Pedal the Park

David McLenaghan

On arrival at castle semple visitors centre first impressions to be honest wasn’t good, it looked disjointed and disorganised cars, bikes and people everywhere but after registering it then took a turn for the better, the organisers were keen to get things going as quick as possible as the rain was just starting to come down.
So off we go 300 cyclist with 1 ACC lone rider in amongst them feeling like what am I doing here as I’ve always had someone to chat to at the start of rides so this actually felt strange and a bit weird, well as the whole 300 cyclists head out of Lochwinnock together at a very slow pace as riders where chatting away probably talking on their nerves as the profile of this sportive looked meaty, I knew it wouldn’t take too long for the pace to heat up as this sportive seemed to be mostly club riders, as rain poured down barely 10 minutes into the ride this was bouncing off the ground it was that heavy you couldn’t help but think god why especially as yesterday weather was so nice, out on the road was actually good the surface wasn’t that bad with potholes just manure and grit, whilst cycling along these country roads you couldn’t help yourself thinking this is nice there wasn’t many testing inclines a lot of inclines yes but more like rolling hills, then roughly an hour into the ride you hit the first of the days testing climbs with it been an hour in to the ride you felt ready for it, but it was about less than a mile long but some of the ramps on it made you seriously take note and think this kind of climb wasn’t showing as bad on the ride profile, if getting over the top of this climb wasn’t hard enough the ride down the other side was tricky and fast, about half way down is where I had my first of 3 crashes caused by speed hairpin bends and a sheep,

After picking myself up and checking the bike over and making sure all was good to carry on with the ride but to be honest after crashing you just take it easy from then on as crashing isn’t good at the best of times but when you almost hit a sheep on the road at a hairpin bend and land in amongst the rocks & trees kind of knocks your confidence slightly you would have had to have lived it to know what I’m talking about, yes there was an option to stop and head back but I was fine the bike was fine so a true cyclist would never take the option to stop.


Once down into port Glasgow heading along the coast was flat but the wind decided it wanted to come out to play and join the rain, by this point I was in a group of around 40 cyclist made up of club riders noticeably AYR CC right at the front they had 6 riders up there, I decided to sit at the back hoping that the wind and rain would stop it was horrendous cycling conditions but being in the train helped, after a couple of miles my plan to sit at the back didn’t actually go to plan I found myself on the front taking all the wind and rain and thinking why. I answered my own question not to long after I believe the guys in that large group knew what was coming up I guess they ride these parts day in week out, so the first real long climb of the day from Inverkip heading over to larges (CLYDE MUIRSHIEL REGIONAL PARK) this wasn’t really bad to be honest just long and never ending the type of climb that just drains all your energy from your legs yes it had a couple of nasty ramps but it was definitely the length of the climb that takes its toll, about half way up you come across a feed station in a place called (GREENOCK CUT VISITOR CENTRE) which was perfect as you had warmth shelter and food, getting going again was extremely hard the wind and rain continued your feet and hands were already numb and weren’t going to get warm anytime soon but onwards and upwards as they say.

FAIRLIE MOOR RD, on a good day

The next big climb was at Fairlie heading over the (CLYDE MUIRSHIEL REGIONAL PARK) again this time towards Dalry, if you ask me this climb was a cross between Crow Rd & Tak Ma Doon Rd, really long ramps with tough sharp ramps thrown in just to try and kill you, going up this climb cyclist hardened club cyclist I must add had climbed off and started pushing their bikes, from about 100 feet into this climb visibility was so poor you could hardly see 20 feet in front of you, for me I felt this was good as you couldn’t see what climbing you had still to do, going over the top it was definitely miserable as you felt isolated you couldn’t see much it was freezing and wet but It was kind of ok as you knew that you didn’t have to climb anymore whilst making your way down again visibility was terrible this is why I believe that this loan ACC rider crashed another twice thankfully the crashes weren’t seriously but you couldn’t help but think to yourself that, that was lucky and the conditions definitely made this part of the sportive un- ridable and dangerous in my opinion.

At the bottom of Fairlie Moor Rd a steward was standing telling you to slow down as the road was full of potholes for a couple of miles funnily enough this stretch of road was probably the fastest rolling part of the whole sportive but yes you guessed it I did get a puncture right at the end of this section all I had to do was ride about another 100 yards and I would have been on roads with civilisation, but changing the inner tube was murder have you ever tried changing an inner tube when you can’t feel your hands, well try this wet your hand stick them in the freezer till frozen and then repeat a few time after that try changing an inner tube (good luck) it only took 30 mins.


At the finish you got your bike hosed down by the organisers thanks for that guys but I didn’t actually see were the actual finish was this for me this was the biggest disappointment of the full sportive not the weather not the crashes or puncture but the fact that I couldn’t see the finish I guess I wanted closer plus I couldn’t help but think all-round the course this was so well signposted and organised.But all in all take the extremely bad weather the crashes the puncture out of it and you’ve got a fantastic course with some great scenery to look at. Would definitely recommend but in better conditions.

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