The British Summer Time period began today, the last Sunday of March. Nine happy soles set off from Aberfoyle for a loop off Ben Venue in glorious Summer sunshine albeit with a slight nip in the air.
With Lyndsey fresh legged from her Lazarote Roadie Ride, she set the pace for the 3 mile road ride along to the opening of Loch Ard where Altskeith starts as quickly as it ends….still that wee section of road at the waterfront offers a wonderful view……no, not the legs!
From Altskeith there’s a 6 foot brown gate on your right that begins the long 800m fireroad climb..that goes on…and on….and on, but the views are stunning.
The first section of fireroad is relatively gentle that twists and turns up through the woods…not a ball buster by any means…yet! Further on up the fireroad Gavin stopped ahead rather promptly to do some Arobics or was it stretching, it was hard to tell, but no one slowed down to ask. As we amassed at the first junction, Gary stood playing with his iphone app, listening with fondness to his GPS coordinators soft spoken tones telling us how far we had come…I’m sure he just just enjoyed her company more than ours.
With some 600m of climbing still to go , we all set off with Gav leading the way out of the forest…no sooner had he started spinning up the hill, he then stopped again, this time facing the wrong direction instructing the group that there was frog spawn and to take a wide berth…jeez, an Arobic instructor come Naturalist..is there no end to this man’s talents.
As you reach approximately 400m you can either go right and keep high with the easy short climb to 600m or take the 2k/100m drop alongside the forestry, before the agonising direct 2k climb up towards the hut —like all good Democracys I put up the alternatives……aye right!!! 🙂
Without doubt it’s as hard a climb as you could possibly want and as stunning a view that you could wish for in a clear day, unfortunately your nose is so close to the bars, it’s unlikely you would get the opportunity to see it unless you stopped. With everyone dragging themselves up the hill, I continued until the hill stopped me or I fell off with exhaustion…the hill stopped me, I fell backwards as the slope was so steep. With everyone watching on, I dusted myself off and tried again. Eventually the wheels got traction and I set off on slow pursuit of the hut that lies just off the shadow of Ben Venue.
With everyone at the top we sat at the hut and gazed around…The splendid vista includes Lochs Katrine, Achray and Venachar, Ben Ledi, Stuc a’ Chroin and Ben Vorlich…Beyond we could see Ben Lawers, the Crianlarich ‘Munros’ and Ben Lomond to name a few….Absolutely magic, and the views well deserved. After a quick few group photo shots and our lunch I decided we would take the singletrack that cuts onto the path toward the peak of Ben Venue instead of taking in the peak itself and towards Loch Achray…I though I’d discussed it, but it seems Lyndsey and Chris didn’t catch that bit and headed off to the right a little more than they should have! New guys Alan, Gary then Gav’s bro, Marky Mark etc. headed off to the left until we hit the singletrack.
As we approached the Ben Venue Singletrack, Gary done well to get sight of it…unlike most of us who steered our way carefully onto the path, Gary thought he’d make more of an impact and go over the handle bars and rolled onto it….should have dropped the saddle! No broken bones we waited on Chris and Lyndz to join us after there wee diversion.
The track was a little broken up and quite technical in areas, however like most downhills you make the most of every opportunity…smiles a plenty.
As we approached the bottom I asked Gav if he had spotted the Frog Spawn…..”no mate, was going to fast for that”…oh well nae tadpoles!
As we go to the bottom, we took in a loop of the forestry track around Lock Ard instead of the road back to Aberfoyle.
After just under 5 hrs of riding we took in a cafe stop back at Aberfoyle for some tea and cakes.
Before heading home, I got a phone call…
Caller: “hello Ross, it’s Elizabeth……
Elizabeth: “I’m at Ben Venue and I’m stuck with my bike…Graham Anderton gave me your number”
Ross: “Oh ok, what’s up”
Elizabeth: ” I’m.. oh hold on…. I’ve spotted som…….”
Elizabeth hangs up!!!!
After telling everyone about the odd call, we assumed Elizabeth was stranded on the hill…… Like everyone else, I headed back to the car, got changed and packed up and went home.
…….nooooo, kidding……we phoned back, we found she had been out on her road bike and got a flat tyre and sent out a distress signal….we then headed home………..Some Roadies! 😀
….Elizabeth is safe and well.