Thursday, 15 March 2012

New bike: Cycle trip 2

Date: 15th March 2012
Length of route: 11.3 miles/18.1km
Route: Old Aberdeen-Aberdeen City-Torry-Parkhill Wood-Altens-Aberdeen City-Old Aberdeen
Difficulty level: Easy-Medium

Decided to take the bike out again today, but go south of Aberdeen instead of North, as whilst poring over the map I noticed that there is a coastal road that follows the railway tracks for some way, and as I've often enjoyed the views from the train but been unable to get good pictures, I decided to give it a try. I started by marking out the route on my OS map (see below), as this was a new area of Aberdeen for me to explore so I wanted to make sure I didn't make too many mistakes - however, as you can see by comparing the GPS map from above with the hand-drawn map below, I missed out a section of the route - still, I ended up back in the right place and didn't go too far off course!

In order to enable a quick escape from the central area of Aberdeen, I went down King Street and took an immediate left turn off Union Street down Marischal Street to avoid the traffic lights further down Union Street. This brought me out at Aberdeen docks, and whilst waiting for the lights to change on Market Street I got to see a different perspective on some of the ships and boats moored there.

After crossing the Victoria Bridge, I emerged into Torry, a relatively self-contained suburb of Aberdeen that smells distinctly of fish - there are lots of factories and workplaces around here, making it something of a fishy industrial estate! Once escaping the 'fish factories' I emerged onto the road that surrounds Balnagask golf course, which is where the scenery starts to open out and you see a few old features of the landscape dotted around, including a battery and a lighthouse. This part of the route is inevitably very circular, but more picturesque than the shortcut through Balnagask treatment works!

Emerging from the junction at Fitticks Road, this is where the coastal road proper begins, and there are a couple of relatively steep climbs to get up - fortunately, my bike handled them pretty well, although I did stop for a drink and a brief rest before attempting the second ascent, after which the railway track emerges, and I managed to get a half-decent shot of a train passing under the railway bridge. Unfortunately, I missed the so-called Long Slough, where the coastline moves inland so as to leave a yawning gap of sea right next to the railway line - better luck next time!

Generally speaking, the coastal road is a relatively comfortable surface to ride on, but as it is gravel and hasn't been resurfaced for some time, there are a few pot holes and rough patches to contend with, and it's certainly not as smooth as tarmac. Therefore, a bike with at least a little shock absorption or wider tyres is better suited to this route, although you won't be too uncomfortable on a road bike. The exit I needed off the coastal road eventually came sooner than I thought, and I emerged onto the busier roads leading back north to Aberdeen - busier than I expected, but as I realised when I emerged at a different part of Aberdeen to originally planned, I knew I'd come off the earlier roundabout onto the A road, instead of going straight over onto the B road. All in all though, this was another pleasant run for the bike, but it still left me feeling that 10 mile runs aren't really testing this bike to it's limits. I'll have to plan a half day or full day route sometime in the near future!

For full route information:

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