It had been a while since I did a longish run.
I’d been mulling over various routes checking the most important fact, elevation. Distance?, no, elevation. I’m not that hot on hills (going up that is!).
The previous week’s weather had not been conducive to anything long although I managed to catch two joined for just over 70 odd miles. It was time to step up and venture across the river again. I’d looked at a trip back to Arrochar but unlike last time I’ll head over the Rest and Be Thankful before falling down through Glen Kinglas and heading home via Strachur then Hunters Quay.
The weather had calmed from the high winds of the weekend and the decision was Monday or Tuesday. Tuesday’s forecast was looking more favourable but being fresh from a few days off the bike.
Monday it was..
I planned it all in my mind and rose to go through the route and check ferry times. I made up some scran, filled the bidons, checked over the bike, oiled the chain, pumped up the tyres etc then finally packed all the essentials into the pannier.
I’d just over 45 mins to make the Kilcreggan ferry and set off into a NW breeze.
I cycled towards Greenock taking the dockside Route 75 trail until I got to the container terminal entrance where I was held up by tourists, hundreds of them just having disembarked off the Royal Princess which towered over the dockside.
Once clear, a quick run along Greenock Esplanade on the shared pathway although a cycle lane is painted down but that means nothing as I had to head off and on to avoid walkers. Before long, I was standing ready to board the ferry which would take me across the Clyde. I chatted with a fellow cyclist who was heading back along the coast road back to Erskine Bridge. A calm sea and quick off the boat and it was time to find my road for leaving Kilcreggan, I headed east up the hill and took the second left, I passed the forestry track which I taken the last time over Clash McKenny but I climbed until I was above the houses, I could see a nuclear submarine taking position, ready to dive, typical I was too busy and missed that part. This road runs parallel along the hillside with Loch Long and is more of an up and down run than I thought. The views down the Firth towards Arran etc are impressive plus I could see the hills to where I was heading.
Not before long I arrived at the junction with Peaton Rd and my heart fell as a I saw a 16% sign at the bottom of a sheer ramp, I got so far and milked it. I got off and pushed Polly up the hill. I read later that the average for that ramp was 13%, phew! a short stretch I can try yes but that long, no.
I soon arrived at the junction which would take me across to the military road which rises from Coulport until the roundabout above Garelochhead, another roller-coaster of a road. I’d climbed up from Coulport on a earlier trip but this time it was to the roundabout where I’d head left along passing Whistlefield before a swift descent into Finnart where the sickly smell of oil was in the air as they unloaded a tanker. The road here runs parallel to Loch Long the way to Arrochar, I met tarring crews repairing sections of the road as it is a bit of a rattler surface in places.
I arrived in Arrochar and decided just to carry on with my intended route, over to Tarbet and down the Loch Lomond cycle path was my get out. I rounded the top of the loch and passed Succoth car park which was busy with folk getting rucksacks ready to head up to the local Alps. I kept a steady pace as I turned up the long drag at Ardgarten, it was down the gears so I could slowly but steadily work my way up the first couple of miles before it ramped up. More than a few coaches passed me and I was glad the road the opposite way was quiet, I slowly made my way and soon I could see the car park in the distance and it slowly got nearer, I was about half a mile when the wind picked up and came down the glen in to my face, cooling yes! but not very helpful.
I soon arrived at the highest point, punched the air and got a laugh from a bunch of bikers at the food van. Was I caring, no..I had conquered.
I soon put an order in for a slice and onion roll, freshly made and a cup of coffee to wash it down, I thought I deserved it!
Fed and caffeinated, I headed down into Glen Kinglas being passed at one point by a couple of fish artics, you could tell. I had looked at the access slopes of Stob Coire Creagach whilst whizzing down to Butterbridge and I don’t know which one took my breath away. The ascent, I think.
The wind was now serious in my face but I kept good pace before I saw my cut off route, the A815 which eventually gets to Hunters Quay. The road ramped up slowly and I made reasonable speed before I got my first view of Loch Fyne just before the infamous ‘Hell’s Glen’ road to Lochgoilhead, I travelled this road many moons ago and was glad it was not my route today, I stopped for a quick water break before I saw a milestone to St Catherines. I soon passed through the village and was having better views of the loch the further I travelled. I promised myself a break in Strachur and not before long I spotted a handy bench looking down the loch.
I sat and drank in the views on a day which at this point was nice and sunny, the scran tub came out and I enjoyed a couple sannies washed down with water. I promised that at the next shop I would stop for a can of fizzy juice. I never sat too long so not to let my legs tighten up and soon turned up through Clachan where I had a quick stop at the local garage for Irn Bru, lovely and chilled.
Off towards Loch Eck and familiar ground to me, I soon started running along the loch side knowing no hilly bits until I get to Greenock, lovely. Nothing much but to pedal away until I reached the Holy Loch where I rejoined Route 75 and my run down the west side and to take the road past Ardnadam then a short run to the ferry.
A calm crossing on which I got talking to one of the ‘tourists’ from the Royal Princess who said how lucky I was to stay in such a scenic area, I sometimes think we are so blase about what we have on our doorstep, I just sit and enjoy them as much as I can.
It was on to Route 75’s shared footpath along through Gourock passing through the station and no I wasn’t tempted, soon I was riding along Greenock Esplanade where I stopped and had another quick look at the Royal Princess, I fancy a cruise but Mrs Mhor gets seasick looking at a glass of water.
Passing along the waterfront at Greenock, I knew I had to start heading up the signposted road part of 75, I climbed slowly until I reached the cycle track and off towards home, the 40% short ramp up from the floor of Devol Glen raised its head, I’d had passed 72 ml by this time and I got off around a half of the way up, milking it again.
In just over a mile and a half, I was back home, first thing? Radox poured into a hot bath to soak my weary legs….
73.8 miles (118 Kms) and 4, 250ft of ascent..
My longest ‘out’ and I had climbed the Rest , now for Le Tour.
No geocaching, no side visits, nothing except the route…
The images shown do not give the full beauty of the scenery, for that you’ll have to follow my route.