Thursday, 5 March 2009

Recalling Scotland

Last weekend saw us taking a bit of a road trip to visit out most Northerly store in Scotland. The Braehead store is our only Scottish store and, with the nearest others being Gateshead and Kendal, is pretty remote. To give you some idea, if your nearest store is in London, then the equivalent distance to Braehead would be to the Bristol shop. With effectively only one shop promoting the event and the time of year, I wasn't expecting a great turn out and was pleasantly surprised when I found out that we had 100 pre-entries! So, onto the rides....

Saturday Off Road

Starting from the David Marshal Lodge, the route wove a bit of a complicated route around the Forestry Commissions adjoining land. This was to enable us visit the interesting view points and sections of singletrack in the area and comply with conditions set by the FC. There were a fair few hills to climb and we kept these to the firetracks as much as we could, leaving the descents to the more fun trails. The route also took in two Lochs in the area including the delightfully named Loch Drunkie which was the scene of the days only drama. Now, some of you know about this and it's been touched on below, but here's the reason some of you might not have seen a drink station.

Tony, who was running the drink stop, left us in time to get to the appointed place before the first riders came through. Unfortunately one of the first things he did was to turn right instead of left on FC land. This took him south for quite some distance before he realised his mistake and turned back. Back on track he was a little unsure and phoned us to find out where to go, assuming he was further along than he was, we assured him the track he was on was OK to drive. A little while later I phoned him and after being told "Got to go, there's some people pushing me out" decided I'd better go and see what was happening. When I got there I couldn't believe my eyes. I have to say well done to Tony, how he got that van that far down that track shows some determination and skill. Unfortunately the grooves created by the 4x4s were too deep for the poor sprinter and it had finally come to a rest on the front cross member. As i walked up to it there were about 5 bikers jumping up and down in the rear as Tony tried to reverse it! To cut 3 hours short, we finally managed to find a man with a 4x4, a rope and a winch (Harder than you'd think!) and dragged/drove /pulled the van out. Miraculously, there was no damage, not even a scratch, although I did have to pull some vegetation from underneath.

Thanks to everyone who helped, especially Ewan from the Coach House pub. Without him and his winch, we'd still be there!

Sunday Road

Putting out the road ride was one of the easiest we'd ever done. The short route was 32 miles and was basically 11miles turn right, 14 miles turn right and over Dukes pass to the finish! That said, what a stunning route it was. The first 11 miles was an undulating climb up a dead end towards Loch Lomond, although we didn't get that far. This was because we turned north onto a private road around Loch Katrine and onto the 14mile stretch. Gated at both ends, the only traffic was local access and the surface was amazingly good. This gave you the chance to have a look around and appreciate the beauty of your surroundings. Then came the sting in the tail. Dukes pass is a local favourite and brings riders out from Glasgow for the challenge, although generally in the opposite direction. The tarmac climbs steadily on a quiet scenic road to the top and then drops into fast swooping bends for the descent. Back at the DML, riders either finished their ride (some prematurely after a drink in the Cafe (you know who you are!)) or went on to ride the medium and long routes, passing many more Lochs on the way. Both, however, had to ride the Dukes Pass again to finish.

Agian many thanks to everyone who helped with this event, Stuart from Chill Out at the DML, Morag from the FC and Mark from our store to name a few.