Thursday, April 06, 2006

Why hired bicycles never ever work properly, but go very well with trains...

Yesterday, the commute (something new for me) from Drymen to Queen Margaret Drive in Glasgow went like this: lift to Balloch station (feeling miserable from some kind of gastric flu) train to Partick, subway to Hillhead, walk to QM Drive.
Weirdly, but as is often the case, the show went particularly well despite general grogginess. I was loaded up on Immodium and Lucozade (which always tastes of being ill), and made the reverse trip back to our rented chalet near Loch Lomond in the midst of the rush hour. Trains heading west from Partick can be confusing: The Balloch train somehow nudged aside the Milngavie one which ought to have come first, leaving one lady who inadvertently got on the Loch Lomond Express Dumbarton.
Anyway, today I decided to cycle into Glasgow. There's a Sustrans national cycle route running from Drymen to Balloch, then onto Bowling and the Forth and Clyde Canal towpath all the way into the city. In total about 30 miles (by car it's only about 17)but obviously there was the fallback option of a train from Balloch if I felt in any way discombobulated.
Which I did. It started badly with the discovery that that the bike I'd hired had hardly any bearings left in the rear hub. Not wishing to have the wheel disintegrate in the middle of Drumchapel, I went into Drymen to swop it over. The new bike had dodgy gears and a very strange saddle, which seemed calculated to cause maximum discomfort. Still, off I went. Against the wind, into the rain all the way from Pirniehall past Gartocharn,I soon began to dream of trains. But I wasn't sure if I could take the by now mud-caked Giant Boulder on with me. No problem. I skidded onto the Balloch platform (not so much a station as a park'n'ride for trains) and asked the guard if it was OK. "Best at the front - there's a long seat up there". There was, and soon I was luxuriating in Strathclyde Passenger Transport velour while we zoomed towards Glasgow. No extra charge for bikes, by the way. Off at Partick, a quick pedal, and I was ready for a terrible roll and sausage at the BBC tea bar. Not that I expected it to be terrible. But it was.

1 comment:

Tom Morton said...

A very pertinent and useful warning! Not quite as terrifying, though, as the old stories of cables stretched at neck-height across the Clyde cycle tunnel...