Day One – Glasgow AirPort to Loch Fyne
We looked super pro in our matching kit worn over long arms and legs for warmth. However, we all know that looks can be deceptive and sure enough, Kajtas managed to fall of his bike every time we stopped.
I wide eyed him dubiously wondering if he really had practised at home with his new cleats.
A quick mental check of the route and I calculated we would have to pick him up 132 times during the day. I hadn’t factored this into my training regime and wasn’t sure my arms would be upto it. As I watched him writhing in pain on the cold wet tarmac, I did consider just cycling off and leaving him.
Thankfully, Mario came to the rescue and loosened his cleats. Problem solved we were on our way again towards the Erskine Bridge. The roads were quiet and the route was really easy taking us over the River Clyde and onto the Forth and Clyde Tow Path which runs from Glasgow to Bowling Harbour.
A great photo opportunity presented itself so we decided to make the most of it by lifting Faton above our heads. ‘Brace yourself like a board’ shouted Mario optimistically to Faton.
Now on this occasion it transpires that it wasn’t just MY training regime that was lacking! With grunts and groans we managed to heave Faton to a point just above ours knees before unceremoniously dropping him in a heap on the ground.
We decided instead to go for a ‘look in different directions’ pose all except for Kajtas who it seems didn’t get the memo?
We joined the Clyde to Loch Lomond Cycle path at Bowling and proceeded to terrorise families and dog walkers with our assortment of comedy horns, bells and whistles. The kids beamed with delight as the parents tutted and dog walkers grabbed the precious pooches.
Hurtling along the peaceful cycle track with the sun on our backs we were care free and happy. That is until we were dumped onto the road from hell!
Cycling in London we thought we were used to busy roads … but here we were faced with Covid crazed Glaswegians escaping to the countryside.
Despite hand signals, yelling and inappropriate gestures the traffic refused to slow to anything less than 70mph or to let any of us manouvre to the correct lane. I can only assume we had all miraculously become invisible.
My cunning plan was to stop at the last costa of the trip however in my state of terror, coffee was the last thing on my mind. Staying alive was priority.
Finally on the road to Balloch and grateful to have survived such a traumatic ordeal we focused on meeting Rob and the Nodgester at Loch Lomond Shores.
Plans got a little messed up at this point and time was running out so after a quick coffee stop at the Duck Inn we binned the scenic route and took on the busy A82 for a sprint upto Tarbet and the ‘Rest and Be Thankful’.
Faton was the first to win the flat tyre award and whilst Agron and Mario helped with the repair, Kajtas and I abandoned them to their fate by the roadside!
Kajtas took the lead and started the long climb up the Rest and Be Thankfull whislt I turned off too early and ended up on a cinder track in a forest. The old military road has a fierce, leg breaking lung busting gradient of 17% and runs along side the main road which has a gentle, pleasant day in the countryside gradient of just 8%.
In addition, the old military road has several locked gates and styles! Under normal circumstances a cyclist would curse but with a 17% incline eyes were raised to the skies with praiseful thanks.
As the road reached the summit with a punishing elevation and sharp turns, the support team at the top started to cheer. Nodgester climbed to the top of a tree for the best view.
The encouragement forced the last bit of juice out our legs as they totally gave up leaving both Kajtas and I to walk the last 100m in shame.
Not to worry, we arrived 1st and 2nd to Nodge’s delight and so escaped having the losers penalty of buying a bottle of whiskey.
With the breathtaking views as a backdrop, Nodge found some unusual silver sand next to a bunch of daffodils so made sandcastle to pass the time. God bless grandma and grandad – there’s no rest even atop The Rest and Be Thankful.
My cycling mantra is what goes up must come down and we had a tremendous downhill all the way to The Stagecoach Inn at Cairndow, Loch Fyne.
The hotel was quaint with very friendly staff. Once changed and refreshed we headed to the restaurant for dinner. As we sank into the soft sofas with a warming tumbler of whiskey, everyone started drifting off to sleep. I swallowed my yawns and Mario kept waking himself up with a shiver of whiskey but Agron just gave in, closing his eyes and catching flies.
No doubt the good Scottish fresh air was working its magic. The food was good and nothing was too much trouble for the chef and service team. Massive thanks to everyone.