Due to a very chaotic spell at work, involving early morning flights to London and trains to Manchester and Liverpool, Ruby and I have been relative strangers for the last 3 weeks. It was therefore a pleasure to pull back the bike cover and release her from her slumbers yesterday. It was a crisp and frosty morning and I was weighing up the layering and glove options, which is always a difficult one, with both being either too hot or too cold equally uncomfortable.
I set off at 8.25am and climbed over the hill to Stu’s where we had to wait for the late Davy Mullin. Just to clear up any ambiguity, Davy is still alive and well but was running late yesterday. We then headed down the Queensway and picked up our tour guide for the day in the shape of a noticeably leaner looking Ian Hockey, who has lost 9 kilos since I last saw him!!! “You’ll have no excuses for your slow climbing now” I joked with him.
Ian took us out through Jackton and we turned left, winding through the wee backroads that led us to the Rig. There were a few wee tricky icy patches here and there and we were picking our way through them gingerly. 10 miles in and big Stu, being a creature of habit, set about his first gel of the day. I had brought along a couple of my own and had filled the Camelback with 2 berry flavour Zero tablets. We crested the rig and dropped a little slower than usual off the back, turning right, away from the Strathaven airfield and down towards Darvel. Ian hit the front and injected a bit of pace into the flattest section of our course for the day between Darvel and Loudoun, hauling us along the road at 20mph. Although you always encounter moments of crazy driving, this was where we had an eejit trying to overtake us who had to brake violently to avoid the street furniture in the middle of the road. I hope he used the 30 seconds he gained from his impatience productively.
The climb up from Loudoun seemed flatter than I remember as Stu described the school being used as the first feed station on his ill fated first 100 miler. Our route rolled on through Moscow and Waterside and thankfully the sun had cleared most of the ice from the road by this point. We then stayed on the road, rather than use the cyclepath, as we ran parallel to the M77 before cutting onto the old moor road to Eaglesham with the benefit of the elusive but most welcome animal that is a tailwind. Managed to get up to 38 mph coming off the moor and we headed home towards Hairmyers through Jackton. We parted company with Ian at the roundabout and he headed off to do his best Arthur Daley impression, getting the best price from selling his motorhome to an English bloke.
Stu, Davy and I had the usual “well done lads” conversation at the bus stop and I headed off to climb up from the wee bridge at St Leonards and make my way home.
The legs were a wee bit heavy at this point and it was nice to crest the hill.
It was a cracking wee pedal and I was delighted to get 50 miles under my belt after my enforced lay off. I must admit that I was a little anxious about how I would feel after the break I had had but it didn’t seem to have too much of an adverse effect. The average speed was a little lower than usual but the icy roads certainly made us all a little nervous. I was also fairly happy with the kit choices I had made, just having to change gloves to a lighter pair when we got to the Eaglesham moors.
Thanks for the company lads, I thoroughly enjoyed that. Let’s hope the Autumn / Winter weather is kind to us and we can continue to keep spinning our legs on a regular basis in preparation for our second assault on the Scottish Bike Show Sportif in April, registration for which opens next Monday 12th November.