Epic XC Loop from Marina Cycles

It’s getting to that time of year when the trails are dry(ing) and clear of vegetation, and I knew from when I posted for riders to join me for a magical mystery tour that there were some trails I could string together at this time of year that are often too much of a slog to bother with.
I’d tried to be tight lipped about the route, and this clearly worked well (along with the weather), enticing 8 people including myself, the lovely Heather, and a mix of old faces from Glasgow Mountain Bike Club, regular customers, and completely new faces.
Setting off, we headed along the towpath – a pretty boring start with only a small stairset hooliganism opportunity through Kirkintilloch to keep us entertained until we got to Twechar.
From there we headed up Barrhill, the first climb, and opportunity to show that despite taking the Sutra LTD (gravel bike?) I was in it for the smiles as well as the miles. A small split in the group to ride up Castle Hill and get a super steep hillbombing opportunity, or head down the equally fun (if you like immense numbers of grassy bumps) “Bar Hill Buckaroo” – as it’s called on Strava. Thankfully for the tyres I had on, the grass was fairly grippy, and I didn’t end up a victim of Roman hill fort defences!

With such a big group, inevitably here came the first mechanicals – a piece of e-bike “motor guard” smashed off on a rock, shortly followed by me losing a bottle (I might have to prioritise function over aesthetics on my bottle cages on this bike!), and finally a puncture.

With a tube donated, the old tube (patched) donated back, and everyone now mobile again, we carried on to Croy Hill and then around the loch to Colzeum Lennox Estate.

The ride round Bantom Loch was a welcome respite from the hills, and we decided we’d earned a cafe stop at the bottom of the pet cemetery.

Fed and watered, we climbed up through the estate up to the Tak Me Doon Road, a classic road climb, which we all thoroughly enjoyed* climbing. At least we had cake and coffee to assist us. A chat at the top waiting for the stragglers, and a slightly more adventurous route to the Runway at Carron Valley trails was suggested by Roy (thanks, Roy). This had the double benefit of minimising the road section, and getting Roy the blame for the first boggy section.

By this point, there was some flagging, but we carried on to the top of the runway. While waiting for the last straggler (who had already been complaining of cramping) and contemplating the best way for them to get back. He was glad of the suggestion/permission to bail, so we did a fun run down the runway, and then said our goodbyes.
The remaining seven had a bite to eat, then a nice gravel road section most of the way to the path up to Meikle Bin. The singletrack was mostly riding well, with only a 6ft long uberbog within sight of the end to swallow up bikes and riders.
Nobody really fancied the ride up Meikle Bin, so we headed across the glen (quite an adventurous route with some passing of bikes and hike a bike up the hill – only for 5 minutes). A new forest road greeted us, and the tantalising sight of the Crow Road about a mile (and plenty of climbing) before we actually reached it!
Finally, after those with commitments later in the day bailed down the road, we gathered in the car park and discussed Nipple Tweaker (named in honour of Big Al’s Wheelcraft shop at the bottom – wash your mouth out with soap and water if you thought anything else). It was a fifty fifty split, with all of us starting, but only 2 completing the full trail. Adventurous to say the least on drop bars with no suspension, but tiptoeing down it was still great fun.

A gentle spin along the Strathkelvin Railway path, with varying degrees of tiredness, and back to Marina Cycles for tea, biscuits, and a hose down for the bikes.
A great day out, thanks to everyone who came along! Big kudos especially to Andrew who rode across and back from the South Side!

You can see the route, or see how slow I was on all the Strava segments, here:


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