So, with the sun's appearance low in the sky, my blood finally warmed enough to get out and break the 4 hour early season barrier. Yes, there have been one or two longer rides, but that has mostly been conditions and/or terrain dictated. An early 'test piece' loop i often use to gauge where i am on the wide scale of fitness is the Mangrunt loop. So named as when Chris and myself ticked it off first time around, it led to a fair bit of man grunting as we tackled the steeper pitches on our relatively new-at-the-time singlespeeds.
Anyways, usually you leave around six hours for this loop. Various permutations, and i took a slight short cut to miss out on some foresting but all in all a respectable 4.30 for the whole loop. Pretty stoked about that: it wouldnt have surprised me if it had taken at least an hour longer.
I started at the car park midway between Drymen and Aberfoyle and whipped back over the hill (into a brisk headwind) to Garadhban. From there i avoided the dilapidated trails over Conic Hill by dropping down to Milton of Buchanan. Re-joining the West Highland Way my mind turned to a possible attempt at the WHW double. We'll see about that, but not soon.
The trails were in great condition and i made good time up to Inversnaid. The little steppy sections and tight trail in the trees were a joy. Instead of taking the road from Inversnaid to Loch Arklet, i headed up the steep trails to Rob Roy's view, then rejoined the road. Time saved was a wash, but the views were way better.
Back into the Queen Elizabeth Forest and then joined the mustard loop, but took a diversion to avoid the section nearest Aberfoyle - knocking 30 or so mins i reckon off the total loop.
The last section of the forest access road was ruined by recent foresting, and was covered in a carpet of dead frogs. An odd way to finish a grand loop. A little more in the legs than expected, i was able to push quite hard. There is a degree of hope for the 12 hours of exposure afterall....
Next up: Loops 2.