Walkers Cycling Club got 2016 off to a rip-roaring start by staging two events in the past few weeks to bring members together over the holiday and provide an opportunity to work off some of the festive excesses.
Thirty of the club’s mountain biking enthusiasts met at Carron Valley, near Stirling, on the 2nd of January for a blast around the trail centre.
The car park was quickly filled as the riders gathered to wish one another a happy new year and begin setting up camp for the barbecue which was to follow the cycle.
A sea of Walkers Cycling jerseys could be seen as a large group of riders snaked their way through the first wooded section of the trails. On completion of the group lap, a few members returned to camp to start preparing lunch, while the majority stayed on the trails for their first away day cycle of 2016.
Carron Valley proved to be the perfect location for the mix of skills within the club. The “Runway” gave the adventurous riders a target to aim at or a chance get more air on the jumps, while those preparing for the Strathpuffer 24-hour mtb marathon used the time to complete as many full laps within a set time as possible. Others made full use of the trails to practise skills they want to develop or enjoy a simple hour’s pedalling with other like-minded riders.
On return to camp, complete with the Walkers Cycling display tent, riders welcomed the smell of the barbecue and the sight of hot soup bubbling on the club stove. There was also a huge selection of cakes to fill the hunger gap after the morning’s tiring schedule.
The rest of the time was spent sharing tales of cycling past and planning club adventures for an exciting new year ahead.
This was a very successful follow-up to the awayday of the previous week which had been an adventure ride in the wilds of the Galloway Forest.
Fourteen club members set out from the visitor centre at Glentrool for a mid-winter ride in big country – which describes a location deemed to be remote rather than one with tricky, technical terrain.
The ride was advertised as suitable for cross bikes or mountain bikes, but only two people went for the thinner wheel option. So 12 mountain bikers found the off-road sections easier than the two cross riders, and vice versa. On the road sections, or when the path was smooth, the cross riders were at an advantage, but on the bumpy descents the mountain bikers made more headway.
Only four punctures beset the group in a long riding session, two for the cross bikers and two for the mountain bike riders.
Lunch was a picnic at a bench just after Minigaff, and a snack was also enjoyed at the monument at Black Loch.
Late in the day the group were surprised to come across a car making its way through the trees, presumably having taken a wrong turn from the forest drive, which is closed at this time of year. This threw up a new challenge for the Walkers cyclists. They helped them through one gate but were beaten at the last gate which could not be opened without a key.
Total mileage on the day was 40. Fish and chips at Girvan went down well on the way home but kind of put paid to the idea that a hard cycle would make up for the overindulgence at Christmas.