The Inverkip ride




May 2012
100 km



April ended with me limping back on the train from Ayr after the pedals had given up the ghost. A new set of pedals was purchased and I was ready again for a bikeride three days later. I had several alternatives for the ride and completing the Ayr return bikeride was very much in my minds. But I decided to give Ayr and the fine folk down there a break from me. I also wanted to visit one of the visitor centres for the Clyde Muirshiel regional park to get some more informations about a trek I had planned. So I chose this bikeride.



I woke up and had my breakfast pretty early that morning. I noticed the wet road and the possibility for a wet day. I forgot to check the weather forecast and regretted that when I cycled down the busy road through Paisley and over to Elderslie and the start of the cycle path. My speed was not that great in the beginning, but I managed to increase my tempo quite considerable down to Lochwinnoch. I was still worried about rain when I switched over to the cycle path up to Kilbirnie and I also became a bit worried about my stamina as I had more problems on the cycle path to Kilbirnie than expected. I reached Kilbirnie and switched to the road down to Dalry as I always do. My tempo was pretty decent up and over the hill to Dalry. I switched to the road over to West Kilbride here and then reached a small road next to the graveyard (Wingfaulds Avenue) which I took up to the start of Moor Road/Fairlie Moor. This road was far more enjoyable and less steep than the more direct route from Giffordland and is hereby the one I will do from now one. I reached the top of this road and switched over to Moor Road.



Looking back towards Dalry from the beginning of the Moor Road

The road was pretty enjoyable alongside some farmfields, farms and grazing sheep on the grass verges. I turned the corner into the valley leading my over to Caaf Reservoir.



Looking down towards Caaf Reservoir from the Moor Road

The road in this valley were pretty gentle until the bridge which marked the final climb up to the top of the Moor Road/Fairlie Moor. There is no denying that this is a hard, never ending climb. The rain and the dark skies had now gone, replaced with a cold north-west wind. I was feeling pretty exposed when arriving at the top and did not hang around before starting the descent. A vertical drop I was not looking forward to. The views were good towards north. But the mountains at Arran was shrouded in the mist.



Looking down towards Millport at Cumbrae

The descent was worse than expected and my brakes got a good work out. So did my fingers and my neck too. I was very relieved when I arrived down at the main road again for the nice, gentle ride up to Largs again. I took it easy through Fairlie to the start of the cycle path to Largs. I went to the local Greggs bakery again and bought a couple of baguettes. I went down to the benches at the sea front and sat there for over half an hour. The sund was now out and I started on the ride up the coast to Wemyss Bay . A ride somewhat plagued with the headwind. But the views was good and the traffic not too bad. I hit the hills just after Wemyss Bay and climbed them. The descent down to the sea again was a bit hairy on the bad road and the sidewind. But I arrived in Inverkip alive and well for the foot of the climb up to Loch Thom. What Google Earth showed as a flat road up to the graveyard was in reality a vertical climb. Google Earth cannot be trusted on elevations. But it was a great help when finding the roads. It was really warm now and I took of my helmet and my big wind proof jacket. I got a bit of a shock when arriving at Dundrod Rd and the signpost telling me that the road up to Loch Thom was closed. But the local contractor manning the crossroad told me it was only closed for cars and not cyclists. So I started the proper climb up to Loch Tom. First alongside some farmfields.



Looking down towards Inverkip and the Clyde



Looking up the valley towards Loch Thom well hidden behind the forest

After passing the farmfields and the sheep with lambs, I arrived at a very narrow road through the forest and the reason why the road was closed. A solid landslip it will take long time to repair. Not to mention; money. I guess a new retaining wall is needed as the terrain is vertical.



The landslip

With good reason, I chose to stay well clear of the road and walked the bike to the left instead. This area did not feel safe at all. I was joined by a local bikerider and we had a chat. Just around the corner, the forest gave way to a big farm and some farmfields before we arrived at the local Clyde Muirshield regional park visitor centre. A brilliant visitor centre with cafeteria and fishery. A lot of pensioneers was heading off into the hills when I arrived and it seemed like this was a busy place. Excellent ! I wanted some information so I went to the visitor centre and got a lot of food for thought (all my questions answered). I continued up the remaining hill again to Loch Thom.



From the road from the visitor centre (hidden behind the farm) to Loch Thom

After this short climb, I arrived at one of the most beautiful areas in my local area; Loch Thom. This is a big lake and it has some beautiful surroundings. I love it. The ride alongside Loch Thom was very enjoyable in the sun. I considered going over the dirt track at Gryffe Reservoir. But I quickly decided against it as I needed the extra calorie burning down and up again climbs from Greenock. The ride alongside Loch Thom ended too soon and I took a small break at the dam.



The glorious Loch Thom

I continued up the small hill towards the mountain overlooking Greenock. I passed Whinhill Golf Course which I noted looked a heck of a lot better now than the last time I had seen it. I also spotted a building that looked like a new clubhouse. Which it is. Maybe I should revisit this golf course again. After this shock, I continued down to the viewpoint just above Greenock for a photo shoot.



Looking down at Greenock and the mountains above Helensburgh

The descent was a vertical drop and my brakes took another severe beating. I reached the main road and continued down to the sea front in Greenock. I followed the busy A8 to Port Glasgow from where I took the very steep A761 up the vertical climb towards Kilmacolm. I briefly considered taking the Old Greenock Road to Bishopton instead. But I chose to stay on the chosen road to the top of the hill. I reached some shops and took the Auchenbothie Road down to the cycle path again. I reached the top of this road and that dropped down to the cycle path. I switched over to that and cycled past the old railway station in Kilmacolm. The cycle path is an excellent path and a quick way down the Gryffe Valley, avoiding the busy roads. I stopped for a photo shoot...



Looking towards Quarrier's Village and Mount Zion Church from the cycle path

The cycle path bypassed the rush hour in Bridge Of Weir and I kept a good speed down to the crossroad in Linwood, from where I took the cycle path back to my flat in Paisley again after a very good day on the bike.


Conclusion



A very hilly bikeride, but still a great one. 100 km long, it is a very serious bikeride with some excellent climbs. Both Fairlie Moor and Loch Tom was worth the whole tour. I recommend this bikeride. But please make sure your bike is in good condition before doing it. The descents to Fairlie and Greenock was very hairy. This bikeride is recommended though.