Glasgow window cleaner and fitness fanatic, Ryan Kinnaird has completed an epic challenge of cycling the West Highland Way in under a day to raise money for the Glasgow Children’s Hospital Charity.
Ryan cycled the 96 mile route on Saturday 14th May in under 15 hours, starting at 5am in Fort William and reaching the finishing in Milngavie just before 8pm and raising over £1,600 for a good cause.
Ryan stated “I had been training to do the West Highland Way in a day for 3 months and yesterday I completed the full north to south route in just short of 15 hours fully supported. Having ridden the route several times over 3 and 2 days this was a personal challenge. This was one of the toughest things I have ever done”
He continued “The training and prep to do a day like this is crazy. Mentally challenging to say the least. The weather is an important key factor in getting a good time too. Having done several training runs, I had been caught in the wind, rain and snow. It’s not fun being blown about the top of the Devils”
The ride from Fort William to Milngavie was followed by support driver David Grier, who carried supplies and equipment and met Ryan every 2 to 3 hours wherever possible. As Ryan intended to travel light, the support van was essential to the success of the challenge as it carried food, spares and other equipment.
To maintain his energy levels, Ryan consumed gels and sandwiches every 40 mins, he also had to drink 500 ml of fluids every hour to stay hydrated.
Ryan has recorded a blog of his journey
Fort William to Kinlochleven
On the day of the start I got up at 4,40 to set off for 5am. I had to wake my mate up that was sleeping in his camper, he was the support. I was staying in Ossians hostel. Soon after we were a short distance to the new start which is on the high street. As it was still getting light it was cold. I opted to hurry the standard start pics.
5 am start and I was off yeeeeehaaa!!!
This first section I would take in the long climb up the zigzags across from Ben Nevis. I never had anything to eat for breakfast because I knew I would be eating every 40mins. Last time I done this climb on a full belly I nearly died. I flew this section with ease, sun was warming the air but still chilly. I reached the top of the climb and remembered time to eat a sandwich, then the count was on every 40mins after. The descent was awesome as the trails where dry and the bike just rolled so nice. Everything from Fort William to Kinlochleven was effortless. I had been training for months so legs were strong enough to handle anything. The sun was in my face for a good few miles which was annoying. I was aiming for 2 hrs to KLL. If I got to the top of the decent into KLL in under 2hrs I was laughing.
Looked at my speedo exactly 1hr 50 Yaaaas!!!!. Nailed the downhill section. Buzzing for my next stop.
Kinlochleven to Devils Staircase
I would say one of the toughest mountain bike climbs in Scotland. I was kind of dreading this climb. 2 weeks ago I had to walk most in the wind, rain and snow. I set off with the mindset let’s not blow up!!! I had still a long way to travel and had some other hefty climbs left over the distance. I was meeting my support at the other side of the Devils . I only opted for a single 500 ml of fluids to take. I stuck to carrying my 2 gels and sandwich in tinfoil. Parts of the Devils staircase I had to walk so I choose to eat my solids at times like this. I smoked the first section up leven rd. If you would have been around you would of heard me screaming with joy at the top of the climb YAAAAS!!!!. If you know the Devils it’s a technical climb I had a very good climb up it only having to walk very little. I smashed a time of 55 mins on strava from bottom of Kinlochlevven to the top of the Devils knocking nearly 20 mins off of my last attempt 2weeks ago. I love the Devils descent and raced to the bottom to meet my support, Dave G who is my best mate. Without him this would never have happened.
Bottom of Devils to Bridge of Orchy.
This section is a long stretch passing the Kings house and up along the side of Glencoe ski centre. In bad weather this can be brutal as it’s so exposed. The weather was amazing, the sun was splitting the sky. It’s a bit of a long drag of a climb past the ski centre. Once you are past this climb it feels like you are descending forever. That’s the rewards of climbing though. I was still sticking to my food routine. I knew after this downhill I had a beast of a climb before the downhill section to bridge of Orchy. The climb is not for the faint hearted. I think any good mountain biker would be challenged on this. Legs feeling strong, I climbed and past some walkers coming in the opposite direction looking at me with discontent. Climb over and another sandwich down 😋 time for another cracking decent. Arrived in bridge of Orchy looking for Dave but forgot I had told him to meet me at the station. Rolled into the station in under 5 hrs. I was buzzing with this time and moving quick. I wasn’t wanting to wait either few hugs replenish food and drinks and I was off again.
Bridge of Orchy to Tyndrum
This section is one of the quickest section for me. I blitz this section in just over 40 mins, being 6th fastest on strava. The terrain varies in intensity with long descents and long gradual climbs. One of the climbs you are walking for a good bit. I remember spotting a few bikers ahead. Me being me I decided to try and pull they bikers in. It wasn’t very hard as they weren’t moving quick. I stopped to chat to the boys. They were good lads and were doing the distance over 3 days, they had left earlier from the Kings house. Chatting for less than a minute with them . The shock on their faces once I told them what I was doing. I set off for the descent to Tyndrum, I wasn’t racing downhill or anything. I could hear a bike behind me, I think one of the guys behind wanted to prove something. Ain’t winning any trophies on fire road descents pal😂😂. I put the boot down rolling into Tyndrum ahead of schedule.
Tyndrum to Inveranan
I was ahead of schedule looking good for my time on the top section. The weather was getting very hot by this point. I was still religiously sticking to my eating and drinking plan. The climbs over and into Crainlarich are very steep through the woods. I pedaled quite slow up the hills that were steep and tried to gain speed on other sections that weren’t as steep. Lots of rolling hills with ups and downs. I even earned a KOM on strava on one of the descents whoop!!! Whoop!!. It’s a bit of a push with loads of uphill on the right side of the A82 of the WHW all the way down to Inveranan. They have loads of works on the trails just now so sign posts could easily direct you the wrong way as I found this out earlier having to detour. Not losing much time I was flying into Inveranan 7hrs 20mins. The descents coming down that side are fast and easily rolled to save energy. I was so happy to see Dave’s face at this point, he was phoning me 10 mins before my arrival thinking I was running late. The next stage was the hardest by far.
Inveranan to Inversnaid hike a bike
This is a very tough section but not as tough as everyone goes on about. It’s a hike a bike. The terrain in places you can ride, even myself been a good techy rider found it hard to gain rhythm. I hiked this section in 1hr 40 on a training route. I biked from drovers to Milngavie 57km with the weather brutal. In the dry I thought I would have smoked it. I was so wrong as the weather was starting to take its toll on me after 100km on the legs. I was tiring but still pushing through. I only had enough supplies for 2hrs worth. I was meeting Dave in Rowardennan and I prob wouldn’t see him for at least 3 hrs. Playing with this in my head was probably slowing me down and I was mentally torturing myself. I came up with a plan to top up my bottles with just water when I arrive at inversnaid. I knew I had An hr to go to meet Dave after inversnaid. I remember arriving at Rob Roy’s cave and thinking amazing I only have a short push and then back pedalling the bike to inversnaid. I was a lot slower this time 2hrs 30mins. Hurrying into the hotel to top my bottles up with water. I was guzzling water down, I needed it. Short phone call to Dave to tell him I’m safe and I would be an hour. Great feeling to be back on the bike. I had one caffeine gel left which was enough. I spread the feeding times out a bit more so that I had enough to get me to next meet at Rowardennan. I absolutely was in agony for that full hour. My wee toes on my feet were throbbing. After hiking, biking and been on the bike for 10hrs would do that. From inversnaid to Rowardennan is a mixture of techy and long climbs that drag for ages. On fresh legs I wouldn’t even think about the climbs. Climbing over and descending into Rowardennan was an amazing feeling. I was very close to finishing. Meeting Dave was good, he was handing me drinks, gels and sandwiches. He was asking me to many questions. I knew by this point I was running on empty but was willing to push through once hydrated and fuelled again. All I could think about was conic hill and the climb. I was just over 11hrs to here. We hadn’t discussed our next meeting point and this was a confusion for me. I took as much as I could fit in my jersey and pockets. I Told Dave to meet me at the beach tree in 3 hrs. This gave me 1hr along the shore, 1hr up conic and 1hr to the beach tree to meet him. Totally doable 👍.
Rowardennan to beach tree via Conic
The Loch Lomond shore is an easy ride with good paths up and downs. Few techy features but nothing to shout home about if you are a mountain biker. I rolled into the car park at Balmaha. Start the climb up the footpath of conic. I haven’t biked this direction before. It’s steep right till you hit the first gate. It’s now bike on shoulders till the top of the first set of steps. I was making fairly good speed up the hill but it was very tough. Couple of guys I got chatting to took my mind off the steepness. They were moving slower than me so I pushed on with the last stretch to the top. That was tough. Descent time was not that fun down. Hands were on the brakes Trying to stay safe rather than going for it like I usually would. I forgot after the descent I had a good few climbs left before I was meeting Dave at the beach tree. I soldiered on still eating like mad and double dropping gels. My pockets were full of gels. Once you are past the top of Drymen you have a load of roads to negotiate. I granny ringed all the road climbs, I was just desperate to finish now. Loads of gates were annoying me along the flattest section of the WHW to the Beach Tree. It’s fast and i covered ground here very quick and arrived on schedule or before. Topped up on last fluids, caffeine shot this time round.
Final stretch to Milngavie
I knew from here I was going to do it in 15hrs. I had 10km left and had the last climb of the day to do. I was gonna slowly spin up the Yeti climb the back of Mugdock park. It’s a climb on a good day but not after 150km. Slowly but surely I made it to the top. In my own head it was complete. I felt with the last climb done it was just a straight finish to the town centre. My energy and spirits had been lifted by a shot of caffeine. I booted the last bit through Mugdock park overtaking a group of riders along the way. I felt I was getting faster and faster. I rolled into the town centre minutes shy of 8pm after setting off in Fort William at 5am. Family and friends waiting and cheering. I was deranged and had to take a minute to realise what I had just done.
I was recording my ride on strava and was gutted to see my phone was dead and out of battery. I only managed to record 120km. It’s done know and sitting in the house tonight I couldn’t be happier. I owe my life to my friends and family for supporting me. Vicky Logan you are my rock and world. David Grier I couldn’t have done it without you. Thanks West