Saturday 28th January 2012 Loch Katrine Recce (Not for the fainthearted)

After the obligatory calloffs, you know who you are, the 4 intrepid and heavily gonadded lycra clad adventurers met at Aberfoyle at 9.45am.

Lovely if a little chilly morning

Having to use the Gents before we set off, too much coffee, I was disappointed to hear that the boys had been seriously distracted by a “6 foot stunning Russian looking blonde bird” who had been walking her dog and had apparently brought more than a smile to their faces. The perils of having a bladder like a peanut.

Where's the Russian blonde?


We left the car park and headed west along the main street and past the turning to the Duke’s Pass. After  a brief difference of opinion I reluctantly accepted Davy’s assertions that we finish with the Duke’s pass rather than climb it to start with, so we headed off towards Stronachlachar. The wind was very light but biting as we got started and I was sure we were going to be frozen by the time we had finished (Davy was wearing shorts, credit where credit is due). Ricky wished for a wee hill to get us heated up and moments later we were faced by a wee hill. I advised him that his next wish should be for a lottery win for one of us prior to Saalbach. 46 sleeps now.

We rolled up heading North towards the west side of Loch Katrine occasionally cawing canny on a few small icy patches where water had run over the road and frozen. The water on the Lochs was millpond like with some beautiful reflections of the snow covered hills. The road condition so far had however been far from beautiful with several potholes which could prove dangerous if riding in a group. As we turned at the top of Loch Katrine the road improved  and the views were spectacular. This section undulated with a few wee climbs and descents as we rolled along. Having been shown Rob Roy McGregor’s family cemetery when I pedalled round Loch Katrine with Si and Andy Bennett last year, I pointed this out to the lads and we stopped for a minute or two to read the information board. For the second time today my timing was poor. As we set off there was a wee bridge followed by a sharp left turn and a really steep but thankfully shortish hill, although it did include a false summit (why do they always have them). We were all caught out in too high a gear. I changed down quickly but Davy couldn’t get grannied and Ricky was heard shouting “more gears, more gears” over a crunching of chains and rings.

After a couple of pictures at the South easterly point of the Loch, and Davy downed his 12th energy gel,  we hit the main road and clocked the sign and snaking up the hill, the Dukes Pass!! Aaaaarghhh.

We were looking at a 4km climb which, surprisingly, according to the maps only rises 150 metres. It certainly feels like more than that. I was feeling quite good and climbed past the lads. As we got around 3kms up the road it started to get a wee bit icy, then more icy then very icy. We did well to avoid any spillages and I wouldn’t have wanted to be any of the cyclists who were going in the opposite direction. The lads looked relieved / elated / pleased with themselves as they crested the hill and the descent back into Aberfoyle was wicked.

Duke's Pass. Done.

We loaded up the cars and decided to drive the leg from Aberfoyle to Balloch. Although we weren’t tracing the route the Sportif will take, this section seemed like a steady gentle climb. McDonald’s for lunch and up the road to get shifted for the night oot.

Saturday. 16.07pm. Text message received from Davy Mullen. “Ach ya bastard. Done it the wrong way round! Sorry Gilly!!!” Hate to say I told you so but I still think you may have just shat it from doing the climb first. Hee hee.

In preparation for Saalbach it was pints of lager, Jagerbombs and Bowmores. Let’s say I didn’t feel quite as strong on the Sunday.

31 miles.  2 hours 40 mins. Average speed 12.1 mph. Not bad considering the conditions. Those who made it were well rewarded with a memorable day. This weekend coming, how about Balloch to Aberfoyle, up the Duke’s Pass, hit the top and turn around and back to Balloch.