It was raining as soon as we woke up this morning. Our incredible luck with the weather had finally run out. So, we donned our waterproofs and headed out of Glasgow, following the Clyde canal through Dumbarton, all the way to the bottom of the wonderful Loch Lomond. The cycle paths have been absolutely first class throughout Scotland, and at one stage we had a "police escort", as a member of the highways agency cycled alongside us. They had just completed some road improvements, and we were the first group to use the new path, so he wanted to see what we thought. Again, we cycled as a group, stopping regularly to pass through gates and cross busy roads.
After a water stop at the foot of Loch Lomond, we encountered our first climb of the day, a slow burner that took us to our lunch point. Ric and I were first there, passing a big artic lorry coming in the opposite direction as we ascended the single track road. It turned out that the lorry was from Yorkshire, of all places, delivering trout to re-stock one of the fishing lakes. Small world. Over lunch, we all sheltered in the van, munching our sandwiches.
Almost straight after lunch, Colin ran into difficulties. I was at the back with him and, as he lent down to see what was wrong with his bike, he very nearly wiped out. At the time, we were doing about 20 miles per hour down a steep hill and Colin's front wheel left the road and went into the ditch. How he managed to keep control the bike, I will never know. We agreed that I should catch the others, and ask them to wait. When Colin eventually caught us up, we set to work fixing his bike as best we could.
A double chevron climb on a beautiful forest track was our next hurdle. I settled onto my lowest cog and wended my way up, followed by Dave, then Ric and Ken. I loved it, challenging as it was. Graeme had stopped at lunch time, hampered by tendonitis in his Achilles that was causing him real problems. He had also lost confidence in his cleats, having fallen off three times in the morning.
Ian was next to arrive at the water stop, with news that Colin was carrying his bike, literally, for the last couple of miles up the hillâ¦! His chain had become caught, and, being overly paranoid, he had thought that continuing to turn the wheels, even the front one, would damage it further. So, he had slung the bike on his back. How we laughed when it took Ric approximately three second to release the chain and get the bike working perfectly againâ¦! Graeme had managed to make an appointment with a physiotherapist in Callander at 20:45 that evening. Ian and Ric were to go with him to have their knee and neck looked at, respectively.
A descent of the farm track, followed by a stretch along the side of a loch was the last ten mile leg of the day. I was feeling really good and ploughed on ahead, really pushing myself. I ended up going a mile past our finish point and accommodation, but, still reached it first once I had turned back. Whilst we walked into town for a meal, Mark managed to adjust my disc brakes, enabling both of my wheels to turn unhampered, so, I am hoping that my bike will be working perfectly tomorrow, as we face some steep climbs and tough terrain.
Graeme, Ian and Ric thought that they would be able to go for a bite to eat after their physio appointment, so you can imagine the hilarity when Marie spent about an hour with each of them, before dropping them back to our hostel shortly before midnight. Eight of us were sharing the same room, and were in absolute stitches as we all jibed the three of them.