Sunday 26th February 2012.
We had planned to do the rest of the sportive route and to set off early. Ricky was a late casualty having been up most of the night coughing so Davy picked me up at 8.30am and we headed off for Balloch.
En route I discovered that I had forgotten my bike helmet. Schoolboy error No.1 so hopefully no Alan McKee impressions from me today. We set off through the carpark and some nice trails before heading out onto the road. We were into a climb fairly quickly albeit a fairly gentle one. We weren’t entirely sure of the route and it wasn’t long before we made a wrong turn. Schoolboy error No.2. We managed to pick up the road to Aberfoyle again with the addition of a couple of miles of a detour. 2 miles or so before Aberfoyle it was time for Davy’s homemade banana bread (I’ll need to get that recipe, very tasty indeed) and an Orange / caffeine energy gel. We pedalled through Aberfoyle main street and the pace dropped dramatically as Davy developed a sore neck looking around for the Aberfoyle 6 foot Russian blonde. Unfortunately she was nowhere to be seen. I asked Davy if he was ready and we headed up the Dukes Pass. We stopped at the entrance to the NCN and got a couple of pictures before continuing onwards and upwards and upwards and upwards although we had a very slight tailwind to benefit us on our climb.
We spun our way up the climb at a steady pace. The weather was decent although the summit was covered in mist. The pass is definitely a shorter and sharper climb from the Aberfoyle side but the descent to Loch Katrine will be a welcome respite on the day. We took another couple of pictures to celebrate cresting the pass and then turned around to retrace our tracks (for the most part). The climb had gone well and the schoolboys felt rather pleased with themselves although we were aware of the fact that we hadn’t totally followed the sportive route on the way to Aberfoyle.
The temperature at the top of the Pass was definitely a few degrees lower than in the town. Our very mild tailwind decided to strengthen at this point, as it became a headwind, and the rain, which was almost sleet came on as we descended back into Aberfoyle. Our 25 minute climb became a 5 minute descent before Davy recommenced his Russian spotting along the Main Street, again without success.
Unfortunately we managed to pick the correct route home which included 2 significant climbs. On the day of the sportive these will have an effect on your legs when you hit the Dukes pass and will also prove a challenge the second time we hit them en route from Aberfoyle back to Balloch. The upshot is that they provide 2 cracking descents in each direction. Davy was hooting as we skelped off the second one.
A few miles from Balloch we came across this mental bridge which covered a pipe and crossed a river. We were about 30 feet in the air with little clearance room on either side of your handlebars and it was still pretty windy.
Davy was ecstatic as we entered the park in Balloch, saying that he had never been as happy to see the car. He had struggled a little for the last few miles and had probably had a bit of a bonk. We managed to complete 46 miles in 4 hours 15 mins, which wasn’t bad considering the wind and the climbs involved. Well done Davy. Thoroughly enjoyed the day. A happy schoolboy.