Monthly Archives: September 2009

WHW Fall*doon

The press release is out !

The date is set and everyone is ready to play !

PTC’s words are as ever good below

On the 17th and 18th of October 2009 we’ll be conducting a wee experiment in human-powered distance covering. The West Highland Way, at just under 100 miles, is the ideal venue.

Two road cyclists, two mountain bikers and two runners will leave Fort William on Saturday morning. The roadies will follow the A82 (including the detour to Kinlochleven, no slacking here) and the others will be sticking to the WHW route.
The mtb and running records are around half an hour apart, so although the roadies will be sitting waiting with their feet up by the fire at the Real Food Café at the half way point, the rest is an unknown.

While we’re not expecting to break any records, it’s still very much a test.
The runners have trained using Crossfit. High intensity weight lifting and workouts to increase endurance without any distance training. It’s been proven to work for athletes in the US, but this is the first major trial in the UK, and it’s coming at the start of winter.
The weather will be a factor, and all the participants are being supplied with lightweight multisport clothing and equipment from some of the worlds leading manufacturers who are relying on the conditions to really test their products and provide valuable feedback.

The event (we’re not calling it a race, although times will be recorded, it’s not a race…) has been organised by Peter Macfarlane (PTC), the UK’s leading independent voice covering lightweight outdoor equipment and techniques. A regular Trail Magazine contributor, freelance writer and equipment tester.
After walking the WHW in a little over two days in lightweight style last year, PTC decided to have another shot. Friends volunteered, plans were formed and we’re now ready to go.

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Friday Fun

With it being a public holiday I had the day off work, despite voice mails left on peoples phone nobody was coming to play.

I had been out for a few short rides this week just to loosen the legs up a bit and by this morning all was good.

Whilst having morning coffee I was distracted by all the info on Crossfit Endurance site that Craig had put me onto.

There is a lot of good info on there and appears to make sense when you have a think about it.

I was in danger of just spending all day sat in front of the computer as the wind blew and smattering of drizzle flew against the window.

NO !

Cant waste a day off.

I was changed with kit and the bike in the truck within 15 mins.

On the road there was the usual mix of numpties driving in the outside lane stupidly slow and others who apparently did not know what a white line was for.

By 12 noon I was parked at Loch Chon an on the move.

The route I had chosen was from Trail ages ago but I had put off doing it as it was 32km long and in fairly exposed hillside.

In the article there did not look like the ascents were punishing but I soon changed my mind as I headed up the track from Blairuskinmore to Stronmacnair.

I pushed on almost following the line of pylons through Gleann Dubh and then enjoying a bit of downhill to let the legs recover.

This was to be short lived as you head right through the gate Comer and more steep climbing to be done.

The track finally turns away from the pylons and I could see the back end of Ben Lomond where PTC and I had explored a while back.


It had taken an hour to cover 10km, the wind as usual was in my face making even the downhills require pedalling.


The track snaked off into the distance and over the ridge in the distance.


Another 20 mins got me to the ridge, where I should have been greeted by a spectacular view of Loch Lomond and beyond.

Sadly not today as the cloud had closed in.


I was about to go from 360 m to 18.9m in the space of 2km which took me just under 10 minutes and a lot of material off my brake pads.

The track was rocky and had a few switchbacks which got the old brain into gear and the technique was coming back by the end.

When I stopped at Cailness Cottage there was a distinct smell of hot brakes.

I was now faced with the joy of 3km of technical single track and an awful lot of carrying the bike over rocks.

I had forgotten what this was like and thought that this may break us on the Fall*Doon.

I stopped for a wee break in a nice wee spot whilst the sun was shinning and the headed off again on foot with my bike slung over the shoulder.

Must remember tu pull my belly in before the timer go's off !

Must remember to pull my belly in before the timer go's off !

I reached Inversnaid just after 2pm and topped up my water bottle and checked the route back to Loch Chon.

It was all tarmac !

The other joy was the climb out of Inversnaid back onto the hill at the head of Loch Arklet.

I felt good and just got the head down and covered the ground reasonably quickly.

From the side of Loch Arklet I took a left at the B829 and continued on the undulating ground stopping once for a wee photie.

Honest its a moody shot ! the focus was supposed to be on the grass !

Honest its a moody shot ! the focus was supposed to be on the grass !

I arrived back at the truck at 3pm

According to Trail it was a 5 hour ride, guess they have to exercise a bit of caution for the good of the general public.

It was agood ride but if I was to do it again I would go round the other side of Loch Chon on the forestry track instead of dodging tractors and middle of the road tourists ans scone munchers.

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Wan Dae 09

An early start on the Saturday morning saw us arrive at the start point for The Wan Dae 09.

This point was different from last year meaning we were at the bottom of the Pentlands 172m above sea level.

At the check in we were given our Sport Ident Dibber, normally we get one each but that had changed and as we move along the line signing in, getting race numbers, I stuck my wrist out for the dibber strap and I was sealed in.

Smithy moved along and stuck his wrist out to be told there was only one per team ! I was Dibber Bitch for the day.

Race brief over Gary took us on a wee run to scatter the teams at the start, we picked maps up and tried to pick a logical and tactical route round the course.

The start/Finish was also the transition point between foot and bike so we instantly dumped all the extra kit.

We also decided to do the foot section first so we changed into trainers and headed up the side of Allermuir Hill, stopping to do a wee task involving crawling through a drainage pipe with water in it, easy money !

From there it got steeper, my calf’s at this point were unusually tight and I was getting pins and needles in my feet.

We scrambled on up the steep sided hill utilising sheep tracks if we could as the grass was all tussock.

From the top of Allermuir we crossed over to Caerketton Hill passing a small group of Dof E Expeditioners as we bounded down the other side on the limit of control as gravity tried to win the war.

My feet and calf muscles were starting to recover as we picked of a few more checkpoints.

We got back to the transition point just before 12 which was the cut off we had set ourselves.

The kayaking stage closed at 1pm and we did not want to miss getting an easy 100 points.

Foot to Bike transition

Off we set wizzing past the fence of Dreghorn Barracks and the through to Bonaly.

All of this on road I should of been fine but my Quad muscles felt tired and weak, was it the run or was going out on the bike on Thursday night a bad idea ?

We took in a couple more check point and dropped the plan for another in favour of getting to the kayaking.

We arrived 12:40 and stuck our jackets on as it was windy.

We set off int the double Malibu Sit on top and were wet instantly.

We got into a rhythm and soon passed others on the way to the dibber at the end of the reservoir.

As dibber bitch I had to jump out and dib the check point.

On the return Smithy had to stand up on the front of the boat and sing head shoulders, knees and toes whilst doing the actions.

This as he sat down caused cramp in the inside of his leg causing him to scream as I still paddled for the bank.

We got back to the bikes, took on liquid and some food and took off again.

The rest had done my legs good but they still were not all there.

From Threipmuir reservoir we headed for the back of Balerno taking a sneaky short cut down to a CP and back to save us a round journey !


Back on tarmac (sorry asphalt) we headed towards the ascent up towards Bavelaw Castle, last year we came down this on the way to the finish.

It was not pleasant as I got off to push.

My quads really starting to suffer we skirted round Hare hill and stopped for a munch at the top of the climb marked with a wall crossing.

I stuffed a whole bag of jerky down my face as quick as I could and followed that with a small bag of Jelly Belly Beans !

Everbody smile now !

I dont eat that much when exercising but today was an exception.

Back on the bike we took off passed Loganlea Res along some nice  track.

Branching off at Logan Cottage along a very boggy track to pick a check point where Smithy fell off last year.

Back on the main track we headed for the ranges for a check point hidden in the Fort.

The CP was hidden in a chamber which meant I had to get on hands and knees to get to the box to dib.

We cut through between Harbour Hill and Bell’s Hill on nice single track with a bit of downhill to Currie.

At the saddle we paused for a couple of pics.


And now he smiles

It was on the road to Currie we hit over 60km/ph with childish woops and screams.

We cut along the cycle track next to the Water of Leith for 2km to pick up another CP this time it was up a slope under the A720.

Double backing on our selves we passed back through Currie.

After a quick food break we had a bit climbing, I got half way and then pushed as my legs were done !

Contouring around Warklay Hill on nice single track boosted our morale, it was almost 17:30 hrs

Back through Bonaly and the posh houses of Colinton we pushed on with the buzz of wasted energy on the road.

An entertaining roundabout manoeuvre and we were metres away from the finish with minutes to spare before the 18:oo hrs cut off.

We dibbed on the finish and checked back in as I was freed from the dibber strap.

I was done ! my legs had nothing left in them which was a bit disappointing.

All the bike training has obviously eaten in to my hill fitness.

I think for the next few weeks I am going to try and up the miles on the bike but try and do some foot miles as well.

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As he says !

Another training ride and for me a wee change from the Eaglesham Moor.

Only problem being some wise-ass has decided to re surface the Erskine Bridge.

This left me sitting in traffic for 20 mins which in turn meant we ended up late on heading oot.

Wi the nights fair drawing in ! we headed up the slog of an ascent from Old Kilpatrick.

PTC setting a fast pace and still with gears to play with !


On reaching the top we were greeted with an amazing view of the Clyde, tide out and sun setting.


We took a few photies as the sun was causing inversions in the wispy cloud.


On and upwards slightly and then off the big track onto soft boggy ground despite the dry weather.

We spun through the forest till we reached the firebreak and then descended into the gloom.

On the other side there was light and also the downhill we had bribed our heads with on the climb up!


A quick rehydration and we were off.

Despite the low light we took off reacting to the mounds, ruts and rocks on the track.

At one point I did think I was dangerously close to PTC for the speed we were doing.

I will always say it for this stretch that you can be in the foulest mood till you get to the top of this track and by the bottom you have a grin that the Cheshire Cat would be proud of !

Onto the road we free wheeled to the BP station for Coffee and then back to Bowling, as we did so we did note the distinct coolness in the air.

Aye the seasons are changing before our eyes.

Wan Dae tomorrow so early to bed and time to put the miles to test.

I think this will be good for the mind as we should cover approx 50 miles over the Pentlands.

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6Feet 4 wheels !

Finally a spare day in the weekend !

Craig had text during the week to see if I was up for a training trip back to Arrochar and on the same loop at glen Loin PTC and I had done a few weeks ago.

Craig was on foot and we were on the bikes, PTC’s bike was running a few more mods on it since the last time and a few grams lighter.

We set off and started the climb from sea level and on reaching the first dog leg the 2 bikes stopped for a rest and some liquid.

This stop seen Craig pass us in good condition.

I managed to catch him up a bit on the ascent but at this point in time had run out of easy gears and was trying to keep the bike moving as my legs burned.

There was a flat bit of track that allowed me to pass Craig but as I came round the corner thinking the worst was over I was greeted by another climb.

My heart sank but I was determined not to get off and push like I had done the time before.

Head down and tuned out to the sight of the hill I spun on finally reaching the flat at the highest point.

The sun was roasting us as sweat poured from my head, thank god for Nuun.

PTC was not far behind and the 2 of us did not even talk as we caught our breaths.

Feel the burn

Feel the burn

Craig again passed us in his own wee world


I finally caught up with him at the river crossing, he was bored waiting for us and was leaving us a sign on the track to say had gone on.

PTC arrived and we had another break.

The water in the pool was looking good and I was fried in a Sugoi bike top and a mid weight energizer top.

The Sugoi top got packed into the rucksack and Iwent for a wee dip to cool down.

As seen here

Just downstream of the small dam there is a dryish river bed which makes interesting riding.

I cleaned it last time to my surprise (&PTC’s I think)

No pressure but I rode it again with no hassle and stopped to get a picture of PTC crossing it.

He stopped before it which meant he would have to go back up the hill a bit to give him time to get settled into his pedals.

As you can see I dont think he was bothered about that

This is a mountain bikers signal for " I will ride it next time "

This is a mountain bikers signal for " I will ride it next time "

The fast bit from the river to the Loch Sloy road is tricky in bits and very entertaining in others.

This gave us an opportunity to get the bikes rolling at over 30mph at one point.

Again meeting Craig who was waiting with video camera at the gate for the single track back to Arrochar.


On the technical terrain there is not much between the bike and foot and we pretty much kept each other in sight when there was no hills in the way.




Back to Arrochar we loaded up and the visited the Wummin in the windae for butties and coffee.

Revived we headed back to the truck and hit the road.


I was surprised that the gap was not bigger between us which is going to make the WHW*Fall doon an exciting race, challenge,mission, expedition, race type thingy.

More importantly a good day out with some good banter.

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