Archive for July, 2010

Ride in to the danger zone

I had wanted to ride the hill over from Faslane to Loch Lomond for a while now. It’s famed as one of Robert Millars training routes before he left to race in Europe and you can see why it help breed such a champion climber. The run out to Faslane along the firth o’ Clyde is fast and mostly flat, with a decent road surface which is wide enough to let traffic past without to much bother. Myself and Misha had a good chain going and made the imposing military hotspot – that is Faslane – pretty rapidly despite a moderate head wind. Turning right at the roundabout at the Northern edge of the naval base begins the climb in earnest with a constant gradient on a beautifully smooth and wide road. Bearing right at the second roundabout at the top of the first climb the road seriously kicks up with a serious gradient, the presence of snow gates at this juncture is a sure sign of what your about to face. The road that runs along the side of the ‘DANGE AREA’ that the m.o.d have commandeered to the North of Glen Fruin is a phenomenal piece of tarmac. Flanked by high peaks – some up to 600m – you get a real sense of being in the mountains and the road reflects this. It doesn’t actually gain an enormous height but undulates across the feet of the hills to north. There are many ups and downs all fairly short but steep with several labeled as 10%. It is clear to see how Robert Millar developed his ability to attack on the alps and pyrenees here. The way the road rolls up and down encourages you to use the momentum gained from the frequent descents to attack the steeps and power to the top. It has to be said I ran out of steam on a lot of these steep ascents but Misha managed to honk to the summits with more conviction. The descent from the top down to Loch Lomond is good but punctuated with many undulations so it’s not a full on high speed freewheeling affair. Some parts of it are very steep and speeds of 40+ are easily attainable. The road remains wide, with a superb smooth but grippy surface and traffic is low. Unfortunately the day ended on a low note when I picked up a puncture on the rough cycle path around the loch. I fixed and re-fixed it to discover after much faff that the valve had a tiny split in it. So a walk back to Balloch from Duck bay to catch the train back to the city was required. I will definitely be riding this road again, it is a beautiful area despite the military presence and riding it the opposite direction would present an even greater climbing challenge. Highly recommended. Here’s the route.

A Week on Mull – SGC 2010


Well its that time of year again when the Scotstoun Gentlemen’s Club (SGC) head out to the hills for a week of outdoor pursuits – This year we went to Mull. Unfortunately we spent the week trying to predict the unpredictable weather! Nonetheless we made the best of it and got out on the bikes to Tobermory via Loch Frisa, Coastal walking on the Ross of Mull and gorge walking up in Glen Forsa and also by Loch na Keal. So much to do on this Island – definitely heading back there soon.

Spad

That’s some power of water…

My broken wrist has healed now and in celebration I was determined to make it out on the road bike by hook or by crook, 1 month of sitting poking @ a computer and drawing pictures, though productive, does nothing for ones soul or mid-rift for that matter. So off I went intent on a light pootle on shallow roads and warm rain – or so I thought. Spinning through the back roads from Balloch I made it Dumgoyne, I felt good my wrist ached a bit now and then but a constant shuffle around the bars kept it at bay, it was a revelation to not have a totally ridged forearm / wrist and my legs felt fresh and up for it. I was going to make the most of this feeling in my legs and decided I was going to scale the Campsies from the steep side. So off I swung towards Kilearn and Fintry, as soon as i had changed tack the rain started dumping in heavy tirades. My expensive technical clothing had stood up well so far but this rain rendered their sought after properties meaningless and redundant. At least it wasn’t windy I muttered to myself as I glided along fresh, gloss black tarmac. It smoothness was bliss for the old wrist and I hunkered down and made progress. The rain did not relent, not for a minute, I was truly soaked now with screeds of wet tumbling down my face collecting on my tash, it tasted of dirt and diesel, tasty! I swung right onto the foot of the Crow Road and started up the Campsie. The road was a torrent and by this I mean a pretty respectable burn about 1mm deep meandering through the harl. My legs were responding  and I made it to the top in fairly swift fashion considering my form. Stopping at the top I scoffed a packet of the kids malted biscuits, wiped my eyeballs clean and made for the descent. What a road this is, it is a pleasure to ride any which way and it to had been given a fresh patchwork of black tarmac and not before time. I actually overtook a car on my way down which is always good for a bit of confidence, the water in the rivers was white and torrid. I swung left down towards Lennoxtown and in predictable fashion the wind assaulted me big style, robbing me of my exhilarating pace. SHIT! I barked sending the previously docile roadside sheep scrabbling up the bank. The car i had passed trundled by with it’s cargo of elderly, they squinted at me as if to say I was mad (which at this point i was). It’s fine I thought, if it’s in my face here it’ll be on my back on the way home but once again my logical presumptions were blighted by old Mother Scotlands willingness to make even the most rational observation futile and pathetic. I was tired now and the grind home was grim, meeting the rush hour traffic at Strathblane was the final nail in the coffin and I struggled home like a collie dug trapped in a fence. Still it was a fine day out, I feel rejuvenated and ready to jump back into bed with the cruel and depraved mistress that is Scotland in July. Vive la Eccosse! Day in front of the Tour tomorrow me thinks.

SCHIST

Pro legends ride the Highlands

Found this cool video from reset films. Steve Peat, Hans Rey and Danny Macaskill riding Skye and heli-biking in Torridon. Never ridden Skye but dying to go and Torridon is hard wired to my soul, it’s truly awesome (in the true sense of the word)…

Also here’ s an article about the trip from guide Ewan Wilson. http://www.mtbholidayscotland.com/news.html


Highland Roadtrip with Hans Rey, Peaty & Danny MacAskill >>

About High-8

High-8 is a loose gathering of like minded adventurists who document first person, on the ground experiences with words, photos and film. The hope is to form a rough guide to outdoor adventure sports in Scotland and provide a warts and all, honest representation of what we find. No sport is excluded from mountaineering and mountain biking to gorge walking and kayak all are welcome and encouraged.

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The Code

The Country Code, which most of us learned in school (and we probably haven't read since!), was updated in 2004 when it became the Countryside Code. Here's the updated version:
  • Be safe - plan ahead and follow any signs
  • Leave gates and property as you find them
  • Protect plants and animals, and take your litter home
  • Keep dogs under close control
  • Consider other people
In Scotland, where there is a more general right of access, there also exists the Scottish Outdoor Access Code:
  • Take responsibility for your own actions
  • Respect people’s privacy and peace of mind
  • Help farmers, landowners and others to work safely and effectively
  • Care for the environment
  • Keep your dog under proper control
  • Take extra care if you are organising a group, an event or running a business.
There's obviously a lot to to be learned from these - it's amazing how many people get out to enjoy the countryside but are still happy to leave it in a mess. Even with the recent updates, the Countryside Codes seem slightly outdated when considering the wider issues involved when lots of people get out into the countryside. Some places just can't handle high volumes of people, no matter how they behave and publicity, no matter how interesting or well-done , has the potential to attract lots of people to an area. Blogs including video, pictures or words, form part the the wider media which could easily contribute to tipping the balance, and so we as bloggers have to consider the implications of what we decide to post. Can the place we're writing about take more people, and if not, it might be wiser to leave maps, place names or grid references out of posts. In Scotland, the Mountain Bothies Association has been careful to protect the location of some Bothies due to mis-treatment and, in some cases, even malicious vandalism. That is not to say they would not advocate people using them - in fact, a well used, maintained and loved network of bothies exist, and the MBA as an organisation is there to encourage this. Some bothies are busier than others but generally it is the less remote places which are more susceptible to abuse - something which might be worth considering when deciding whether to post information. It must be said, in most cases it's obvious what should or shouldn't be publisiced, but it's worth taking these considerations to mind.

Please note: The Code is constantly being revised and added to. If you like to add something login in to the discussion on the forum.