The initial plan for today was to head along the Muirkirk road but found out that the road was closed so that was changed.
Gilly phoned me last night to let me know the changes. He said that he had spoken to the others and had tried to get a hold of me without success, but I think he just didn’t want to tell me what he had in store for us! The proposed road was “The Radar Station”! Now I’ve never done the Radar station before, tho I have heard lots of things about it, nothing nice tho! Lol
So that was that, I was finally going to tackle the beast that is the radar station! To be fair I’d much prefer tackling it at the weight I’m at the now than what I was 3 months ago! All that rang about my head was the stories of pain and the images of grown men in near tears so it was going to be an interesting day!
Si had agreed to pick me up at 8am as we were meeting Gilly and Chris at Crawfordjohn at 9am. Well originally I was going to take the car until Si realised that “Flo”, yes that’s what he named his new trusty stead, would be travelling on my roof and not in the back with a seatbelt on and a nice wee blanket over her to keep her warm!
Si duly arrived at 8am with Flo perched comfortably in the back with her seatbelt on and comfort blanket placed over her. My un-named trusty stead was given pride of place on Si’s roof and not even locked to the rack as he didn’t have the keys!
We arrived at Crawfordjohn and parked up next to the only pub in the village where I phoned Chris to find out if we were parked at the correct place. We were informed that we needed to continued a further 100 yards past the pub and the car park was there. So we jumped back into the car and just as we pulled away Gilly appeared from a side street with his arms in the air in a victory salute as he had beaten us to the car park! Who said Gilly has a competitive streak!
We kitted up and drooled over Flo, much to Si’s annoyance as saliva can be quite acidic you know! We set off and only managed 500 or so yards down the road when Gilly realised that he’s left his Camelbak in the car, and today certainly wasn’t a day to forget your fluids, especially as he had already deposited about a litre of them over Si’s new stead! He eventually caught up and we carried on.
We were making good progress at a reasonable speed with Chris and Gilly up front and me and Si just behind when I heard Gilly say there’s a left turn around here somewhere, which at this point we were upon it and the two up front slammed on their brakes with Si and myself nearly going straight into the back of them! I manged to slam my brakes on and locked up my wheels resulting in my backend flying out and nearly introducing me to the tarmac! Now I’m a friendly guy and get on with most people and am happy meeting new people but being introduced to the tarmac by face-planting it isn’t how I like introductions.
Continuing on through Sanquar we arrived at Mennock and posed for some photos before we started the first of the days big climbs. Riding up front with Chris he offered me some advice telling me not to go too early as there’s a lot of false summits and it’s a long continuous drag up the hill. Taking that on board and digesting it I made a break for it, well come on, the King of the Mountain jersey was up for grabs! I pretty rapidly distanced myself from the other three but all along I could hear Chris’s wee voice in my head telling me not to go too early……. ah bollocks too late!
I kept climbing while looking back behind me and all was clear so I kept going, then I looked round and there was Si with his manly 53-39t chainset making ground. I managed to hold on and take the first climb of the day, altho I was fearing that I had burnt myself out too early with the worst of the climbs still to come. We re-grouped and headed to the gate to the closed road which leads to the final and most challenging climb of the day to the top of the radar station. Pausing for a couple of minutes while we took on some fluids, energy gels and energy bars, preparing ourselves for what lay a head.
It was now time, there was no putting it off any longer, the Radar station awaited us so off we set. We climbed, and climbed, and climbed. It was really steep at points and I spent a lot of time out of the saddle. Si powered on with his easy gearing with myself in toe, Gilly following behind then Chris. Gilly passed me on one of the steep sections as I looked down and saw my heart rate was 181 so I decided to stop for a sec to let that drop down to non heart attack levels. Stopping for around 10 secs I carried on and with all my effort managed a final push and reached the top, with Chris following not far behind.
That was some climb and such an achievement getting to the top. So glad I was carrying a little less weight!
After taking in the views we decided to enjoy the decent and made our way back down. As Gilly, Chris and Si shot off I put my foot down on my pedals and my chain came off, resulting in me having to stop and fix it, by which time the rest were out of sight. Having fixed the chain I set off down the decent then at one point I stopped as I didn’t recognise the road! Having tried to phone Gilly and Chris several times on their mobiles to check I was on the right road and not getting through I turned around and started climbing back up the hill till I could see the radar station and the road coming off it. What was I thinking, of course it was the correct road, there was no other way up to the top! Doh!! I think the fact that I had my head down tackling the climb may have been the reason I didn’t recognise the road! Lol
I turned back round and headed back down and caught up with Chris, Gilly and Si a short distance later who were in the middle of a game of Stone, Paper, Scissors to see who was climbing back up the hill to see if I was ok. All being well we continued the fantastic decent back to Mennock. Couldn’t believe how long it took us to get to the top yet so little time to get back down!
Coming back into Sanquar we stopped at a little cafe and fulled up on homemade cake, scones and juice before setting off on the final leg back to Crawfordjogn.
All in all it was a great pedal albiet it a tough day climbing, 3,878 feet of climbing to be precise!
Below is the elevation chart from todays peadal, ooffft!
Well done lads great effort, especially Si who had a 53-39t chainset fitted!