watching the drips fall from my helmet

When Mood Music
2012-05-07 18:21:00 satisfied the whirring of TiBook’s fan

The weather took a turn for the worse overnight. However, I wanted to take what might be my last opportunity to stay in Corrie and attempt the String from east to west without stopping. So while my hostess set off in the car to go shopping in Brodick, I girded my my loins and mounted Lev.

I was quite damp by the time I got to the junction of the String and the around-Arran road (A841). Thanks to the nature of this junction, I had to start the ascent from stopped – this forced me to use the easiest range of Lev’s gears to get up the first slope. However, I didn’t need them for long and got back to the hardest range long before the right-hand bend that presages the exposed and hardest part of the climb.

Thank goodness lev had these ranges – I needed them in the exposed part. From the bottom, it appears to be a gentle slope. It isn’t: I needed to swear a lot at my legs to keep them pedaling. Just before the top, the gradient increases then the road takes a left turn into another gradient-increase. This was where I most feared I’d put my feet down. However, more swearing and the knowledge that I was so near to the top I could taste it prevented this.

The roll down the other side only takes you a couple of miles – and the surface is very worn in places: there’s another 6 miles of varying undulations and surfaces (from potholes to smooth tarmac) to get to Blackwaterfoot. I met my hostess there: she’d been shopping back at the Old Byre in Machrie.

We then both started traveling back east to Brodick. The wind and Lev’s ongoing friction problems were against me so this time I didn’t make it up the String’s ‘easy’ side without using all of Lev’s gears. By the time I met my hostess at Eilean Mor again, my hands were wet, my pinnae were complaining and my toes were cold. (The uppers of my cycle-shoes have thin mesh to let the sweat out – and the rain and cold in! Without the SealSkins socks, my feet would have suffered a lot more.) We thawed out over lunch before heading back to Corrie.

The weather was still foul and my gloves were still wet, so I stopped at Arran Active and bought some winter cycling gloves. (These have lots of padding on the palms, silicone-covered finger-tips so that they won’t slip off wet brake handles and nose-wiper areas on the thumbs. They’ll be a bit clumsy but will feel far better than freezing wet fingers.) I also bought an insulated windproof skull-cap to keep my ears warm and some lightweight fleece gloves so that I could keep my hands dry and warm but still usable at the end of a damp cycle.

Just as I left Arran Active, I received a text from my hostess: she was was setting out from the house in Corrie to jog to Sannox and back. So I pushed my legs as hard as I could and caught up with her just as she had turned round to come back to Corrie. This was the worst leg of today’s travels: into a biting wind with rain stinging into our faces. I’m amazed anyone could keep above a walk into that weather.

Here’s some times:

Foot of String, heading west 10:17
Top of String 10:46
Blackwaterfoot golf clubhouse 11:22
Depart Blackwaterfoot 12:14
Top of String 12:55
Arrive Eilean Mor, Brodick 13:21

I didn’t record times for Brodick to Sannox and Sannox to Corrie. Here’s the cyclemeter app map of coming back over the String.

I’m now back in Corrie: the only clothing I’ve not changed are my shorts (it was too cold to consider removing them) and the skull-cap. Oi veh! I’m having slightly nervous second thoughts about cycling from Glasgow to Edinburgh tomorrow. Ah well, that which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger – but that which kills you kills you!

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