Maire, Matt & Sandy Playford traveled from Australia with adventure in mind. They decided on a epic ride beginning in Harrogate and ending up in Glasgow. Their route took them through some of the most challenging and stunning terrain the nations had to offer.
They originally contacted us regarding the Focus Paralane, this was the perfect bike for the job. With the Paralane you are able to fit both panniers and Focus’s own mudguards, this was essential for the Playfords as they had allot of equipment to carry and were heading for rough terrain. The Paralane is adventure ready with clearance up to 35mm tyres, as a result, a few minor adjustments are all it takes to transform the bike from a thoroughbred endurance road bike to an adventure road machine, and it’s then equipped for any experience.
Stage one: 27/5 – Harrogate to Hawes: 95.3km; 1690m of climbing.
Pretty intense first day in the saddle! We didn’t really know what to expect from our first day in the Yorkshire Dales, but Greenhow Hill heading out of Pateley Bridge made us consider what we’d signed up for. It was exciting to ride part of the Tour de France and Tour de Yorkshire routes on our Paralanes and we definitely earned our dinner.
Stage two: 28/5 – Hawes to Temple Sowerby: 59.3km; 617m of climbing.
This was a nice Sunday ride with the highlight being the ride to Kirkby Stephen following the River Eden (appropriately named). When we arrived at The King’s Arms we got to lock up our bikes next to where the King used to house his horses used to defend the border from raiders.
The B6259 to Kirkby Stephen was a beautiful stretch of road
Stage three: 29/5 – Temple Sowerby to Longtown: 92.6km; 995m of climbing.
It was a wet morning but made brighter by morning tea at the lovely volunteer-run corner store at Kirkoswald. The rest of the day was filled with pit stops at historical monuments – a Druids circle, Lanercost Priory, Birdoswald Roman Fort, Hadrian’s Wall…Our bikes were perfectly suited to the little back country lanes from Kirkcambeck to Longtown with their twists and turns, surprising hills and unpredictable road surfaces.
Ancient and modern sacred objects; the Paralane at the Druids circle.
Stage four: 30/5 – Longtown to Girthon: 107.9km; 883m of climbing.
Our biggest day on the road brought us into Scotland via Gretna, to a quilt show in Clarencefield, the riverside in Dumfries, a cafe in Castle Douglas, an ice cream van in Kirkoswald and finally a Kirk House at Girthon near Gatehouse of Fleet. The hardest section, between Dumfries and Castle Douglas (described on the Strava segment as ‘lumpy’) was a combination of long, grinding hills, rain, wind and our first puncture at aptly named Hardgate. We were all fixed and away after acquainting our selves with the clever RAT quick release on the Paralane. Thankfully it was on the front, we would learn about changing the back another day…
Stage five: 31/5 – Girthon to Patna: 82.9km; 938m of climbing.
What a beautiful day for everything to go wrong. Blue skies and sunshine made us feel very at home whilst we learned some important lessons in route selection and ALL about changing punctures on the back wheel. All the weight on the back with the panniers, coupled with the gnarly gravel of the Galloway Forest meant perfect conditions for a pinch flat (or five) on dad’s bike. Our contingency was the puncture repair kit, but when we got to that point we discovered the glue had run out. We walked about a kilometre before we arrived at Clatteringshaws Loch Visitor Centre and made a beeline for a qualified looking mountain biker. He gave us some patches and for the rest of the day we were praising our new friend Ian.
Stage six: 1/6 – Patna to Kilwinning: 54.1km; 309m of climbing.
The first day of summer made us very glad for our mudguards. We had a pretty relaxed ride in to Ayr and stopped in at the bike shop to stock up on tubes. We followed National Cycle Route 7 along a variety of golf courses as the rain continued and became gradually more torrential. We dawdled at lunch to keep out of the weather but our bikes coaxed us out again and held strong as we got lost a few more times before arriving at our destination wet and weary…which actually turned out to be a place with the same name next door to our destination (but the lady also had a Focus bike and kindly pointed us in the right direction.)
We were able to spend most of the day riding along National Cycle Route 7 which afforded us nice flat car-free paths that we could ride along to our hearts content. It was like an alternate universe where bikes reign supreme. This universe ended by the time we reached Glasgow as the signs petered out (even though a security guard from the university tried to show us the way in his little electric car). We decided to rejoin the main road and were sustained by beautiful views all the way to Balfron.