Seven intrepid members of Ayr Burners Cycling completed an early season Ayrshire Alps adventure cross ride on Saturday, on a day characterised by blue skies, epic off-road climbs and first class bike handling.
A quick briefing in Straiton by ride leaders JP Baxter and Lindsay McGarvie and the group, including two father and son teams, were heading off towards Tairlaw before turning off for the first climb of the day.
Heart rates were quickly racing as we headed up a steep forestry track towards Loch Bradan. With a light dusting of snow on the ground, the talk turned to what machine is best suited to adventure cross.
Junior Burners Douglas Glendinning and Chris Scott were on full suspension mountain bikes, while JP was sporting a bling hardtail, with experienced mountain biker Rod Henderson and Lindsay on their carbon cross bikes.
While the carbon crossers were leading the way on the steep gravel climbs, these thoroughbreds put their riders’ fillings to a severe test on the rattling descent towards the foot of the Nic O Balloch.
From there it was along the quiet road to Barr, where these was a welcome stop for coffee, hot chocolate, homemade cake and Tim’s amazing chocolate covered coffee beans.
Refuelled the group was soon on the long, tough climb of the Changue Road. The reward was an exhilarating descent back to the valley floor.
But there wasn’t long to rest as we climbed the steep first ramp of the Nic before turning off on to the forestry track, past Ayrshire’s most remote red phone box that signifies the start of the climb back towards Stinchar Bridge.
We rolled - still as a group - down the fast decent of Tairlaw towards our start/finish point at Straiton. After 40kms of testing but amazing off road fun (with a bit of Tarmac thrown in), it was agreed that pure “roadies” are really missing out on the nobbly tyre stuff that Ayrshire has to offer.
Next up for the Burners is the ABC skills school on 28 February, a two hour skills session at Auchincruive aimed at youth and novice cyclists. The session is from 9.30-11.30am, with riders under 13 accompanied by an adult. All roadworthy bikes are suitable. Event info at www.ayrburners.org