Riders:- Coops Loaghtan, Skippy Loaghtan, Paul, Ned, Neil, Hamish Loaghtan plus 9 others!
As we stood around getting cold in The Union Mills Industrial estate car park, trails were being discussed as viable options. The only viable route was back up the road to the Railway Inn, but that was reluctantly rejected in favour of Cronk Breck and beyond!
The group set of with intent on up Trollaby with an aim to assault Cronk Breck via the Category ‘3’ Ballavitual Road. Again the peloton sped on ahead leaving the elder Loaghtans spinning out on black ice!! Re groups at the gate, conditions getting icy now, but sadly not icy enough as the terrain we negotiated, once you leave the tarmac, was so damp and spongy, therefore leg sapping, demoralised even the fittest of us, well I think they were demoralised, but as they were so far ahead I had to believe they must be if all is fair in the world!
Finally through the top gate and on up the slightly more negotiable track that traverses the lower shank of Cronk Breck finally leading us up to the top gate, which is the perfect spot to cool down far too quickly!! It should be re-named ‘Windy Junction’ as the tempests reach you from all sides as the spot is so exposed! Maybe a travellers rest should be constructed and stocked high with Mint Cake and Buckfast! We then took the left hand track, instead of the usual track that takes you in the Brandywell direction. This track, new to a lot of us, took us indirectly onto Glion Gill down some lovely flowing, but not too steep, natural sheep trail type single track, quite hard packed and flowed naturally.
Eventually we met up with Glion Gill and headed in the E2E direction which at some stages has some new, but very nasty naturally formed rain water gullies, Neil telegraphed back to the following pack as to the dangers ahead, but luckily no fatalities I am pleased to report. I had an eye ball contest with a beautiful white hare who must have thought he was a rabbit for a minute as he was dazzled by my lights and stood perfectly still in my somewhat hasty line, only the skidding of my rear wheel as I broke disturbed him from his amazement at my skills, and off he darted. After a minor technical with a lamp which I believe Ned sorted, we gambled on getting to the most horrible hair pin section, which I refuse to ride and take the direct line straight up, which according to Strava is called ‘Mill Road-straight up’…patches of ice now prevalent and the remaining topography drying out and quite looses!
Neil and Ned made it to the gate having rallied up the hair pin and I think all the elder Loaghtan’s did the ‘Straight Up’ option!! The cross country from the top of the Mill Road-Straight Up to the top of the actual Mill Road rode lovely as the condition has freeze dried the track enough to feel safe under foot and we licked it to the cattle grid. Down Mill road where Coops actual did it with illumination this time so he could safely see where he was going! We bid farewell to a few on the main road and joined the railway line behind the Hawthorn with a view to returning to the car park. It was only about a 15 mile round trip and quite a fast pace was set, which is never a bad thing, but it leaves the pace setters waiting around more than maybe they care for.
It’s nice to set out on a social ride and not feel too competitive, but it’s good to say we did pretty much stay together throughout. I had a de ja vue of the ghostly vision at the start of the ride of Foxdale Loaghtan was hovering like a ethereal being on his skinny tyres vibrant in luminous yellow leaning on his handle bars like a D.o.I. worker!….what’s that all about!!!! GRB’er!!!!! This January Strava Cycling Base Mile Blast mission is really turning Foxdale and Cam Loaghtan into a right pair of competitive devil worshipers by selling their souls and with Foxdales absents we were denied our share of Glasgow juice, the spirit of choice of cage fighters!!
Hamish Loaghtan