I mentioned to Graham that I was planning to ride the Auchindrain loop at the weekend. His reply was - do you mean auchin-disnae-drain? I had already planned on wearing waterproof socks and decided an extra pair of gloves, a big fat night light and early-start wouldn't go a miss. We'd already narrowly missed out on an 'epic' on Saturday (four munroes in four hours, narrowly squeaking in before sunset, which was handy really, given we'd forgotten to bring either torch or compass). I was keen that Sunday's ride, the first time biking for both Elspeth and Tom in a while, was going to be the right side of 'adventure'.

We set off from Auchindrain museum, promising the friendly teashop owner that we'd be back in time for post-ride scones. With half an hour warm-up ride along a new 'forest drive' (too new for our OS map), we were lucky to spot the singletrack snaking off to the side. We moved onto this, rather than follow the invitingly wide and smooth forest road but only 10 minutes down it and Elspeth was asking whether I thought we might perhaps have followed a burn instead of a path. The start of the wet bit then but still quite good fun.

A puncture and a food stop and we started the climb over to the North. 'Across the water' the teashop woman had called it. It wasn't sounding promising as being a 'dry' bit and I was well aware that the book had said we'd need to be prepared to turn back if the river was impassable. A long technical climb with a bit of pushing and some great views of the lochans. It felt like real 'wild' country. We were in luck with the river (what a fantastic November we're having) and it was barely above our ankles. Time for the fun descent! I am still completely and utterly in love with my new and bouncy bike and, if a bit scary, I loved the ride down to the road.

A quick ride alongside loch awe and we turned right for the homeward treck, back over the hill. This is where it all went a bit wrong, with squelchy bog in abundance and suddenly lots of fallen trees blocking the path. With a full team effort, we carried our bikes over the first few blockages but it was getting harder, darker and more impenetrable. A quick look at the map confirmed that the forest stretched the whole way home. We decided that, if they were tree felling (which I guess is fair enough on forestry commission land, I suppose) it could take us many, many hours to get home. So a quick ride back along the road to pick up the forest drive from the other side. It wasn't on the map but we knew it would be 20km of fire road back to the car. What we hadn't realised was how tired we were all getting. That last hill was a bit of a killer, especially with it getting darker and a wee bit rainier. Tom decided that now would be good time to get the 'going home' head on and started riding at twice the pace to get us there faster. When was this ever going to end?Thankfully, the answer was at almost exactly the same time as the previous day's adventure ended and we were safe tucked up in the car by lights out. Just a shame that we missed the tea shop sadly.


Anonymous said…
Looking good - team tops?! Sounds like fun all round.
Elizabeth A said…
Team tops from about 6 years ago. Obviously well made!

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