|A dozen or more working
colleagues agreed that, to raise money for charity, we
needed to work hard. I thought long about the characteristics
of my comrades. Were they "young, intelligent upwardly
mobile, environmentally conscious. Equally drawn from
both sexes who are probably going to be the public opinion
formers and social managers of the future". As this
was a description I had read of 'typical off-road cyclists'
(Arthur Philips who runs a mountain bike centre in Peebles),
the dye was cast and we set off on a fine day in May.
The bikes we used were typical ATB's -All Terrain Bicycles-,
strong and sturdy, wide tyres, tough brakes and 18 gears,
generously loaned to us by the Achnamara Outward Bound
Centre in Argyll.
Glasgow has the benefit of two Sustrans cycle
paths, 20 miles to Balloch, at the foot of Loch Lomond,
and over 30 miles to the coast at Irvine. Gingerly avoiding
the shattered glass where Glasgow drinking meets the
environment, we soon relearned the skills, balances
and refreshing delights of cycling on the path to Balloch.
Turning right on bye-roads we lunched at Croftamie in
luxury and comfort. The backlanes past Drymen to Aberfoyle
are being promoted by the Scottish Tourist Board as
a cyclists' route to Killin. We abandoned their leaflet
for a track through the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park
to Kinlochard. "The road became wide and open,
as we left Glasgow behind us and was growing more dreary
as we advanced" . This being Rob Roy country I
cannot resist a quotation from Sir Walter Scott, though
I am not sure I felt the sentiment.
Our destination for the night was the Youth Hostel
at Kinlochard (now sadly closed). I am told by BUPA,
who have failed to adjust my premium accordingly,that
cycling is one of the best forms of physical recreation
ever invented (and by a Scotsman, too), failing only
on flexibility, for which there are substitutes available!,
and on safety where it comes behind swimming, although
I cannot conceive how swimming from Glasgow to Skye
would have been safer!
Close by the Youth Hostel is Ledard, where Rob Roy's
wife regaled her guests with a picnic of "all the
good things their mountain could offer".
We sat on the wall to munch chip suppers which was
the best 'Aberfoyle could offer'.
And reshod our steeds.
And watched the sunset over Loch Ard, "that beautiful
sheet of water, reflecting in still magnificence the
high, dark, heathy mountains, huge grey rocks and shaggy