Sunday, September 25, 2005

Birthday weekender!!

Well, what can I say?

A VERY memorable weekend was had by all.


We set off, up to Scotland on Friday lunchtime, and had a pleasant journey. Arrived in the campsite at Newton Stewart around teatime. We set up "base camp" and embarked on a whistle stop tour of the town. Visited a pub for a bit of food.

Headed back to camp, and we all spent about an hour setting our gear up for a night ride. What a strange experience it is, riding in unfamiliar places with very bad maps. Didn't take us long to find a massive hill to climb, and to get a bit lost. Managed to eventually find civilisation again, and completed the ride of about 12 miles. Great fun, and a precursor to the main event. Went out and had a few sherbets. Got a bit tipsy and a bit giddy, and spent the night freezing to death in a tent, accompanied by the first frost after this summer.


Woke up Saturday morning, early, hungry, and eager.

Quick jaunt into Newton Stewart, a coffee and breakfast later, and we set up for a 36 mile sightseeing trip (or so the map would have us believe). If we had known what the ride would be like when we set out, I am not so sure we would have had many takers. Well, it started out right enough, but we soon realise that we are riding round the course in the wrong direction, no big deal, but it's a bit harder to navigate.

The trip ran from Newton Stewart to Loch Trool. We climbed a fair bit and rode into the forest a bit, nothing too technical, some single track lanes, and forest tracks, some cool descending, and a couple of big relentless steadily climbing hills. A puncture en route for Mr. Myatt and some excellent work by Stu with his tyre levers meant we arrived at Bruce's Stone looking at mountains and the loch in time for lunch and a rest. We joked that the mountains in the direction of our travel were the ones we would be riding over.

Phase two of the ride took us down the hill to the top end of Loch Trool. Stu took a bit of a nasty tumble but soldiered on with gusto. We started to climb.

We climbed.

We climbed some more.

We climbed the frikking mountain we had been joking about.

I never knew I had a first gear.

Gary and Stu made the most supreme effort up this behemoth. They were effing miles in front. We all met at the top for some furious drinking of Viper, some flapjack and cake, and a serious moment of clarity and wonder at the scale of what we had just achieved. Soaked with sweat, and not particularly suitably attired for such a mountain top, I was soon cold, and keen to move on.

We descended a way, and a mix of climbs and descents brought us around Loch Dee (a very welcomed sight) and roughly the two-thirds marker.

Turning the last corner of the triangle brought us descending a treacherous road made of broken scallop shells. They were flicking up and flying all around us like winged razor blades. The best descent of the day so far was marred by my very own puncture and everyone else's rapid disappearance from view down the side of the mountain. Yoink. I pushed my bike round the last couple of corners, and was met by Captain Stu and his trusty tyre levers. One patch later and we reach Black Loch.

At this point we are starting to hope we make it back to camp before sundown.

Cycling on, and climbing up again... we climbed and climbed.... even the flat parts were beginning to be a struggle. Every corner brought more heartache, and everyone was plumbing the depths of their energy just to keep moving (Except Stu - his abilities are truly amazing). A couple of very stiff climbs up another mountain, a great forest road descent, and some toruous roller coaster style road sections led us onto the final road descent back into Newton Stewart.

I think we were all in shock. Six hours in the saddle and we'd done forty miles and climbed a couple of mountains, and we all made it round. Truly exceptional ride, and superhuman efforts.

Pint, curry, bed. Shattered.


Woke up Sunday morning and went to a hotel for breakfast (it was warmer last night, but windy as hell, and it rained from the minute I climbed into the tent, until I climbed out of it at about 7:30am). Everywhere was wet and green, and the birds were singing. I had smoked haddock and poached egg as a reward to my body. Delicious. We went to Clatteringshaws reservoir and had a bit of a walk around, then all set off for home. I called in on my Aunt and Uncle on the way and of course managed to leave my house keys there... duh!!

Home again. Bath, food, TV, comfy.

I can honestly say a few things about this birthday of mine.

a) I am totally pleased to have pushed myself harder than ever before and to have achieved something which just two months ago would have killed me.
b) Stu and Gary have totally knocked my socks off with their fitness levels, strength, and character.
c) I could not have picked a better bunch of friends to take this journey with.
d) I don't think I have EVER had a more memorable birthday.
e) Next time I invite people out for my birthday, they might not be so quick to accept.
f) I am battered and bruised, but elated.
g) Photos will follow, when I get time to sort out the lactic acid shake induced version from the good ones.
h) This is a bit of a long blog, and I apologise, but it's three days in one, so you are getting off lightly to be honest.
i) Always carry a compass and an ordnance survey map.
j) Never ride on broken sea shells.
k) This will not be the last time I visit Dumfries and Galloway for a bike ride.
l) Forgive me if I am wrong, but the gene pool of Newton Stewart is somewhat shallower than its surrounding lochs.
m) Two wheels good, four wheels bad.

Thanks for being patient. I'm glad to be home and back in blogland. I will be round to see you all soon, and will post the pictures tomorrow (hopefully).

Crofts at Clatteringshaws reservoirLoch Dee - two thirds of the way roundRiv at Bruce's StoneLoch Trool - colour is not too good but great sceneryLook everyone - Scrapheap challenge!!
Bonsoir mes amis!

Cool thing for today:

It's not a website, it's not a link, it's just a fact: Friends. Thank the lord for friends, for without them and their support, this birthday would have probably disappeared into a drunken haze somewhere in a gutter in Huddersfield. I honestly think EVERYONE present will remember this birthday for a long time to come - noticeably, every time they try to sit down.


  1. Bloody 'ell, you're becoming the Bruce Lee of the biking fraternity. Maybe I'll join you next year... if I can ever quit the ciggies... or perhaps I'll have to find you a challenge over in The Great White North.

  2. Yet another cool birthday trip you set up. :) My legs will never ever forget this one.
    Where did I put my Deep Heat??

  3. Am so glad you had a good time,dont know how u did that ride though....

  4. You're definitely getting the hang of this photography thing - I recommend the Fuji GX617 camera - produces negatives 6cm x 17cm - which properly scanned would give you a massive 319 million pixel file. New with 90mm wide angle lens would set you back £3,685 and only weighs 2.8 lbs (plus about another 12 lbs for a suitable tripod) - There's a whole new career for you out there - and a book)

  5. Great Pictures and few observation:

    01. Happy birthday once again; And very glad that you enjoyed it.

    02. B-e-e-e-e-autiful sights.

    03. as if you were able to step back in time and did find out the opportunity to bring along archaeological finds on the eve of your birthday (the 5th picture from left)

    04. All guys day out, no women?

    Good luck, we feel happy with you.

  6. I am glad you had such a wonderful weekend. Makes turning another year older a little easier, huh?

    What? you didn't like my post? :)That's the story of my life. Oh well, no one ever said that being a mum was always fun and sexy - that's for sure. You gotta just laugh to keep sane...

  7. welcome back...
    to say in object matrix's words:"All guys day out, no women?"

    and cool landscape pics...waiting for more...


  8. sounds wonderful, even though Shawn called you a "bad name" for getting to go to Scotland! :P I'm proud of you for accomplishing your goals, and for having the birthday you had hoped for. Ack! Does this mean you are maturing?

  9. P.S. I rotated the pictures on my site just for you sweetie pie. I had to delete and re-add all of them to keep them in order, but, for you, it was worth it! lol
    And even though Shawn is in the room, XXXXXXX. He called you my boyfriend (as in, "What has your boyfriend written about tonight?") so now that it is all out in the open.... :P

  10. Yeah! I think that was a fabulous post! I could live vicariously! No money to donate to the poor today...lost it all in Vegas...came back about as broke as I was when I could be worse: i could have been BROKER. I'm so glad you had a great birthday weekend. Have a lovely day! -Rey