The Trossachs Tour
This was a tour I first did 12 years ago. I had some good memories from that tour and wanted to repeat it again as a part of the 2010 very ambitious programme. Unfortunate, I hardly got a minute sleep during the night and I was not in shape to do this tour that day.
I started with a small ride down to the trainstation in Paisley and a far too long train ride with many changes before I reached Balloch. Two hours with a lot of waiting is far too much. This distance only take me one and an half hour on a bike. But I wanted to save strength for the ride. Instead, I wasted too much strength on jumping on and off trains. Never again.
I started the tour from Balloch and went over the hill to Drymen. I took it easy. At Drymen, I chose to go over the old road instead of the flat main road. The old road is a vertical climb and I wasted a lot of strenght here too. This picture is taken from this road towards Lake Of Menteith.
I eventually reached the mainroad just before Aberfoyle and went up a hill past the local golf course towards Lake Of Menteith and Port Of Menteith before I hit the foot of the hill just after this small village which was going to take me over to Callander. The hillclimb was not too bad. But I started to feel that something was not right. I had used far too much efforts so far and my lower back was a bit sore.
I finally reached Callander after a bit of a hairy descent and had a half an hour break there. I now had the chance to either do the road or the cycle path to Lochearnhead. I chose the road up the valley through a small canyon. At the end of this small canyon, I reached a lake called Loch Lubnaig which I and the road followed for five kilometers. The road was flat and I was trying to claw back lost time. The landscape was not inspiring though and I was glad when I reached
where I stocked up on some chocolate and cream to ease the pains in my lower back. The small climb up the valley towards Kingshouse and the end of the valley at Balquhidder was not bad. I now reached the cycle path again and I have noted that I did a mistake of not jumping over to this cyclepath at this junction. Instead, I followed the mainroad down towards Lochearnhead and lost a lot of height by doing this mistake where the cyclepath was nice and flat. Just before Lochearnhead, a signmarked and very steep path took me up towards this cyclepath which was taking me up Glen Ogle on the disused railway line instead of following the road. The climb up here was vertical. I guess the climb was at least 20 degrees steep. I had to push the bike and even that was very hard going. I was pretty much like a beached whale on the top of this climb.
On the top of this climb, the cycle path consisted of hard mud and was pretty OK even for my thin wheels. The path, which is a part of the Glasgow to Inverness cycling route 7 (Sustrans) was thankfully dead flat along Glen Ogle with good views over the busy road on the other side of the valley. Glen Ogle has the reputation of Scotland's answer to the Khyber Pass (Pakistan). I rate Rest And Be Thankful as far harder and more scenic than Glen Ogle. But there is no denying that the sheer rockface the cycle path followed was intimidating. I arrived at the famous Glen Ogle Viaduct which they recently had repaired and made a part of this cyclepath.
This disused railway bridge is very impressive from the road on the other side of the valley. But when you cycle over it, it is not that impressive. But it is still an impressive feat of engineering. Just after this bridge, I was on the top of Glen Ogle and rejoined the road again. This road took me down the hill to Glen Dochart and the road up the valley to Crianlarich. The whole Glen Dochart offers some very dull and uninspiring cycling. I was also pretty much dead meat here and survived on some bananas. I was counting down the eleven miles to Crianlarich by staring at my cycle computer. This was not funny cycling.
I took a ten minutes long break and some ice cream at a shop in Crianlarich while I was contemplating the 60 kilometers down to Balloch again. My plans was to cycle all the way back home. But the night was closing in and I decided that the trainstation in Balloch had to do.
I took it easy up the hill to the moor over Crianlarich. The road now took me down the valley to
Loch Lomond which I reached some kilometers before Ardlui. Me and Ardlui have a history going back fifteen years and it is always nice to visit this place again. I took a small break on the park benches outside the hotel at Ardlui before I continued down Loch Lomond. I also picked up a lot of pace along this pretty flat road. I also had a small ice cream at the small cafe at Inveruglas. Strangely enough, I did the same twelve years ago too. That too gave me some extra strenght. I climbed the small hill at Inveruglas and continued down the very beautiful Loch Lomond to Tarbet. I just continued without stopping and left the busy road two kilometers past Tarbet. The cycle path follows the loch where the road goes over a small hill. I prefer this cycle path and I made very good progress to Inverbeg and my old favourite place Luss. I normally stop here on my bike trips. But I just raced through Luss. I had set my sights on the 1757 train from Balloch. My tempo was pretty good the flat cycle path to Duck Bay and over the small hill to Balloch. I know this cycle path as the back of my hand so no problems at all. I reached the train and the end of the tour. That's when I really found out how tired I was. I could hardly sit still on the train with my aching muscles.
This tour looks like a fantastic tour on the map. But the reality is different. Most of this tour is pretty boring, to be honest. That was both my conclusion twelve years ago and my conclusion this year. I will probably do the tour again next year though. Stupid men never learn from their mistakes..... Anyway, this tour is kind of recommended.