Well here we go…. Sorry for the late report, the weather’s just been too good this weekend, by the time I’m finished BBQ’ing it time to watch the tour too full of food and beer to type..
Despite being about 20-30mins late I picked up a cheery Radek about 6pm’ish on Friday evening. Whilst I’d been struggling to get down Great Western Road, Radek had used his time resourcefully or at least his sunglass, spending the wait in the botanic gardens observing the beauty of summer (i.e. students sunbathing).
The drive up to Rowerdennan was a pleasure, a cracking hazy summer evening, great country side and enthusiastic chat. At this point we really thought we’d knocked it off in terms of timing and conditions for the ride. Every nook and cranny of the Drymen to Rowerdennan road was been camped upon, it was starting to feel like tinthepark with all the canvas and high spirits, plenty of bathers in the loch and the pier was being used as diving dales
Personally I’d managed to do no research on subject and was relying on hazy memories from the late 80’s. I’d been up here 3 times before on foot, but not in adult life. Memories were a steep and muddy start through the trees, then a boggy path with a series of false summits, then a final climb and stroll to the north end of the top.
So we set off at about 7pm’ish and quickly found ourselves carrying through the trees as expected, however with the heat this was particularly sweaty and tiring. Once past the tree line our hopes of riding were quickly burnt down, the path being rough, loose and having frequent steep gradients. So the carry / bike hike continued. We were gaining height and great views over the many islands on the lochs, but equally starting to get p!ssed off.
The plus side for me I was wearing new all-mountain type shoes which were performing well with all the walking, well glad that I didn’t have my stiff soles sidi jobs or my feet would have been screaming… rather like Radeks..
Taking a water break at this stage I ask the big fella to smile for the camera, and was offered a “smile of pain” in his own words, so 25% of the way up and spirits were low. smile of pain
, on Flickr
It’s fair to say the reality was less than expectations having heard people state that they rode 33%-66% of the track on the way up. We carried on and as we started on the false summits the track became first rideable then pretty good. It wasn’t long before a Zaskar came flying by with the climbing demon in his element.
By now the final climb was in full view, whilst pausing to consider it for mo we noticed a couple of riders leaving the top and watch for all of what seemed like seconds as they clattered down the climb and passed us, it felt like 250m drop in 30 seconds. So this pepped us up and we continued on, climbing the steep ascent with bikes on shoulders. This part was very rocky & technical and would be the big buzz/challenge of the decent. As the slope eased off, we managed to get riding again largely pedalling to the trig point only dismounting to clamber over a few impeding rocks and drops.DSCN1224
, on Flickr
On top we were treated to a warm low sunny hazy view over the Arrochar Alps and the Crianlarich hills. This felt rewarding for all our effort. summit 1
, on Flickr
Time was marching on, rough plan was 2 hrs up and 1 down. As things roughly transpired (as we don’t exactly know when we set of, or kept track of time as we progressed) it probably took just under 4hrs, setting off just after 7 and arriving back at the car just before 11pm.DSCN1226
, on Flickr
Radek set off down and I followed a few minutes later. Just before the main technical section I minced my way over the bars landing the santa cruz stays heavily on the some big rocks, big scrapes on the drop out welds and bursting the rear mech cable housing. Not confidence inspiring for the tough bit to come. Regret of the evening was not riding more of the next part, even with big wheels, 100mm front and rear travel, and a dropper I minced out of more than I’d like to admit too.. Looking back big regret, and with the conditions so good, and watching the earlier rider ace the lot.. Baws!
Caught up with Radek and exchanged tales of spills and thrills and off we went down the flowing mid-section, rapidly making the mountain disappear only pausing occasionally when screams of profanity could be heard. Somewhere about the point in time, Radek got a sore wrist, not what you’d want with so much descending to go, but as he pointed out, at least it wasn’t the good wrist. Sore feet in those stiff cross country shoes and a weak wrist, not a great combination.
A quick puncture repair and were we were off again..DSCN1231
, on Flickr
The sun was fading fast, as I approached a herd of cows grazing on the path I started to notice the amount of bats angling through the skies just before realising the midges were in full effect. As soon as Radek appeared over a crest we were off again, now dodging the 100s of frogs that seemed to be taking over the path.
The bottom section was good fun, but not savoured as light was disappearing rapidly in the tree covered section and the midges were relentless. Back at the pier, it was as quick as we could get the bikes on the car and off… bloody midges!
So a tough night. In short
-not as much saddle time in ascent, perhaps 20% at very best, I’m not fit but Radek is and he climbs very very well, so I can’t image how anyone climbs 50-60% of that track on the saddle. The descent is marvellous fun, and I’d like to revisit to push my confidence and capability on a bit
-tougher than anticipated and only those that really want to.. I’m glad Peter the Belg pulled out earlier in the week as he would have spat the dumbie early doors
-this is the 3 path I’ve been up this year, where I’ve climbed before on foot. The common thread emerging is that I can only ride ~60% of what I think is rideable.