Classic Gravelfoyle

Today’s route was another nicked off Komoot and modified slightly. The skies were moody. Low cloud meant there was a chill in the air again despite the forecast saying it was dry. I left a bit earlier today. Gilet on and I opted for gloves and took my rain jacket too as I didn’t trust the forecast.

moody morning

The route took me out of town on the traffic-free path I finished on after my lap of Ben Lomond the other day. I thought it was an old railway line and on the left I saw the old station buildings had been converted into homes which confirmed it. At the end I popped out onto a quiet road and had to navigate a short, sharp climb which made me realise I’d had a big breakfast. Over the top and it was right into the forest and I was away. The route meandered around the forest in every direction possible. I quickly lost my bearings. At one point I rounded a corner and got excited as a deer was there staring at me on the path. Then another! Wow and then I saw two walkers. Odd. FFS it was their two big, brown dogs lol. My eyesight is shit.

I briefly popped out the trees past some houses, took a left and thought how similar the roads and forest roads are around here and then, like an idiot, realised my cottage was on the left. I’d done a loop round and back to my front door without even realising. I didn’t even notice when I looked at the route on the map. Dickhead.

I quickly disappeared into the forest again. The route focussed on the big forest roads and had some really tasty climbs and descents. It was beginning to warm up so the gilet came off.

After some initial drizzle the sun was begging to come out but was noticeable was the wind. When you got out of the trees into the forested areas the wind would whip up. The other thing I noticed was how many trees had blown over. Probably from Storm Arwen, last November. I can’t imagine how strong the gusts must have been. It’s clearly an active area for logging too. Lots of trees have been cut down in some really big, open areas but there are also plenty growing including smaller, younger saplings to replace them

After battling the wind, I dropped down a long descent and got caught out by an immediate, super steep climb on loose stones which initially I thought was another short punchy one but actually snaked up through the trees until it reached and followed a ridgeline upto the head of a valley for THE view of the day. Stunning stuff but no idea where I was.

view of the day

After the hardest climb so far I was rewarded with another long descent but I couldn’t open the taps too much as some of the trails are peppered with quarried stones. Not gravel, actual stones. Some are like 4-5 inches in diameter. If the trail is well used you can pick a line but some patches are fresh to repair the trail and you could easily bottom out or go a pisser if you hit them too hard. A little too unpredictable to be silly on your own in the middle of nowhere so I opted to play safe.

At the bottom I picked up another trail I recognised. It’s called the Statute Labour Road which I rode the other way on my Ben Lomond Lap. It’s pretty straight and although up and down it averages a gentle descent back towards Aberfoyle. I skirted past the end of Loch Ard and the Sculpture trail again. I stopped to take a pic of the eagle as it’s pretty impressive.

After about 30 miles off road, the road back into Aberfoyle was welcome. I had to draw on my willpower a bit when I cycled past all the coffee shops in town. I was feeling a bit peckish now but told myself I could have a treat after I conquer the last climb of the day. Dukes Pass offroad. It’s a great climb. A good surface, a steady gradient and in the trees so out of the wind. It’s actually part of National Cycle Route 7 and a stiff test for anyone not on an ebike. My legs were smarting now, it had been a pretty heavy day for climbing. My lunch beckoned as I topped out and enjoyed the super-fast descent back down Dukes Pass on the road around it’s sweeping hairpin bends.

At the foot of the climb I took no time finding a coffee shop and ordering a coffee and a Haggis, Red Onion and Cheese toastie. Delicious.

I scooted home for a deserved hot shower. I’ll probably got for a walk later there is a short trail I want to tick off before I go home tomorrow.

definitely broken in now

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