Tuesday, 26 July 2011

LEJOG - Day 9 - Muirkirk to Arrochar

Miles - 73.69
Cycle Time - 5hrs 39mins
Total Time - 7hrs 34mins (Record fast time)
Average Speed - 12.89mph

The riders set off on Day number 9, each energised after a hearty breakfast from the unusual Husband and Wife B&B team. They were excited at Joe's promise of trimming 15miles off the route after looking at a reroute the night before. We had orginally looked at heading way out to the west of Glasgow before coming back inland to cross the Erskine Bridge. Joe decided that we could brave the outskirts of Glasgow aiming for Paisley to the west of Glasgow and thus save ourselves an hour or so.

Almost immediately Joe went away from the Garmin's route and was on his own for much of the day, just him and his maps. I enjoyed the break from having to assist with the navigating and so just got my head down and got pedalling. The day began in beautiful surroundings with lakes and forests providing an attractive backdrop for those who had sufficent energy to get their heads up from the 6ft of tarmac in front of them. But after this picturesque beginning, the promised built up area and crowded roads reared their ugly heads. The highlight for me being a particuarly grotty looking Indian called the New Turban which looked more tired than it's name would suggest.

Dad hadn't been enthralled at the prospect of tackling Paisley and the roundabouts, traffic lights and smog certainly helped support his less than enthuastic response to the route change. But the mood in the camp was pretty good and everyone was keen to just slog it out and get through Paisley and over the Erskine Bridge. There weren't many opportunites to pull over for rest or toilet breaks but we did find a bus layby to pull into, but soon vacated it when a rather strange looking chap with a screwdriver in his hand asked us if we'd like to come in for a glass of water. The chaps politely declined, happy that we would receive our glass of water, but fearful that on leaving we would be met with the sight of all of our expensive bikes gone!

Another downside of Paisley was the poor road surface, and on one busy stretch of road I narrowly avoided losing myself or my bike down an uncovered manhole. The riders made it safely through and intact, Joe's navigation of the busy highways and byways was flawless and the reward at the other end was the Erskine Bridge. The views were fantastic and shortly afterwards the weary cyclists were met by the support team for lunch.

The girls had a similar struggle to us in finding a good stopping point and so now just 20 miles from Arrochar they had to settle for a farmers field. The tired cyclists were happy just to rest their backsides and to get some well earnt lunch inside them. The tranquile setting was soon shattered, when the farmer on his tractor came down the lane and so Joe tell's us he wagged his finger in a no you shouldn't be here kind of manner. Being the well mannered family we are the troops scattered in a mad attempt to pack up camp and move onto somewhere more welcoming. But having packed things away and with no immediate shotgun being aimed in our direction we decided to hang on. 10 minutes later the farmer returned on his tractor and so Luke would have you believe he waved and smiled. Amber was fearful that the smile was a ruse and that the manure he was transporting would soon be dropped on her head head but thankfully he was on his way with no other action to report. Phew! Crisis averted, but the relaxed mood was gone and so the cyclists were soon on the road again.

The 20 miles into Arrochar were a dream, first flat reminding me of a more pretty version of Southend Seafront, then the terrain turned to more rolling, but the view of Loch Long remained with us throughout. With 7.5 miles to go we stopped for the final time, and I took the opportunity to do some bike maintenance. Removing my socks and using them as rags to wipe the muck that had accumulated on my chain since Kirkby Stephen when the mechanic had put lube ontop of my dirty chain. So barefoot inside my cycling shoes we headed onwards to our B&B by the Loch.

It didn't disappoint and the cyclists were greeted by the nutrionally poor but very much welcome Can of Fosters each. This was then followed by a pub meal sat beside the Loch with the sun shining bright. A lovely end to the day, and only 4 more remain.

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