Don’t Break The Crust!
A sunny Saturday morning meeting at Wemyss Bay Ferry Terminal, I meet up with some Ayr Burners. Kevin Pugh, Lindsay McGarvie, JP Baxter and Gary Currie and I are about to board the 10:15am Ferry to Rothesay, Isle of Bute, West Coast of Scotland.
In 2000, Janet Street-Porter came to the Island and opened the West Island Way. This is a 40mile/65km walk through the Isle in celebration of the Millenium. After riding this I wonder if she actually walked the whole route? (next time JSP, fancy doing a nice flat walk along the beach!)
Once we depart the Ferry, we take a left heading South to the bottom of the Isle. Some nice smooth roads give our legs a nice chance to warm up. Then we come to the end of the road, we won’t be seeing much more of the tarmac for the rest of the day.
The Adventure Cross now and truly begins, along the Southern coastline we are following the sheep trails. Most of the trails are rideable but there is a bit of rock hopping and dodging sheep shit. Riding along the coast is great, the sun is out and warming us up, making the base layer feel like a bad choice. After some puddle swerving and a few climbs, we get to a small beach and have an impromptu bike wash with a scrubbing brush that has been washed up.
Ater getting to the most Southerly point of Bute. The only way to head now is North along the East coast, we take in more rocky outcrops and more hike-a-bike heading for the golf course. With this comes some nice riding along some grass trails with the beach on our left. We are finished with the coast for just now as we head into the middle of the Isle taking in some farm roads and more sheep trails.
This bit gets shit! Really SHIT!
Farms bring animal by-product. We had to ride through said by-product. Twice! Myself, JP and Lindsay are out in front and going up shit creek without a paddle, when Mr Pugh pipes up with “lads, you need to come back”. Apparently we should have gone right not straight through, which means riding back through the shit again. Things will get worse. (Well for one of us).
After a long march uphill and through some sharp and jaggy gorse bushes we see the dirt path we are supposed to be following. Head back downhill and now we are tackling a dusty road. Gary is out in front and he is the first to try Slurry Surfing. We pull up and assess our route/options. The now famous words of DON’T BREAK THE CRUST form.
These words are muffled in JP’s mind as the words RIDE IT, RIDE IT are louder. JP rides it, for about 3 metres then gets that sinking feeling. (stinking feeling)
After a little tug of war between bike and shite, JP and the bike escape the quick shit. Now head to bike cleaning station number 2. A stream of water coming out from under the road, it’s probably 50-50 piss and water combo but it does the job and gets the bike/sock/shoes clean. I am pretty sure no one wants to sit in behind his bike for a while now.
We are still heading up the East coast, now heading for a cafe stop at Ettrick bay. Fuel up on coffee, sandwiches, and burgers. We leave the cafe with the ripe old smell of the farmyard left at the table.
We leave the East coast and head Northwest riding up into the grassland. Then into some pinewoods for some fun descents and mega climbing on pine needle trails.
Time is ticking on and we are still playing in the woods, after the last mega climb we stop for a check of the map. Kevin thinks we have overshot the turn to take us out onto the road which would take us back to Rothesay. We have a choice! Head on and see where we end up? Potential to head through more fields/marshes or have a nice descent and find the road. Yip you guessed it the descent won.
We turn around and get going, blast downhill enjoying some wind in our faces. Gary has turned into a descending demon, battering through everything and splashing puddles feet in the air. He’s having a ball. We get to the bottom and find the waypoint directing us to the road. After all the climbing and hike-a-bike the tarmac is a welcome sight.
It’s 5:50pm and next Ferry is at 6:15pm, we have a little time trial ahead of us to make the next boat.
We muck in, string out, pull one and other along the oh so smooth surface, I look to the left and can see the Calmac ferry steaming through the water heading for the dock. The race is truly on. We pull into Rothesay as the anchor lines are tightened and cars trundle off.
We wait our turn to embark, park the bikes up and head indoors for a heat. The weather like most of Scotland, had sun/rain/snow and hail all in one day.