Don't Die! - CC Ecosse Arran/Islay Tour 2014

Discussion in 'Member's Travelogues' started by Ellebells, 22 Aug 2014.

  1. Ellebells

    Ellebells Active Member

    I was a bit apprehensive before going on this trip - the gears on my bike were not working well, the chain and cassette were so worn they badly needed replaced and, unfortunately when this was attempted the day before leaving, it turned out that my chain rings also needed replaced and the new chain wouldn't take so all of the worn parts had to be put back on and the shiny new ones shoved back in their boxes. I knew I would just need to struggle through with dodgy gears that probably wouldn't go low enough and that more than likely meant walking some hills. I also knew that the hill training I had been planning on doing hadn't materialised and, in fact, I hadn't done many long rides in months - as a ride leader who often back markers slow beginners rides the bulk of my riding recently has been lagging at the back with beginners trying my best to go slow enough. It gives me a great excuse for having such a low average speed on strava or would do if I remembered to upload my rides there often enough! It's not exactly ideal prep for anything a bit faster or more challenging though :ph34r:

    It turns out I had nothing to worry about in the end, however, as yes my gears went into meltdown and the weather threw its worst at us but I still managed up every bit of every hill and had a great time in the process with a fantastic bunch of crazy cycling folk :tongue: I wish I had the time to write a proper blow-by-blow account of the trip but I don't and frankly @Pat "5mph", blogger extraordinaire, and @Fubar, intrepid leader of the pack, have already done exactly that so brilliantly it would be pointless to repeat it! So instead here I am going to jot down a myriad of random thoughts on the trip - it will be whatever nonsense comes into my head as it comes into my head and in no particular or chronological order at all. What you read in the next few minutes will be an insight into my crazy musings and is anybody's guess at this point including my own :laugh: I challenge myself not to read it over before posting so be afraid and warned - it may make very little sense!
    • I really, really want cc ecosse t-shirts with "don't die!" emblazoned on them for the next tour and YES there must be a next one (not sure about @Edwardoka's idea of going up Mount Teide though!) :eek:
    • Andiamo is no longer just @Pat "5mph" 's war cry as she goes into battle (it still is of course but it has now been adopted by @Harry_Palmer79, @Edwardoka, @Fubar hmm actually just about everybody I think!)
    • A revelation - I actually can climb proper-ish hills :biggrin: Ok it was at under 5mph at times and my gears were playing evil tricks on me (yes get bike sorted well in advance of next tour to avoid this - well in advance and me don't mix!) but still happy with it and I was carrying fully-loaded panniers! :dance:
    • I'm capable of packing light when there is real punishment involved for not packing light (another revelation :laugh:)
    • The joys of having a long mane of hair - you keep getting photographed fixing it back off your face! :whistle:
    • @Harry_Palmer79 needs to gen up on handfast marriages ;)
    • Being unable to find 8 people who are just in the next room from me is a special kind of feat!! :wacko:
    • Singing traditional Scottish ditties loudly while sitting on rocks at a random remote lighthouse by the sea on Islay is cathartic and emotional! :thumbsup:
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    • I still love bombing down hills @Pat "5mph" ^_^
    • I met some wonderful dogs but Cooper stole the show (and some hearts!) Would quite happily go back to Arran just to see him :smooch: Here you go @Brandane :tongue:
    2014-08-15 16.52.24.jpg 2014-08-15 16.53.28 - Copy - Copy.jpg
    • I learnt that stuffing newspapers in sodden shoes works wonders (stuff your granny would have told you!)
    • I learnt that I can actually ride while my feet are submerged in water - who knew?! :laugh:
    • I've always found wind to be much worse to ride through than rain - I learnt nothing new on this front but just went through an experience that confirmed it a hundredfold!
    • The hostel in Lochranza is brilliant - the double rooms with en suite bathroom are positive luxury (sorry boys!) :tongue:
    • Despite being a Duracell bunny who almost never stops talking when awake @Pat "5mph" is a very quiet sleeper and perfect room-mate!
    • Always pack a shower cap (long mane requirements again!) Plastic bags just don't work :laugh:
    • A long-sleeved as opposed to short-sleeved cardigan may have been more sensible :whistle:
    • I did use my waterproof trousers @Fubar :wahhey:
    • Arran needs a few street lights for idiots who are attempting to walk home after dark :laugh:

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    • No this is not a malfunctioned photograph - it is real!
    • Don't expect to get any phone signal on Arran or be able to get a message out to anyone especially if it's important....:rolleyes:
    • Trying to take a picture of the round church in Bowmore at 11am on a Sunday while people are streaming out the door won't yield the best return!
    • I managed to tour round two cemeteries on Islay - there's at least one more (and it's a WWI military one at that!) Return trip is a must now :thumbsup:
    • @Harry_Palmer79 is a frustrated comedian - jokes and puns were flying thick and fast (not sure he should give up his day job though ;))
    • @Scoosh is a master photobomber and should instruct others on the subject :biggrin:
    • @Pat "5mph" endeavoured to take photographs and make a review of all the coffees she inhaled on the trip! I believe she failed; not enough space on her camera's memory card for them all ;)
    • I endeavoured to take photographs of all the dogs I met on the trip - I believe I succeeded! Hoorah.
    • It seems I can also review all of the red wines on offer in Port Charlotte. Having tried all 3 varieties of vino tinto in the Port Charlotte Hotel I came to the conclusion that the Cabernet was the most drinkable! Yan's kitchen did a mean tempranillo though that definitely won the day :cheers:
    • In fact Yan's Kitchen gets 5 stars from me! As far as eating goes by the time the last night came round everyone knew the drill and got me ordering first since it takes an age :laugh:
    • I realised I really would like drop handlebars about halfway up the first lengthy hill - this realisation did not abate as I tackled all of the following hills! :bicycle:
    • I should have packed some heavier longer socks!
    • I can ride my bike at 7.30am and enjoy it - very surprising revelation!! :ohmy:
    • The ride from Port Charlotte to Port Ellen was a joy and I especially liked riding with sheep running down the road beside me! There was also a lucky escape for a tiny mole that ran across my path and narrowly missed my tyres :blink:
    • I only realised after the trip that we didn't have a single puncture or any proper mechanicals! Lucky! The weather that hit us balanced that luck out quite substantially though! :rain:
    • I need new cycling glasses!! Orange cycling glasses are a bit garish and eyes need time to adjust to the world's natural hew after they've been on a while :becool:
    • I never saw any cats - most disappointing! :cry:
    • I thought @Pat "5mph" was joking about the Titanic re-enactment - I really should know better! :eek:
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    • So you'd think @Pat "5mph" was a huge fan of the Titanic film - "I've never seen it!" she says after all that :laugh:
    • @Edwardoka took the best pic of the special moment :cheers:
    • Nettles sting like heck and sudocrem may help but where were the dock leaves hiding?! :huh:
    • Swans and cygnets in the sea?! Never seen that before!
    • I want to ride the long way round Arran now - day trip, no loaded panniers. Will actually look forward to trying it whereas before may have shied away from it!
    • Going through such appalling weather conditions and coming out the other side feeling ok really gives you confidence that you can endure most things on a bike - probably better than if the whole trip had been idyllic and sunny (got to look on the bright side ;))
    • I got some fab photos (perhaps a few too many 235 cough) I wondered why my camera battery that I fully charged just before leaving was dying on me by the end of the trip :blush:
    • If @Pat "5mph" ran Italian classes they would have to be given an 18 classification :eek:
    • @Harry_Palmer79 may never surface again!!
    • The hill as you come out of Port Askaig is just there to laugh at cyclists :hyper:
    • Don't underestimate the power of fishermen's socks :becool:
    • The Sandwich Station in Lochranza is a great coffee stop
    • I LOVE riding on roads with no traffic lights in sight - bliss! You forget what it's like riding round Glasgow every day and getting stopped every few hundred yards.
    • I never saw any live seals :sad:
    • Never wear a huge backpack while bike touring - you may burst a blood vessel in your shoulder :sad:
    • If you see swings go and play on them - that is all!
    • Don't stop in the middle of a road and have a discussion on which is the best way to go while holding up a line of traffic especially when the first car in that line of traffic happens to be a police vehicle :stop:
    • Better signage for Port Charlotte is required :laugh:
    • Drying rooms are manna from heaven - pure utopia. Their healing powers cannot be underestimated after 15 miles of gale-force winds and driving rain that seeps into every pore through every inch of clothing on your person and shoes that have turned into swimming pools. At this point lack of a shower cap has become less relevant or important!:cold::rain:
    • Book, book, book for dinner in Port Charlotte (if you want to eat that is!!) :hungry:
    • Always remember to pack spokes when going to Islay - it's compulsory! :rofl:
    • Stop and ask the cows what they are thinking as it's quite possible they are not thinking about cyclists - WHAAATTTT?! :wacko:
    • Taking much more cash than you'll ever need significantly reduces cash machine stress @Harry_Palmer79 - then again if you lose it....(I didn't thankfully!)
    • Coming downhill in a hailstorm and 0% visibility is inadvisable (i.e. insane!) :excl:
    • Bus shelters make fantastic impromptu havens for hail-battered cycling groups - no room for our poor steeds though...
    • Men on Islay get nicknames like Ginger Willie :eek:
    • Stopping to photograph a war memorial in 50mph winds and expecting your bike to stay upright on its kickstand is the height of lunacy - then again when intrepid leaders are on hand to help you rescue said bike from the mire it's still worth it! Who knew grass could take such a strong grip on a bike's handlebars?! :whistle:
    • Arm warmers are quite comfortable and match up quite well with a short-sleeved cardigan to turn it into a long-sleeved one!! Leg warmers worn on the arms on the other hand....(not so good) :blush:
    • Watching an accordion player up close is always mind-boggling and one extra vino while the band play loch lomond is always going to win out over packing! :biggrin:
    • Talking of not naming names on who stayed in the pub @Fubar oh fearless leader:
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    • Tailwinds are almost enough to make me believe in the supernatural - almost :biggrin:
    • Every time you think you can't make it up a hill sing to yourself in your head - a few pedal-strokes for every line of a song! Pick a really long song!! Good distraction technique :bravo:
    • When you arrive alone in a ferry port looking for the faster kids who must have got there before you, it might be an idea to look behind the building as well as in front of it (just in case said fast kids decided to go to the chippy and are sitting scoffing chips round there!) :hungry:
    • Don't fall asleep on ferries if you don't want to be photographed in said sleeping position! :becool:
    • If you see ponies trekking on hills always stop to take a picture
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    • Getting up at 7am and scaring hotel owners into starting up their coffee machines must be an Italian thing :cuppa:
    • How did I miss the deer on Arran?!
    • Always disobey the leader's instructions when it comes to picture-taking and chocolate shopping but not when it comes to dying ;)
    • It's difficult to get the @Pat "5mph" seal of approval for your bike even if she is your Islay wife :cycle:
    • "I'm looking for a good grave" is maybe not the most appropriate thing to say while entering a cemetery :whistle:
    • The Port Charlotte cemetery has a cannon in it - that's a first for me (been in a lot of cemeteries and never seen that before!)
    • When your bike is laughing at you and won't change into small chain ring on the bouglie panic sets in quickly but so does sheer stubborn bloodymindedness - we've got up all the other hills and this is the last one dammit :evil:
    • Always have a camera with a good zoom on hand for when crazy folk go to jump around at the end of the pier in hideous weather @Edwardoka :tongue:
    • Always do a little jig when your time as fearless leader draws to a close and nobody has died - it's only fair!:dance:
    • You will always end up with cyclist tattoos no matter how hard you try to avoid them - the harder you try the worse they'll be :bicycle:
    • Never attempt to hide scabby chips - they will always come back to haunt you! :popcorn:
    • I didn't see any cats - this is actually disappointing :sad:
    • @Pat "5mph" needs instruction in how to do a toast - her quietest moment of the whole trip! :cheers:
    • @heather68 shouldn't have been there but I'm glad she was as she's lovely ^_^
    • @Fiona MacNeill is equally lovely and a great climber; she doesn't cycle too often as she's always hill walking. Does lots of hill walking make you better at climbing the bike I wonder?........:smile:
    • I am an endurance cycling - according to fearless leader (I'll take it) :rofl:
    • Scotland is magical and crazy :rolleyes:
    • @DougieAB thinks @Pat "5mph" and I are a double act - not sure it's a compliment :angel:
    • Don't eat yellow snow :crazy:
    • It's quite dangerous and inadvisable to instruct a qualified cycle trainer and ride leader in which gears to use when going downhill (they may growl at you!) :evil:
    • Bath chair bikes can fair fly down hills! :ohmy:
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    • A windburnt face looks quite similar to a sunburnt one :hello:
    • When you're going to a town to see a war memorial it might be a good idea to remember that during your visit and not two days later! :banghead:

    Ok thought processes slowing down now, running out of emoticons and you're probably all losing the will to live anyway - I'm sure more drivel will come to me later but I will spare you all! I'm not all that sure what I've just written other than I think this mass of crazy ramblings has now turned into a set of instructions to rival the "Cycling on Islay and Jura" instructional leaflet that left us in fits of laughter in the Port Charlotte Hotel pub :laugh: If so I'll take that and of course the only words this whole adventure can end with are "don't fxxxxxx die!!" We didn't so that constitutes a successful trip I think. Thanks one and all :thanks:and a very special thanks to @Fubar for having the idea in the first place and organising it all so magnificently :thumbsup:

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    P.S. HERE is my Facebook album for those brave souls who want to wade through the 235 photos I took on the trip!(no need to be a frequenter of FB to see them - just click the link). The full chronicles of @Pat "5mph"'s love affairs with @CoopertheDog and @Harry_Palmer79 are included of course ;)
  2. Fubar

    Fubar Guru

    Brilliant! Another great (and different) write-up from a different perspective - and I can't even remember seeing a graveyard in Port Charlotte...
  3. Edwardoka

    Edwardoka Facetious Remark Generator

    Fantastic write-up, great photos! I got some odd looks when I laughed out loud at @Pat "5mph" 's altercation with @CooperTheDog (someone register that account please)
    Fubar, Ellebells, Pat "5mph" and 2 others like this.
  4. Scoosh

    Scoosh Velocouchiste Moderator

    :bravo: Tremendous ! :wahhey: Now for the photos ...
    au contraire - I was endeavouring NOT to be in photos - you must have been moving around deliberately to get me in them ??? :ohmy: :eek:

    ... that's because it was beyond the hotel, with its bar ... :whistle:
  5. Scoosh

    Scoosh Velocouchiste Moderator

    Great photos, @Ellebells !:bravo:

    Thanks :biggrin: - they give a realistic 'flavour' of the whole trip. :thumbsup:
    Last edited: 22 Aug 2014
    Fubar and Ellebells like this.
  6. MikeW-71

    MikeW-71 Veteran

    Fubar, Ellebells, Pat "5mph" and 2 others like this.
  7. Pat "5mph"

    Pat "5mph" A kilogrammicaly challenged woman Moderator

    Fabulous pictures - apart from them that show my chubby legs, could you no have photoshopped them thin?? :laugh:
    I didn't see the deer on Arran either, but I did see a cat in Lochranza, in the early hours of the morning, while coffee hunting in the rain.
  8. OP

    Ellebells Active Member

    Thanks @Fubar. The cemetery was right across the road from Yan's Kitchen - couldn't miss it :laugh:
    Fubar and Pat "5mph" like this.
  9. OP

    Ellebells Active Member

    Yes someone should - @CooperTheDog is a legend ^_^
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  10. OP

    Ellebells Active Member

    Yes absolutely - that was my cunning plan :evil:

    Your amazing lack of mirth in any of the photos has now become the subject of a CC Ecosse challenge on the book of faces - find a photograph in which @Scoosh is smiling :laugh: Under starters orders......
  11. OP

    Ellebells Active Member

    Ah that's where I went wrong then on the kitty front - I need to develop a coffee addiction and wake up at crazy hours :cuppa:
    Fubar, Edwardoka and Pat "5mph" like this.
  12. OP

    Ellebells Active Member

    So I wrote this late at night while a bit sleep-deprived and have just read it through properly :laugh:

    It seems I was more upset than I knew about not seeing any cats since I managed to squeeze it in twice in almost identical terms :wacko: :laugh:

    I also seem to have been completely remiss in not mentioning @MikeW-71 at all - he was there folks as his fab videos attest!! Sorry @MikeW-71 - you obviously weren't in on the trouble-making; then again I seem to recall mention that you may have been heavily involved in taking all the fast strava boys on that 6-mile detour on the Saturday and I fear you may have been been party to the scabby chips episode too :tongue:
    Fubar likes this.
  13. OP

    Ellebells Active Member

    Just in case you haven't seen him in the Facebook album @Brandane - here's your excitable swimming pal :hyper:

    2014-08-15 16.43.39.jpg
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  14. Brandane

    Brandane Fair weather cyclist.

    Awww I need to go back to Arran just to see that dog, it was mad! Cooper too; what is it with the dogs on Arran? :laugh:

    Managed to see all your fotos on FaceAche despite my continued refusal to have anything to do with it :thumbsup:.
    Fubar, Ellebells and Pat "5mph" like this.
  15. OP

    Ellebells Active Member

    Great - all you need is the link to see the pics so you don't need to join in the merriment and nonsense on there :becool: You probably do right since we are currently having an exceptionally silly caption competition that centres around @Fubar , @Harry_Palmer79 and @heather68 :laugh::whistle:
    Fubar and Pat "5mph" like this.
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