My dynamic crew often have to fit rides around their busy schedules – and Mothers Day was a perfect example where they decided to take the “old git’s” Mum out for a celebration dinner from her home in Ayrshire. The perfect excuse to try a new route – the Ayrshire Coast Cycleway – which the “old gal” had been keen to do for some time … because it is reputed to be fairly flat!
It was all part of my dynamic crew’s master plan to get more tandem training miles clocked up for Team Matilda’s forthcoming Hebridean Way adventure in June. And with much of today’s route hugging the sea it is likely to be ideal preparations for the big ride “on the edge” of Scotland!
More about the HebWay at the end of this blog, but first today’s ride. With the weather coming up trump with the forecast dry and sunny – but naturally with a coastal breeze – it seemed ideal conditions to sample the much anticipated Ayrshire Coastal Cycleway – from Irvine to Ayr, part of Sustrans Scotland NCN Rt7.
You can check out the details of our route by clicking on the Strava map below.
So it was an early departure from Matildas Rest for the near 80 mile drive to our start point at a fantastic car park right on the beach at Irvine Beach Park. And we were met with fabulous clear blue sky and sunshine as the “old gal” got me kitted up for our ride – enjoying the spectacular views across to the Isle of Arran.
So Team Matilda were in good spirits as we pedalled off round Irvine Beach Park before heading inland through two Scottish Wildlife Reserves at Gailes Marsh and Shewalton Wood. The route returns to the coast at Barassie which offered a spectacular backdrop for the “old gal” to take her ‘Happy Mothers Day’ phone call from her daughter Kirsty.
Next the path passes through Troon – including a stretch along the promenade – before continuing to follow the coast to Prestwick and then to Ayr. Some stretches use local back roads – but the dedicated cycle path stretches were fabulous. My dynamic crew were most impressed with the super smooth surfaces – particularly near Prestwick Airport – which were a sheer joy to tandem on.
The Ayrshire Coast Cycleway continues along the seafront at Prestwick, before skirting the docks at Ayr and re-emerging on to the scenic esplanade. The blue sky had stayed with us all along the coast and the sea front at Ayr offered the perfect spot for the “old git” and “old gal” to have their picnic lunch – enjoying the beautiful views of the beach and out to sea.
The sunny weather was obviously going to the “old git’s” head as he decided he had to sample a Scots tradition – an Irn-Bru flavour ice cream from the amusingly named Pirate Pete’s cafe beside the adventure playground at the Esplanade! Let’s just say the idea was better than the taste!
With our tight schedule it was time to start the return trip so we pedalled off towards Prestwick where we spotted a fantastic installation of a bike repair station ideally situated on the promenade. And it was designed as a piece of artwork with a wonderfully uplifting cycling quote from Arthur Conan Doyle, the author of Sherlock Holmes, carved into the metalwork:
“When the spirits are low
when the day appears dark
when work becomes monotonous
when hope hardly seems worth having
just mount a bicycle and go out
for a spin down the road
without thought on anything
but the ride you are taking.”
The quote was certainly somewhat apt – and personally inspirational – for my dynamic crew given what they have been thru recently, and they had a quiet moment together lost in their thoughts.
Apart from the artistic nature of the bike repair station, it also obviously had a practical side and had an impressive range of tools attached to it to help if a cyclist had a problem or a puncture needed fixed. And the best bit was that they were all in good working order.
As we tandemed back along the path thru the wildlife reserves back to Irvine there was a quick photo stop at one of the impressively decorated Millennium Mileposts to be spotted along the cycleway.
As we pedalled back into the car park at Irvine Beach Park it was great to see the beach and the park so busy with people enjoying the sunshine. Truly an uplifting day!
Fortunately on completing the trip there was time for my dynamic crew to have a reviving and relaxing coffee and cake at the wonderful Small Talk coffee and gift shop on the harbour side at Irvine near the Scottish Maritme Museum – before heading to Kilmarnock to take the “old git’s” Mum out for her Mothers Day treat, a lovely meal at The Glasshouse Restaurant at Rowallan castle.
Over coffee, the “old git” checked Strava which officially recorded the ride as being worthy of no gongs at all … as this was the first attempt at the Ayrshire Coast Cycleway route.
The detailed Strava figures showed my dynamic crew tandemed a distance of 34.3 miles with a moving time of 3 hours and 07 minutes. The average speed was a healthy 11.0 mph given the new route and dodging pedestrians, while the elevation was 652 feet. The maximum speed was 23.9 mph given the relatively flat terrain and Team Matilda managed to burn up 1,566 calories and produce an average power output of 125 W.
A great day out in tandem in Discover Ayrshire VisitAyrshire South Ayrshire Council North Ayrshire Council area! Team Matilda will definitely return! As always the route and pictures are brought to life in our Relive 3D video – so take a look below.
Finally, more about Team Matilda’s forthcoming Hebridean Way adventure in June. That’s another 34 miles in the training bag – and given the proximity of NCN Rt7 to the sea it was ideal practice then for the HebWay. Not long to go now and I am looking forward to teaming up with Siggy, the attractive gent of a tandem belonging to the “old git” and “old gal’s” good tandeming friends John and Jane – who have their own Travelling in Tandem blog – for our self-proclaimed Nutty Tandemers Club challenge.
But obviously there’s still a good few training rides for the “old git” and “old gal” to get in peak condition before they tackle the 185 miles of the #HebWay route from Vatersay to the Butt of Lewis Lighthouse at Ness over 5 days tandeming! Now, what is it they say about practice makes perfect?