I set off from Tarbert looking forward to the day.
15 mins into the ride it started raining and I put my waterproof jacket. Then as I left the A83 to cycle over to the other side of the Mull of Kintyre it unleashed itself fully.
25mph headwind and driving rain. I was reduced to a snails pace heading up onto the moorland that crowns the peninsula, but worse than that I was probably going to miss my ferry.
I dug deep and made it to the seriously-in-the-middle-of-nowhere jetty just in time, but drenched to within an inch of my life.
The storm was in full flow now, and when the ferry arrived I’ve never seen anything like it – the crew had to carefully time each car driving on and off because the ferry was moving so much in the swell.
“Please form an orderly queue for the sick bags”
OK, so they didn’t actually announce that, but it is what half the passengers were doing as soon as we boarded.
It seemed to have calmed down a bit by the time we reached Lochranza, but as soon as I started cycling down the road it came back with a vengeance.
The wind and rain were so strong I couldn’t even keep the bike upright. I had no option but to retire to a cafe until the rain slowed, providing a window of opportunity to get my waterproof trousers on before a lull in the rain.
There is a steady climb out of Lochranza of around 4 miles, and 1 mile into it the storm started up again. It was raining so hard it stung my legs even through waterproofs.
Even when the descent came I had to keep my speed right down to avoid being lashed in the face any harder by the driving rain.
Not much fun.
The final 7 miles to Brodick were against an equally fierce headwind, and when I reached the ferry terminal I was as grateful to get some cover as I was hopeful that the mainland would bring something better.
I was damp from the inside out by the time I got on the ferry, with the moisture from my shorts having soaked upwards.
At least it had stopped raining before we reached the mainland.
Ardrossan must be a strong contender for the bleakest place in the UK. I hope for the sake of its residents it has some redeeming features, but I didn’t see any evidence of them.
It was easy enough to pick up the NCN73 bike trail, but hard to cycle into the biting headwind along the seafront. I was grateful when the route headed inland, allowing me to make good progress for 10 miles.
This is post-industrial Scotland and on several occasions I was regaled by drunks as I cycled along town streets as I made my way down the coast.
With 17 miles to go the route took my back to the coast and the strength sapping headwind. Between that and the back wheel (and my legs) progress is pitiful.
I’ve been really worried about the bike since Arran. Giving it a quick check-over before disembarking the ferry revealed at least 9 broken spokes.
When I eventually limped into Ayr at 8pm one thing was crystal clear. This trip can’t go on without a mechanical intervention.
Bike computer stats:
Ride time: 6h 23m
Distance: 56.12 miles
Max speed: 33.1
Ave speed: 8.8 mph