CC Ecosse 4-day Islay Tour - Aug '14

Discussion in 'Member's Travelogues' started by Scoosh, 19 Aug 2014.

  1. Scoosh

    Scoosh Velocouchiste Moderator

    "Fubar's Family Connection"
    Late in 2013, @Fubar had an idea :idea: about exploring/researching a family connection on Islay and this developed into a 34-page CC Ecosse Chat thread before we set off :rolleyes: ...

    The concept developed into a wee cycle tour to Islay and back over 4 days, so he could have some company and give those of us who had not cycle-toured before to see how we like it.
    Fortunately, Fubar (aka Mark) is a project manager, so this was 'simply' a case of a few arrangements, get some keen CC Members together and off we go. :rofl:

    The plan came together very easily for everyone, due to Mark's expertise, attention to detail and patience. :thumbsup:

    Others much more lucid than I will be along to put up pics, tell stories, give details etc, so I will restrict myself to a few key points:
    • it was a great success - everyone (said :unsure:) they enjoyed it and nobody died (IAW Mark's 'daily briefing' ^_^)
    • all ferries were caught on time, no one got left behind, everyone managed the hills :sweat:
    • we cycled up 14% gradient hills in 30mph headwinds - so have acquired some bragging rights :wahhey:
    • we cycled over Islay in 35mph head/crosswinds, driving drizzle :rain: and 1km visibility - it is apparently rather nice ... :unsure:
    • Mark had a successful conclusion to his quest for knowledge
    • our hard-earned reward was a final day with 25mph tailwinds all the way :wahhey:, 8.5km of absolutely straight road to enjoy - cruising at 30+kph was a doddle for all - and even tailwinds up all the hills :eek: :dance:
    • the descent to Sannox was fast - and @Harry_Palmer79 stayed on his bike ;)
    • the "caffienated Duracell bunny on speed" is incorrigible :rofl:

    Thanks @Fubar and all my fellow tourists - it was great ! :wahhey:
  2. OP

    Scoosh Velocouchiste Moderator

    Highlights for me?
    • @Edwardoka's epic dash to join us and getting to the restaurant in Lochranza before we started eating :bravo:
    • @heather68's dogged persistence to get up them thar hills :thumbsup: (when she shouldn't really have been there at all :secret:)
    • that ride across Islay :rain: + t110006.gif = :surrender:
    • that wind-assisted-straight-road-fly down Islay :bicycle: - images?q=tbn:ANd9GcSVQBy9YBOfA8pXIQKXjMO7MRatdBEnOs2Rr0ngFICmXKOtXUkQ.png :wahhey: :hyper:
    • the descent to Sannox :eek::eek:
    • the camaraderie and good nature/humour of all the tourists :hugs:
  3. MikeW-71

    MikeW-71 Veteran

    This was my first try at cycle touring, and it's something that I will be doing again :biggrin:

    I was originally planning to use my Defy road bike as it would take a rack, but in the end I went for an n+1. I bought a CX bike to use as a commuter and general purpose machine. It can also carry more on a rack, and has more (and lower) gears. As this trip was to prove, it makes a great fast/light touring bike as well.

    Day 1 - Arran
    So it was that 9 of us rocked up at Ardrossan harbour ready to catch the 12:30 ferry to Arran to start leg 1 of the trip. Only 9, as @Edwardoka was having major problems getting hold of a small, but vital, part for the bike he was intending to use. His final message was basically "I hope to be there by 8pm". @Pat "5mph" had booked us all in at the Lochranza distillery cafe for dinner at that time.

    When we landed in Brodick, the group split up. The girls, @Scoosh and @Brandane (joining us just for the Arran ride), took the 15 mile direct route to Lochranza. @Fubar , @DougieAB , @Harry_Palmer79 and myself took the 40 mile southern route looping clockwise around the coast. Since it was a very nice day, I had already decided I would go that way, it's a lovely ride even if it is rather lumpy. It had a sting in the tail in the form of a headwind all the way up the west coast, which slowed us down somewhat, but even after a leisurely coffee and cake at Machrie Bay golf club, we made it to Lochranza in plenty of time to settle in at the hostel and amble up to the cafe. :hungry:

    The distillery cafe is a lovely place to be, the menu sounded absolutely gorgeous, orders were placed and drinks obtained. About 5 minutes after the waiter had taken our orders, @Edwardoka appeared before us as if by magic :bravo:. He had resorted to using his Focus race bike and was carrying a rucksack of an impressive size:ohmy:. It was gonna be a rather uncomfortable tour for him. Still, at least he was going to get fed. He ordered his food and went to get changed in the toilets.

    I highly recommend the cafe, the food was absolutely excellent :thumbsup:

    I've never stayed in a hostel before, and the one thing to remember is that you never know who you will be sharing a dorm with. In our case, we seemed to have an Elephant on one of the top bunks. A restless one at that. Who didn't seem to know how to put his phone on silent. After he'd jumped off the bunk for the third time in the early hours to go to the bog, it was getting a bit tiresome. I may have rustled my plastic bags more than was absolutely necessary early the next morning :angel:

    Day 2 - To Islay!
    This was going to be hard. The weather forecast was for higher winds and rain, and we had two ferries to catch. This was Rule 5 weather if ever I saw it. After breakfast and coffee to get us started, the first ferry was 30 mins to Cloanaig. Once we arrived there, we had an hour to get up and over the large hill in front of us to catch the next ferry from Kennacraig to Port Askaig on Islay.

    Now the rain began in earnest and it soon became apparent that that 20mph wind was going to be almost in our faces :surrender:. We climbed and climbed and then climbed some more. It was only 6 miles, but almost 5 miles of it was long dragging ascents and we were getting steadily soaked, though at this point my feet were still dry. Finally the descent to the port came and as I came over the crest, I could see the next ferry approaching. We were gonna make it just fine :biggrin:

    The two hour crossing to Islay gave plenty of time for some welcome refuelling and hot coffee. Spirits were high and there was much banter and joking in the group. Then we looked out the window when we arrived in port and saw the climb ahead of us :eek:. And it was raining again. The climb was as bad as it looked, peaking at 15% and once over the top, we were in a 20mph headwind and driving rain with 20 miles to go to our next hostel in Port Charlotte. An hour later, I had done just over 10 miles and my shoes were full of water, this was real suffering. Turning back wasn't an option, my bed for the night was 10 miles in front of me, so I had to keep pressing on.

    I came across the fast threesome (Edwardoka, Ross and Dougie) who were waiting in Bridgend. We knew we needed to turn right somewhere, but had seen no signs for Port Charlotte. I thought we needed to carry on a bit further. I was wrong :shy: and after an extra 6 miles, we took the turn that we should have taken in the first place. 8 miles still to go :blink:. This part was the most exposed to the wind and I couldn't hold on to the wheels of the fast threesome. Once I slipped off the back I have never tried so hard and gone so slow on a bike before, watching them pull steadily away was soul-destroying. I was riding in a pretty dark place now and wondering if this torture would ever end, when suddenly I saw a town sign: "Port Charlotte". I had made it! Many minutes behind everyone else, but it was done. Panniers removed, bike into the shed, empty water out of shoes, hang everything up in the drying room and get under a shower.

    Dinner for the evening was to be had at Yans Kitchen, which was awesome! :mrpig::hungry:

    Day 3 - Free day on Islay
    The day dawned with no sign of rain, but with even stronger 30mph winds :eek:. Fubar was going to ride to Bowmore and almost everyone else went along. @Scoosh and I showed good sense wimped out and spent some time checking the bikes and chatting in the common room. Dougie was the first to return, looking a bit damp from the rain showers that had flown over, and we went to have a forage in the kitchen. A check of the "free food" shelves turned up most of a pack of spaghetti, some bolognese sauce and some cheese. I soon turned that into a snack lunch before the rest began arriving back. :mrpig:

    Another cycling couple arrived. They had been camping and the wind had destroyed their tent. He was sure something was wrong with his headset but didn't know how to fix it. Scoosh and I were happy to help, sorted the headset and showed him how it was done :thumbsup:

    Spirits were high again and after another excellent meal at the Hotel, we checked the weather. The final day should be dry and we would have a 25mph tailwind for our return leg :wahhey:

    Day 4 - The Return
    I slept terribly. Specifically, insomnia struck and I had to make do with no more than 2 hours sleep :tired: as we were up at 6am to get fuelled up, packed and ready to leave by 7:30am. If all went well this meant we should catch the 1640 ferry from Brodick. It wasn't long before we were flying through Bowmore and on down the bullet-straight "low road", which is also almost completely flat. It was joyous to be able to hold 20mph+ easily and we easily made the first ferry and a second breakfast.

    Even though the ferry left 20 minutes late, the climb out of Kennacraig was wind-assisted and we flew across the 6 miles back to Cloanaig. After the short ferry back to Lochranza, we agreed we would just press on to Brodick as we had 2 hours to get there for the 1640 ferry. Climbing the bogoullie with a wind-assist meant a fast descent and a surprisingly rapid passage down the east side of the island, arriving in Brodick only 1 hour later!

    As the others arrived during the next half hour, a nervous looking lady approached us and asked if we could tell her why her gears weren't working. She had one of those dreadful Dunlop BSOs that Sports Direct sell, but it looked sound other than the transmission needing a good clean. She couldn't get it to drop to the inner front ring and she'd been lifting it on there by hand :sad:. All it needed was a limit screw adjustment and all was well :thumbsup: after which @Scoosh was only too happy to explain the 'bent and tales of the tour to her. That's two new friends and maybe two new forum members?

    An epic trip, racking up just over 100 miles of riding. I want to do another tour :hyper:. Even with the ordeal of the second day, I know what I would do and take differently next time, and I'll cope with it better as it cannot get much worse than that :smile:

    It was a pleasure and an honour to ride with you all :thanks::bravo:

  4. Pat "5mph"

    Pat "5mph" A kilogrammicaly challenged woman Moderator

    @MikeW-71 you already wrote about the whole trip???
    I've only got to the first day :laugh:
    Gonna read yours in a wee minute, want to start an album first before I forget the order of the pictures:rolleyes:
    Harry_Palmer79 and Fubar like this.
  5. MikeW-71

    MikeW-71 Veteran

    My photos were a bit rubbish :sad:

    I'm eagerly awaiting your report @Pat "5mph" :biggrin:
    Harry_Palmer79, Fubar and Pat "5mph" like this.
  6. Pat "5mph"

    Pat "5mph" A kilogrammicaly challenged woman Moderator

    Never mind, your videos are fantastic!
    My report, day one only for now, here.
    MikeW-71, Harry_Palmer79 and Fubar like this.
  7. DougieAB

    DougieAB Getting the messages

    Nice report Mike. It must be the masochist in me but I rather enjoyed the wind and rain on day 2. Two things surprised me about this trip, firstly how good all the food was! Every meal we had was top notch even down to the steak pie on the ferry which was better than my local butchers pie. Secondly (not being chauvinistic) how well the girls did considering the weather conditions and the hills involved. As Mike has stated, it was pretty tough going at times. Well done to you all. Yes, I would do it again, whats not to like, good company, good food and some great cycling.
    Telemark, Brandane, Edwardoka and 5 others like this.
  8. OP

    Scoosh Velocouchiste Moderator

    Here's why, in Km/hr :

    Top Speed - 18 Aug 14.png
    Telemark, Edwardoka, Fubar and 3 others like this.
  9. MikeW-71

    MikeW-71 Veteran

    Converts to 55mph :eek: which is 10mph faster than I went down (not that I was trying for a top speed)

    Great descent isn't it :hyper:
  10. boydj

    boydj Guru

    Also on Arran, I bottled out at 49mph on the descent into Brodick on the String Rd - road surface was pretty rough and my glasses were shaking so much it was hard to see where I was going.
    Scoosh and Pat "5mph" like this.
  11. Cranky Knee Girl

    Cranky Knee Girl Über Member

    N Somerset
    Great read all!
    Pat "5mph" and Scoosh like this.
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