Monday, September 15, 2008

A Good Ride

Taking a leaf from The Ill Man's book I wended my way down the coast yesterday - to Largs. I wasn't looking for antique football parks but. No, I was merely stravaigin' on the bike. In the old days when my older brothers were stalwarts of the local cycling club scene one of the main training runs was commonly known as the Kilbirnie Circle. Namely, Greenock to Largs, up the Hailey Brae towards Kilbirnie, on to Lochwinnoch - stop for a break - and up the south Renfrewshire hills towards Kilmacolm, bypassing Kilmacolm to enter Greenock's east end. All in all about 50 miles.

Not that I was in "training" mode, no I was, as previously mentioned, in stravaigin' mode. So no hurry, just a leisurely ride down the coast, nearly getting shoved into the hedge on the stretch between Wemyss Bay and Largs. This is not a bicycle friendly country as far as most of the roads are concerned and we have a long way to go to even approach continental Europe standards for provision of dedicated cycle paths. Anyway Largs was successfully achieved and in the traditional way of things I had a cup of tea and a scone at Nardini's at the Moorings. The old Nardini's seems a long way from re-opening.

As I was propping my bike up at the window on my way in these two other cyclists were just coming out and as one of them was remarking on my bike as the kind of touring bike he would like (i.e. the flat bars) we got chatting. They were doing a Land's End to John O'Groats run and were heading for Invereray. Their intended route was via Kilcreggan but I advised them the more logical way would be the Western Ferry to Dunoon and up Loch Eck side to Loch Fyne. So off they pedalled and I had my cuppa.

Next to Pencil Point:

Which some of you may know commemorates the Battle of Largs in 1263 when a load of teddy boys from Greenock were chucked out of the dancing at the Moorings and, in a febrile lather after listening to the hip sounds of the Henri Morrison Swingstars, set about a crowd of the locals outside of Macari's chippy.

Then up the excruciatingly long and steep Hailey Brae and the road to Kilbirnie. Not much to hang around in Kilbirnie for so onwards to Lochwinnoch and the lovely wee Junction Caffe where they very earnestly boast of their Fairtrade credentials. Anyway they serve good nosh in a lovely atmosphere. Lochwinnoch is nice and avoids the overly picture postcard look of many Scottish villages.

The next part of the journey is mainly just the long ride home. Lots of ups and downs and I enjoyed slip-streaming on the wheel of a club rider who passed me at a rate of knots, giving me good incentive to see if I could match him. I did stay on his wheel for a while but it was hard work and I wasn't disappointed to see him turn off for Kilmacolm as I headed on to Greenock.
Luckily the good weather held out and the final run in from high above the east end was exhilirating. A good two mile free-wheel downhill into the town centre. A lovely end to the day, well the hot bath afterwards was anyway.
By the way, my camera seems to have developed a tendency to give every picture a blue-ish hue. Anyone know why? It's a Canon PowerShot A630. Maybe it needs a technical looking over.

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