Originally uploaded by Andrew Birkett
To me, today was one of the ‘big challenge’ days. I kinda expected the lousy weather, but i also know how exposed the route is and approached it with due respect.
Getting out of Loch Lomond early was a good plan. The road surface isn’t great and you have to be pretty bolshy to manage the traffic safely on the windy road – by manage i mean, positioning yourself assertively so that people don’t have the option of squeezing by if you don’t think it’s safe.
The next section to Crianlarich is wide and safe, largely an uphill gradient. Crianlarich to Tyndrum is more exciting, particularly the last few windy corners, where visibility isn’t great and it’s uphill.
North of Tyndrum is fun. A long steady climb followed by a very long steady descent. You glide along for miles at speed!
Then on to the serious stuff. A big sweeping switchback after a bridge marks the start of a long climb up into the elements to about 350m and across the moor. After that, the remaining climb into Glencoe feels pretty minor, and the descent through Glencoe is very enjoyable, fast and sweeping.
I stopped before the descent to adjust clothing. By that point, i was a walking advert for Sealskinz clothes, with socks, hat and gloves all coming from them! But it’s all good stuff – doesn’t matter if the outside is wet so long as you’re warm on the inside.
I had a lot of food with me today, and ate it all. My favourite food is random flapjacks – the ones with icing or jam centre. Good mix of short and long term energy, robust in the panniers, and easy to eat. I had a massive dinner last night, big breakfast and regular snacks throughout the day. I can definitely feel the benefit when i’m more careful about managing my energy levels. Some days it’s fine to pootle along, but on days like today I need to know I have the fuel to cycle hard for hours on end.