Maybe there’s a Polar Bear?

A dash home to get my pack and find something garish to wear and I was back on familiar ground.
I met Allan at Overtoun House for an evening wander in the Kilpatricks, a long overdue occasion. I’ve known Allan since ’72 or ’73, which is always fun in conversation, because he’s the only person I know that’s not a blood relation who remembers what I was like all through my school years, there is no hiding at all.
It was another beautiful warm night, but now with a very welcome breeze, and we took a meandering course under the crags, over land and through the trees to bring us eventually up to the trig point on Doughnot Hill. Ben Lomond was a distant flat pyramid seen through rays of soft light drifting through the thin layers of broken cloud.
The descent was through a blaze of bright green and a dozen shades or purple, the rhododendrons were bursting with life, their own and that of their buzzing visitors. I hadn’t noticed that the day before, had it sprung out overnight? Is it the different pace or different eyes from doing different things seeing it all a different way?
Whatever, it oddly felt like I hadn’t been up there for ages, it’s good to be home and nice to be showing an old friend about the place too. I hope he wiped his feet at the door.

Maybe there’s a shark?

It’s going to be Kilpatricks  for breakfast, lunch and dinner, the 900m contour exists only on the horizon for the next wee while. The 600m contour as well I suppose.
First up tonight was a long overdue bike trip with familiar faces Ange and Bobinson. We sweated up the usual route from Old Kilpatrick under the evening sun but I took us a detour which led east along trails which have grassed over since winter, and it was harder work than I expected. I felt a little guilty as we pushed through the bracken more than we rode, but after a rest stop at the trig point on The Slacks we were back in the saddle for some magic, fast and fun singletrack which swooped and swung its way back to the usual route. Having missed out the steep bit by adding much more distance and ascent…
The new forest trail is looking a little greener, next year it will be better still. The surface has bedded in and it’s a lot of fun and fast too. In fact, the whole route is bone dry, grippy and a joy to ride.
After slinking through the dark forest in sunglasses we arrived at the top of the run down to Overtoun House to see Ben Lomond, the Arrochar Alps and the Luss hills in shades of blue under a warm aqua sky. Cloud had been poured over Ben Vorlich like whipped cream and from one end to the other it was a vista of pure delight.
We all rode fast down to Overtoun, giggly fast, the dirt feeling secure and the rush of air cooling our bare arms and legs and sweeping the sweat from our eyebrows. We all got caught out at the same point though, the back end stepping out at a greasy spot at the burn. No face plants though, even with Ange’s sore wrist. Always a bonus.
Another change in route took us down to Garshake and then to the cycle path on the old Caledonian Railway bed, and a detour to the Clyde foreshore saw us wandering through rushes six feet high to the water’s edge as the sun sank and orange bled into all the other colours on the land.
The blue of the sky clung on, but as we had cuppas and cake at the BP garage while attempting to avoid a ravaging by midges, it too lit up in gold and pink. The longest day gives nature lots of time to practise its chops.

This Flight Tonight

It’s been a while since the last time, but Bobinson, Craig and I set up an evening Kilpatricks run/ride and got Ange to come along on her too-clean new bike.
I sat in the sun all ready to ride as Phil pulled in with his truck, with Craig in the passenger seat somewhat casually attired. They adjusted themselves to trail-spec and Ange appeared soon after.
The new bike was as clean as feared, but with her kit transferred into a wee pack, we were on the move in a trice.

We took the riverside trail while Craig hoofed it up the tarmac. The trail was dry after a weekend of sunshine and a cool breeze kept it all very pleasant until we hit the climb through Old Kilpatrick and up towards Loch Humphrey. None of us rode to the top, but Phil got the furthest. We caught up with Craig too and he held the gates open which meant I didn’t get to stop and rest as I lifted the bike over. Bugger.

We were soon on the trails through the forest keeping a regular pace as Ange dialled into the rough terrain, which she did with increasing confidence. When we got to the downhill run to Overtoun House the four of us picked up the pace and with the trail great condition we breezed down in the fading light with wide grins and cold hands. It might be sunny, but it’s still bloody cold under that clear sky when the sun slips down.

It was a glorious sunset, and a lingering one too. I don’t know if it was something to do with the volcanic activity in Iceland or if  it’s too soon for that to be a factor yet, but if this is what we’ re getting without the ash in the atmosphere it’s going to be eyewatering when it does get here.

We pulled into the BP garage for cuppas, and it was supper I suppose. A jolly time indeed, and some entertainment was provided by the bloke who’d filled his motor with fuel but had no money on him and was being held hostage inside as he phoned friends and relatives to come and bale him out. Which they did with some heckling from us.

So what did we learn today? Craig enjoyed being back on the trail and will be there again soon, Phil is getting further up the hill and is looking good for his event training, Ange got her bike dirty and handled the steep and tricky stuff increasingly well as the evening went on and well be tearing up the trails now. Me? I like my bike again after a long period where we didn’t speak and I lost my sunglasses. Humph.

Magic, more please.

A quick word about kit, one person at supper was dressed for the weather at that time of night. Three were dressed for the sunny weather for earlier in the day… It was freezin’.
I liked those Lizard shorts though.

Drawing and Painting

I’d been meaning to do this for a while, so as the sun was coming out and the working day was nearly done, I chucked it early, grabbed my pack and headed up the Kilpatricks to go and look for a rock.

The road to Overtoun was a river, fast running and several inches deep. The pot holes were completely hidden, and even at the speed I was moving, very sudden feeling on the suspension. But, the trail was dry and the sun was warm.
There was a few showers floating around, I could see them once I gained height, and I did get caught on the fringes a couple of times over the next few hours, but it was light and cool, it felt like a summer shower. Winter is dead.
I hope the little tadpoles have come through unscathed, I’ll be watching their progress.

I wound my way through the crags, found a neat little scramble up onto the terrace and contoured to the top and then to the side of the reservoir. I circled the edge and followed a wall up to a familiar viewpoint. Ben Lomond is thin on top, the comb-over of snow is failing to disguise the passage of time, but Loaigh and the Crianlarich twins are doing better, still good unbroken white on the upper slopes.
The colours are changing though, the grass looks like it’s needing a visit to the salon to gets it’s roots done. Green is spreading upwards into the pale yellow as new growth forces its way through.

I took a forest trail, well it’s trackless, but there’s no trees there if you know what I mean. Instead there’s a hallway of thick moss which is a spongey joy to wander down.
The sunlight sparkled through a few gaps in the branches, dappling my hall carpet, as a light mist rose from the ground through the beams of light. The hills were waking up. Birdsong was all around, and as I sat quietly with my flask, the calls crept closer. I wish I knew who all the different voices belonged to.

I meandered for ages, crossing my own track at one point too. It was glorious, and it was thoughts of dinner that had me descending into soft light as the sun rolled towards the Cowal skyline.

The stone? It was close to where I thought it was, and I sat beside it for a while taking photies and having a cuppa and a snack.
It’s a Neolithic cup-marked stone, the cups or indentations, ground-out five thousand or more years ago by who ever lived here in a land still coming back to life after the desolation of an ice age.
I touched the stone, I don’t know if I was expecting something or not, but it was just a stone, warmed a little from the sun and rough to the touch.
Moss is growing in two of the cups, it looks like nature its claiming the stone back.
I wonder if there’s a message for us as a species in that.

Gear Diary

What the test kit’s been doing, and where to post any unrelated comments, questions or observations.

The Kilkpatrick Hills are Spam. That probably doesn’t sound right, but I don’t mean it like that, I’m thinking in a WW2 way. When you’re besieged by circumstance or the agents of doom, you open the cupboard and break out a tin of Spam. You get fed, your energy is replaced and you live to fight another day. Cook it in different ways and you’ll never get bored.
So when I can’t get any further north as things have gone tits-up, the Kilpatricks really do have everything other mountains in Scotland have except height. This makes it a plateau of joy, and the perfect testing ground for kit.
It doesn’t cost me a penny to get there either. It was magic up there tonight.

The new TNF Heathen and Zephyrus got taken out of their wrappers and went straight outdoors, signs are good so far.

The Arc’teryx Rho Zip has been worn and washed. Now, I have tried to get on with synthetic base layers in the past, but it’s been a bit of a struggle. This top along with the Haglöfs Actives Tee shows me that times have changed. The Rho fits me perfectly, and it’s incredibly comfortable too. The performance seems to be good, but an overnighter and sleeping in it will tell me much more.
The Arc’teryx Gamma Pants have been muddied and scraped over some barbed wire fencing. Unscathed as far as I can tell.
They feel quite silky, nice against the skin. Good wind resistance in the fabric and an easy stretch as well.
The zips are very slick, I wonder as they wear if they’ll start opening themselves?

The Montane Dyno has a had a few outings now. It’s good to wear, comfortable, that hood is handy, as are the pockets. The wind resistance of the fabric, as was suspected, will define how much use it gets and when. In light winds it’s fine, but as the speed gets up and the temperature goes down I can start to feel it getting through, oddly the place I’m feeling it most is the inside of my elbows?!
But, I haven’t felt it was out of it’s depth and had to reach for extra layers yet.
It’s in the wash as we speak.

The Keen Pyrenees are very high volume, I had to put Sole insoles in there and wear some thick socks to tune the fit. But that’s a personal fit thing, in use they’re very different to the other Keens I’ve used. They’re soft, the upper is very supple and the midsole feels thinner than the Targhees which have the same outsole, so the terrain comes right through the bottom to meet you. So this makes them feel a bit like trail shoes, and I kept wanting to jog a bit on the trail and having to stop myself. The grip is better than I expected, I’m wondering if the softer flex is making a difference here?

The Teva Intundas are getting some frequent use as they’re sitting in the porch and are so damned handy for slipping on. They grip pavement and the pedals in the motor very well.

Haglöfs’  Lizard Top has now been out a lot, in a variety of weathers and over a variety of baselayers. It really is an outstanding bit of kit, I’ll get a proper review of it up shortly.
The Lynx pants have come out of hibernation. A light softshell pant, they’re pretty minimal, very stretchy and great for the better weather. I used them a lot last year, and I’ll get a proper review of these up after I’ve worn them a couple more times.

Terra Nova’s Laser 20 is my current go-to pack. It’s sitting at the door ready to go with my regular bits and pieces in it, and I’m really enjoying using it.
It’s a pre-production model so there are few minor issues on it, but the bodges I made on the bottle pockets have made them more secure and as a whole it’s a great pack. So light, but incredibly stable with its well shaped low-profile harness.


I was in no hurry. I thought about doing the XXL loop, but with shoes just-out-the-box I didn’t fancy pushing my luck with that much tarmac.
I parked at Overtoun House, jumped the fence and made a beeline for the crags. I was in an exploring mood.
I can still find new routes, new track combinations, new gaps in the trees to squeeze through, and it’s that happy marriage of familiar and new that will keep me climbing the Kilpatricks until my legs give out underneath me.

I took the trail under the southern end of the crags and wound my way through the tumble of boulders enjoying the cool air and the snapping gusts of wind which nipped at my fingertips and ears. It might look like Spring is here as the snow recedes, but winter is still in the air, and on the ground too. All the reservoirs are still frozen and big white chunks of snow lie at every turn, their edges becoming rounder and thinner each day.

Greenland reservoir is full again, the fine new overflow culvert and bridge still look shiny and out of place, but they’ll fade quickly enough.
The water occupies a clearing, surrounded by tall plantation, and it’s silent apart from the constant trickling of water from the deep culvert. But walk ten feet into the trees and the quietness is almost a physical presence, standing there with it’s hands on your shoulders. Today it was benign, but sometimes, I swear to you, I think it’s reaching for my wallet.

The tracks are starting to heal. The works vehicles from the culvert and Loch Humphrey track operations are gone and a more usable surface is returning. I hope when the greenery sprouts we’ll get a huge mohican of grass down the centre. The ruts are deeper than ever and it’ll look gallus.

Out on the open hillside again it was cold, and getting a little dark. But Doughnot Hill was just over there, so I had to go.
I’m glad too, I took a big sweep across the moor to miss the worst of the bog and climbed to the top from the east side. It’s a good plan because you can’t see what’s on the other side until you’re right on the top. Ben Lomond’s napper was just in the clouds and every slope to the north was a streaky patchwork of white and dark brown.
While I might mourn winter’s passing, spring is the best time to be out in a tent. It’s still cool on the tops, but with longer midge-free days and the joy of seeing the hills come back to life before all your senses if you have to time to stops and notice.
I thought that over, I thought about my plans as I had a wee snack, ifs, buts, maybes and musts.
But it was getting awfy cold, so I packed up and jogged downhill to cross the burn and rejoin the track back to the motor.

I walked through the trees near Overtoun and a blackbird burst into song. That made me smile. Ootside and inside.

I’m going to eat that brownie.

It had seemed like a good idea. I got away a little early, the bike was freshly cleaned, lubed and adjusted and I have hills right behind me.
On many levels this plot had holes in it though. More so than even Alien³ where many of the cast died from editing rather than the regulation shiny-toothed double-jaw application or a smack in the head from Ripley. I shall step onto the down escalator and note the obvious mistakes as though they were those wee adverts next to subway escalators that always look squint, although it’s really an optical illusion. Or is it?

It was warm as I climbed the long track up The Slacks, sweat dripped from my eyebrows as a spun the pedals slowly. The sun shone, the sky was ice blue and I had to sit down and take a break at the level section at the old quarry.
I haven’t been on a bike in four months. Hell, I hadn’t even cleaned the bike since the West Highland Way. I think I may have had lingering issues.
I should have had a wee trial ride around the lower trails, part of the reasoning for going out for a ride was that the gentle spinning would be good for my twanged leg, but I got all excited and headed for the hills.

I sat at the quarry and pulled on a vest as it was cold. Somehow I hadn’t expected it to be that cold, with frost, and ice and well, wintery coldness. I don’t get that when I’m out on a bike.
The ground was hard, it crunched as I rode, and as I got higher the ground became porridge, where the oats were gravel and the milk was ice. My tyres were biting, but I was tired from the now unfamiliar exertion and was now a little rattled by the terrain.
But my confidence did slowly increase, and so did my speed. Apart from the stinging cheeks and watering eyes, it was like a summers morning up there.
I turned around Loch Humphrey and heard a loud moan above the chatter of my my drive train and the manic crunching of my tyres. I dropped the bike and ran to the top of the knoll to look at the frozen loch as it once again squeaked and let out another huge moan. It was so loud and so unexpected that I just stood and laughed. I watched for big cracks appearing and Russian submarines emerging, but the cold crept up on me again and I was glad to be generating some heat in the saddle.

The track was frozen solid now, the ruts were like concrete and any big stones were using their frosty coating as a lure to to snare the unwary, and although I did have a couple of mildly sideways moments, it was a joy tearing down the completed new trail, fast as well in this condition.
I could see the sun catching the treetops with a vivid orange spray and I raced the darkening trails, dodging frozen puddles and crossing ice flows with one eye shut in anticipation of disaster to find clear air at the Lang Craigs where I could drink in that familiar sight that never fails the excite, delight, inspire, challenge or confound me. The sun setting over my home.

I lingered. I love it here. But I love the long, fast descent to Overtoun and the A82 too, I did a 180° and headed to the top of the track through long dried grass, thick with hoar frost, amazed at how well the tyres were sticking.
The run was fast, and at times hairy. The ground was solid, there was water-ice, more frozen, angular ruts forcing constant changes in direction with me trying not to be jerky and inducing a slide. I found lines where I didn’t know ther could be one and by the time I hit the gate at the bottom I was grinning, panting, shedding snotters and I couldn’t feel my fingers.

I switched my light on and trundled into the dark trees where there was more ice than gravel. I walked the bike around the glowing white obstacles and hit the tarmac where I rolled downhill easy. Too easy. I stopped, pulled on a buff, extra gloves and the vest. The windchill cut me to the bone as a hared through the darkness. My hands might as well have been in arctic mitts, I couldn’t feel a thing, and by the time I got the the rush of traffic, gears were beyond me and using the brakes was going to make me cry at any second.
I negotiated the road somewhat unconvincingly, and got to my folks house where assistance was rendered in manner which made me feel like a nine year old boy who’d came home wet-through and frozen after playing in the snow all day with his pals. And my leg was throbbing like a bastard.

What an absolutely brilliant evening.

Out to Play

I went out in the cold sunshine of the Kilpatricks to take some shoe shots, but that really didn’t go so well. Instead I found myself jogging around the trails, gearless and grinning. I ended up tearing along the edge of Lang Craigs as the sun slipped down, arms waving in the air as I skittered down the rocks then across the field to arrive back at the motor, breathless and chuckling.
Somtimes it’s good when it all goes horribly wrong.

It’s a bit late in the day?

“Hi, how are you doing?” said I,
“It’s a bit late in the day to be setting off?” came the reply.
Luckily I was in a good mood.

I left the carpark in trail shoes with the LaSportiva Trangos bungeed onto my pack to stick them when I was off the first km of tarmac (boots remember, if I push my luck early on my feet well get shredded). I had to get a photie of some kit for a Trail Used&Abused and it had been dark or wet or both all weekend. The Kilpatricks were sticking with that programme, but I had to try and make the best of it, and as I neared the crags the rain stopped just long enough for me too get a handful of photies of a grinning simpleton with a beard. Then the rain came back on and the camera went away again.
I wandered around a bit, it was quite nice, very fresh and I cursed the timing of my visit. I could have been off on a wee adventure, but dinner awaited and I headed back down far too soon and far too clean.
I spotted the Trangos still bungeeed to my pack as I swung it onto the back seat of the motor. I’ll try them outside next week then. They’re very good on carpet, I’ll give them that.

Monday Morning Blues

I went back to work this morning. Well, I switched my phone on anyway and sat with a cuppa feeling thoroughly fed up thinking about it. I had to spend the day kneeling in front of two old boilers in a boiler house that’s basically outside. It was icy, the snotters are still dripping out of my nose, so I cancelled ’til later in the week. Sorry, health first, customers later.
I sat with a second cuppa and looked out at the fog. When you go to the hills, you know that fog is just a sham, it’s not really “weather” and you can work around it. As the morning wore on I realised there was a wee chance here that might be too good to miss. So I dressed, grabbed the camera and headed out.

That was a good plan. It’s not often you get a cloud inversion and a Brocken Spectre a few hundred metres from your front door on a Monday morning.
If this week ahead gets any better than this I will be very much surprised. It really shouldn’t have opened the gig with its best song.

I have a feeling when I see the photies below on a real computer screen (still on the Bontempi laptop here) they’ll be a psychedelic kaleidoscope of otherworldly colours. Especially that Brocken Spectre one.
Ach, I’ll sort it all later. Maybe.

Monday morning joy. The blue was the sky.

Will I eat that second cream slice?

The fact that I could hear the quior singing above me meant that no matter how fast I went I wasn’t getting the heating finished in time for the service.
I threw the tools in the motor and checked my phone messages. Elaina, Sandy and Louise were heading up the Kilpatrick’s and I thought I might head back to base, pack my gear and see if I could catch them.

Bastard headwind. I took the usual ascent route and fought against an ever increasing wind which eventually brought me to a standstill and I had to push the bike up an easy bit. Passing children were pointing at laughing at the red faced old man.
I phoned the guys and they were on Doughnot Hill, I’d meet them on the trail at the reservoir. The trail was very different in the daylight, I’d kinda forgotten how nice it is up there when you can see it. I spun happily on my way, there was no real “training” here. Lack of motivation because I was solo maybe, bored with preparation and just wanting to get on with it?
I sat by the water and waited for my my pals to descend. I could see them wandering down and I sat by the water, feeling the sun on my neck. Just a hint of the wind was making it through the trees and catching the tops of my ears, the sunlight sparkled on the little waves on the waters surface. Too long since I’ve sat and just breathed it all in.

I met my pals to much rejoicing and merry banter, briefly disturbed by arseholes on dirt bikes. We worked our way around down and I left them at the top of the steep run to Overtoun. But it was even wetter and looser than the during the week, and even in daylight it was a good bit slower. I stopped and got the camera out.
It’s probably not the most scenic spot, but I love it. The burn has cut deep into the volcanic landscape, showing layers of lava and ash, the pine trees still stand firm in their line facing the exposed moor. The colours grow warmer as the air grows colder. It’s just magic up here.
I sped the last of the trail and met a fell runner who is as keen on his local ground as I am. Good lad.
We all met up again at the fence at Overtoun and then it was down to the currently well frequented BP garage for cuppas and banter in the sunshine.
A good day.

Repeat to fade

Had a good circuit of the Kilpatrick’s trails last night, the two mtbs versus the two runners.
We cranked up the tarmac from base and onto the ascent, but they other two buggers caught us as we lost traction (and lung capacity) on the steep gravel near the top and had to push. It’s quite disconcerting being chased and passed by two bobbing headtorches atop skinny legs finished in shiny black.
After last weeks diversion by Craig, we met up at Loch Humphrey to check routes (although we did have radios for each pair, now there’s fancy from Phil) and the footpads set off. We followed shortly after, making little progress through the treacletastic new trail section. There’s an amazing amount of different surfaces in quick succession on the top, it really does keep you on you toes.
It was getting cooler and a heavy shower started out of nowhere, we pushed on and found the guys in the trees hurridly donning wind shirts. On the undulating tracks we stayed ahead now. Phil left a lightstick to mark an awkward trail junction (which they picked up of course) and we all met at the stile at the forest edge for a word or two of “encouragement” before we launched into the downhill run.
The ground was wet, it was dark (it was around 2200hrs) and it was cold, but the trail was fast. By the time I got the fence at the bottom I was picking grit and twigs out of the widest grin I’d had this week so far.
We waited for the footpads and they were doing well, they seemed to be hitting a joint rhythm a lot of the time we saw them. It bodes well.
We flew past them on the hill down to the A82 and were waiting at the garage deciding whether or not to get our cuppas while we waited, when Craig sprinted in ahead of Ian (in the orange windshirt below) for a well timed coffee/cake rendezvous.

Where are we at? Phil and I thought the ascent was punishing, but the times was quicker tonight. In fact, I think we’ve cut an hour off of this route since we started timing it.
Craig and Ian seemed happy with performance and times, and we all noticed that out recovery times were good. No wheezing and sitting down.
But, they’ll beat us on the climbs every time, we’re not going to attempt to tackle every gradient we come across, we can’t afford to burst ourselves. And a walking man is faster than a man pushing a bike. On the flat and the downhill the machinery and gravity are our saviours. But I’ll tell you, it’s going to be bloody close.

My legs aren’t unnaturally pale or bandaged below, I’m wearing knee-warmers. Smartwool are supporting Phil and I with some amazing kit from their 2010 range, and I was testing their shorts, leg warmers and NTS zip-neck (and beanie there as well) for the first time there. I’ll go through all the kit we’ve been sent from various folks next week, a lot of it’s going to become regular kit after the bike goes in a skip in a couple of weeks anyway. Multifuctional and  lightweight, that’s what we like.

Aye, another ten days of all this bollocks and it’s back to normal.

Neon Knights

Now that the WHW*Falldoon is all public, and the hilariously worded press release had been sent out, I think it’s dawned on us that we’re really going, and the runners are now feeling the pressure. Us on the bikes though? Lets put it this way, I had a sausage supper and a can of Coke when I was waiting on Craig to finish work before we met Phil at mine to go for a night ride/run. Aye, the bike folk will be fine. Probably?

What a lovely night to be out, clear sky with a few wee clouds occasionally diffusing the moonlight, cool autumn air and the hills to ourselves.
Craig made good time on foot and soon left us behind on the climb. Once on the top, Phil and I found the tracks to be on the moist side and cosequently bike control was on the tenuous side at times. A couple of stops to adjust the lights and we were through the forest and ready to charge down to Overtoun, Milton and hot cuppas.
But as soon as we lifted the bikes over the fence and started down, Phil went straight over the bars as the bike got all upset in a deep rut. He wandered along beside me with the light on the bars looking sideways.
We sorted it all out, straightened ourselves up and headed off again. The trail was slippy, with all the difficulties, steep bits and the same speed as usual. So when my front wheel went into one rut and my back wheel slid into another I knew I was going into the bracken. It was soft in there and as I lay and looked up at the moon I could hear a voice floating through the night time chill “Are you aff?”. First proper stack on the new bike, that feels better now.
We slid and skittered our way down the rest of the way without incident, and also without Craig. We thought he’d maybe streaked ahead as I was fannying around adjusting my light angle, or taking photies (again), so we didn’t pause and flew down the tarmac to the BP garage at Milton where we sipped coffees and wondered where the boy wis.
Ten minutes later, a headtorch bobbed into the forecourt. “I went left at the trail junction”, “We went right”.

Night riding is great, but it takes a wee while to get your eye back in as we found. My lights are superb, an Exposure Maxx D on the bars and a Joystick (original, anodised purple!) on my helmet, it was like daylight in front of me.
Phil drew blood from his leg, I merely tenderised my hip. Craig just needed a Honey Stinger Protein bar. We did push though, and the times were good. But I’ll tell you, I don’t care because it was just great fun.

And, the Montane Lite-Speed got its first outing, it survived bracken intrusion and thwarted a hot coffee spillage admirably. It also has arms long enough on me for biking which the Featherlite doesn’t do so well at. Nice.

Aw man, not more bikes?

Phil and I went for a training ride in the KiIpatricks tonight. I say training, but it’s really just a jolly. We say training just so we actually go rather than procrastinate. It’s midweek joy as well, banter, hills and a lovely evening to ride through to boot. It’s getting cooler up there, aye, and getting dark earlier all the time.

The climbing went well, I had a couple gears left to fall back on if my legs couldn’t take it. In fact I even found myself speeding up on a couple of occasions. Previously unheard of, that kinda stuff. I suppose it’s mostly the new bike, but I do think there’s a bit of me fighting in there as well.
We didn’t really hang about much, it was getting dark and with the downhill run to Overtoun at the end we had to push as we didn’t fancy our chances on that bit of the trail with e+lites strapped to our helmets.
When we got there it was fast and total blast. It’s the banana split after the steak and chips.

We had enough light though, and darkness only really fell when we got down to Milton. The BP garage on the A82 was the first port of call for coffees. The lassie at the till shouted over to her pal at the food counter “That’s a large latte and a large black coffee for the boy with the mud on his face…” .
We had a blether outside with the cuppas. It had been great fun, grins all the way. We’d made good time too, very good in fact. Phil’s racing the Wan Day in the Pentlands at the weekend and he’s looking good for it.
It’s funny, I didn’t expect the WHW thing to take over so much. I’m usually pretty half arsed with my outdoors stuff (no, really), but with six of us going, kit and media shit to deal with as well as the logistics, it’s become #1 by stealth I think, perhaps even by osmosis?
I need to get in a tent to stop me becoming obsessed though. That can happen you know.
Four weeks to go.

World Exclusive

Just in for test is this retro wonder. It’s a blend of polyester and cotton, not something you see much of these days, certainly not in jackets. It has a fixed hood, six external pockets, two zipped, two lower patch with hand-warmers behind. The body is long, longer than most current shell jackets so it’ll keep the weather off of my arse. The full length zip has a wide poppered storm flap, as do the cuffs, and the hem and large hood have cord adjustment.

Bollocks, I’m not fooling anyone am I?
It’s yet another H&M plunder of long forgotten hillwalking gear for their autumn collection. If it said “Design courtesy of Peter Storm” somewhere I wouldn’t be surprised.
Still, it’s purple, I mean, of course I was going to get it. And there’s a skull on the wee black badge! Joy!

Anyway, back to the proper waterproof first look…

Appolappo Aboo

You can see my roof in that photie above. It’s a great view just at that spot, and a hundred meters up the track it disappears completely. I haven’t seen it for weeks, since early June I think. That’s the longest I’ve been away from the Kilpatricks since 1937.
It was nice to see the heather starting to bloom, pink white and purple. In a few weeks there’ll be a multicoloured carpet of delight on the hills.

I was on the bike which was interesting. My legs are gone, just completely empty. And my arse has become soft, like a Chelsea Whopper left out in the sun. Frightening stuff this, a few weeks of doing very physical work seems to have diverted all my juice to different outlets and I’m now all out of adjustment. Ah well, I’ll sort that out as I go. And go I shall, I’ve had books out, maps unfolded and I’ve been checking the weather again. Glen Affric looms large over the next couple of weeks, and then onto new and different. Marvellous.

I’m sitting there trying to keep down some bananana Nuun while looking at the view below. It was quite windy and the clouds and patches of sunlight were skimming by, the long grass was hissing as the blades and bits with seeds attached, the actual name of which is totally unknown to me, it’ll be a latin thing no doubt… vibrated and pulsed, occasionally sending a wave across its golden surface towards the trees.
It really was rather nice.

Ach, it’s good to be back.