biking back to happiness

As the memories are still fresh, here a little report what I’ve been up to this weekend. First of all I seem to have almost recovered from the last fall, which caused me trouble in my left knee when even trying to walk. The good news is, I am back on the bike since 1.5 weeks now, and with 314 kilometres cycled this weekend I am almost in good shape (adding a fierce 40k tonight in headwinds, strong headwinds). Thanks to Ian Saturday was spent testing the singlespeed bikes again, this time even harder than the last weekend when we crossed from Corrour Station to Fort William. It was a sheer blast this time, and the comment from a nice walker on the West Highland Way went down well ‘Blimey, singlespeeds, you guys must be mad.’ Indeed we are, he was maybe thinking we are doing the whole WHW on one gear, but again Ian’s Genesis Day One and my Swobo Crosby have proven their qualities on and off the trails. All the time I am on the bike I simply love it. There is a magic in going with one gear, no choices left here, when there is so many choices in life sometimes. Adding the simplicity to that mix, it is an amazing combination. Imagine a bike that runs smoothly on and off road, and with a bit of power and technique you can cycle in most areas in the Scottish Highlands, where there are quite a few hills around as well.

So after taking the train to Milngavie we cycled and very much enjoyed the first kilometres of the West Highland Way to Drymen, Both of us couldn’t really remember that bit, Ian had done his bit in shit weather in the dark, I was walking it the last time 8 years ago, so memories had very much diminished by the time we did hit the trail. We both agreed that it is a lovely stretch to cycle on the crossbike, even with some technical bits to spice the ride up. By the time the fog had cleared and the sun was out to give us the first tan lines of the season, and all walkers welcomed us with a cheer, a perfect start! After Drymen we shortly followed NCN 7, and then followed the Rob Roy Way to Aberfoyle. Walking it would have been quite boring, but again the crossbikes proved to be a good alternative. After cake and coffee the biggest challenge was there to come. Cycling the climbs on cycle route 7 with a 42-17 is a wee bit of a challenge, and I had to push very hard to make it up most hills. With a wee bit of pushing I made it, and sheer joy was to come afterwards. Cycling the bit on NCN 7 to Callander alongside Loch Venachar is sooo much fun; fast, flowy and accompanied by great views on the side. After a quick stop in Callander and a fixed puncture the interesting bit was ahead of us., Glen Ample. I wasn’t aware of the Glen, but Ian had figured out a route how to best get through it, and soon I was off the bike pushing and trying to cycle up a steep hill. With the odd bit of running I was not too far behind Ian, who has managed to change his chain rings to a more suitable ratio for those hills, but suddenly we came to a dead end, with the only option left being a barb wired fence to hop over. The gun shots on the other side of the fence in the private property were not entirely encouraging, so the decision was to hike up through the forest for a wee bit and to find the other track we should have taken. Yet again the bikes were a great asset, light and easy to carry, and by the time everything felt like a big adventure. It was one of those situations where I, for a short moment, didn’t see the point and would have returned the same way, but then the adventurous soul won the battle and it was so much great fun. Beforehand we had only ridden our one geared bikes, now we had an adventure. Still hearing gun shots next to us we reached the upper path, and continued with more climbing into Glen Ample. Whoever had built the newly 4-wheel drive track through there must have not liked cyclists, as the bumps on the trail were hard to negotiate at a decent speed with out a fully, but we struggled our ways though it, again with great scenery and brilliant sunshine. It’s hard to beat Scotland on a day like this, especially being out in big country like this. After descending towards Loch Earn Ian headed up North towards Crianlarich and I cycled further South back to Callander and then on quiet side roads to Doune, and even the second puncture couldn’t at all wipe the smile off my face. After 132 km I finally reached Bridge of Allan, with the great feeling to have been on a great ride, and a knee that was all fine! Covered in dirt I felt good, even though a wee bit tired.

Sunday was spent with a decent road ride along the coast to Eyemouth and back. With even warmer temperatures than on Saturday it felt like real summer, and apart from the awful sound my bottom bracket decided to make, it was a great ride. I can highly recommend the coastal road between Cockburnspath und Eyemouth, And next time I will take a map or something which shows me where I am, sometimes it can be quite difficult finding my way around without having any clue where to go. On the way back I had a nice rest in North Berwick, and a good chat with someone about recumbent bikes. The final push into Edinburgh closed a great weekend, and I am more or less back in old shape. So happy to announce the next big trip soon!