To Troon and back
After some good bikerides throughout the summer, I was reading the map and decided on taking the train down to Girvan and then bike back again. I also had a Troon return tour in the back of my mind ad a B plan. That tour itself was as tempting as the Girvan tour. But I was mentally set for Girvan though
I felt fine when the alarm clock went off and was on my way after a short breakfast. The morning was a bit cold so I postponed the start until 0600. I took my bike down to the Paisley railway station and paid for the one way ticket to Girvan. Scotrail did have a signalling error on the line between Glasgow and Paisley though so the train to Ayr was cancelled. I therefore got a refund and then headed out of Paisley on my own steam instead of on a train. The B plan, the Troon return was activated. I was a bit disappointed, but I also regarded the B plan as good ride as the original plan A. So it was with a light heart and no regrets I set off for Elderslie on the main road before I joined the cycle path to Lochwinnoch and Kilbirnie. The next hour or so was spent on this flat cycle path on this disused railway line. My tempo was pretty high and I passed Lochwinnoch in good speed and with a minimum of effort. My legs felt really strong up to Kilbirnie on this cyclepath. I reached Kilbirnie and continued on this cycle path. I had never taken this cycle path towards Irvine before. It now changed from a docile flat piece of tarmac to a far more hilly adventure. The hills started just after Kilbirnie with a lot of zig zags up and down not too big hills and through some housing estates. A bit of a shock, these steep hills. But the landscape is also pretty steep around that area so I had no problems with this. At least, it woke me up and made the bikeriding a lot more interesting than on the Paisley to Kilbirnie cycle track. I do question though if the road through Dalry to Kilwinning is faster than the cycle path. But I enjoyed this cycle path so no complaints from me.
Looking down towards Kilwinning from this cycle path
I reached the outskirts of Kilwinning where I promptly lost the cycle track when it went through a housing estate. I therefore just continued straight through this small town and took the road towards Irvine. A rather busy, but dead flat road it was too. I was met with a “Welcome to Irvine” signpost just outside Kilwinning and thought this was pretty easy. The signpost was pretty premature and there was still some kilometers before I reached Irvine.
Or to be more precise, I reached a roundabout the bypass on the harbour side. I was there on my tour to Irvine (see the Irvine tour) and I now went on the road under the big shopping mall there. Soon after on this very flat road, I reached a closed road just after a Burger King restaurant. I did not have a clue how to proceed. I was also very hungry after no breakfast so I went to Burger King, got a meal and some good directions. Thanx a lot, guys !! I had my meal and the directions they gave me was spot on. I got a bit confused on the next roundabout though and took the road down to some golf courses. After two hundred meters, I recogniced my errors and returned to the right road again. A dead flat minor road alongside the very busy A 78. This road is the key for those of us on bike on the Ayrshire coast. I followed it to another roundabout outside Troon where I chose a detour through Troon town centre. Troon is a very nice town and a place I would love to live out my life in retirement. But the houseprices are very expensive so that will only remain a dream. Troon also has some excellent golf courses, including one often used for the British Open.
I turned my attention to the return leg again and that meant going over Loans and the very steep road over the hill to Dundonald. There is a better road bypassing this hill. But of nostalgia, I chose the steep hill instead. It was not as steep and long this time as the two other times I have been there (2005, 2006) and I guess that says a lot about my stamina this year.
Looking back towards Troon from the Old Loans Road
Looking back up the coast towards Kilwinning and Irvine from the Old Loans Road
The climb was actually enjoyable and so was the descent down to Dundonald, past Dundonald Castle to a crossroad where I took the road towards Kilmarnock. A pretty uneventful road, but still an interesting bikeride. I was drinking like mad though and was emptying some bottles of water during these few miles. The humidity was pretty high and I was slightly suffering. I reached Kilmarnock a lot faster than anticipated though and bypassed this big town to the north when looking for the Glasgow Road. I got a bit lost for a couple of minutes, but soon found the road. I also found a shop where I bought some cheap Pepsi Max bottles for the climb up and over to Glasgow again.
I really anticipated a hard climb up past Fenwick towards Glasgow. There is a 500 feet, 200 meters climb from Kilmarnock to the top of the hill. I both feared and was looking forward to a hard bikeride. I knew most of it from before, with the exception of the Kilmarnock to Fenwick road. I did not need to worry though. This road was great and really my type of fun. With the exception from the bit just before and through Fenwick, the road to Fenwick was pretty flat. A bike path just after Kilmarnock also meant that the normally heavy traffic did not affect me or any cyclists at all. This make the Kilmarnock to Glasgow bikeride over Fenwick a very interesting and viable bikeride for cyclists of all abilities. Just make sure you don't deviate from the cycle path. I really enjoyed this ride and it will be quite a regular ride for me.
I made very good progress through Fenwick, up to the moor alongside A 77 and down towards Newton Mearns. I did study Google Maps the night before in an attempt to bypass the very busy Newton Mearns and found the Malletsheugh and Pilmuir Road which is far more straight on Paisley than the roads through Newton Mearns. So when I reached the crossroad just outside this village, I took this road instead. A very nice road and that took me over to a pretty hard and sharp hillclimb.
Overlooking Newton Mearns from the Stewarton Road
I climbed that and went down Stewarton Road to the Balgray Reservoir and Barrhead. Just after Barrhead and after some steep descents, I found another small road taking me over Dykebar back to Paisley again. I reached my flat after one of my most enjoyable bikerides ever.
A great bikeride which has everything with the exception of hard and long hillclimbs. From the very flat roads to Troon to the rather more hilly return to Paisley, this bikeride is a lot of fun. Good mapreading is essential though from Kilwinning to Troon to avoid the A 78 road. But if you get this right, this bikeride is up there alongside the best bikerides in this area. It is highly recommended.