Monthly Archives: October 2009

WHW Fall*doon day 2

I had drifted in and out of sleep again, so I was awake before the alarm went off.

I lay in the dark for 10 minutes considering the options.

I put the light on and PTC rocketed bolt upright in his bed with the comment ” I cant see, I cant feel my hands !”

It did not look good.

I got up and stuck my bike kit on and went outside and cleaned my bike and lubed the chain.

My front brakes had been making a weird squeaking noise so I checked the pads but could not see anything wrong.

Kit sorted I looked at the B&B but there was no movement.

I restled with the thought of just getting on the bike and cycling along the road to Tyndrum to send a SPOT ping and then ride on.

I returned to the B&B front door to find it was locked, I hadn’t put the snib on the yale lock so I was locked out.

PTC did not have a signal so I phoned John and woke him up and asked him to let me in.

I returned to the room to find PTC getting up and into his bike gear, happy days the team is on.

We drove to Tyndrum and were told the The Real Food Cafe was in winter opening hours.

We picked Craig and Iain up and parked in the Green Welly car park and went for breakfast.

There was a bit of confusion as to wat was happening, was Craig in or out?

He was changed from running gear to casual so I thought he was out.

PTC was undecided but I thought he up for it.

I went outside and unloaded the bikes and the kit.

I took my down vest off and packed everything away, I stood around for another 5 minutes getting cold then walked to the door of the cafe to see PTC with another Coffee !

I was raging I thought the decision had been made to move, obviously not.

He waved me in but the mist over my eyes as I waved “stuff you”.

I got on the bike and started in the heavier rain.

If we had left when I said we would have been further down the track by now.

I had mixed emotions now as I snaked along the river bank out of Tyndrum.

The legs felt good as I ate up the miles and before I knew it I was at the bottom of the climb at Ewich.

I biked as much as I could and carried the rest, I remembered walking this with Jules and John a while back and decided that there was no stopping till the view point.

The rain got heavier but I was still warm in the smartwool top and Kaza.

I stopped briefly at the picnic bench for a drink, there wasnt much of a view just cloud and semi darkness despite it being light.

The single track from here was great and I enjoyed the downhill ride, even the muddy bit behind the farm was not as bad as I remembered it and I cycled straight through it all.

I crossed the road and railway and pushed on, I stopped to chat to a guy who was walking the way with his daughter and then wished them well.

At the bridge beside The Falls of Falloch I noted the slippy wood on the base, but did not note the end of my left handlebar.

It caught the handrail and sent me skidding, with the bike hanging through the gap on the handrail only attached to me via my shoes.

Just after that I met John who had biked in to meet me.

We free wheeled down to Beinglas and he said PTC was at Inverarnan having biked round on the road.

I told him I would wait 15 minutes and then I would go.

I topped up my bottles and ate some Jelly Belly Beans which gave me a wee boost.

I set off with no sign of PTC.

Had he dropped out ?

I biked a bit and then it all came to a halt, the track disappeared and it was back to carrying and pushing.

I passed couple of guys walking and the mentioned that my mucker was about 10 minutes in front of me ?????

They also said the going was hellish and that it was really slippy.

I pushed on climbing up rocks and negotiating narrow gaps that were like a problem solving exercise to get a bike through.

Every time I passed a walker they would say “your mate is 5 minutes in front of you ”

I stopped for lunch on a tree overhanging the loch.

I contemplated dropping the bike into the water and walking the rest.

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The sun started to come out and the dappled light threw up amazing colours in the moss and the wet rock.

I passed another walker who informed me that he just had a 15 minute conversation with PTC and he was just in front of me.

I finally caught up with him and shouted, he turned round looked at me and kept going.

Finally we got to a point we could ride the bike and we finally broke the ice in an awkward kind of chat.

We pushed onto Inversnaid as the sun got stronger.

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A quick break and we were off again.

The steps up to path by the hotel were a killer and the path was semi rideable with some bits you had to get off and push again.

We climbed up away from the loch and decided to stop at the top to take layers off and have some food.

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We spun on elated to see Rowerdennan, a quick break for some jerky and Irn Bru and we were off again.

I turned around and there was no PTC ! it turns out Ange was at the car park and he had stopped to speak to her.

I waited and he caught up in a few minutes before we pushed on.

We chose the road as time was pushing on, we again had a quick stop in Balmaha.

You forget how steep some of the wee climbs are on the road when you drive it.

Balmaha to Drymen flew in despite the best efforts of cars to kill us by overtaking on bends with cars coming the other way.

The thought went through my head “If you knock me off my bike you better hope you kill me, cause if I get up I will fecking kill you !”

Still the legs spun on, they were tired but not shot to bits like I had felt on the Wandae.

We rejoined the path and cut across the field, the waymarks are hard to see as you climb the wee hill and get a glimpse of Dumgoyne in the distance.

Photo courtesy of PTC

Photo courtesy of PTC

More road and hill but we were in good spirits and spun on chatting away.

We hit the gate at Gartness, a sign of things to come and we were spinning quite fast and getting a good old speed up in between the gates.

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Was it because we could smell the air of home or was the crazy buzz from Irn Bru,jelly Belly Beans and Jerky ?

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We left the Beach Tree car park after another crazy concoction of jerky and a mule bar.

I was having to keep stuffing my face with food to keep the boiler going.

We chatted about real food as we spun on to the last climb at Dumgoyach.

The lights were on now and I was still using the same battery from yesterday.

I am sure its only supposed to last an hour and a half but it was going strong.

We crossed the road at the Carbeth, John commented on ho bright the lights were and that we keeping a good pace now.

After a short climb at Carbeth that for some strange reason I had built up in my mind that it was longer and steeper we flashed past Craigallian Loch and to the road at the back of Mugdock Park.

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The home straight was in front of us and I had cycled and walked this bit a fair few times.

We free wheeled down the track with the lights creating a tunnel of light in front of us.

I felt sorry for any body out walking their digs and being blinded by the lights, but there was nobody to be seen.

We reached the crest of the hill just out of the woods and could see the lights of Milngavie.

Photo courtesy of PTC

Photo courtesy of PTC

Neither of us tempted fate by saying we were there, instead we soaked up the view and then once again free wheeled downwards and closer to the goal.

The track is nice from here to the town centre but you become ever increasingly aware of civilisation around you and cars etc.

We could see the finish and John standing leaning on the hand rail of the ramp.

I bunny hopped onto the pavement and changed gears for the last hill, I heard a curse and PTC had struggled with the curb getting his timing all wrong.

19.40hrs we hugged the pillar of the start/finish of the West Highland Way.

The spot would not send and it took sticking it in the middle of the Marks and Spencers car park for it to send.

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Photo courtesy of PTC

So the mission was completed and the picture above says it all.

Thanks again to every one for the support before and after it was greatly appreciated !

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WHW Fall*Doon Day 1

Kit packed and work finished I met up with John from Alba Adventures as he was kindly driving the bus up to Fort William for us and the following us down the road “just in case”.

We picked up Craig and Iain from St  Georges Cross and then to PTC HQ for the last man.

There was no road bikers as they had pulled out the night before due to injury.

We trundled up the A82 and the banter was up beat despite getting stuck in road works.

On arrival we checked in to the hotel and then had dinner, again the banter was good and there was much forecasting of where we would be and when.

Iain & Craig whet off to admin kit, PTC and went across the road for coffee.

After we departed for the rooms, I watched the news whilst sorting out kit.

I dropped the poles off to Crag and Iain’s room and they made the decision that they were off at about 06:30/07:00 hrs and that they would drop their spare kit at my room so it was safe.

I lay in bed watching the clock cycle through the minutes of the hours, I really needed/wanted to sleep but apart from the odd 15 minutes it wasn’t happening.

Eventually I drifted up and was woken by my alarm, 2 minutes later Craig knocked the door and their bags were dumped and the boys were off.

I snoozed for another half hour and then got dressed, packed final kit and left the room.

It was frosty outside and I was glad of my newly acquired PHD Down vest and Smartwool training Beanie.

There was no sign of anybody so I sent a text and John and PTC arrived 10mins later.

We loaded everything into the bus and then crossed the road for brekie in Morrisons before heading for the start of the WHW.

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Shoes changed and SPOT pings sent we were off, the cold air burning the lungs as we warmed up and got into the swing of things.

We cut off the road and started on the real path up the hill from Glen Nevis.

I had dreaded this but was happy to realise it wasnt as steep as I thought.

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The mist hung in the valley as we climbed through it and were greeted with blue skies.

That and the combination of the trees and bracken changing colour drew out a bike smile on both our faces as we spun on up the hill.

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Out the mist we were greeted with flawless views of the top of the Ben, we both commented on the fact that any body out on the hills were going to have a good one !

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The path leaves the main track and heads into the woods giving some nice single track to ride and a few annoying steps to climb.

The change in terrain relaxed us and I mentally ticked off the first leg in my head.

We stopped off at the top of one of the hills after climbing some god awful set of steps and sent another ping.

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We trundled on through the woods enjoying the single track till we broke through the green canopy and were greeted with an amazing view in a South Westerly direction.

We climbed the deer fence and wheeled on along the track, a few bits being tricky to ride.

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Its hard to look around you and soak up the view when you are concentrating on the track in front of you.

Every look up is worth it !

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We reached the information shelter, I remembered this from the last time, 8 miles to Kinlochleven.

The track was changeable from loose pebbles to muddy track and some minor fording of rivers.

Photo courtesy of PTC

Photo courtesy of PTC

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As we the track bends and heads Eastward we were greeted amazing views and great tracks to ride.

We started passing lots of walkers and we were even passed by a guy on a motor bike.

We stopped for a proper break and to send a SPOT ping.

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Onwards and we soaked up the miles, the track undulating with some steep short climbs and some technical loose downhill taking all the concentration you had to keep the bike the way it should be.

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Just before Kinlochleven we passed a guy walking with his daughter, he commented that someone was waiting for us at the top of the hill.

It turned out to John who had biked in whilst waiting for us.

It was good to see him and we all set off enjoying the downhill.

This soon changed at the final hill at Kinlochleven, the track gets super steep and eroded.

Storm drains threaten to buckle wheels or send you over the handlebars and loose stones disrupt breaking.

At one point I was so engrossed in the track that I missed the left hand turn and ended up following what could be described as a ditch.

I stopped and waited for PTC, after 5 mins I shouted then walked up the ditch.

It was only then I saw the post and the track going off to the left.

I picked up the bike and got back on track.

on getting to the road there wan PTC I gambled that he must be ahead of me and headed for the Ice Factor, right enough him and John were there.

We had a bit of lunch and prepared ourselves for the climb out of Kinlochleven.

We biked as much as we could and then pushed the rest.

The fun was yet to begin as we left the main track at the sign and headed upwards again with a mixture of riding, pushing and carrying.

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It was warm in the sun as we finally reached the top of the Devils Staircase.

We stopped for a  cheese and jerky break, PTC had a wee chat to a group of lads biking the other way as I watched a wisp of cloud float over the top of the Ben.

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In theory you blackmail your mind with the fact that you are going uphill and there will be a really good downhill soon.

The Devils staircase was not to be that !

Instead of a nice track section we were greeted with yet more storm drains and eroded track.

I guess if you wer on a day oot wi pals some more of this would be rideable, but the fact you are out for 2 days definitely plays on your mind.

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Photo courtesy of PTC

Finally down the track we spun on to Kingshouse where we met the bus again.

John told us the boys were well ahead of us, the carry out of Kinlochleven had lost us any time we had gained.

We ate jerky admined lights and sorted for the next stage.

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It was getting colder and I changed the lenses on my Julbo glasses to clear.

We set off again with the climbs taking the toll on our legs.

Across the road we branched off the main road and onto the track, it always feels a big commitment when you leave the road here as there is only one way oot and thats on the other side !.

The sun was almost setting and causing the hills to get “moody ” in the failing light.

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There is a PTC in there if you look hard enough

The track snakes off into the distance in a nice rewarding downhill.

The stags roared in the not so distance adding to the whole scene.

This is what you do it for !

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Once the light was gone we were focused into our own little world of LED.

I only had my helmet lights on to start with as that was plenty.

The cobbles vibrated the bike as we rolled on.

After crossing Ba Bridge I looked behind me to see no light from PTC.

I was starting to curse not having  the radios that we were going to take.

Finally a light was in sight and we were back together as we stopped for a break and I put my Kaza pull over on to keep the chill off.

Hitting the road we spun on passing a car with cans of guiness on the roof, I was tempted.

We were told prior that the section from Inveroran Hotel to Bridge of Orchy was not to be biked so we skirted round the road taking the extra 1km hit.

We arrived at the bus feeling good, this was boosted by John telling us that the boys had just left !

A quick munch we were off again under the railway and spinning along the track.

We constantly searched in front of us for a reflection in our lights from the Ace packs or a hint of head torches.

Finally we caught them as we skirted round what was left of Beinn Dorain, we chatted and pushed for a while and then took off back in the saddle.

We cursed through the railway tunnel before Tyndrum as we had one more bit of pushing to do.

Soon we were free wheeling into Tyndrum and dismounting at the Real Food Cafe.

A few of the PTC regulars were there to greet us with friendly faces and cans of irn bru.

It was cold and the beanie and vest was on as soon as.

Then a pint of coffee and some food.

Just as we were finishing the runners arrived and it was smiles all round.

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Photo courtesy of PTC

We finally dropped Craig and Iain off at the B&B (after driving round Tyndrum for ages) and then made our way to Strathfillan House.

It was an icy welcome due to lack of communication and the late hour.

I didnt care, I wanted a shower and bed so I was fresh for the morning.

PTC and I had some discussion re the next day, he was tired and I suggested he slept on it, I also mentioned that no matter what I was finishing the next day as I felt good.

I was happy to go solo if need be, I didnt want to be solo but someone had to finish the mission.

In hindsight I might of came across a bit strong.

The light was off at midnight before we turned into pumpkins !

Part 2 is another day and another story.

Sleep was intermittent again and the alarm went off at 06:30hrs …………

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Home and no rest

Straight up for work this morning which included a mountain bike session !

Aye well all is good.

Admined some kit, mainly the bike, but still piles of it to sort out.

Just looked at the other SPOT page and there is a few missing from the end of the first day.

HERE

Probably due to the fact it wasnt used to us moving so fast !

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Story soon !

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WHW Fall*doon – Mountain biking – Spot

WHW Fall*doon – Mountain biking – Spot

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Its all Go !

The countdown is on !

Just over a year ago I was doing the same thing !

Kit is strewn all over the dinning room but this time there is a bike in the equation = more kit and more to go wrong !

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Am I nervous ?  YES

Am I ready ? PROBABLY

Will we have fun ? OF COURSE

There is kit a plenty from AY up lights,Haglofs, Smartwool, Buff,Julbo.

The spot is set up here

And hopefully here

We will be leaving Glasgow at 4pm and starting Saturday morning from Fort Bill whenever !

The big question is will the beard stay or go ?????

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