Anyway, the weather had been fantastic of late so off went Jim, Thomas and I to Rowerdennan. It wasn't to be our usual destination, but a new one that Thomas had discovered last year whilst walking the West Highland Way with Kath and if he ever finishes writing that blog entry then perhaps we will discover how he actually found it :).
The plan was to meet in Glasgow, get the train to Balloch, indulge in some sociable binge drinking and then cycle to the camp site. I had stayed at Susan's the night before so I intended to join them at Dumbarton East. However, as so often is the case with me, things did not quite go to plan.
Since we were cycling about 25 miles to the campsite, I decided that a smaller, more lightweight sleeping bag would be easier to carry than the one that I have at present. Long story short, by the time I bumbled about with Susan at Loch Lomond Shores and picked a suitable compact sleeping bag which had an "L" on the label (more on that later!) the guys were past Dumbarton East and well on the way to Balloch. Susan offered to give me a lift straight to Balloch since my bike was in the back of her car anyway.
Fifteen minutes away from Balloch and Susan's Mum called to inform me that I had left my tent back in her house. To save me wasting valuable drinking time, Susan dropped me off at the Balloch House Hotel where Jim and Thomas were deep into their first beer of the day, and volunteered to go back to her house to get my tent for me. Don't know what I would do without her :).
We chatted away and caught up with all the gossip and 40 minutes later, Susan returned with my tent and joined us for a while before leaving us to get on with it.
It was a warm sunny day and the lure of cold beer ensured that it was a good couple of hours before we finally started cycling to our first port of call which was Drymen and it took us the best part of a couple of hours to make it there. Another beer inside us and it was time to think of what provisions we would need to see us through the night. An almost instant decision was made to forgo buying any food and just have dinner in the Rowerdennan Hotel. This left ample room to buy more beers, a wee mixture of cans of Bud and Stella and a bottle of Rose just for good measure.
We stuffed them into our bags and carried onto Balmaha, where the Oak Tree Inn would have the pleasure of our company, but only after we had to stop and repair Thomas' flat tyre. After one or two it was time for the big push onto Rowerdennan and an hour and a half of hard cycling later we made it to the campsite.
Jim and I put our tents up and Thomas tied his hammock to a couple of trees. I unpacked my new sleeping bag and discovered to my annoyance and to much hilarity from the other two that "L" does not stand for a "Large" sleeping bag but the "L" means that the bag has a zip on the left. So tonight I would be sleeping in a kid sized sleeping bag that zipped on the left!
After a couple of cans from our stockpile at the campsite, we set off for the hotel to get some food. We were tired and hungry and in need of some relaxation. As we got to the hotel we could see that a wedding was in full swing and I the guys commented that I could crash it later on if I was in the mood (regular blog readers will understand!).
We grabbed a seat in the bar and ordered food and drink. A musician was setting up for his one man show and things were looking up until the food arrived and he started his set. Thomas and I had ordered chili con carne and it was obviously just been pinged in the microwave rather than cooked from scratch. The musician started playing his guitar and his backing music and although he wasn't terrible we decided to make a retreat outside with our beers to escape his "100 great guitar classics" routine.
Despite it being pretty chilly outside we decided to stick it out, since as you can see from the picture below, it was a beautiful night. A short while later the wedding guests made there way round to near where we were sitting and a fireworks display began from the side of the Loch.
After moving inside to heat up for a while, it was time to call it a night and we cycled back to the campsite. Since I was the only one with a light on my bike I was supposed to lead the guys to safety. Unfortunately the two slow asses got left behind with the result that Jim hit a rock and fell off his bike landing on his wrist that he broke on a previous cycle trip a few years ago. Ooops!
After a wee nightcap in my tent we turned in for the night. Despite my sleeping bag barely covering my belly button I managed to fall asleep pretty quickly, probably due to a combination of too much cycling and too many beers!
I awoke at 4.00, absolutely baltic. It was freezing and my poor choice in sleeping bag and lack of warm clothing was totally pissing me off. I could here Jim snoring away in his tent and Thomas arguing with someone in his sleep.
We finally emerged from out tents, tired and sore around 8.00 and the site of the sun rising over the Loch and the thought of a hot breakfast were an incentive to get cracking.
On our return from a good Scottish fry-up breakfast at the hotel we packed up our stuff and cycled back to Balmaha. Arriving there at 11.30. Too early for the pub so a breakfast Bud for each of us was pulled from Thomas' bag and we sat drinking our cans like the scumbags we are, on the grass.
As we sat there, a car with a boat in tow passed by and I asked the guys if they had a boat what they would call it. My name was a no-brainer, "Enterprise", Thomas plumped for, "Pearl Necklace", and before Jim had a chance to choose his name we were throwing suggestions at him like, "HMS Cheesy Wotsits" and the "HMS Monster Munch". We eventually decided that his boat should be called the, "HMS Pringles" and in a quick trip into Bob's world, I amused myself by suggesting that he would have empty Pringle tubes stuck to the sides of his boat to use as torpedo launchers. I laughed hysterically at myself, while my friends just shook their heads in pity!
Another stop in Drymen and then we were on our way to Balloch. Full speed ahead.
The scenery is fab and we kept up a good pace through the countryside. Passing, what is my favourite bit of topiary (see below). You are just driving along the country roads, turn a corner and there it is. Very cool!
After a good long cycle up and down various hills, stopping at many pubs and having a laugh we were back where we started, at the Balloch House Hotel for a slap up meal before getting the train back home.
Another top weekend!