Epic Ayrshire Alps first for Roads club members

Ayr Roads at Barr Start: Scott Knox is fourth from the right.
Ayr Roads at Barr Start: Scott Knox is fourth from the right.

Ayr Roads/Harry Fairbairn Cycling Club is well known for its long history of place to place records, some of which are unlikely ever to be beaten or even attempted again, writes Arnold Thomson.

So when club member Scott Knox proposed that the club should attempt a challenge of setting a new record it was jumped upon by a hardy band of club members.

The challenge involved the ascent of all 16 climbs of The Ayrshire Alps in one day. A distance of 129 miles and 10,000 feet of climbing.

The Ayrshire Alps is one of the finest cycling routes in the UK and a fitting tribute to the founder member of Ayr Roads CC; Davie Bell, who remains a legendary figure in these parts and whose memorial sits in the midst of the South Ayrshire hill country.

Scott set a schedule that would take in all sixteen climbs at an average speed of 15mph.

Fifteen Roads members along with an invited guest from Ayr Burners assembled in Barr on Saturday morning at 8am, knowing that the day ahead was going to be an epic one. It would be a testing time for all especially Ayr Roads new recruits.

Scott had chosen Barr for the start to enable the southern section of the route to be completed before a lunch stop at Dailly. A wise move since the northern section is by far the most difficult, with climbs of Hadyard Hill, Glenalla and the Nic o’ Balloch in the offing.

It would also allow those who did not wish to tackle the full route the opportunity of dropping out at a suitable exit point.

The first six summits were completed on schedule during the morning session with the weather holding. These included the Wallacetown climb to the ancient site of the Black Cock Inn in the Turnberry Hills. It was then south as far as Lendalfoot for the Carleton Hill climb, before returning for a double ascent of The Byne Hill at Girvan with its summit at the site of another one of Carrick’s ancient hill pass hostelries, that of the Virgin Inn.

The Assel Valley was followed before dropping down by Penkil Castle to Dailly.

After a short break, and with a much needed energy boost the hardest section was tackled with the climb of Hadyard Hill and the crossing from the Girvan to Stinchar Valleys. Two of the hardest climbs were those of Glenalla and the Nic o’ Balloch followed. On the Shalloch-on-Minnoch climb, the weather broke with heavy rain. By that time a couple of riders had left the group. At Straiton having completed twelve of the climbs, six club members remained, still with four climbs remaining, with the sting in the tail of the Glengennet climb from the Stinchar to the Girvan Valley.

Finally the six made it back to Barr, having completed the first ever circuit of the Ayrshire Alps in one day. A truly magnificent achievement by all, and another first for Ayr Roads Cycling Club.

Scott was congratulated for his ambitious plan, which was completed at 14.8 mph, slightly down on schedule.

Those who completed the full circuit were: Scott Knox, Toni McIntosh, John Gemmell, Paul Rodwell, Paul McSkimming and Gary Currie.

Scott paid tribute to those club members who accompanied them on the ride, including new recruits. All were delighted to have been part of an epic day.

Ayr Roads members pride themselves in encouraging tourism to South Ayrshire, where roads are quiet and the scenery a delight. What better way to explore the area than by bike!

Scott had chosen the 1st of July for the challenge to coincide with the start of the Tour de France. Ironically, it was won by a British rider.

Meanwhile, on the racing scene, Ayr Roads and Fullarton Wheelers were forced to cancel their Thursday night confined time trials because of heavy rain last week. Likewise the mid week run was also cancelled.

This Sunday all roads head for Kincardine, where the Scottish National 50 Mile Tine Trial takes place. The Roads club will be fielding five riders, with the event featuring the elite men and women of Scottish Time Trialing.