Four super-fit bike riders from Kilmarnock cycled the West Highland Way at the weekend –then added a few twists and turns to take the distance over the magic100-mile mark.
Walkers Cycling Club members, Davie Robb, Sharon Lindsay, Alan Murray and Simon Reynolds, took on the epic two-day challenge, but in reverse.
The intrepid mountain bikers travelled by train to Fort William to head south on Scotland’s most famous long distance walking route. From start to finish the trail runs to 96 miles, finishing at Milngavie, just outside Glasgow
But the Ayrshire foursome chose to include a 10-mile detour to cut out one stretch of the path that is better suited to rambling than cycling.
Over a tough two days, they cycled for 20 hours and covered 106 miles, with 1900 metres climbed on the Saturday and 1200 metres climbed on the Sunday.
The marathon off-road adventure began very early start on Saturday morning when they all met at Queen Street Station to catch the train north.
By noon they were on the bikes and attacking the steep climb out of Fort William, en route for Kinlochleven 15 miles away. The reward is a super-fast section through the woods into Kinlochleven, a legendary downhill in mountain biking. Unfortunately this is followed by a gruesome climb up and over the track to the top of the Devil’s Staircase, known also as the Highway to Hell. A fast, loose, cracking descent followed with a regroup at the bottom but sadly the planned food stop at the famous King’s House Hotel couldn’t take place – it’s shut till next February for rebuilding.
The nearby ski centre provided sustenance for two of the riders while the other two were able to rely on sandwiches from their backpacks. After eating they continued to Tyndrum for the overnight stay.
Sunday saw them start in the rain after breakfast and follow the West Highland Way down towards Crianlarich where they chose to leave the path and make for the road to Killin.
An old disused railway track took them to the top of Glen Ogle and on to NCN route 7 which they followed to Callander for lunch and a meet-up with club member Neil Walker, now living in the area.
After lunch they joined the Rob Roy Way to Aberfoyle via an evil climb which was complemented by some brilliant singletrack. From Aberfoyle to Drymen they rode an old railtrack then the minor forest road through Loch Ard Forest with its big radio mast climb. Down the other side, the four were making good headway as they rejoined the West Highland route through Mugdock Park to the eventual finish point at Milngavie.
Two drove back and the other two caught the train, all heading in the same direction, with great memories to call upon but immediate thoughts firmly on a long bath and bed!