So on Saturday, we set off from Inverbeg on Loch Lomondside. The team comprised of several "Old Gits"( the senile delinquent wing of the OMC) Jim, Frank ,Davy, Tony and Stuart, plus Jack from Lochgelly, and Ewan, the MO of the bothy, and myself. We cycled up the road in Glen Douglas. It started to rain. The various nuclear installations (unmarked on the map) cast a gloomy shadow of Armageddon over the proceedings. Or maybe it was just the rain.
We went over the col at the top of Glen Douglas, then by a track/path along and down to Arrochar. Unfortunately, it was very wet. On one of the descents I managed to go over the handlebars. The only damage was a bruised cheekbone, but on landing my ankle became trapped between the handlebars and the frame. As a result I was lying in a stream running down the track, which soon filled every available space inside my clothing with water. What fun! How we all laughed!
We arrived at Arrochar like drowned rats and sought sanctuary in the Community-owned "Three Villages Cafe". The woman in charge was as rough as number 5 sandpaper, but had a heart of gold. She was quite happy to mop up after us, (we were that wet) and gave free refills of tea and coffee to all. Her words "black or white" (in relation to coffee, but uttered in a tone that suggested a wrong answer would result in a good kicking) was an oft repeated catchphrase for the weekend.
Suitably refreshed we cycled round through Arrochar and to the turn-off to Ardgarten campsite. By this point the bearings in one of my pedals were beginning to crunch alarmingly. From there you can access a road which leads to Coilessan, then forestry tracks go on southwest to Mark Cottage bothy. It's a superbly appointed bothy, but in a slightly bizarre situation, directly opposite the oil terminal at Finnart Point. It's like being in the middle of nowhere opposite Grangemouth. With nuclear paraphenalia lurking downwater, we were sceptical as to the value of the advice as to what to do in case of "emergency".
Ewan had arranged loads of split logs and peat briquettes so a very warm clothes-drying evening followed. Scott and Anne biked in from the road-end, followed by Jim's son Iain, a "proper mountainbiker". It was a nice evening, with food,fire, whisky and tall tales. All the world's political and social problems were solved, with the sole exception of Clackmannan's status as an independent socialist republic.
On Sunday morning, the weather was fine and cold and I set off sharp as the reascent to the main forestry track was long and much too steep for my cycling ability. Moisturising cream had been used as an improvised lubricant for my pedal bearings; then Iain (being properly equipped) provided some thick oil. On the main forestry road we turned south west, then, at a lochan, turned off the road and headed northeast over a path towards Lochgoil. My brakes more or less gave up the ghost on the long steep descent. We briefly joined the road, then took a forestry track running up roughly parallel to the tarmac road up to the Rest and be Thankful. We rested thankfully at the top. It had been a sustained bike- shoving session.(We paused within yards of where we had parked up in Argie at Easter when we'd climbed Beinn Donich, the Brack and Beinn an Lochain) We followed the track down through the forest to Arrochar. My lack of both brakes and bottle slowed my progress somewhat. We then stopped for coffees at the Cafe again.
The final section was over to Tarbert (on the pavement) then south along the west bank of Loch Lomond on the cycleway. There were glimpses of lovely views up and down the loch, but I was a bit too puggled to appreciate them fully. When I at last returned to our starting point, Jim was good enough to admit it wasn't really an easy trip for beginners.
In the interests of decency, no further details of bruising will be posted on a public blog.
Aye, they're a hardy bunch these old Gits!