Hamilton To Balloch and Back. Saturday 10th March 2012.

Big Stu arrived at my house early and we set off to meet Alan McKee for an 8am start. With Ricky, Davy and Ally heading out on Sunday, Chris at a Judo competition with his son Danny, Willie Rosling having done his back in doing weights and Andy Bennett down with larngytis, it was just the 3 of us for the pedal to Balloch and back.

Stu and I were blinded when we met Alan with his new Gore hi-viz jacket. Not only that but he had obviously gone shopping for it with Trinny and Suzanna as he had a colour co-ordinated hat on as well ! We headed through High Blantyre and down the 18% hill at the Hoolit’s nest, more of which later.

We decided to have a rotational mile in the wind which worked really well, where you were in the wind for a mile and then sheltered for 2 miles. A mile or so after the SECC Big Stu got a puncture. We changed the inner tube, when I say we I mean Stu and I (Alan ate a banana and offered advice, non financial that is) and inflated the tyre only for it to flatten again immediately. We changed it again and thankfully this time it was successful, but it had cost us around 35 minutes or so. Stu had repeatedly been the luckiest with the gradients and conditions for his mile in the wind, which didn’t go unnoticed or unmentioned mostly by Alan.

Thanks for your advice Alan

We had been going well and the delay couldn’t have come at a worse time but we picked the speed up on the way to Bowling. It was reassuring to see the water at a less threatening level as the last time we cycled this route quite a few sections of the path were submerged.

Bowling Bridge

After around  2 hours 30 mins in the saddle we arrived at the Balloch cafe. We stowed the bikes away in the usual place and passed the local tourettes sufferer / care in the community participant before ordering toasties all round with coffees and a milk for Stu. Alan got the best value for money, managing to squeeze an egg mayo toastie and 2 “extra hot”? milky coffees for his fiver. Half an hour later we remounted and started to retrace our steps.

We upped the pace for the first 6 miles or so leaving Balloch cracking along at around 17 – 22mph. Personally I felt a little bagged up and sluggish after the lunch and feel it may be beneficial to mostly keep moving on the day of the sportive and graze regularly rather than having any prolonged breaks.

We had a collective winge about the overpass we had to use at the SECC before heading towards Glasgow Green. We then found ourselves cycling along beside a couple of guys, one of whom had his 3 year old son on a wee seat which was attached to the top tube of his bike. The young cyclist was thoroughly enjoying himself and no wonder as he was getting the miles in without having to pedal, a young wheel hugger? We were stopped at the lights at the High Court and Alan propped himself up against the pedestrian crossing button rather than remove his foot from his toeclip. The lights changed and changed again without allowing us to cross. All the time we were waiting the aforementioned wee boy was pleading with the green man to come on. Eventually he, the 3 year old, came to our rescue by reaching past Alan to press the button. As if by magic the green man then came on. I thanked the wee boy for coming to our rescue and feel Alan may well still be there had he not encountered the more switched on wee chap with the superior road sense.

If you want to cross the road you press the button.

There was a difference of opinion on our route home, déjà vu anyone, although this week there was no spitting of dummies. As I retraced our steps back towards the 18% climb at the Hoolits Nest Alan and Stu began to call me rude names, mostly slang words for a small vagina. I may be wide of the mark here but I got the distinct impression that they didn’t want to climb the wee steep hill. We all got ourselves grannied early and pushed hard on the pedals. Stu and I made it up the hill but Alan didn’t fancy it three quarters of the way up the hill so he removed his foot from his toeclip and  walked up the rest. Alan congratulated Stu on making the climb.

The final climb at Fillipetti’s was painful after 65 miles. It was payback time for Stu who was on the front for a change at a hill after his lucky flat mile sections. The big chap had to stop for a minute as he thought his thighs were going to cramp up and he climbed off the bike back at my house a minute or so after Alan and I.
Well done lads. That was a cracking effort, quite an achievement and is the furthest I have ever ridden. The stats were as follows :-

66 miles. 4 hours 44 mins. 14.1mph average.

Happy with that and that’s 177 miles completed for me so far this month. Going to try to head out with Martin, his mates and Chris on Wednesday night. They leave the Malletsheugh Inn in Newton Mearns at 6.15pm and it is a good wee 20 mile workout. If anyone fancies joining in let me know and I can tell them to wait for you in case you are late for any reason.