Balloch & Back!

The roll call for yesterday’s ride to Balloch and back was Gilly, Alan and myself. I had text Gilly during the day on Friday to find out if anyone was heading out for a pedal on Sat and he gave me a phone to confirm that he and Alan were planning on heading to Balloch and back and that I was welcome to join them. Having my Uncle’s 80th Birthday party at 5pm on the Sat evening I was worried about timing but Gilly reassured me that if we left at 8am we’d be back in plenty of time and if by any chance we were running late we could get the train back from Balloch. So that was it, I was in!

Alarm clock went off at 6.30am and I headed down to grab a bowl of cereal then got changed into my cycle kit. I then packed all my kit up carefully checking I had everything as I was taking the car to Gilly’s.

I pulled up to La Mansion de Gilligan and rang the buzzer at the huge security gates and was then ushered into the security cabin by the on duty security guard. From there we waited patiently while the butler help Gilly into his Lycra!

With the two of us now ready Gilly phoned Alan to say that I had pulled out and that he wasn’t feeling too well…………….. then said that I had just turned up and that he was feeling better now! Poor Alan had been looking forward to this cycle all week and Gilly was toying with his emotions while he was at his most vulnerable!

Gilly and I headed off and met up with Alan and started our cycle to Balloch. We headed down Hillhouse road and at some point Gilly shouted out that we should hold tight to our brakes as we were coming to a steep decent! Boy it certainly was a steep decent but not only that it was pot hole ridden, it was more like going off road except we were on road bikes and not full suspension mountain bikes! That wasn’t going to be the last time we saw that hill either!

We headed on down past Cambuslang Public Park, down Brownside road and onto Duke’s Road followed by Cambuslang road. From there we passed the Tesco at Dalmarnock road and joined the cycle path along the Clyde where a large chunk of our route would follow, then past Glasgow Green and back onto the cycle network running parallel with the Clyde. We then passed the new Transport museum then passed through Dumbarton.

We headed along the cycle network running parallel with the Forth & Clyde Canal then just as we came off the cycle path into an industrial estate Gilly shouted that I had a puncture! Of course it was going to be the back wheel because why would it be the easier one? We set about changing the inner tube and after 3 CO2 cartridges and a hand pump we were finished, or so we thought. Just as we had packed all the kit away, re-fitted the back wheel and was about to set off again I noticed that the rear tyre had deflated once again! We had checked the inside of the tyre for debris before fitting the new tube but must have missed it! We got all the stuff back out and removed the wheel for a second time and easily managed to locate the area of the puncture due to the white powder from the CO2 leaking out the hole and leaving a residue on the inner side of the tyre. Gilly then found what he thought was the culprit, a tiny thorn like thing! This time we used Alan’s CO2 inflator and all went well. The delay was annoying as we were cruising along at a good pace before it happened.

We continued on our way maintaining decent average speeds reaching 23mph at points. We were doing one mile through and out, so after a mile the lead wheel was changed so we all had a shot at dictating the pace. I must admit it worked very well and we managed to maintain good speeds. We passed through Bowling and other places and rode alongside the River Leven to our destination which was Balloch. Gilly then headed to the bank to get some money while Alan headed to the wee cafe to ask the girls if we could put our bikes round the back. We left our bike in the secure area around the back and enjoyed a light lunch before retracing our steps and heading back to Hamilton.

We had one near incident where we were all on the Pavement passing by a crowded shopping centre when Alan dropped back onto the road and I decided to do the same cutting in front of a slow moving bus which the driver took offence to and slammed his horn on. At this point some guy shouted “f@cking idiot” to which I looked round while Gilly who was now beside the guy on the pavement replied “who you f@king talking to” which was at the point we realised that two police officers were standing 10 yards away taking the whole incident in! We decided to carry on our way and promptly left! Lol

Once we arrived back in Glasgow we met two guys out on their mountain bikes, one with a child seat in front of the rider with a toddler in it. We struck up conversation with them and the wee toddler then headed to the traffic lights to cross over into Glasgow Green. We waited and waited and waited for the little green man to come on, which it didn’t. Once every junction had been given the green light and the cycle started again, wondering why the little green man hadn’t come on, I noticed that no-one had actually pressed the button on the crossing! Doh! We then left it to the toddler to press the button and guide us across the road!

From Glasgow Green the last 8 miles were up hill and that’s where we came to “THAT” hill again, only this time we would be going up it instead of coming down it! Alan wasn’t too pleased with Gilly’s choice of route as he wanted to take the longer route which by passed that hill. Gilly advised us to leave plenty of space between each other as we climbed the hill, which was only about 50-100 yards but very steep, just in case someone had to stop. This hill was a granny ring hill. Gilly went first and made it to the top in one go, Alan went second with me behind him. Alan started to slow down and then stopped and I had to swerve out his way to avoid colliding with him, and with every last bit of energy made it to the top! Gilly and I then watched Alan push his bike to the top.

We then had to negotiate several more steep climbs before arriving back at the heavily guarded security gates at Gill’s Mansion!

At the last long steep climb up to Gill’s I had to pull over and stretch my thighs before continuing to the top!

All in all it was another great day with the weather being kind to us. Great effort and performance from all, totalling 66.25 miles with an average speed of 14mph in 4hrs 44mins! Really happy considering I was in my sick bed with a sickness and diarrhoea bug on Thursday!

You can see the full route and stats by clicking on the link below.

Stu