Sunday, September 29, 2013

Are you sure summer is finished?

What a weekend. The weather gods have been kind to us in the shire, basking in unheard of temperatures of 20 degrees and we're only a couple of days short of October. After a lovely family day on Saturday, Sunday was set aside for biking duties, and a wee jaunt up a mountain fitted the bill perfectly.

So, after a reasonably early start, I picked up young Lloyd and then the not so young Julie on the way to Arrochar to tackle our target for the day, Ben Arthur, better known as the cobbler. The cobbler climb starts at sea level, so with 881 metres of climbing ahead of us, we set off, accompanied by some friends from my old bike club, Stuart, Les and Gavin.

Jules carrying her bikes 'enduro stylee'

The cobbler, whilst not quite qualifying as a Munro as it's a mere 100ft short, is a very popular wee hill, especially on Glasgow bank holiday weekend, at times it was like braehead shopping centre, but at least the people weren't annoying fat weegies... You get the odd ignoramus, but in general most walkers out on the hills have a good attitude to mountain bikers these days, with the usual mix being one of inquisitiveness and incredulity at the same time.

Realistically, the last 150 metres of so is pretty much not rideable up or down, as we knew on the way up, but the summit had to be achieved on such a stunning day, as the views promised to be excellent. And excellent they were.




So, the descent....

As I said, most of the first section was unrideable, as it's too steep and on man made steps, which you really can't get any braking traction on. After that, the fun began. In between Julie and les' numerous punctures, the descending was fantastic, and only maybe a dozen or so water bars and gorges that require the bike to be lifted over. The last section down through the forest was an absolute hoot, with Robin, Young Lloyd, Stuart and myself riding pretty close together and having a right carry on. Brilliant,



As ever, I never really got many pictures on the descent, as it's always the last thing that's thought of whilst you're doing what you enjoy most, I try to make a point of doing it, but it doesn't always work out. And if you stop to take pics, there's always a chance of getting stuck behind a mincer. Nightmare.

A cracker of a day in the autumn sunshine, followed by coffee and cake. Long live summer.


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Hitting the jumps with the token female...


I find it easier to drag myself out of bed on nightshift week if there is some singletrack action on the cards, and in perfect autumnal conditions like today, it's even easier. I met Julie after she had finished work at 3 and we headed up to the local jumps in Auchincruive woods, as Julie continues her transformation from XC/Roadie whippet to DH/Enduro queen.

The last time I was up there with Robin and Des I didn't feel confident on the wee gap jump, but thankfully my mojo is slowly returning and had no such problems this time.


Julie is nothing if not determined. This determination is now being focused on doing the wee gap jump too, and promises were made to return and get nailing it before Robin and Des do (she's not competitive, honest!)

She was hitting a couple of smaller jumps, and really getting used to her new bike. She shouldn't be too long before she starts hitting some bigger stuff.we then headed up river to do the usual singletrack sections up toward Annbank, which are pretty dry just now, and running really well.

Julie was keen to head back to the jumps again, so who was I to argue?!. Another good few runs, and it was time to head back to town, as Julie had to get back to feed the pony, and I had to get back in time for Maria returning from a playdate. Brilliant, a wee stolen ride in the afternoon, can't be beaten.



Saturday, September 14, 2013

First autumnal ride

After riding on Arran last weekend with the Stirling boys, we were keen to head up and ride in their back yard, and Aron very generously decided on taking an afternoon off work to show us round. After stopping off at sprockets on the way, to pick up the mega after its latest breakage, we left behind shire sunshine, and instead were met with a wall of rain and gloom.

And that's why there are no pictures, it was so wet, the camera was left in the car.

Parking up at cambusbarron, myself, Des and the newly rejuvenated Robin ventured out thought the quarries and headed in search of the picture perfect trails of the north third cliffs. Well it would have been picture perfect, if you could see further than twenty feet ahead. The trails that followed our poring over the map were well worth it, rocky, rooty, steep and lots of fun. It's pretty up and down, and at only 10 miles long, harder than it sounds. We all agreed to a return visit in better weather.

A quick sandwich, and we headed over to Logie kirk, just outside bridge of Allan, to meet Aron and Charlie for the afternoon ride. Putting wet back gear on is horrible, but the climb soon warmed us and tired legs soon make you forget wet clothes.

An hour later, we summited onto Dumyat, at nearly 500m altitude. We managed to get the odd wee view down toward Stirling castle and the Wallace monument between clouds, but not much to be honest. So, we headed back down and a cracking descent followed, and then another cracker through Mine woods and into Bridge of Allan. Another climb followed, back up round the reservoir, back along the initial dumyat climb, but this time heading down yellow crags, above Stirling uni, for a peach of a flowing rooty descent back to the car. Another ride at around 10 miles, but over 1000 metres of climbing between both rides had us as hungry boys.

The fish and chips were poor - tripadvisors number 1 eatery in the town was a huge letdown, but eat them we did, and home for a well earned hot bath. We'll be back up there soon.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Another cracker on the Isle...

Myself, Des, Julie, Drew and Martin were joined at ardrossan harbour by some folks I'd met online at trailscotland - Aron, Chris and Charlie, all from the Stirling/Falkirk area. I'd been promising Aron that I'd take him over and show him what Arran had to offer for ages now, and a recent shoulder injury for him had delayed us until now.

As it was a Sunday, the first ferry was a little later, which meant we didn't really have enough time to do the whole cock of Arran and two glens ride. So, we decided to just do the two glens, riding up the road to Sannox and at Drews usual mental average speed.

The ride up Glen Sannox starts gentle enough, but we were soon met with some monsoon rains, and when that finished, the midges decided it was lunch time, and that was bloody horrific!. The hike a bike up the top of Glen Sannox is a bit mental, and we had to do our usual chain bike carry, as it's so steep, that both hands are required. Once up on the saddle, we were above midge level, so the Julie-baiting carried on...

The descent down Glen Rosa is every bit as good as it is frustrating, due to the constant drainage ditches, and the erosion meaning that every pedal stroke has to be well thought out, otherwise an over the bars follows, and there were a few of them, me included!..

Great ride though, only 17.5 miles, but that's Arran miles... And a lovely pint at the Douglas hotel too. We were met on the ferry by a couple of my mates from my club, Glasgow MBC, who'd been over for the weekend too. So a nice sociable end too.

Was great to ride with Drew and Martin again as well, as their both cracking riders, and a right good laugh. Sweet.






The last ever RAF Leuchars air show

Our enjoyment of this fantastic event has been slightly tempered by the sad fact that 2013 is supposedly the last ever time that this show will be held at leuchars, and we've only just recently discovered it.

After a good two and a half hour drive up from the shire, we popped on the park n ride bus from St. Andrews, and 10 minutes later, we were watching the Hercules and typhoons of the Austrian Air Force perform their attack and defence manoeuvres. Awesome.

RAF Leuchars is absolutely huge, we were astounded by the sheer size of the place, and it was jam packed with really interesting aircraft to get close up to. From teeny tiny giro copters of the past, to Cold War lightning a, right up to the mighty VC10.



Wing commander Maria Bowie



There were so many amazing displays, and if I'm honest, we'd really gone to see the red arrows, but for me, the typhoons stole the show. They are incredible to watch, lightning quick, they can turn on a sixpence and the ground shaking noise leaves your jaw on the floor. I was hooked.

Maria had a great time, as there was also a funfair!.


Happy days indeed. Afterwards, we headed into St. Andrews with Mark and Gwen, and into the dolls house for dinner, a fantastic end to a fantastic day. Truth be told,I was struggling to keep my eyes open on the drive home, and the three of us fell into bed at 10pm sharp.

Never thought I'd get sunburnt so late in the year, but my ginger Pictish skin tones had other ideas...


Yes, there was one missing!.