We had a difference of opinion on yesterdays proposed route in that Alan “Dutch” McKee, who is suffering from hill fear, fancied the pan flat route to Balloch and back and Chris “the Earnock Eagle” Hunter favoured the Radar Station. Democracy, and the fact that our preparation for the Sportive next week really needed a seriously hilly route, ruled as always and with a bit of input from Martin “Bahamonte” Wilson it was decided that we would hit the radar station via the Mennock Pass. We met up in the car park at Crawfordjohn having given Scorcese the sticky bottle as we passed him en route. As Chris, Alan and I arrived we passed Ally in the village and parked up beside Andy “Pantani” Bennett and John Leonard. It was great to see wee John back on his bike after his two major traumas last year. Firstly he was knocked off his bike by a car and broke his ankle, which he then recovered from only to have a spill in Mallorca where he fractured both his pelvis and his clavicle, so well done John, you are a hard wee man.
Martin duly arrived 5 mins after us and we got ourselves ready for the days exertions.
We were a couple of regulars down with Ricky on honeymoon in the Lake District, big Stu caravanning with the family in St Andrews and Davy Mullin in bed with an ear infection. Lads you missed a challenging pedal, although Ricky may have been working on his anaerobic fitness in 5 minute bursts. We set off on a rather dreich day and headed for Sanquhar with everyone in good spirits. This section of the route was mostly downhill as we made our way towards the B797. We stopped at the start of the pass for a photo opportunity and then set off.
The road wound up and up, twisting and turning through the hills as we headed along the Mennock Pass towards Wanlockhead. I was cycling alongside Alan McKee who turned to me after a few miles climbing and said “We must be close now?”. I realised that he meant close to the radar station and informed him that we still had a couple of miles to go to Wanlockhead where the Radar station road began. “You’re f***ing joking” came the reply. “No Alan unfortunately I’m not”. I don’t think it was the answer Alan Van Persie was looking for. We stopped at Wanlockhead to regroup after the Mennock Pass climb and prior to beginning our ascent to the radar station.
After a wee blether we got back in the saddle and set off for the golf ball in the sky. Although we had cooled down a little when we stopped we weren’t long heating up again, the short sharp hill near the start heating up the muscles fairly quickly. I climbed with Martin who was riding well within himself but was a major help in almost hauling me up the hill. We had a wee blether as we made progress, which consisted mostly of Martin forming sentences and myself grunting the occasional monosyllabic response. I don’t know whether having cycled this route last year was an advantage or a disadvantage. I remember the feeling of disappointment experienced on crowning the false summit last year and how the golf ball almost seemed to get further away rather than become closer. Yesterday it didn’t seem so bad but there were still occasional moments of suffering. Martin and I made our way into the clouds and rolled over the top in 22 mins. The cloud unfortunately put paid to the view from the top which I remember as being pretty spectacular and also made it feel particularly chilly. I dismounted and took some pictures as a few of the lads completed the climb. The Dutchman was cursing himself as he had to stop for a minute on the climb, déjà vu? Hullits Nest! don’t go making a habit of this Alan. He was being a bit harsh on himself though as he was pushing a 39 – 25 granny and will undoubtedly benefit from and relish the arrival of his new Focus Izalco.
We didn’t hang around at the top due to the chilly temperature and screamed off the hill at an eye watering speed to Wanlockhead in 5 mins 50 secs. The descent proved to be more painful for Andy than the climb, when he forgot about the sharp ditch across the road near the bottom, and his gonads felt the full force of the dip. Another couple of wee hills and we were dropping through the leadhills. Andy and John decided to lengthen their pedal and extended their route through Elvanfoot and up to Abington. The rest of us made our way back to Crawfordjohn and the Colebrooke Arms pub for a coffee and a post pedal blether. Well done to everyone on yesterdays achievement which I’m sure we will all benefit from next week. My fears over the loss of my granny gear on the Tricross were mostly dispelled yesterday and I was pleased that I managed the climb on the 34 – 28 on the mistress, who was christened Ruby by the famous antipodean namer of bikes known as Docky the Baptist. I feel this may well be the start of a new love affair and would just like to take this opportunity to say to the new mistress (insert contrived punchline here) “ Oh Roubaix, don’t take your love to town.” Just watching Tom Boonen blow the field away in Paris – Roubaix. What an effort. Well done to Sir Chris Hoy who won the Kirin today from an impossible looking position.