Going Loopy

Woah! Steady on there! That’s two days this week when the sun has been shining, and… it looks set to continue for a week. Bloody hell! So, to take advantage of this phenomenon which, let’s face it, doesn’t usually happen even in the summer, I decided to try out my new route – the full Lochwinnoch loop. The route is Home to Kilbirnie on the NCS Route 7 cycle track then back on the public roads – first the A760 then the A737. Doing it that way around avoids going up a number of hills but as it was the first real ride after a lay-off and a flu-type bug I thought that was fair. I’ll do it that way a couple more times to get to know the route then I’ll go for the reverse just for the challenge. I had planned this using information on the Kelloggs site which charts it as 30miles which would have been a nice distance, but the Garmin recorded it at 23, which is more what I would have said it was from knowing the track fairly well. (I shoud have used the Sustrans Routes2Ride website as it is considerably more accurate.) I made good progress down to Lochwinnoch – mostly as there were few non-cyclist other users on the track and those pedestrians and doggie walkers whom I encountered were all very well trained. As it was a decent day I took a photo stop at Lochwinnoch as there were rather nice winter sun images of Castle Semple Loch to be had. Progress on to Kilbirnie was uneventful apart from being uncertain where to exit the track to get on to the road. As it was, I overshot and carried on to the end of the track, which was probably a good idea as it added a mile to the total. Brief Gatorade stop at the point where I should have come of the track originally, then onwards on the A760. Now the plan was to have no further stops on the way back, if only just to keep the momentum going otherwise I might putter to a halt. However, Fate had other ideas and had decided that an impromptu stop outside Howwood was an absolute necessity in this cycle learner’s experience as it was obviously time I learned how to deal with psychopathic kerbs that leap on to the road to attack you. Ot at least that’s what I’ll be telling people! As it was the reason for arser no 2 in my cycling career was sheer lack of vigilance. The A737 is a bastard of a road for volume of traffic though I have to say on the few times I’ve cycled it, the motorists have been reasonably well-behaved. There is however a right turn junction I need to make in order to come up through Howwood rather than go on to Kilbarchan. I was so busy trying to monitor traffic movement behind to allow me to go out into the turn box that I didn’t realise I’d drifted far too close to the kerb. Both wheels just caught it sideways and over I went – arse over tit completewith doppler effect yell. I landed on the grass verge so neither I nor the bike was damaged. (Actually I discovered later when I got into the shower that I’d grazed my left knee and a bit of thigh. Hardly life-threatening) What a daft cow! I gave the motorists a laugh, but next time I think I’ll stay on the A737 until Kilbarchan where the exit is on my side of the road. It was a decent enough run and I seem to be managing better cadence (today’s average was 77 and I am keeping up a regular 80+) and speed (average today 13.4 but I noticed I was doing about 15 or 16 for the most part). Still needs work but at least there is progress.

The serious bit now: I have not been having a good time recently because of the employment situation and the resultant concerns about the future, money and all that stuff. If the truth be told, I am a bit ambivalent in my attitude to it all. I get despondent at times not because of the lack of jobs but because of the merry round of knockbacks which do inevitably lead you to question your own self-worth. But on the other hand being out on the bike and seeing some real progress counters this. While cliches about it being the only time I feel alive are just a tad over the top, there is an element of truth in it. The other element of truth is that on many occasions I haven’t felt so bad about being jobless as it has allowed me to get out during the week when in normal circumstances I would be stuck until the weekend. Appropriate cliches? Silver linings or swings and roundabouts methinks. And I am still losing inches.

Castle Semple Loch on a bright winter's day

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