Having planned this trip a couple of weeks in advance, we couldn’t have hoped for a better day weather wise. Unfortunately some of our regulars couldn’t make it but we still had 4 keen attendees in the shape of Stu Russell, Davie Mullin, Stevie Potter and myself. Stevie picked me up at 8.00am and we headed up to EK to meet Stu and Davie at the McDonalds. headed down to Ardrossan for the ferry. As none of the boys smoke I thought this would be a good day to pack them in but I sneaked a cheeky one in just as Stevie arrived. We got ourselves shifted, picked up our tickets and made our way to the ferry.
Everyone was looking forward to the pedal and we had a discussion around which direction we should take. As it was a Northerly wind I suggested we should go North to benefit from the wind down the exposed West coast. Sometimes democracy sucks and the vote went against me so we headed South, with the lads preferring to get the rolling bumps of the South out of the way early.
Any of you who have cycled this beautiful island will know that the clockwise route out of Brodick has a fairly difficult start in that you are straight into quite a testing wee hill which certainly gets you warmed up rather quickly. This was certainly the case for Davie, who nearly came a cropper whilst trying to remove his buff, on the move with his helmet still on rather unsuccessfully, resulting in a few expletives being uttered followed by an abrupt stop just before he would have crashed off the road.
We made our way round the South coast, stopping briefly to get a picture of Ailsa Craig and the lighthouse before pressing on towards the west coast.
Arran Trip 6th October 2012-10-06
We got down to the Southwest corner around 22 miles in and Davie suggested that we stop for a bite to eat at a hotel we arrived at. I told him that we had stopped at the Machrie Golf Club last year, which was about 4 miles further on and that they did nice coffee and rolls and bacon. Another democratic decision was taken to press on. We then started to hit the Northerly headwind as we made our way up the west coast but we were soon at the Golf club cafe, which was displaying a sign to the effect that it was “Closed until April 2013”. Stu, Stevie and I were disappointed but we looked positively ecstatic about the notice when compared to Davie, who was certainly not chuffed, and who threatened to “kill you Gilligan” before punching me on the arm (he did pull it though). We had no alternative than to press on up the West coast and incredibly, after 29 miles we managed to get big Stu to take a wee turn in the wind at the front. I thought I may have been suffering from hunger hallucinations but I asked Stevie about this incomprehensible vision before me and he confirmed it as being real. You could have knocked me over with a bacon roll!
Having passed through several small west coast Arran hamlets, sans cafe, we were greeted by the welcome sight of the “Lighthouse cafe”. Ya dancer. I had just mentioned to Stu and Stevie that if we didn’t find one soon I was fearing for my safety and thought that Davie might spit the dummy out. We entered and although being last in Davie didn’t shut the door, to a mild rebuke from the wee wummin serving, although I don’t know if he had the energy to do so. We ordered our scran which was duly delivered 44 minutes later, which I know because Davie had timed it.
Fed and suitably caffeinated we set off again towards the dreaded climb just through Lochranza. It is quite an ask and I set about tackling it with my head down and a low gear. There are several false summits which I knew about from our last trip there but they proved unwelcome surprises for the rest of the lads. I crested and got the camera out to capture the others coming over the top. Well done lads.
Now for the fun part. What goes up must come down and we were delighted to discover that the road down had been resurfaced into a beautifully smooth ribbon of tarmac akin to Millwell road in it’s hayday. We set off and were soon screaming down the descent. I was flying and tentatively took my eyes off the road to discover that I was doing 47.6mph. Allriiiiiiight. A new PB. It was a real buzz and we had been accelerating away from a car which was also on the same stretch of road!!
We made our way around the remaining 10 miles to the ferry terminal, where Stu pronounced me King Of The Mountains, got ourselves seated and waited for the bar to open to toast the day and take advantage of the “Malt Of The Month” offer, a double Black Bottle for £3. Reeesult. A few Arran Ales were bought with Black Bottle doubles to accompany them and we made a wee toast to everyone’s efforts and the day.
With the beer and a couple of doubles down my neck I noticed a young lady across from us rolling a fag. Emboldened by the swally and recognising my ever diminishing nicotine levels I chanced my arm by asking her for a roll up only to be igmnominiously and very publicly dismissed with a half assed excuse of “I’ve no skins keft”. I didn’t like her thigh length tattoo anyway.
We disembarked, got organised, said our goodbyes and headed off home. A great day was had by all. I thoroughly enjoyed it and look forward to our next wee adventure. Well done guys.