I’d planned a route the week before on ridewithgps, typically I hadn’t google mapped any of the roads to double check what they were like. To be honest it didn’t even phase me that I hadn’t checked, as I’d assumed if they were mapped as roads they’d be roads, as in Tarmac roads. How wrong I was!
I’d chosen to take some routes that led me off some of the A roads and being in the middle of nowhere the choices were few and far between. There weren’t many alternative roads that would have sped up the journey, in fact all the side routes I chose lengthened my route but the idea was that It would make it more enjoyable.
About 30 miles in I came to a familiar village called Carsphairn, I stopped here for a cake and some Iron Bru before I ventured onto the next leg. With only one bottle of water I was always a little nervous I’d get caught out in the open without, so I stocked up when I stopped.
After the food stop about five miles down I turned off onto my first alternative route. To begin with I went past the turning as it was just a mud path towards a farm which didn’t really give an impression of leading anywhere! I followed the path towards two consecutive gates which lead to part of a rough cobbled hill.
Even from just the gate I could tell the next few miles were going to be pretty spectacular. I don’t think I had quite anticipated how ‘off the beaten track’ it was going to be at this point but I wasn’t too put off, I was just pleased to be exploring new grounds and off the main roads!
I knew despite the weight I was carrying the bike was well rigged for terrain like this. As I slowly made my way up the side of the hill the rough path began to turn into a very unclear grass track, I chuckled to myself wondering whether this was such a good idea. Nonetheless at the top of the hill it made it all the worth while, mountains either side, ruins of an old farm house and a few sheep with lambs dotted about, barring that there was nothing else, totally secluded scenery.
Once at the top of the hill there was a rough rocky path that led to a turn-style towards a forest. It was a path generally built for log wagons, although my CX bike was perfectly capable of handling this even with the extra weight I was a little anxious as whether or not the tyres would withstand the sharp edges.
This part of the journey although tough was the best part, quite a bit of climbing still left to do but there was nothing but beautiful views and forests.
At first I was under the impression that I’d already climbed up the side of the hill, therefore I’d be heading back down towards the main road, again I was wrong. The road wound around the valley for maybe six miles, again nothing but creaking trees, birds of pray and forestry.
At the highest point of this off road section I could see the main road I’d been following beside for the last 10 miles. It had taken me two hours to cover about ten miles due to the terrain, so part of me was pleased to be getting back on the road and covering some ground.
Typically on the descent to the road the terrain became worse, a huge thud and hissing followed. A flat.
I felt like it was almost inevitable though so it didn’t bother me too much. Tyre off, puncture kit out, I thought it would be the usual easy quick patch and back on the road.
Nope. A four pinch flat. Even Park tools patches weren’t that good.
Luckily the tyre held air for the best part of five miles so I had a long twenty-five miles to go. With every five miles me getting off to pump the front tyre up.
Let’s just say a lesson was learnt, always carry a tube. Nonetheless it was well worth taking the back roads or parbs and made for a much more interesting journey!