First Pedal Of 2012 : – A Day Trip To Balloch
Happy New Year troops. For our first pedal of 2012, we had initially planned to head down the coast to Troon but the forecasted wind called for a change of plans. Subject to a weather inspection around 9am, we had decided to head for Balloch in the hope that the Clyde cyclepath would provide a little shelter. The early morning “check oot the windae” put paid to Ricky and Ally, so Alan McKee and I met Simon Bennett at Stoneymeadow and headed down to meet Davy Mullin at Drumsagard.
Lucy and Sophie looked really pleased at the prospect of Davy going out for a longish cycle and waved him off with delight. Handshakes and “Happy New Years” all round and it was off down to join the Clyde cyclepath. It was a chilly start but we soon heated up. There was a bit of storm damage evident, in that the path was covered in twigs and small branches but we pushed on towards Glasgow.
Hold up No.1. Just behind Parkhead we came across the cyclepath having been blocked off as there was construction work going on.
The consensus was, climb round it, which we did. Hold up No.2. 200 yards later there was a more significant missing section. We hummed and hawed, Si went for a recce and we scrambled 150 yards through a pile driving site to join up with the path again on the other side.
We were soon cycling through Glasgow Green and out past the SECC. The recent winds seem to have been moving some of the cycling path signs, which combined with our limited navigation skills, was causing havoc with us staying on the right route. We were then frustrated for a couple of minutes by a duffle coat clad cyclist with limited communication skills just prior to crossing the clydeside expressway. Having been baffled again by the signs we climbed up towards some houses, only to find that we had to drop down to road level again via some stairs. The bold Si, showed us all how to do it with some nice bike handling skills (on his road bike) and we duly followed. Halfway down I heard a cry and turned round to see Alan doing a superman impression, around 3 feet off the ground as he came over the handlebars. Happily there was no major damage done (he landed on his head, missing his vital organs by 3 feet ) and we pedalled on with only his pride damaged.
Having been a bit stop startish on the way through Glasgow we then got onto a nice ribbon of cyclepath on the way to Bowling. Si and I upped the pace and Alan and Davy (who we dubbed the lazy bastards) seemed happy to sit in behind us. The average speed received a much needed boost as we skirted the old canal route and we started to see more evidence of the amount of rainfall there has been recently with some sections of the path under a little water.
Si then opened up his legs and showed us all his class by powering away up the road, creating quite a gap on the way into Bowling. He was bursting for a piss and we passed him moments later.
We stopped at the bridge at Bowling and took a couple of pictures.
Back in the saddle and we continued towards Balloch, finding another really nice smooth ribbon of cyclepath. Alan and Davy were then shamed into riding in the wind. This provided a very welcome respite for Si and I and we used the minute to recover before the lead out men took a “wrong” turning and it was back to normal positions. Thanks lads.
The path got a little ragged on the way into Balloch and we had to cycle through several flooded sections. On the way out of one of these, and only a mile or so from the warmth and sanctuary of a cafe, I discovered that I had a rearwheel puncture. It was all hands to the pump, well Si and I set about fixing it (does anyone else see a theme developing here?) and we soon had a new tube fitted. Actually the pump wasn’t required as Davy got his new toy out, a CO2 inflator, and we were good to go again.
Another few flooded sections and a mile or so later and we arrived in Balloch. There was a bit of snow on the Ben, as you can see in the background below, so another photo opportunity.
We found a nice wee cafe when we arrived in Balloch and proceded to try to heat up. It was tea, coffee, toasties and cakes all round and the wee wummin let us put our bikes out the back of the cafe. As the cakes arrived, the sky darkened and the weather worsened it was suggested that it may be worth catching the train back to Newton. The vote carried unanimously and we headed for the station.
There was almost another accident coming down the stairs at Newton, as a seriously yer dinner, leggy blonde in tight leather trousers worked on chewing a hole in her breeks a few steps in front of us. There was a justifiably, right smug looking lucky bastard walking beside her.
The sleet came on for our pedal home and the southerly headwind, driving it into our faces as we came up the hill to Stoneymeadow, was most welcome.
Total mileage 43 miles in around 4 hours.
There were several contenders vying for most valuable piece of kit of the day :-
Beanie hat, new Altura gloves from Si and Bert, merino wool baselayer, pocket rocket waterproof jacket or Davy’s CO2 inflator. As a fully paid up member of the boys and their toys club the winner has to be the inflator.
Well done fellow warriors and potential conscript, another memorable day.