Thursday, 26 February 2009
Half a Transalp day.
I've been too scared to scrutinise the Transalp itinerary because I know that there are some fearful days in there. 80km doesn't scare me, but 3000m of climbing does, particularly when the temperature is going to be in the high 30s.
Sunday's ride sees Chris and I in Pitlochry to do a loop which goes south on the Rob Roy Way to Strathtay and then returns over the hills to Loch Tummel and back to the starting point. The first section starts with a stiff but manageable climb past a stone circle before a cracking descent to Strathtay. It's a mix of narrow, twisting trail with little rocky sections and very fast bermed sections which end in the middle of a golf course. My eyes are watering from the wind and a testicle/saddle interface and I fully expect a biker/golfer interface on the last bit before the road. It's fast and furious and obstacles come thick and fast. We use The Force.
There's a pleasant interlude along the road past small flocks of gentile old ladies who look at us in bewilderment as they totter to or from the Kirk. All the vehicles are Nissan Micra 1.0s. The main climb takes us up to 650m past Loch Derculich and it gets progressively windier until we're being blown uphill or blown sideways off the broad land-rover track. There's some bad language. The track traverses below the top of the hill and then starts to go down, very steeply. I poured oil on my front brake the day before, so it is functioning sub-optimally. The downhill track has only recently lost it's snow and it has the texture and firmness of ice-cream that has been left out of the freezer for 20 minutes. It's also very rutted and I'm not enjoying it very much. The last section is firmer and more fun though it finishes through a series of switchbacks which are very steep and having only a back brake is making it pretty scary on the corners. By the time we reach the gate it has begun to fade and the air reeks with the smell of burning pads.
There's a lovely bit of riverside singletrack which takes us to the Soldier's Leap in the Pass of Killiekrankie. We stop at the closed visitor centre for some food before the steep climb up to the Bealach na Searmoin on Ben Vrackie. We cycle some of it but the wind and low energy levels mean a good deal of pushing. Pitlochry lies some 500m and 5km below. The downhill takes only 11 minutes.
Total distance, only 40km. Climbing, 1600m. Half a Transalp day. I need to get to the stage where I can do this twice, 8 days in succession.