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.

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.


We’re nearly away, I’m watching for the minibus oot the windae.
There’s been a last minute change, the road bikers contracted a bad case of scurvy at suspiciously short notice, so there’s just the four of us now.

There’s a couple of ways to keep track of our progress. I’ve got a SPoT map running courtesy of Adventure Trading Post, that’s right here and in miniature too, just a wee bit to our right there.
Phil’s got his own stuff running from his blog too.

I’ll be sending regular Twitter updates to here, and Craig will send updates on the runner’s progress here.

It’s came around awfully quick I’ll tell you. I don’t feel ready, but I’m with my chinas, the sun is out for the moment and I suppose we’ll see what happens.
Thanks for all the messages of encouragement and abuse. I love you all.
Thanks also to the following companies who have given us some amazing equipment support to take the rough look off us, Julbo, Haglöfs, Montane, Mountain King, PHD and Smartwool.
There will be an avalanche of reviews after this from all of us, and I’m taking other test kit as well.

Ah well, let’s get on with it.

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.

Unexpected Pakora

I did make it to the mountains, just around the middle of them instead up up ’em.
Beinn Vane looks good from any angle.

Phil, Craig and I went on a training run as the date for the WHW*Falldoon approaches. That date is probably the third weekend in October, which is later than we’d hoped as it means it’s got more of a chance of being on the wintry side, but it does give the old bloke an extra couple of weeks training…

The three of us have been out on a mix of wheels and feet before and the yo-yo effect happened again. We raced to the trail and immediately slowed on the ascent where Craig caught us up. We needled each other until a flat spot saw Phil and I stretch out a wee lead. When we both reached the highpoint of the trail (this time, both of us in the saddle, it was the same route as last week), Craig passed us after a couple of minutes and I never even looked up from my position of hanging over the bike trying to keep my breakfast down. The extra heat and slightly fuzzy head really made life difficult on the long climb this time.

The easily angled descent to the burn was slow, I felt burst after the climb. Phil was waiting for me when I got to the weir and he just had to cool down. I resisted the cold water and just sat down instead.
Some Nuun, a look at the view, a pee and a walk up and down saw me feeling better. And when we left for the return leg I knew that the climbing was over and and I had to actually ride the bike as opposed to sit on it and spin the pedals.
I was a wee bit worried as I was a bit shaky on the technical stuff last time, but the first sketchy descent on a slate chute went well and I was boosted by that, making the rest of the rough singletrack less of a looming adversary and more of a ride-able funscape.

We caught Craig in the woods before the singletrack section and we stayed pretty close from here on.
When we got back to Arrochar we were pleased indeed. Team handed trips are fun, and it’s good to train together as it showed that Craig’s running is on the money and if his feet hold together it’s looking good for that 96 miles.
We had lunch at the wummin in the windowcafe at the Esso garage across from the carpark, it was heaven sinking my teeth into that scotch pie I’ll tell you.
What a great day out with my chinas indeed.

Now, I’m supposed to be in Glen Coe next week. Repeat to self, tent not bike, tent not bike, tent not bike…
Will I remember how to do all that stuff?

I’ll run, you ride

Craig’s bike has been lame for a while, and a quick fix wasn’t likely in time for tonight so he said he’d run it and see how it all matched up with me and Phil on the bikes. I knew it’d be fine, he’s too fit by far, but it was still interesting how it all panned out.
We took the simplest Kilpatricks route, a big loop from my front door, but there’s still a huge amount of ascent which is always hard enough without that bloody wind tonight which slowed me down and eventually knocked me and then Phil off the saddle and onto our feet a couple of times.
Of course when we got to the level section at the quarry Craig was waiting for us, he totally creamed us on the ascent. As did a group of lycra-clad bikers on hardtails who passed us on their way to greater things.
I like to be reminded that I can’t compete, it takes the pressure off.

We rode and ran the newly constructed trails with a little flair and some welcome speed now that the trail was twisting and winding rather than just going up, up, up. The distance between bikes and feet was always elastic, but stopping now and again for a drink and a quick bit of banter kept us within shouting distance.
In the trees, the wind was just a whisper, and that was very welcome indeed. Wind on a bare hillside is relentless, and on a bike you just feel like it’s picking on you and having a bit of a laugh because it’s the “Big Wind” and you’re just a wee fanny on a daft contraption. I never feel persecuted by the wind when I’m on foot. I’ll talk to someone about these feelings at some point.

Leaving the forest was just magic, Ben Lomond, the Arrochar Alps, even Ben Lui, all well defined in the clear evening air. We all stopped and had a “Ohhh…” moment.
Then straps were tightened, shades secured, arse shoved back and we headed downhill.
I was a bit happier than last time and only got wrong footed in a boggy section, the trail has hardened up and it’s getting fast.
The cool eveing air rushing past my grinning coupon as grit stung my legs and stuck to my shades, I found a little bit of confidence tonight and really enjoyed the run down to Overtoun. It’s a joy, it really is, and as we go through summer it’ll only get better.
We waited for Craig to catch up near the bottom, chortling way to ourselves at the simple fun of it all, and catch up he did, very quickly too. Running down this trail is as good as biking (or walking) it, at times it’s so steep you’re on the verge on losing control and becoming a spinning ball of budgie green and broken limbs. You don’t need “stuff” to get excitement, an incline and unreasonable optomism is often more than enough to get that adrenaline rush.

After Overtoun House it’s a tarmac descent to the A82 where you run out of gears and sacrifice rubber from your expensive sticky tyres. But watching a drop of spit boil on your front brake disc on the roadside at the bottom makes up for any inconvenience.
Craig appeared after a wee while, the longest we’d been out of comms all evening. The bikes won the descent, that’s the bikes, not the riders.
We met the other group of riders from earlier as we headed for some tasty goods from the BP/ Marks and Sparks Simply Food at Milton that must be familiar to anybody heading North on the A82 who’ll be wishing it was on their side of the road as the Esso Shop on on the Northbound carriageway only has pork pies and the like.

It was a great night, it’s been a while since were all out together and if was fun, pure and simple.

Scream if you wanna go faster

Trail running is such a dilemma for me. I’ve had stabs at it, made progress, enjoyed it, then sat on chairs for a bit and lost the momentum again and again.
The Kilpatricks are ideal for it, good trails of different varieties, good distances and so familiar I can think on my feet and shorten or lengthen any trip no problem.
I always joke about getting old, but I know there’ll be a point where I can’t make up the lost ground so easy and I’ll be buggered. Time, application, resolve, fear of pain, they all come into it, but the payback when you’re feeling good is tremendous, flying down trails enencumbered by kit and feeling the lightest on your feet that you can be in the hills.
My knees don’t take a pounding either, it’s only the tarmac bookends of every trip that do that.
I was talking to my mate Craig at Crossfit Glasgow about this and he’s keen to coach me properly, as always I’m keen to avoid anything that involves people telling me what to do.
We’ll see, I’ll make some baby steps yet again and see how I feel.
It is the ultimate in going lightweight, and I dare say a few overweight, gram-shaving backpackers would be well served with such an activity, or indeed cycling where I’m already getting back in the saddle (yes, punch me in the head for that).
Luckily a lot of the gear I use is adventure racing derived, and still looks normal.
Trail running doesn’t have to mean looking like, er this…The Clydebank Young Ladies Trail Running Club.