Walkers Cycling Club couldn’t have timed it better for their first away day road ride of 2017 – a tour of Arran.
A large group gathered on Saturday to take advantage of the best weather of the year, so far, for a day’s cycling on the holiday island.
The main body of cyclists opted for the favoured 56-mile clockwise perimeter route with lunch at Shiskine on the west coast. Some of them added to the mileage by cycling from home to the ferry terminal at Ardrossan then back again after the trip.
One rider chose to work on his hill-climb techniques by cutting across the southern end of the island on the brutal Ross Road which rises and rises over eight miles from Lamlash.
Two of the club’s lady riders decided on a slightly shorter but no less hilly route in the opposite direction – going anti-clockwise from Brodick and hitting the Boguillie climb on the way to Lochranza. The 43-mile northern loop brought them back via the String Road for a spectacular and rewarding downhill.
The rest of the Walkers party did a good mix of group riding, continually regrouping at hilltops so people could climb at their own pace. There was the traditional blast into Blackwaterfoot prior to lunch to get everybody breathing hard.
On one of the tricky twists before the lunch stop one unfortunate rider hit a slippery wet patch on the road just when she needed grip and went for a slide along the road. Luckily only a bruised body and dented pride were the results. After lunch the group stuck together and kept up a good pace to make sure that they caught the only remaining ferry on the restricted winter timetable. No-one was wanting an unplanned overnight in Brodick.
An interesting aside to the cycle was the staging of a short memorial service on the boat. Every year at this time the CalMac ferry takes a small detour and stops for passengers to remember those who lost their lives on HMS Dasher 74 years ago.
On Saturday, March 27, 1943, the fated Royal Navy aircraft carrier was sailing in the Clyde Estuary between Ardrossan and Arran when it exploded and sank. Of the 528 men on board, 379 were killed by the blast or drowned in the waters.
It added a poignant and sad moment to a day of friendship and fun on the bikes – with Arran looking its very best in the spring sunshine.