The Falkirk bikeride




March 2012
85 km



Ten plus tours into the season, I wanted to do some really long tours. So I was set for the Campsie Circuit bikeride from Milngavie over to Stirling, Kilsyth and Glasgow. The first part is very dull and I did not look forward to it. But the alarmclock was set for 0500 and I was playing around with Google Maps & Google Earth in the evening after collecting my bike from the cycle repair shop. I had bought a new rear wheel and changed the tube to a more slimline one.
I was browsing Google Eart and I found some roads I liked the look at. I also found that the train fare to Airdrie was only 80 pence dearer the one to Milngavie. I soon found the roads over to Falkirk and I decided that the Stirling tour was scrapped and that Airdrie, it was.



The alarm clock went off at 0500 and I made mysel ready to go down to Paisley and the train to Glasgow and Airdrie. It was still dark outside so I walked the bike down to Paisley train station, bought a ticket and took the train into Glasgow. I then walked the bike from Central Station to Queen Street lower level for the train up to Airdrie. This area is so much more accessible from Glasgow now after the re-opening of the Bathgate line a couple of years ago. The train took around half an hour up to Airdrie where I disembarked. I started my bikeride up a hill. It was still dead cold and I really appreciated this climb. It kept me warm. I also noted that the new rear wheel was good. After a good warming climb, I reached a crossroad and took the road to the left past Caldercruix to a big moor. The climb was pretty hard up to this moor. But it was also a rewarding climb. The ride over the moor was pretty good too.



Looking down towards west from the moor behind Caldercruix

Just past this moor, I arrived at a new crossroad where my original plans was to take the road directly down to Slamannan. But I wanted to continue on to Avonbridge and I did that. I am glad I did that. I passed a small lake before arriving at a superb viewpoint.



Looking down towards Edinburgh (hidden)



Looking down towards the Campsie Fells from the same place

When arriving at the new crossroad, I had a look at the road down towards Avonbridge and decided that I did not like the terrain that much. So I decided to take the road towards Slamannan instead. The three kilometers over to Slamannan was hard though with two subtantial climbs and descents. There was a lot of 90 degrees turns on the road to Falkirk. Which made the bikeriding both hard and pretty enjoyable. I was really working hard on the bike before I reached the small village of Slamannan. I took the road to Falkirk. A road that was even harder than the road to this small village. Unrelenting up and down.



Looking back towards Slamannan (hidden) and the west

I was a bit relieved when I reached the long, vertical descent down to Falkirk. I finally arrived there after hanging on my brakes for many minutes. I bypassed the city centre and went for the B803 road , signposted Glasgow. A signpost reminded me about it's biggest tourist attraction; the Falkirk Wheel . I can honestly say that the Falkirk Wheel had not entered my mind during the planning or the bikeride so far. But I had heard a lot about it and seen the raving reviews. So I stopped an elderly gentleman and asked for directions. I got it and went for the canal instead of following the road. I followed the canal path until I spotted the Falkirk Wheel. It looked very impressive from afar. I came a bit closer and crossed the canal and went up to it. I walked around it and took some photos while marvelling at this fabelous piece of engineering. The surrounding park is really great and this is a really great tourist destination for an hour or two. It is said to be best at the weekends. When I was there on a Tuesday morning, there was no activity there and no visitors. If you get the chance, go there. The photos....



The wheel and the basin below. The basin is surrounded by a great amphitheatre with plenty of space for packed lunches and relaxation. Excellent !



Below the wheel



From the Union Canal with the lock connecting it with the basin under the Falkirk Wheel

The whole experience reminded me again that it is one thing to hear about it and see it on TV. It is entirely another thing to see it with your own eyes. I felt really uplifted and glad when leaving for the rest of the bikeride. A bikeride that took me up to the small town of Bonnybridge. The hillclimb out of it was pretty steep before I rejoined the road I was supposed to do instead of this ride. The road from Stirling past Kilsyth, that is. The road up to Kilsyth is pretty hard with some short, sharp climbs. The landscape is really good though and I was enjoying myself. The ride took me over the motorway and through Banknock up to Kilsyth.



Looking up at the Campsie Fells and Kilsyth below it.

The ride up to Kilsyth was pretty hard and I was glad to see the welcome to Kilsyth sign just before arriving in Kilsyth. I cycled through this small town and continued on the mainroad. On all my previous rides through Kilsyth, I have switched to a smaller B road. But not this time. The mainroad was very funny though after the climb out of Kilsyth and it was the right choice. The road crossed the valley. I stopped here and removed some clothing.



Looking back towards Campsie Fells and Kilsyth

I arrived in Kirkintilloch where I took a break at the local McDonalds outlet for a burger. I had not eaten anything for many hours and was loosing my concentration. Loss of concentration is not an option for the bikeride through Glasgow. So I sorted out this problem here before I continued. The climb up to Bishopbriggs has previously given me a lot of problems. But not this time. I grinded it out and arrived at the top of this hill in good shape. The bikeride down through some heavy traffic to the beginning of the motorway at Springburn demanded my full attention. At a crossroad, I took the road over Maryhill again. On my previous rides here, I had managed to get lost. But this time, I had done my homework and I cleared this area in a record time, forty minutes, before I arrived at the Clyde Tunnel for the ride under the river. I arrived at the other side again for the ride home after a very good bikeride.


Conclusion



This is really an excellent bikeride with a wide variety of bikeride styles. From up and down to more grinding out the miles bikeriding. The scenery is really good too. I had an excellent day on the bike and do recommend this ride.