Monday, July 14, 2008

Cowal MTB Epic

Argyll Ferry

I've been checking Cowel peninsula maps and satellite images recently and there's a long forest track and a wind farm on the satellite image which almost bridges a gap in the off road trails.
When I put it all together there is 80km of trail with only about 10km on road. I'm just putting it into my map software to check distance and climb.......82km, 2819m climb...a bit of a beast!...but luckily with a chicken out half way.

Yesterday I decided to give it a go but if I'd known how long it would take me I'd have set of a bit earlier.
A MTB chap I met on the ferry was off to do Bishops Seat, a hill behind Dunoon, we picked each others brains about routes all the way across on the ferry. I quite fancied Bishops Seat and thought it'd be a possibility on the way back if my legs held out.
With the 80km and Bishops Seat in mind I knew I'd have to pace myself, eat and keep hydrated, good excuse for a coffee and cake stop at Benmore cafe.
Only 10k into the ride but the only cafe on route, nice bit of apple tart and cream to keep me going till lunch.

Highlights of the route were Loch Eck west side with its lovely views, Glen Daruel Forest track nice and open above the Glen, the wind farm views, and strangely although the going was difficult, the early singletrack beside Loch Striven was good fun (after the quad track mud).
The worst bit was carrying the bike uphill through shoulder high bracken near the end of the Loch Striven footpath also pedalling pushing and carrying to Bishops Seat, the forestry are in there messing up the road, the moor is tussocky, after 70km of cycling all I wanted was an easy downhill run to the ferry. I got it eventually but the best stuff was fast forestry tracks, the singletrack in the forest off Bishop Seat was a boggy mess.
I was out for over nine hours and didn't get home till 10pm, quite a day out!

I'll be putting the route into my web site soon but I think I'll include some different finishing options away from the forestry operations.

Short video here but don't expect too much, I was too busy biking to shoot much.

PS view the route description here but don't go unless your a tough old twit like me.


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