To the coast and back




April 2012
100 km



The weather forecast was not the best for this day and I was studying it like a cat studying a bird outside the window, ready to pounce. In both cases, the instincts takes over. But I put the alarm clock on and got ready for an 0800 start for a tour I had a vague idea about.



I was not sure if I was going to the left up to Barrhead or to the right down to Paisley when I walked out of my flat and put the bike on the tarmac after adding some more air to the front wheel. After some hesitation, I chose Paisley and cycled down through this town and the high street on my way to Elderslie and the start of the cyclepath. I felt fine and the skies looked friendly too. The now well used cyclepath bypassed Johnstone and I kept a good tempo past Loch Semple to Lochwinnoch where I continued on the cycle path again to Kilbirnie. According to the maps, there is a 30 meters height difference between Lochwinnoch and Kilbirnie on these 5 km. I cannot really understand this though and that baffled me on my way to Kilbirnie through some old railway cuttings. I left the cycle path in Kilbirnie and took the B780 road over to Dalry. A road I know well by now. I took the A737 down to Kilwinning and reached this village two hours after leaving my flat. A new personal best without really putting in the effort. I was alone on the road and there was hardly any other bikeriders out that morning. On my way down to Kilwinning, I was mulling over my choices. I settled for the ride down to Irvine and I continued on the A737 down to Irvine. The usual confusion followed.

I was not sure if I was going to ride up to Stewarton, over to Dreghorn or to follow the road towards Troon. I settled for the coastal road to Troon and stopped at the local Burger King for a top up of my resources as I had hardly had any breakfast. I was soon on my way while looking nervously at the clouds. It was pretty cold, but without any sprinkling of rain from above. I continued down the coastal road past some golf courses and was toying with the idea of going around Ayr as the 140 km bikeride I had planned for later this summer. But I was not sure where to go on the return leg from Ayr so I dropped this idea. The weather was not perfect either and I decided that enough was enough when I reached the roundabout at Barassie. I chose the A759 from Barassie towards Kilmarnock. A pretty easy road going straight inland from the coast. I passed Dundonald and was toying with the idea of going back over Dreghorn again. But I decided to stay on the road and passed Gatehead on my ride over to Kilmarnock. Another choice presented itself just after Gatehead. To bypass Kilmarnock or go straight through it. I chose to go through it on my way to Fenwick. As per usual, I did a half baked attempt to find the circular road, the Western Road on my way through Kilmarnock. But I got it pretty much spot on this time and I found this road. I was starting to get a bit tired on my way out of Kilmarnock and up the hill to Fenwick. I decided to take it easy for a while and save my energy for the big hills up to Windy Yet. I passed through Fenwick and found the A77 again after the roundabout. An almost collission with two other cyclists at the cyclepath woke me up again and I started to concentrate on the job at hand. I found the road marked “Stewarton” and took that instead of going straight up A77 over Fenwick Moor. The road climbed to a good viewpoint.



Looking down towards Stewarton and North Ayrshire

The road from this viewpoint was surprisingly undulating and ended up in some sharp corners in the descent down to a river and then a small vertical climb up to Kingsford at B769. This was the title of the ride last week too and I followed the road up towards Windy Gap. This is a not too difficult climb up past the road I had taken on the previous week. I continued on the main road though up to the top of the moor on this excellent climb. I was glad though to see White Loch again.



Looking towards White Loch at the top of Windy Gap at 242 meters above sea level

I took a small break here in the sunshine. It was not shorts and cycle shirt weather. But it was a pretty good sunshine and a very unexpected one. The weather forecast said I should now have rain. Thankfully, they were wrong. I passed some fly anglers at the loch and they had got a lot of fish too. Good size brown trout, as far as I could gather. That is a hobby I would like to take up again when my knees says goodbye. A small climb took me up to a small hill again and I looked down towards Glasgow again.



Looking towards Glasgow at the top of Windy Gap at 240 meters above sea level

The descent down this canyon was pretty OK. The road down to the Craigton Road crossroad even had some climbs too. I reached the crossroad and this road. I had never been on this road before and it looked promising on Google Earth.



From this crossroad looking up the road I had come down from Windy Yet

Craigton Road was a real revelation. The tarmac was excellent. The climb up to a small vertical hillclimb. The drop down to Walton Dam a bit hairy where the stone walls meant that I had no margin of errors. Walton Dam, also a fishery with plenty of fly anglers surrounding it, is in a valley hidden from view. It felt like a different world from Glasgow, only 7 km away. A different planet, no less. The sound of silence was deafening. The climb up from Walton Dam very steep too. I stood there and just took in the ambience.



Walton Dam at Craigton Road

The bad light and some drops of rain reminded me that I was pretty exposed with a vertical drop to Barrhead still ahead of me. And the road down to Barrhead was really a vertical drop and my brakes got a good work out. But I arrived alive and well in Barrhead and took the usual road over the mental asylum down to my flat in Paisley again.


Conclusion


Another great ride carved out by spontanity and the sheer joy of the bikeride. The end result was very satisifying indeed. The best part of this ride was from Fenwick over to Paisley again. But the ride down to Irvine and Barassie was also great fun. Craigton Road was a revelation though and is highly recommended. This is a ride I recommend.