F.B.R.O.T.Y ’16: ‘Hammer to Fall’.

6 03 2016


Coffee. Fill a bottle and the Camelbak bladder. Grab B.A and hit the trail.

It is 7am, more or less and it takes 10 minutes before I realise I have left my bottle on the kitchen table. I break the cold, early morning silence to curse, turn around and speed back to pick it up. Frustrated, I get back on the pedals. I need to get going. I need to get to Balmaha. There I will meet the team for the First Big Ride Of The Year: 2016 version.

Rolling out the West Highland Way, an old Queen song is going round and round in my mind. It is so peaceful, I can’t help but sing out loud. It was with joy though, not a reflection of the subject material of the song – living in the shadow of the atom bomb.

Take a minute to bask in the glory of the ebullient frontman’s showmanship, then read on.

It was possible that I had not dressed warm enough for a the ambient temperature. My legs were stiff and relatively unresponsive even an hour in. I still had a good bit to go to meet the crew in Balmaha, the traditional start of F.B.R.O.T.Y, but I was making good time.

Joining darkmarquis, naegears, davechopoptions and garethmichaeljones we set out to hump our way up Conic hill. The view was spectacular over the highland fault islands in the Loch.

On the way down, the cold Nor’easterly made it’s presence felt – one and all being blown around on the rock step jumps. Sketchy to say the least.

We wound out the miles through Queen Elizabeth Forest Park and were thankful to ‘turn the corner’ at Stronachlachar and get out of the headwind. Dropping to Inversnaid, we were full of mirth as we refuelled on ginger cake that looked more like meatloaf, or maybe bear crap, and hot choc served in a teapot. It is a strange place, that is for sure.

With tried legs we hit the jewel of the ride: Loch Lomond Side. The narrow gauge trail, dappled in sunshine and with a few tech features gave focus and opportunity to session some of the trickier steam crossings. The traditional (ish) stop to make fire after the two harder-than-they-should-be climbs in the middle of the route warmed us slightly and we continued on to regroup at Rowardennan and tackle the rest of this beast.

With the tanks beginning to empty, the roller climbs sapped the legs, but that didn’t stop garethmichaeljones hucking to flat off a fairly high bridge and then some swoopy, woodland, ripping singletrack fun.

After re-entry at Balmaha, I took off along the road, before re-joining the Westie fuelled entirely by Mike n’ Ikes.  Sluggishly, I climb back up and through Mugdock just as the sun set, 11 hours after I started.

A good F.B.R.O.T.Y indeed.




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