Well, that was interesting.

I’d formed a cunning plan earlier in the week to head across to Edinburgh after work today to catch a Fringe performance (Impact Arts/Gallery 37, if you’re wondering) at 6pm on the Royal Mile.  I finish at 1 on a Friday, so I drew up a route that would get me there on time at a 24kph average speed.  Falkirk was the ‘cheat and catch the train’ bail out point.

With the glorious weather today, everything looked promising.  Sun cream was applied, the summer jersey was dug out, the GPS was loaded.  Everything was set.

It turns out I’d been somewhat naive with what Google thinks a road is…

Climbing out of Alexandria to the east the roads got steadily narrower and more gravelly until, after a steep descent, it disappeared altogether.  Into a ravine.

A certain lack of bridge marked the start of the rally stage

It turns out that the bridge had collapsed some time previously, leaving two steep banks either side of a fairly sizable stream.  Not being the kind of chap that’s easily disheartened (and not really having the time to go back up the hill and find an alternative bridge) the Fuego and I slid and waded and climbed and got stung and eventually emerged relatively unscathed on the far side.  Result!  Try and do that in a car..

Climbing away from this triumph, gravelly tarmac became gravel became grass and loose rocks.  Now, the Fuego may be more at the touring end of the lowracer spectrum, but it still doesn’t really like not having traction at both ends.  This isn’t helped by the rider obviously being somewhat restricted in their ability to move their weight around to balance on an uneven surface.  However, on and on we went, seeing absolutely nobody; no any signs of human habitation except this track and the odd gate, long since seized shut.

The views weren’t bad though.

The view back across Loch Lomond. I didn’t take the bike off the ‘road’ for this shot, by the way…

I was inordinately grateful for the suspension under the seat.  It might add a bit of weight and noise, but something like a Raptobike just wouldn’t have managed up here.  I also found that unclipping one foot and running it just above the surface on some of the really sketchy sections worked well.  Just be careful not to run over your own leg…

One of the better bits of surface, also showing my utterly inadequate skinny racing tyres


Finally the road surface began to recover, and after half an hour of solitary bliss and hilarity, I rejoined the B834 and the world of cars.

Sadly the inevitable delay from my recumbent cyclocross adventure, coupled with a pothole-induced snakebite puncture a bit further on, meant that riding the full distance wasn’t an option any more.  Instead I jumped on the train at Falkirk and arrived with 45 minutes to spare in Edinburgh.

A grand day out indeed!


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Just stumbled on this and very surprised to read of one of my favourite 30 mile routes out from Glasgow… almost 30 years ago! The road was in rather better condition then, though! Was there a tin sign on a gate half way across the moor asking in poetic form to shut the gate?

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