rest

Blog post HERE

The last ‘big’ run  ?

The famous ‘Three Ferries’….

This time I was oot with Roddy IOB, we’d threatened to get this done at some point and it took until October to get organised.

The train to Wemyss Bay with Roddy appearing at Branchton and soon it was a rush (as usual) to get a ticket and get on the ferry to Bute. It was familiar ground now(to me) as we left the ferry to head out to Rhubodach, a flat run with a short rise and fall en route to the ferry terminal.

Just landing

Just landing

It was a short ferry crossing across the Kyles of Bute, on and off before you knew it and after paying our fare at Colintraive it was off westwards along the Loch Riddon shore road for the scenery, I enjoyed the ups and downs but knew hell(to me) was about to appear and sure enough it was up the B836 we headed on what has been almost a new relaid single track surface, I steadily moved up and after some banter with some drivers, one woman said I should be glad that she was so patient, I replied ”I wasn’t stopping anyway!”, I was that determined to get up non stop.

Finally we drew in and Roddy produced the Jetboil (reminds me I must test mine out!!) and a welcome cuppa drank. I knew the next section was a quick fast drop down into the head of Loch Striven where we rounded past the power station and up a more serious hill, a long slow uphill pull towards our next break which was next to Loch Tarsan’s dam wall and another scran break, this was beginning to be a real rollercoaster as we then decided to later add Glen Masson to our itinerary, ‘Does it have any hilly bits?’ I asked, Roddy mumbled something back….was it another Cruach Ardrain ?  …Explanation HERE

A'Chruach

A’Chruach

A fast sweeping enjoyable descent through Glen Lean towards Clachaig where we met up and headed towards the Holy Loch where we would head left towards Glen Masson.

An interesting ride as it was new ground to me and we stopped next to the Botanical Gardens for a quick water break before we started meeting slight ramps, I’d fallen for it again..but finally we arrived at the end of the tarmac and sat for a break but after the slight haul up it was a sweeping quick reverse run back down the glen, a pattern here, climb up and whizz down, I like that.

Soon we were heading down the Holy Loch and took the shore road to Ardnadam heading towards Dunoon and decided we would be quicker getting the ferry from Hunters Quay so not before long we were heading to Gourock.

It wasn’t long before we were cycling along Greenock Esplanade before I struck off to cycle home, yes, another bit of a climb before I finally get off the bike at home. 46 miles and over 2,600 ft ascent. Phew !

Blog post HERE

In the last week, I took my total of cycling miles for ’14 to just over 3,000 in the saddle, 1,200 more than my first year back in the saddle (’13).

Delighted !!

2015 has an awful lot to live up to…

and the Island Tours will continue!…

I was talking recently with a friend about what I had did the last two years, my cycling etc and was surprised to hear them say ‘Life begins at 60 after all,eh?’.

Maybe it does…

So watch this space…

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