24 October 2010

Lanark to Helensburgh (Balloch)

The stage from Lanark to Helensburgh is largely through the sprawl of Glasgow so I wasn't expecting much by way of spectacular scenery. The route taken on the LEJO'G ride in 2007 took us along the Clyde pretty much from Motherwell to Loch Lomond which was great and took in all the famous Glasgow river sights. The downside was that more punctures were had on that day than any other. It was again very cold and the tyres on the Condor aren't Armadillo's which, on my experience are virtually puncture-proof. I therefore elected to take the main roads through the city - of which there seem to be dozens.
Finding myself passing Motherwell railway station at around the 30k (coffee-stop) mark, I noted a refreshment wagon close to the entrance. It's good enough. Seeing me locking the bike to the chain fence, the lady at the counter asks me how far I'm going. When I tell her that it's Helensburgh she says I'd be better taking the bike on the train rather than leaving it locked to the rails. Evidently its chances of being there when I returned were zero!!! I laughed to explain her misunderstanding. But wait...train...bike...Helensburgh...???? Nah, I'm not going to get away with that kind of stunt so forget about buying a train ticket and content myself to munch on her tasty, but very heavy, cheese and ham toastie before getting under way.
Given the busy urban terrain, Terry and I agree that we wont rendezvous for lunch but meet instead at the destination site, Balloch which is on the southern shore of Loch Lomond, around 8 miles from our date tonight with Fr Peter Lennon, PP at St Joseph's Helensburgh.
The ride was unmemorable, but I did take the river route for several miles when I found myself at the top of Stockwell St. Passing the Holiday Inn Express and Scotia Inn where I spent many nights with "Jolly Jack" in the early 2000's brought back some great memories!
A quick shower at the Balloch site and then were are off to Helensburgh. The rain that was just starting did not stop for two days!! Fr Peter and his two lovely (self-styled) groupies, Rosaleen Moffat and top class cook Margaret Nicol give us our fourth roast of the week. Neither of us is complaining at all about this! Peter returned to Helensburgh about five years ago after many years at Glasgow City parishes. His passion to support handicapped children to go to Lourdes was revealed in a lovely story he told about visiting the parents of such a child. He knew that this was not a Catholic family but only when the father answered the door did the truth dawn. Peter described the father as "a ringer for Rab C. Nesbit" and this was compounded by the presence of the sash, Bible and King Billy pictures aound the wall! Was this a good place for a Catholic priest? Evidently when the idea of their child being taken to Lourdes was explained, the parents agreed, being at first puzzled, but none the less grateful for such a charitable gesture. Fr. Peter conluded the story by saying that the same man still does the rounds of pubs every Friday and Saturday night rattling a tin to support the Handicapped Children's Charity Trust. Thanks Fr Peter for giving us such an excellent evening. The roast was great, but the Crumple and the Roulade made it complete!!

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