Monday, 30 January 2012

just over a 100 clicks

Saturday was a special day, not a breath of wind, a blueish sky and four hours to spare. The cyclesguff hotline wasn't displaying any plans for a rendezvous, so it was time to wrap up warm and head out for a solo adventure

The conditions of last week were all but a distant memory as the first ramp of the day offered a breathtaking view out east along the Campsies. With a false sense of security, I decided upon a route that would take in a fair amount of climbing. The problem with that decision was discovered all too soon, ice and lots of it. With the chance of a spill, the route was quickly changed and would mean riding along main roads. Not ideal, but at least the roads would have been treated.

The Duke's Pass is over there.....
With an optimistic outlook and dreaming of an increase in temperature, the allure of a wee gem of a cyclepath to Aberfoyle (part of no.7 sustrans route) was on the cards. With no sign of ice, a blue sky over head and a path that meanders alongside the River Forth all was tranquil and bliss. The route over the Duke's Pass wasn't as enjoyable. The height gained from traversing hairpin bends provided views of mist rolling along Loch Ard. I should have known better than riding straight through the 'road closed' sign and warning that this road is not treated for snow and ice. What started out to be a sublime climb, quickly became a series of impersonations. A cyclist wearing spd-sl cleats does have an uncanny resemblance to a duck, swan etc on a frozen loch. Small shuffling, canny steps and then, whack! The gradient didn't help, neither did the hoots of laughter from a few bemused walkers. A small group of cyclists coming over from the North had similar stories of toil. Oh well, not to worry, there is always a nice coffee shop on the banks of Loch Venachar to visit and warm up.

Thankfully, the conditions after the Duke's pass did improve. Added to that, a chance meeting with my wife and kids at a cyclesguff regular haunt - Berits & Browns gave me a boost. With caffeine running through the veins the Crow Road was next.  

The guide to the Great Road Climbs of the Pyrenees by Graham Fife has been a regular visitor to cyclesguff chat. The front cover has a similarity to a section of the Crow Road climb from Lennoxtown.

Is there a possibility of cyclesguff members and readers offering a tongue in cheek version of that sublime book for this blog? If the sudden change in conditions and eeriness of the Crow Road on Saturday are anything to go by, we may have a something to consider......

I didn't stop to take a pic of the doppelganger section on the decent to Lennoxtown. The road was dry and stopping wasn't the proper way to treat a good descent.

Stay upright


  1. What's your fastest descent? I hit 56 MPH circa early 90's on The Crow. Hit 57 MPH on Lednagullin Brae on North Coast in 1998.. much shorter descent, but had better gear and was in mid twenties.

    Strong memories of doing both sides of the crow on a daily basis during turn of the 90's.. (in every kind of weather imaginable, and in the dark sometimes too). Or the Carron Valley loop. - Weird.. when i began in 87 and 88 I would go clockwise, but from say 89-93, anti-clockwise.. Tak Ma Doon first. From Partick base.

    In truth.. outside the summer fairweather brigade.. I rarely ever saw another cyclist for weeks or months on end up there.. it was desolate.. solitary miles and I guess I liked that.. Is the streak of tar still there on the section just past the Crow Well? Every inch of the masochism memorised ;)

    Thanks for the pic.. and sparking that stream of consciousness.

  2. Hi,

    Thanks for the message and the guffers are delighted to have sparked that stream.

    The cyclesguff max is mid 50, so you have set a target. The corner at the carpark is now a screamer due to resurfacing, the main problem is kamikaze sheep! In fact almost all of the south side is in good shape. The North side is truly awful in places.

    The local roads are awash with riders at the weekends, some even venture out in bad weather.

    Stay upright