WHW*Falldoon Day Two

We talked in the carpark as our pals went home and we headed to the bus to go and find the accommodation. Iain could go no further. The boys had run almost two marathons off-road, and would have to run the same again to get home.
Iain’s self-preservation instinct is very much like my own, family and then work before any of this nonsense. Everytime I had a sketchy bit of trail that was 50/50 to make it past safely, I’d think of home and dab or get off and push. So with legs on the verge of folding underneath him, Iain was out.
Craig was caught in a difficult situation, go on alone or get Iain home in the morning? I said that I would be quite happy to go home and see the girls too, I was tired, it was late and the whole thing was getting more pointless by the moment.
We never really resolved the issue by the time we’d stopped parking in folks driveways looking for name plates and finally dropped Iain and Craig off at Glengarry House and I was distracted by a call from nearby Strathfillan House where we were staying, asking when we were arriving, about 30 seconds was the answer.
The driveway was dark, the building was dismal with unlit windows, the hidden sign said “Welcome to Strathfillan House, you’ll have had your tea”.
John and Phil took some gear up the stairs inside while I faffed about as usual and joined them hearing only the end of the conversation “…this is Peter now”
“Yes, hello”
“Blah blah, late, blah blah, phone call, missed a night out blah blah…”
I’d missed most of that and could only offer “What?”
“I told you at 1730 that we would be 4 or 5 hours, and that’s exactly what we’ve been”
“I missed out on a night out at seven thirty and I’m irritated by your lack of communication…”
I moved towards him and Phil and John, probably subconsciously, leaned into an intercept course.
“Maybe I’ll sleep in the van…”
“No, no, stay, what about breakfa..”
I walked past him into the room before a line of some sort was crossed that I couldn’t jump back over.
There was no milk in the team making facilities, no hand soap in the fancy dispenser in the lavvy and no chance I’ll ever go back. Bastard place. I charged my bike lights for free though.

No mobile signal, no phone, no comms with the boys.
I’d had enough, I wanted to go home right now. My seemingly simple idea had gone completely on its tits and I just wanted to walk out of it. We all had showers and that soothed the mood a little.
Phil was adamant that he was going on, solo if needs be. He was getting up at 0630 regardless and going for it.
I would wait and see. Physically I was okay, just a Little achy maybe. I had a piss poor sleep where I had time to think about it. I know what it’s like to fail at something that’s attainable, and to succeed when it looked a little unlikely. Either was possible when i got out of bed.
Phil put his light on at 0630 (we were sharing) and I found that neither my eyes are hands worked. I lay there in the fuzzy light as he cleaned and oiled his bike outside the window in the drizzle.
When I got dressed, it was into my bike gear. I didn’t even think about it.
We left the house of horrors to pick up the boys who had had a fine time in their B&B. They were still in their running gear as they’d left their bags in the bus, but while we sat at the Green Welly Cafe eating breakfast, Craig appeared in his jeans and it seemed that that was that.
Phil was getting twitchy, I was my usual nonchalantself which must be infuriating for folk who are wanting to get under way or feeling pressure, so he went and got his bike reaa while I got another latte.
Craig seemed to like the idea of leaving with me, I could easily stay in touch on the trail for safety, we weighed up options, I tried to offer possibilities without coercion.
Phil waved his hands from outside and I gave him the “Come here a minute” signal, to which he responded with the “Screw you guys, I’m off” response. And with that he was on the bike and away.

I finished my cuppa and wondered about what to do next.
Craig wasn’t coming. I took the bike out of the bus and gave it the once over. I only needed a bit of oil on the chain. I went back to the cafe, now clumping in my bike shoes, and filled my water bottles. It was time to go.
Phil must have been as much as 30 minutes ahead, I’d never catch him on the trail unless he’d been knocked unconscious or otherwise rendered immobile. I’d have to try the road down to Crianlarich and take it from there.
I shot onto the road and built up as much speed as i could on my fat tyres. An immediately pulled over again as the rain was so heavy I had to put on all my waterproofs.
While I was doing that an old fella asked me if he was going the right way, “To Glasgow? Yes” He was actually wanting the West Highland Way, so he turned around and went back the way he came. I wonder how far he’d walked?

The road was horrific, car drivers are mostly arseholes, the rain pounded down and ran over my face. I watched evey inch of visble Way to try and spot Phil, but by the time I reached the point where it crosses the road it was obvious he was well ahead. I’d have to push on and try and catch him in Glen Falloch.
I trundled down the A82 in the pissing wet, shutting my eyes at truck passed and trying to be both as visible and unobtrusive as possible in the grey light. I hated it.
I could see alot of the Way, but not Phil. He must be really moving. The bus passed me near the bottom and then I cut off into Beinn Glas farm to rejoin the Way. I waited, sent a Tweet, had a snack and thought about what was next. I slung the bike on my shoulder and headed into the trees as the rain fell through the vents in my helmet, gathered in the pad over my forehead and them ran down my face everytime I looked up and compressed the pad. Each time the little flood got warmer as I toiled with the ground underfoot and the weight of the bike. I felt very much on my own.

The top half of Loch Lomond is horrific for a bike. It’s unrideable most of the time, or rideable in such short stages that’s it’s more annoying to clip in than just keep pushing or carrying the bike.
It’s also dangerous in places, it’s wild and unmaintained which is part of its beauty, but the obstacles you have to tackle are frankly ludicrous, it’s like they’ve been designed to make you cry. I fell several times, trying to balance the bike, trying to stay upright on metal cleats instead of rubber soles. My shins are a mess. I will never do this again. Probably.
One smile I found was when I was greeted by “PeeTeeCee I presume?”. It was scotpat who comments here out for a walk down the loch. It was a magic wee moment.
I asked him if he’s seen Phil, but like the handful of walkers I’d passed, Phil was unseen. He must be so far ahead by now. I couldn’t go any faster, it was just so difficult. But, maybe I was in front? Surely not.

I passed my campsite by the loch from last time, and I had wee flutter of emotion. I’ll walk this one day without any pressure and really enjoy it.
I met a bunch of friendly folks at Rob Roy’s Cave and stopped to chat. Another of my downfalls, I like folks and hearing what they’ve been up to. As I scrambled up the rocks to the next section of the track they started shouting “Your mate’s behind you”. I thought Yeah.. Yeah… and carried on.
It turns out he actually was there, we met up shortly after and actually rodeinto the Inversnaid Hotel carpark together. I’d passed him somewhere at the bottom of Glen Falloch, he’d met the bus as well. So taking the road was the right idea, I’d never have caught him otherwise. Grumpy sod.
Inversnaid has a reputation of being rubbish, but when I walked in I was ushered through to the bar where I had sammidges and coffee, two coffees in fact. It was fine in there, and full of elderly Americans who’d come over the loch in a boat from Tarbet. Bless ’em all.
I downed a can of Irn Bru outside before we set off again into weather was drying up under a sky that was getting brighter all the time.
Now, I joke about Irn Bru a lot, but whatever its nutritional merits, Irn Bru kept me on the bike from here to, well, the bottom of this page.

There was still some obstacles, but the trail was ever more rideable and now back as a team we kept each other moving and I felt happier, but at the same time something of a sense of urgency had returned.
We had a break where I finally got my waterproofs off and had another wee snack. After that the ground flashed past under us. So much time pushing out of the saddle dulls your handling (it also makes you cautious to the point where i was think that a fallen leaf in the middle of the track looked rather aggressive and I’d I’d better dismount to safely avoid it) , so when you’re really moving again, it’s easy to get it wrong. I had a couple of moments, but stayed upright. It was the bike that saved it every time, it was never me.
We reached the bus parked at Rowardennan for a quick Irn Bru stop and then it was onwards. It had taken us five hours to clear the loch, five bloody hours of which it felt like ten minutes were spent in the saddle.
We all had jobs the next day, lives and beds to get back to. We would take the road to Balmaha and then see what happened.
What happened was, that as we left I spotted Ange on the beach with her Nephew, more friendly faces to lighten the mood for a little while.
But the boys were gone and I had to leave and chase them. Tarmac and fat knobbly tyres again, my legs got pumped, my lungs expanded to maximum. I caught Phil and we made good time on the ups and downs to Balmaha where we had more Irn Bru, fixed our lights and had to make a choice. Conic Hill or the road?
Conic hill has the single sharp ascent, the road has several longer ones, but we could ride those. Milngavie at 2200 or 2100 was what it came down to.

We rode as hard as we could on the tarmac to Drymen, yet another terrifying experience courtesy of clueless bastards in cars. I did have the one joyful moment of “making” a car and caravan overtake me as I matched the speed limit and he fishtailed his caravan around the corner in front of me no doubt to the sounds of a stern telling off from his wife in the passenger seat.

Out of Drymen you cross this ridiculous stretch where I got lost last time. Some posts randomly scattered around a field. Even in daylight it was task. But from here it was quiet tarmac and we made good time as the sun set. We knew we were close and rather than hold anything in reserve we just pedalled, and we flew from here to the Beech Tree Inn near Dumgoyne. The frequency of the gates is annoying, but it was fun again. We were bantering and just riding like it was any other day.
Some Irn Bru and jerky at the Beech Tree car park and we were away onto the last trial, the climb at Carbeth.

Darkness was upon us, but it wasn’t that cold. We rode out of the Blane Valley which is full both of family and childhood memories for me, and into the hills for the last time. It’s not the climb I remember, and we rode most of it. One wee steep loose bit especially I just couldn’t face, and it’s the last bit of wild trail as well. After you reach the new sloppily built and totally inappropriate looking gate it’s all man made, and not for distance covering or agriculture, but for leisure. A subtle difference perhaps, but you can sense it.

Doesn’t mean it’s not fun though and we rode as hard as we could from here. Past the loch, through Mugdock Country park and across the Moors. The one mishap was when I thought I’d dropped a bottle, an event which turned out to be entirely imaginary.
We paused above Milngavie. We were home, near enough anyway.

Phil spun up to the pillar as I found the 3″ high kerb on the road below an insurmountable obstacle. Hey, I was tired and emotional.
John took a photie and it was all over.

I felt surprisingly good. No need to lie down or call a medic at all, I was just happy that from all the bollocks and disappointment we’d managed to pull out a fun bike ride.
Phil was a great team mate. Physically we weren’t too far apart, so there wasn’t frustrated toe-tapping waiting for one of us to catch up. In sometimes trying times we went home friends at the end. Bless you my boy.

For an ordinary bloke like me, doing things like this are a big deal.
I got a text from a friend at the finish congratulating us, and I know that he could have gone up and back in the time it had taken us to get south without him breaking into a sweat, but he knew exactly how we’d feel having done it.
We had so many folk wishing us well during and after, it’s hard to know what to say. I really do appreciate every single thought, I love you all.

I know that everything I do is in the bracket of “mild adventuring”, but why should only the sexiest, fastest, highest, farthest, be the ones that people get to see?
The ‘net has given us the ability to see each other do things that to each of us are an achievement. Be it your walk by headtorch, your first high camp, your first Munro, walking the Cape Wrath Trail in winter or completing the TGOC.
Good on you, shout as loud as you can. Every attempt by one of us ordinary Joe’s to go a little bit farther, successful or not, is a beacon of light shining across a dark sea of naysayers.

44 thoughts on “WHW*Falldoon Day Two

  1. Good on you indeed. A great read – I felt it all the way. Don’t let the grumpy sods get you down – you’ve done a big adventure which 95% + of the population couldn’t even contemplate.

  2. Jees! What a day! What a weekend!! Brilliant. Right there with you’s.

    I had to have a second read to look at the photies, so keen to read the story was I.

    For the runners, you know, sometimes circumstances can dictate the decisions we make and the toughest decisions (like not going on any further) are the brave and sensible ones. I know that only too well! Brought back some memories for me…

    Well done to everyone, all you boys did good!
    :o)

  3. Should quiet people wondering if it was hard or not this! Seems a fun adventure.

    Interesting you found it harder than walking it in a weekend. What you’re used to I suppose.

    The runner seems to have proven far too fundamentally sensible for this sort of thing :)

  4. Hey folks. It’s a joy to share as usual. I reckon we should all go together on the next trip :o)

    I should have a write-up from the runners perspective as well, so we’ll see just what was going through their minds. Craig is notoriously hard on himself, and it’ll have torn him in half having to decide between taking his best mate home or continuing with us.

    There’s a lot of gear stuff coming up from this. I was amazed how good the kit was, including my diabetic socks, just brilliant. And how come it turns out that cleated bike shows are still better for walking wet rocky trails than boots?

    I nipped over to OM to see the thread there, still rumbling on. It’s an odd one that, I puposefully didn’t say anything on any forum in case it went wrong (which of course..), and the press release was concocted to make sure the mags and such that we were talking to would take us seriously (you don’t apply for a job without a creatively worded CV).
    The power to annoy folk without being present in any form is one that I shall treasure and use only in the fight for the powers of good.

    The good/bad news is the falldoon story isn’t over. There’s still interest in the idea out there. So you never know…

  5. yeah yeah sounds great, what I find more disturbing is you felt tired after consuming all that Irn Bru, with each can providing 34.716g of sugar!!!!

    So are you going to try crossfit over the winter and then try this again?

  6. Great write up ptc*

    It’s nice to see how a plan comes together, even when the goalposts change the adventure still goes on taking the good & bad together and still smiling at the end of it

    Whatever the inspiration it’s all bout getting out there and enjoying it with yer best buds however madcap the idea is and ignoring life’s malcontents who will always be trying to burst soemones’s bubble. I know that’s what I do.

    Bring on the next adventure :-)

  7. Regards Iain – putting family and work before anything else is to be applauded. Work pays for the fun and time is borrowed from the family… always wise to keep that to a minimum, going home with an injury due to continuing would have just messed up that work, family, fun balancing act called life.
    It’s not always easy to call an end to things, happened when we tried the welsh3000s this summer. Hottest day of Aug, ran out of water after 4 hills… Gemma just wasn’t having fun anymore. She had a busy week ahead, had to find a new place to live and also didn’t want to spoil my attempt BUT there came a point when she’d had enough, bottom of Glyder Fach as it happened. Totally the correct decision, much as I guess Iain’s is/was.
    Carrying on would have been hard but making the decision to stop will have been too. Fairplay to the fella.
    Find the Crossfit idea quite fascinating, so looking forward to the write up.

  8. Cheers folks, I feel I’ve unburdened myself upon anyone who’s read this :o)

    Turning back or stopping is hard, and factoring in consequence to the decision is something that not everyone can do. It took me a long time to learn that in my life.
    “I’ll get away with it” “It’ll be fine”
    Sometimes.

    The Crossfit thing fascinates me, I can see its effects on its disciples, but the consistency and dedication you need to make it work is well beyond me.
    It’s funny how tiredness was a big part of the weekend, but also how my recovery time when I rested was very short.
    I wonder if I’d had some sleep before it or on Saturday night if it had been any different?
    I noticed a marked increase in the length of my reaction time on the fast streches on Sunday, accumulated doziness as well as a bit of fatigue from carrying the bike up the lochside?

    I really have learnt a lot here. I was completely out of my comfort zone with no point of reference as to how it should go or how I would cope with it. I’ve got a better idea now, and I can use that in the future.
    This weekend would make a good prequel to another story.

    WHW*Springup anyone? :o)

  9. As ever, fantastic words and a massive well done for getting out there and going for it. Really pleased for you to get to the end AND in one piece for work/family the next day. Ticking all the boxes in a weekend AND coming home, fit to tell the tales are the most important things really. I know when something takes so much planning and commitment especially on behalf of the helpers you have out there with you giving up their weekends, it can be quite daunting to make the decision to stop or carry on. Respect to Craig and Iain for making their hard decision and hats off to you guys for endeavouring to a satisfying finish, and of course, a victory for mountain bikers everywhere!

    As I said on Phil’s site, your words and pics are an inspiration again to get me back in the saddle, training for that up and back attempt you mention. I might need a support crew. Interested?? ;o)

  10. Smashing, another enjoyable read and inspiring stuff for us ordinary folk to set our own goals and make our own little adventures even if there are people fitter, faster and forever unimpressed by our efforts.

    Looks like my comments on one of your previous post have helped stir up further trouble at OM, for which I can only apologise. I should have thought of a blunter instrument…

  11. So Bobinson i like the idea of fight club on the monroes all a bit braveheart pal, will you be wearing orange :) I think you guys have got a lot more supporters on OM than the assassins and there are a lot more positive people who comment on here and take their hats off to your ongoing ventures, may they continue pal

  12. Coops you are probably right !
    Perhaps I was a biy heavy handed but the negativity does my head in.
    I work in Local Authority and have to put up with the cant do attitude on a daily basis as well.

    Like I have said before I aint looking for a pat on the back or praise, I am just trying to share good times and bad so that people can learn and be enthused by the outdoors.

    Aye and it was PTC wearing the orange, I was was in Ninja black or grey !

  13. I think that the heavy handed approach was just what was needed! People just don’t like their cosy little lives changing, when a different view can be just what it needed.

    Anyway, good effort folks. Having had some similar experiences over the years I’m pleased to see we are all learning and keeping things in perspective.

    All I can say is here’s to the next one and yes I would like to be part of the ‘adventure’. If we all join in we might just demonstrate that having a little bit of fun and learning new things is what it all about. Well in my humble opinion anyway…

  14. Find the center of Scotland and everyone starts from a randomly picked point on the coast and has to get to the center by any human powered means – cannibalism not allowed.

    First there gets a six pack of Vimto and a meat and potato pie courtesy of me, Irn Bru is banned due to it’s high metal content.

    Everyone carrying MORE weight gets time knocked off – say 1 hour per extra kilo in the rucksack, with a base weight of 6k.

  15. It may not be a popular viewpoint on here, but if you put you head above the trench, expect to be shot.
    I was more interested in how the runners fared, because riding bikes 50 miles, personally isn’t at all inspirational! It isn’t that hard on a bike, we do it regularly, especially with full suspension and 27 gears, ditch the suspension and 26 of the gears and I’ll listen ;o)
    But press releases, free ‘test’ gear, etc. etc. for an endeavour that in the world of endurance isn’t very special, people will point and criticise.
    I congratulate you on the achievment, if I had the WHW near wear I live, I’d be riding it too. But, the build up, the test gear, the Spot maps, the press release, for what amounted to 4 guys having a weekend in the hills!

  16. You seee DNF you just don’t get it. We all admire PTC n pals efforts cause they tell it as it is. Which is so rare these days as most people are so up themselves for being able to be part of a “world of endurance” some of us stuggle up one hill and we’d rather have PTC test the gear and read about his walk to the cafe than even five seconds about a “world of endurance” you must come from.

    Keep going PTC, and don’t change a thing, well just the challenges, and the boots, and the softshells and the irn bru no that needs no more testing .. just keep it rolling. DNF DisNae have a F.. clue.

  17. The thing is, I agree with all the points, good and bad, to one degree or another.

    I know that everything I ever do, photograph and write about is easily acheivable by every single person that sees it.
    That’s the joy of it.

    I just kinda do my own thing and don’t really give a shit. Hey, after two years and two weeks of this place that has to be kind of obvious :o)

  18. See I don’t buy the sticking your head above the trench argument justifying the criticism, simply because this wasn’t promoted to death as an amazing feat of endurance by ‘elite athletes’ trying to break impossible records but as a ‘wee experiment’ by ordinary people trying something different that was then reported on their own websites.

    I could sympathise with people taking pot shots if their had been willy waving involved but there hasn’t. Still there’s nothing like the mention of free gear to get people bitter and wound up eh?

  19. I’m confused, what don’t I get?? I’m not having a go, these guys went for a weekend of fun, I do it with my mates, we head off ride bikes, climb mountains, etc. Much like everybody else looking at this.
    My point is, what was so special about this trip that warranted a press release? Spot maps, etc. etc.?
    It was never a race, it was 4 guys having a good fun weekend, yeah it’s interesting to read about, I want to know more about those leg warmers! Especially what are they like when wet!
    I want to hear from Craig regarding crossfit and running, the idea of running an ultra appeals to me, but I believe in the old method of putting in the miles. We already meet on a level regarding barefoot running, etc. I’m sure we have similar beliefs on diet regarding endurance.
    But this seems a case of inventing a event all for yourself, in which you are the only participants and are so
    self-styled ‘winners’. All this about lights, and multisport gear, I thought this was a epic in the making.
    Ultimately, it’s a meeting of different views, and it don’t matter as he doesn’t give a shit! ;o)
    In the end, I don’t either, they had fun. I’ll be out riding this weekend, hopeflly that will be fun too!

  20. I imagine so people could follow what they were doing, it was after all originally intended as a kind of race between 3 pairs travelling from the same start point to the same finish point by different means and having all the spot stuff and the write ups seems like a good way to make it a bit more fun for people who wanted to follow it.

    I saw it a bit like those challenges they do on Top Gear, only things didn’t turn out as intended for the race at the last minute.

  21. “I saw it a bit like those challenges they do on Top Gear, only things didn’t turn out as intended for the race at the last minute.”

    I wish I’d thought of saying that!

    It’s a shame that all this bollocks has distraced us from the good stuff.
    The hills were beautiful at the weekend, the colours and the warm low light on Saturday were heart swellingly wonderful to be out in.
    I had to spend much of my time doing the exact opposite of what I wanted to do, which was go home. So I’ve been reassured that my mind isn’t going soft, that I can still dig-in and get on with it.

    It was just magic frankly.

  22. So what have I missed?
    Have you been up a hill again or something?
    You’ve been out, galavanting about again haven’t you?

    … and by the looks of the photos and the typical joy of the words, it appears you had a lot more fun weekend than I did. So, as one of the aforementioned 95% who dont make it past the fridge door – I salute you – well done guys

  23. It’s all good fun this.
    I clicked on AT’s link there and I see that folk are still going on about the trip as well. It’s the oddest thing being talked about without being involved, or even being motivated to say something because you’re kind of detached from it all.
    It’s kind of enlightening as well, in times past as a forum dweller I would maybe go with the mood or pick up one side or another of an argument and help to endlessly turn over the same points again and again trying to get someone to agree when it’ll never happen.
    It’s funny, I’m the one who arranged the trip, I’m the one who got screwed by it all going wrong, I’m the one who has to arrange something else (with guaranteed success) along the same lines to avoid getting into bother and I’m also happy with what I did acheive on the day and have now archived the whole affair.
    I’m already onto the next thing with maps out and the weather forecast on the screen.
    Magic :o)

    The Lakes? I’ll think I’ll pass on that one, too much M6 this year already!

  24. It certainly is fun isn’t it! I actually refrained from commenting much over there as I could actually see both sides of what folk were saying but it seems I’m still getting sarcy comments directed at me on certain threads! A pity some folk don’t actually read what people have, or haven’t actually said. Don’t blame you for passing on the Lakes, must admit I’m not sure I can be arsed with it either!

  25. You know something, a few years ago a wise man (well it was my Da, but he is very wise!) said something i thought was cool and totally selfless – sort of advice it was. He said “Ange, if they’re talking about me, they’re not talking about somebody else”. I’ll always remember him saying that…

    So.. whats the weather like next week?

  26. There are too many people on OM who seem to like bashing everyone else.
    And frankly, if ODG/langdale is just going to be a continuation/rant/whinge/whatever of that thread then I have better things to do as well.

  27. It’s raining, can you believe that. I bet it stays on all weekend. Dark too. Ach.

    Folks, it’s all about what’s next. If folk want to fight over a fusty old bone that’s fine.
    I’ve been out of the forums so long now I’ve got a different perspective on this kind of thing, and when I say it doesn’t matter, it isn’t just words.
    Let it go folks.

    Hey, I took my snowshoes out of the loft last night :o)

  28. Stunning account. Inspirational event and well done to all who took part. The runners for doing all that in a day. Some achievement and you for gritting your teeth and going for it. Great photos as ever and I hope the words at the inspire ordinary folks like me and you to keep seeking adventure and the wildplaces that provide it on foot or bike.

  29. Bless you kind sir.

    I finally got to talk to Craig yesterday and the runner’s story is an interesting and enlightening one, I hope he writes it up.

    I’m looking forward to getting back into the mountains this week. It’s been a while!

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