24 October 2010

Helensburgh to Inveraray

The rain that started on Thursday evening on the way to Helensburgh continued throughout the night. In a caravan you alway know exactly when it is, and when it isnt raining! Thinking positively that this was a good thing and that it would clear up by morning was mistaken. There was no easing as daybreak and breakfast came and went. I delayed leaving for as long as possible but this certainly was the day when there was no doubt about what to wear! The good news was that it's only a 70 odd km trip and easy to navigate. Terry agreed to meet me at the 30 km point. It was after 10:00 AM when I departed Balloch so this was a lunch rather than coffee stop. Constant rain and even with my "waterproof" jacket I am soaked on arrival. The soup and hot drink help and I contnued thinking that with already almost half the ride over, it's a straight run home. Why I overlooked the small matter of the Rest and be Thankful 300m climb, I cant imagine. For some reason it was on my mind that this memorable ascent was to be between Inveraray and Ft William. In a way it was a good thing not to have been expecting it, because I simply though of it as just another "bit of a climb" and got on with it. It therefore came as a quite a shock to see the famous signpost "Rest and be Thankful" at the summit. The descent was invigorating, but scary, since brakes weren't at their most effective, to say the least! The low cloud, thunder of roaring water in all directions from byrnes, brooks and culverts made for an exciting ride.
The approach to Inveraray is as picturesque as you could wish for but, hidden in a mist of rain and low cloud does detract a bit. Our site is located a couple of miles to the south of the village so I take in the views of the Para Handy boat (Vital Spark) replica, moored to the harbour wall in passing and squelch on in the still-pouring rain. Although I'm sure that no ill-intent was meant, an approaching Skoda timed his passing of a big puddle - no, pond - in the road in perfect sync to deliver a wave-load to drench me just as I passed!!!! The good news was that the loch-side site with waiting tea and hot shower was just a few hundred metres ahead.
Refreshed, we set off back to Inveraray for the wamest of welcomes and great food and craic at the George! Fr William McLean PP at St Margaret's Lochgilphead, with AOS supporters Mary McPherson and Ellen Simpson drove 25 miles in the wet stuff to meet us at Inveraray and we were joined by Inveraray locals Kenny Stark and Danny Kennedy who are all round warm, generous and dedicated men. Kenny spends so much of his time organsing Jumbulances to Lourdes for the Across charity it is amazing to learn of the number of seriously sick persons who are helped in this way. I hope I recall it correctly to say that an Across Jumbulance leaves the UK every week for Lourdes and that 7,000 people are able to make this trip.
The Across web site is http://www.across-uk.org/ We share many stories and of course Fr McLean's fondness for cycling adds a further interest. Details of St Mary's can be found on their site at http://www.lochgilpheadcatholic.com/ Theanks for giving us a wonderful evening. As always, the pain of the ride, the rain and the tiredness were all forgotten with such good companionship. Your contributions too to Seawheeling were most generous.

1 comment:

James Lim said...

Hello Dave, just thought you should know, besides your smart & pretty children blogging in, there're people out here in sunny Singapore who enjoy all the great stories of your ride ( & roasts ) and give you the utmost respects, esp'ly now that you're battling with winter gear to boot. Will go rattle the tin and see how much we could gather for the hat before your ride is over. Warmest regards / James L.