Winter Training - Not On A Bike

Well Ok, there was a bike involved for some of it, but I did do some training without a bike. I had ridden a lovely 70 mile loop around Abington, Leadhills and Wanlockhead on the Thursday. This has got to be one of my favourite places in the whole country, much overlooked, between the Lake District and the Highlands and far less populated. Wanlockhead is of course the highest village in Scotland, over 1,500ft up and yet one still has a climb out of it whichever way one goes. There was a mini-digger scrapping snow off one of the roads but as no snow had fallen in the home counties no mention was made of this on the news.

On the Friday I had parked the van at Kinlocheil near Fort William and decided to take the bike out for a quick lap of the Ardgour and Moidart Peninsulas. This was spectacular, and a little further than I had planned, a loop around Lochallort, Ardshealach and Strontian. Who cares though, the weather was lovely and the scenery stunning. It was nice to get a few ‘proper’ climbs in again, being a Lincolnshire lad I don’t often get chance to practice them.

Friday night was spent at the cottage in Glen Coe village, a lovely red and white single storey building with thick stone walls, a log fire and a slight issue with the hot water supply. It was great to meet up with everyone again after being south of the border for so long, mustn’t leave it as long before my next trip up here. The evening passed in a blur of Lisa’s homemade curry, Moira’s fantastic cheese selection, very significant quantities of cakes and some rather interesting discussions of altitude sickness. To be honest the blur may have been down the Japanese whiskey though…

Saturday dawned fine, much better than the English weather of late. The residents of Locharbour will take any opportunity to tell us what a marvellous summer they had in 2012. Nice to know someone did!

There had been two groups of climbers killed on nearby hills in recent days, and so with our sensible heads on, and a lack of crampons and axes in the group, we decided to confine ourselves to areas with ‘Low’ or ‘Very Low’ risk of avalanche. We elected to climb Beinn a Chrulaiste, starting near the Devil’s Staircase. Although this was not a hugely interesting climb it did have a number of advantages. Firstly, we were not likely to die in an avalanche. Secondly, we would have spectacular views of the snow covered Three Sisters and Rannoch Moor and thirdly there was a rather nice pub at the bottom. The top was also a lovely location for a picnic, more fine cheeses and various cakes, along with a selection of Nigel’s chocolates.

I don’t know how many of you are aware, probably only those that know me personally as I haven’t really mentioned it on here, but I fractured my kneecap back at the beginning of December (the other one, not the one I did at Innerleithen in November 2006. It hurt just as much though) I went for my first run in four months with Lisa and Louise, just a short one around the woods to the west of Sgorr na Ciche. My knee survived remarkably well and I was at last declared ‘fit’.
Having literally eaten ourselves out of house and home we had little choice for the Saturday night other than too head for the Clachaig Inn for the evening, it’s a tough old life.

With my knee having survived a 20 minute trot around a local wood the night before the obvious next step (!?!) for Sunday morning was a 2½hr run from Glen Coe, traversing round Stob Dubh to Glen Etive and back. I don’t know who’s idea it was but it wasn’t one of their better ones. We headed up the valley of Lairig Gartain and then traversed the hill to the woods at the end of the valley and back along Lairig Etive. The views were lovely and I enjoyed the run at the time but my knee was feeling distinctly odd by the end of it, like the kneecap was floating around on some sort of fluid, not painful but distinctly odd.

I had a 400 mile drive home, which is when my knee really started to cause problems, it was getting ever so stiff,  I had to keep stopping to hobble around various motorway service stations to restore some movement to it.

I will be sticking to the bike for the foreseeable future..

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