The mad dash to the coast

July 2011
85 km

After a handful or so bikerides south-west from me into Ayrshire, I decided to do a ride to Ardrossan again and back. That was my plan. But I decided the night before to do a small detour over West Kilbride instead of going straight to Ardrossan. This despite of the bad forecast who predicted rain from 1300 and heavy rain from 1600.

Due to the bad weather forecast, my alarm clock went of at 0400 in the morning and I was on the road down to Paisley at 0445. I normally take great care through the pretty bad traffic machines in Paisley. But this time, I was worried about the weather forecast and cycled through Paisley as quick as I could. Due to bad light, I did not join the cycle path in Paisley as I normally do. I cycled over Paisley West to Elderslie before joining the cycle path. I did not loose any time on this and that gave me plenty of food for thought. I soon got into a good rhythm on this cyclepath on the disused railway line past Johnstone and over the bridge to the run down to Lochwinnoch. I gave a fox a run for it's food in one of the old railway cuttings until it disappeared through a fence. My idea was to do at least ¾ of the tour before the rain got me first and then deal with the rain. Hence, I was in a hurry on this excellent cycle path past Lochwinnoch and up to Kilbirnie and the end of this cycle path. I took the road over to Dalry and then the road up to the Ardrossan & West Kilbride crossroad. The climb up from Dalry was vertical for a mile until I reached a plateau and some more gentle terrain. I know this road very well so I paced myself. I soon reached the crossroad and continued straigth up the hill to the top at 120 meters above sea level.

Looking up the road towards the hill over to West Kilbride from the Ardrossan/West Kilbride crossroad

This climb was short, but brutal. But the views in all directions more than made up for it and I was really happy with this added detour to my original plan. The weather looked good too. Which was a blessing during the rather tricky descent down to West Kilbride which I reached well ahead of my schedule. I bypassed this village and all the traffic problems through a road over the railway station and under the railway on some new tarmac. I got a glimpse of the ferry...

Watching the first ferry of the day (0700) leaving Ardrossan for Arran from the road down from West Kilbride

My plans next year is to do the Kintyre bikeride again which I did in year 2000 (which I cannot do this year due to health problems) and it is vital that I reach the 0700 sailing. I duly noted that it is possible to leave Paisley at 0400 and reach this ferry with time to spare. That was one of the reasons I did this bikeride now as a trial run.
I reached the main road after the descent down from West Kilbride. The weather was holding up fine and I eased up the tempo.

Looking back up the coast towards West Kilbride

The ride down to Ardrossan was spent on a good cycle path along the sea front and I could not be happier with the excellent views I had towards Arran and the disappearing ferry. I soon reached Ardrossan which I bypassed. I also bypassed Saltcoats too and I found myself a small Tesco shop who did some tasty cakes. I needed these cakes to get my energy back after feeling a bit drained.
The cycling from Ardrossan to Kilwinning was not particular interesting with some rather heavy traffic and roundabouts to deal with too. But I soon reached this small town with the rather confusing traffic. I had done some print outs from Google Maps so I was OK. I soon found the small road up to Auchentibber. The first part of this road were a bit steep past a cemetery. But it soon became pretty flat and straight.

Looking up the road to Auchentibber and the green hills (to the right) I had to climb before reaching Paisley.

I was looking for a forest, but that never appeared. Auchentibber did appear though much sooner than anticipated. The weather was still very good and I continued up the A 736 road towards Lugton. Three kilometers before Lugton and at a place called Burnhouse, I took the rather small road to Dunlop. After crossing a small valley with an old bridge, a vertical climb followed to a plateau. A small descent followed to a narrow bridge and a climb up to Dunlop. I was met by a crowing rooster, some noisy cows and some goose who also joined in the infernal noise. The climb up to Dunlop and the church there is very beautiful. The very narrow street up to the main road in Dunlop created a traffic jam with myself and a small car almost becoming stucked there. I will most definate do this road again !

My map over Dunlop was plainly wrong and I seeked advice in a local newsagent. Dunlop is a very pretty village stucked in the past with small shops and very friendly, helpful people. It is a village surrounded by farms and where Farmer Weekly is the big seller in the newsagents. It is a village which really pulls my heartstrings ! I got the directions I needed and cracked up the hill towards Neilston Road. The climbs was not too bad from Dunlop. I soon reached Neilston Road and continued up that road to Fullwood. This small five houses big spot on the map is also a crossroad with a very interesting road taking off the main Neilston Road over Gabroc Hill. This road, which I now took, goes parallell and on another ridge than the mainroad Neilston Road. But it is really a choice between two different types of candy because Neilston Road is also a superb ride.

Looking back towards Dunlop from the road up to Gabroc Hill two hundred meters after Fullwood

I continued up the steep hill from the crossroad, took the picture above and continued up the not particular steep climbs up to Gabroc Hill. I met another cyclist and we had a talk. I passed the farm at Gabroc Hill and suffered a puncture on the rear wheel. I changed tube and had a look at the skies. No rain forthcoming. Strange...... I continued up to the top of the hill at 236 meters above sea level.

Looking over towards Neilston Road, Gleniffer Braes and the mountains above Loch Lomond from the top of this hill

Just after this hill, the road did a zig-zag turn past the Harelaw Dam before it went down to the left and rejoined Neilston Road. This Gabroc Hill was an excellent detour, despite of the puncture. I was a bit worried about the wheel, but it turned out to be OK.

Looking down the hill towards Neilston, Paisley and Glasgow

I rejoined Neilston Road again, took the picture above and continued down the hill to Neilston again. I am slowly falling in love in this small village. It is high above Glasgow and Paisley and has some superb scenery. I need to make some enquiries into house prices, I guess.
The descent down from Neilston to Barrhead is a vertical drop and a test of the brakes. My rear wheel was OK and I had no problems. I chose the road over Dykebar from Barrhead and returned to my flat in good spirit after a brilliant bikeride.

Oh, the rain ? It arrived 6 hours later........ So much for the weather forecast !


I tend to use the phrase “classic bikeride” too often. But this tour has the potential to become one of my classic bikerides. It was a very funny, rewarding bikeride which I will surely do again. There is also great potential to extend the bikeride to either Largs and/or go down the coast towards Irvine and Troon. As it is now, it is a superb bikeride.