It was planned to the nth degree, there was a cracking feed station, a support vehicle, an event photographer and there were 36 excited riders ranging in age across a few decades. Glasgow Green Cycle Club’s first anniversary expedition to Arran took place on August 12 and what a day it was!
To give you a little bit of background, GGCC was first envisioned by two like minded riding companions in February 2011. They wanted to be part of a club that really was open to everyone and had become slightly disheartened over the years with the elite nature of some groups. They decided to go it alone and, with the help of various companies and organisations including Scottish Cycling and Billy Bilsland Cycles, they formed GGCC.
They met at the arch on Glasgow Green one Sunday morning last August after a small amount of online advertising and one person turned up. The three of them set off on a pleasant 30 mile jaunt and, the rest as they say, is history. GGCC now has just shy of 80 members and hold Wednesday night and Sunday morning runs which regularly see 15-20+ riders taking to the road.
One of the key elements over the last year has been the discipline installed in us all of safe and organised group riding and as such we work like a well oiled machine on every club run. No riders are ever dropped no matter what speed they happen to go at as there are always three groups to cater for everyone’s needs and allow each rider to achieve exactly what they want from their few hours in the saddle.
I am proud to have been a member of such an excellent club since it was in its infancy and it was amazing to look around on the ride yesterday and see just how much every single person has improved, including the people who have only been riding with us for a matter of weeks.
And so it was that we loaded the bikes onto the ferry at Ardrossan and enjoyed a calm sail across the Firth of Clyde to Brodick. The Isle of Arran is a bit of a haven for cyclists with its minimal traffic, challenging climbs and beautiful scenery and this was evident in the car hold of the ferry where there must have been near on 100 bikes - an incredible sight to see!
The island is divided in the middle by the notorious String Road and as a figure of eight this adds an extra 20 miles to the circumferential 56 mile loop. My legs weren’t quite ready for the string climb so early in the ride and my HR and resp rate were through the roof within the first few miles. Thankfully a three mile long exhilarating descent followed on and we regrouped at the bottom to form two organised groups. The wind was quite strong and - you’ve guessed it - in our faces so it was nice to stick to the bunch for some respite from the conditions.
We turned left at Blackwaterfoot to follow the switchback road round the south of the island and there were some energy sapping miles before our well earned lunch break. The weather really was starting to turn a bit nasty and unfortunately one of our riders had a nasty fall on the String descent so it became apparent that we would have to change our plans and opted for a 55 mile route instead of 75 in order to make the last ferry home!
The winding road that clings to the coastline from Lamlash to Brodick and onwards to the delightful villages of Corrie and Sannox is a pleasure to ride - fairly flat it gives one the opportunity to admire the scenery and brought back many memories of childhood holidays with my family. Like sportive events throughout the country I was surrounded by people who quite simply just love to ride their bikes and it made for such an enjoyable day, even the midges and drizzle couldn’t dampen our spirits.
We congregated in the Douglas Hotel in Brodick afterwards for a well deserved beverage and slice of birthday cake. I had time to reflect on just how far I have come since those intrepid first forays in my clipless pedals and, whilst I still have moments of doubt which thankfully are now few and far between, I am a much stronger and more confident rider and hope that I continue to progress in the right direction.
I feel genuinely lucky to be part of such a special club and I know that if it weren’t for the hard work and dedication that Ray and Andy have put in to making GGCC the success that it is then I would never have managed to get to where I am today. Some people have the self discipline to train alone but I enjoy the social aspect of group riding and I look forward to Sunday mornings to get out and get some miles in whilst having a chat and a bit of friendly competition. I would encourage anyone that is currently riding alone because they think they might not be good enough to join a club to get out there and do it. Or come and join us! You don’t know what you are missing!