Trust me when I say an ass saver would have been as much use as a chocolate watch.
I left home at 08:15 and headed down to Ardrossan, it was dry buy cloudy, not as cold as the forecast had predicted and rather a pleasant morning...
Then it all went tuts up, a few spits of rain on the windscreen by the time I reached the M77 and wipers on as I drove over the Fenwick Moors. By the time I reached Ardrossan the weather had went from damp to wet, not to worry though we were going to an island, in the middle of the sea to cycle round its roads, all 56 miles of them so what could possibly go wrong. I went into the ticket office where I met Velo and zigzag, a few minutes later we were joined by Radek -1 as his female companion has a sixth sense and stayed in bed. Hawmaw arrived in the car park and decided he wanted to go home, I guess the Renfrew lads aren't as tough as they make out. He started sending texts to us saying he didn't want to come out to play and was going to head home, but eventually when the rest of us were waiting to board ship he came out of the car and went and bought a ticket. I had myself by this point seriously thought of trying to flog my ticket to the first person I saw heading to the ticket office as it was now decidedly wetter than wet, but as everyone else had made such an effort to get this far I boarded ship and we headed over to the land of sunshine, ice cream and Arran Blonde.
Breakfast was excellent on the ferry, followed with a cup of strong coffee and we were all set to go when we arrived at Brodick. Upon disembarking I headed to the left luggage and handed in my holdall which the other guys had scoffed at but a plan had been made and for a grand total of £1.00 the staff would take good care of my belongings until my return.
Sadly the wet weather we left behind at Ardrossan decided to follow us across the sea, only by now it seemed somewhat wetter than before, but we were here to have fun and enjoy ourselves, taking in the beautiful vistas across the open waters and breathing lots of fresh air. Off we went in a clockwise direction, by now there were rivers running down the side of the roads, this meant a certain party on a retro Puch with steel rims had to increase his braking distance by 4 miles every time he wanted to slow down or stop. Had an emergency stop been the order of the day then the air ambulance would have been called out. The rain had eased off a bit and we were starting to enjoy the ride, through Lamlash and down to Whiting Bay where the land meets the sea, and the sea wants to take over the land. Waves were crashing over the sea wall and onto the road, onto us and onto our equipment, so Hawmaw decided we should mount the pavement at the opposite side of the road, not really sure why as the darned waves were still getting to us over there. By now the group had split into three groups, Radek, Hawmaw and myself up front, zigzag in his own group on the Puch with tin wheels and Velo somewhere in the wilderness enjoying the scenery. Oh did I mention the scenery yet, I don't think I did. Actually I don't remember much of the scenery, as by now the cold and the wet were going through the skull bone and fuzzing my brain. I have just looked at Arran on Google maps and I can assure you that what we saw today looked nothing like what Google maps have posted.
A few miles further on and the proverbial hit the fan, Radek was out front and out of the saddle giving his pedals a hard time and zap, I thought I had taken a fit of some sort and was seeing flashing lights, but no, a few seconds later there was the ominous sound of God playing a game of bowls, Radek almost stopped still and looked round with a look of shock and horror as if to say should we turn back, another flash and bang and then the heavens opened up, I guess God must have got stuffed at bowls because he decided we were too cosy as we were and he sent some hailstones down to curb our enjoyment. The A841 is not the best of roads even on a good day but when hailstones and bad bends come together and there are rivers running heavily on top of tarmac it certainly makes for some exciting riding...Remember these steel rims...
Another few miles along and zigzag had caught up again, Velo was still in the wilderness, (actually we thought he had turned back to Brodick) and we were looking for The String, none of us were sure exactly where it was but knew it had to be close by. Eventually the sun came out as we arrived at the junction, it's about half a mile south of Blackwaterfoot (if you are looking for it) and we stopped here for some Haribo that Radek kindly brought along. Low and behold Velo appeared looking like he had just got out of his bed, I think the Hertz van that passed a couple of minutes earlier had dropped him at the last bend. Velo decided that he would head back to Brodick via The String and we should head round the rest of the island...Thanks Velo, do you happen to have the same sixth sense as Radek's friend. We all went to Blackwaterfoot and after a few minutes the 4 stoogies headed north while Velo went to the beach to eat his cucumber sandwiches and thick cut potato chips.
Blackwaterfoot to Lochranza was not too bad, some wet weather but we plodded on regardless knowing that Velo would be sitting high and DRY whilst we were out in the rain. Turn the corner at Lochranza and start heading the 15 miles back to Brodick and its there, right in front of you, a nice Cat3 climb that by now with the wind and the rain left us all feeling like crying. The skies were getting much blacker and the rain increasing so much so that we would have been better in a boat. Not to worry because zigzag told us that once we were over the top we had a downhill run all the way to Brodick. He did however omit to tell us that there were also a few uphills on the downhill section. I remember seeing a sign that said Brodick 7 miles and thinking to myself that we were almost there, them a bit later I saw another sign in the distance and as I approached I though to myself it was going to say 3 miles, only to be knocked a blow when I read we still had 5 miles to go. At this point my chain had picked up so much muck that it was grinding, my brakes were making scraping noises when I applied them and my ass was wetter than a wet thing on a wet day. Radek and zigzag were ahead of Hawmaw and me by a few minutes now as Hawmaw was suffering from cramps and me being the caring person I am held back ( the plan was to wait until he cramped and went into a ditch and I was going to nab his Felt, but it never materialised) By the time we returned to Brodick Velo, zigzag and Radek were sitting drying out in the lounge, Hawmaw and I were like drowned rats and I headed to the left luggage to reclaim my bag which contained dry clothing...Sorry guys I may be older than you lot, slower than you lot but along with old age every now and again I do have a great plan and today my plan worked out perfectly. Toasty warm on the return trip...
Back home now and the gear is all washed, the bike also washed down and chain removed and in some solvent to clean the crap out of it. I don't usually do wet weather cycling but today was good, it taught me that even if it is wet I can keep going and with the correct gear stay warm enough to get through the day. Hats off to the 5 who did the route and if we decide to do it again can we have some sunshine next time please
Here are the Strava/Garmin readings, my slowest ride since last March