Radar Station – Brutal!

Let’s do the Radar Station Gilly said, it’ll be fun he said! Boy it was anything but fun!

There’s a reason why you do the Radar ONCE in a 12 month period, that reason is because it takes that long to numb the pain and you forget just how brutal it really is!

So how did I manage to get myself roped into this I hear you ask? Very good question, and one I’d like to know myself! Well for starters it’s been 12 months, or around that since the last attempt so the true pain associated, both physically and mentally with this climb had been numbed down.

Gilly had managed to get a hold of me in a moment of weakness. He was persistent, I’ll give him that! Two missed calls didn’t deter him from his evil plan, he stuck with it and unaware of what was about to unfold I answered my phone! I was greeted with his usual happy tones, at this point he was giving nothing away, there was no indication in his voice that the conversation would very shortly be taking a wicked and evil turn. If I knew back then what I know now my phone would still be ringing, the missed calls would now be into treble, not double, figures! I didn’t know, I answered and for some crazy reason I accepted.

So there you have it the Radar station was now the focus of Saturday’s cycle. I sent out the usual barrage of text messages trying to do what Gilly had done to me, and rope some unexpecting bodies into it. Let’s share the pain! Most never replied, obviously playing the, if I don’t reply he won’t pester me card. There was one acceptance, a very eager and Nieve Kev Lee replied almost instantly with, “Me!“. For a moment I felt bad, felt bad that I was playing on his innocence, but that little ounce of guilt soon disappeared as Gilly’s phone call came ringing back in my ears. Someone else has to pay I thought, and unlucky for Kev he’d just volunteered himself!

With Gail and the boys away to Barcelona for a few days, self discipline was the order of the day, I had to ensure I kept away from the demon drink the night before. As it turned out staying on the straight and narrow wouldn’t be a problem as I was the designated driver for the day due to having bike racks on my car.

Before I knew it the day of pain had arrived! Dragging myself out of bed I got kitted up and polished off what could be my last supper, well breakfast actually, before heading off to pick up Kev. As I pulled up at Kev’s house he appeared with a huge smile on his face, unaware of what he’d let himself in for. Again the guilt tried to grab a hold of me but yet again I shook it off.

Next stop was Hamilton to pick up Gilly then off we set for Crawfordjohn to begin our yearly assault on the Mennock Pass and Radar Station. We parked up in the wee car park and first stop was to the local community hall to spend a penny. The hall wasn’t officially open, just a couple of cleaners in obviously sweeping up the discarded losing bingo lines from the night before. The two female cleaners looked a little stunned and shocked to see us enter the building, obviously not used to seeing outsiders, people from the real world!

There was no putting it off any longer, it was time to get kitted up and get the job in hand done! The weather was kind to us, it was dry, warm and there was little or no wind, ideal conditions for what lay afore us. The first section went smoothly, mostly downhill with a couple wee climbs thrown in to warm the legs up. Before long we arrived at the foot of Mennock Pass, the first testing climb of the day. We pulled over, popped a gel, removed any excess clothing and got the traditional group photo out the way.

It's all smiles before the tackling Mennock Pass!
It’s all smiles before the tackling Mennock Pass!

With the formalities out the way it was time to tackle Mennock Pass. Don’t get me wrong this is a tough climb in itself but the scenery, especially on a day like this is immense! Scotland’s countryside truly is beautiful.

We start off with quarter mile through and off, working well together, then we reach the tough section of the climb and I drop off the back, those damn legs of mine not wanting to play ball yet again! This is starting to get frustrating!

After cresting Mennock Pass I join up with Gilly and Kev and off we set to the starting gate of the Radar Station. This is it, this is where the real pain begins, where grown men shed real tears!

A short pause to take on board a gel and we’re off. I opt to let Gilly and Kev set off first, takes the pressure off me as it’s a certain they’re going to drop me, and drop me they did. What was I thinking? What was I doing on this steep twisty road? Why had I let Gilly talk me into this? Many a question, very few answers!

With each pedal stroke the pain increased, both physically and mentally. Switchback after switchback, it seemed never ending, it did however end, but not a quickly as I hoped and prayed it would! Lol

So finally I crested the top of the Radar Station, totally burst but I was at the summit and delighted in the thought it would be another 12 months before I’d put myself through that physical and mental pain again!

Cresting the Radar Station looking like I've enjoyed the climb....... NOT!
Cresting the Radar Station looking like I’ve enjoyed the climb……. NOT!

Just to give you an idea of how high you climb, we passed several patches of snow on the way up!

Group photo, on top of the world........ well nearly!
Group photo, on top of the world…….. well nearly!

With the pain out the way it was time for the fun part, the decent! Crazy how quickly you get back down to the gate at the start of Mennock Pass! The rest of the ride back to the car provided a mixture of relief and more pain on my already knackered legs. Boy was I glad to reach the car at Crawfordjohn.

Turns out I got a PB on Mennock Pass, which surprised me but I’m not complaining!

Just wish these legs would sort themselves out and start playing ball so I can start enjoying my cycling again. The past three months have been very frustrating. I’ve felt strong and fit during the spin classes which I attended twice a week yet I hit the road and my legs don’t want to play ball. Mallorca is only a week and a half away and as things stand I ain’t looking forward to the thought of struggling on the climbs.

So did I enjoy the Radar Station? No, no-one in their right mind enjoys that climb! Would I do it again? Yes I would but not for another 12 months! Lol

As I finish writing this I’ve just returned from doing the Ardochrig run with Stevie Haining and Robbie and yet again my legs just weren’t there. Really struggled on Ardochrig but did manage to power up a couple climbs after that.