Catch Up Time part two

reveal the pathDecember 15th – David (Bothy Bikes), Andy (Backcountry Biking) and Olly (Rock Solid) decided to be movie promoters for a day, and put on a screening of Reveal the Path, together with two other short adventure films.

Reveal the Path is a film about adventure biking, inspiration and discovery, starting off in Scotland and traversing the globe (via public transport!)

During the afternoon Andy let a short ride out from Bothy Bikes – the trails were pretty icy at first but things improved as height was gained. A few folk turned up with a different idea of what sort of ride we were doing!

pony ride outI wanted to have a sense of journeying to and from the event (as well as wanting to drink lots of beer) so rode out to Glenmore Lodge (great venue!) from the shop. It was fun riding along the Old Logging Way trying to guess which tyre tracks might belong to fellow film goers. As it turned out it was only the Nates from Gavin’s Salsa…

The first film shown was The Logan Traverse, a 370 mile Alaskan ski/packrafting trip which didn’t quite go to plan. Using packrafts as pulks is a great idea – must try it sometime!

Next up was the main feature – I enjoyed the Scotland section, interesting to see us from another perspective, although it’s a shame they didn’t choose a better route. It was cool when they met up with Iona on her Fargo – lots of cheering for that bit!

Lastly we had the Lost Coast video which is part of what inspired Andy and Rob from Backcountry Biking to get into bikerafting.

Once the films were over everyone headed up to the bar for the gigantic raffle. Star prize was a signed print from Salsa Cycles which was kindly donated by Pat from Ison distribution alsong with some other Salsa and Surly goodies. Thank you Pat! We also had some Reveal the Path and Ride the Divide DVDs and lots of stickers. Yay, stickers!

packraft interestBackcountry Biking had a bikerafting demo set up – which drew a fair amount of interest. Hopefully some of those who enjoyed the film will come and try out their excellent courses or expeditions.

indoor packraftingCheck out their website for details of some of the wonderful trips they arrange.

After a fair few beers, it was time to go. Dawyd and I headed back via the Cairngorm Club Bridge, Loch an Eilein and Inshriach Bothy. Sublime riding on the frozen trails with a head full of adventurous possibilities!



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Catch Up Time part one

Behind again with the blog! Here’s a quick update:

5th December: Snow!! Lovely cold, clear night. High Burnside. Two fat bikes, two fixed gear singlespeeds. Freak show!

Bikes waiting patiently for their riders

Bikes waiting patiently for their riders

I was pretty excited about the first properly snowy ride of the season, but not as much as recent Surly Pugsley purchasers Keith and Stevie. This was their time!
My Salsa was kitted out with ice spiker tyres and a fixed cog on the rear – a choice I was possibly going to regret!

The climb on the forest road going up High Burnside was mostly sheet ice, ideal for the spiky tyres – it really is incredible what you can ride on, feels like riding slick rock! The others had to stay at the side of the trail where the snow hadn’t been compacted – no problem for the fat bikes, but Dawyd struggled a bit on his Karate Monkey with semi-slicks.

Nice Hat

Nice Hat

Once the trail levelled out we encountered deeper snow, and the fat bikes were way ahead, as you’d expect though my setup worked fine as long as I stayed in the fat tyre tracks. The snow was lovely, dry and powdery – actually pretty grippy, and there was no real advantage here for my ice tyres.

Stevie Drops In

Stevie Drops In

Keith gets first tracks

Keith gets first tracks

Dropping in to the first descent was fun, but I reached the limit of my fixed gear riding ability on the steep stuff. Dawyd’s semi slicks let him happily skid down the snow-covered trail, but my tyres were far too grippy so I had to keep pedalling over everything.
The ‘Tunnel of Wasps’ traverse was riding incredibly well in the snow and felt super fast and flowy. I know a few people don’t like that trail, but I think it’s fun, and a great challenge to ride it without dabbing.

It’s been great riding with Keith and Stevie on their Pugsleys over the past while and seeing how they cope with a variety of trails. On this ride they were obviously in their element, riding stuff that just wouldn’t be doable on a normal mtb.
They’ve found the fat bikes to be real all rounders, providing massive grip in loose/soggy conditions, superb floatation over chunky terrain and fun handling in all conditions. In fact since they got their Pugs, there’s been a Niclolai and an Orange 5 languishing in storage!

Keith keeps asking me why I don’t have a fat bike yet, and the answer is spelt K-R-A-M-P-U-S, but that’s another story…

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2012 Ride Round-Up

Well, I got so bogged down trying to write the last blog post that I’ve missed half the year’s rides. Anyway, here’s a round-up of what we’ve ridden since August.

August 29th – the plan was to do the Burma Road circuit, but the weather turned stormy so we enjoyed some ‘brown pow’ on High Burnside and went for a curry afterwards. Here’s Fraser on his splendid trail:

September 5th – possibly my favorite ever low-level loop. Lochans-Creag Dubh-Green Dream-Badan Dubh. Singletrack heaven.



September 12th – a long one from Aviemore to Inshriach Clifftop trails, returning via Jack Drake’s Bothy. Trails in wonderful condition thanks to a good drying wind!

September 19th – big turn out at Kingussie. Perhaps not the best ride to take lots of Wednesday night newbies, but we had a plan and we stuck to it. Trails were a bit wet so we had to push some parts that would normally be good to ride. The final descent was great fun and there’s always a warm post-ride welcome in the Silverfjord bar.


I missed the next two rides from Aviemore and Carrbridge but was back on the bike in time for a ride up into Coire an Sneachda on October 10th making the most of a beautiful starry night. Not that you can tell from my terrible photos…





The next week we visited High Burnside once again (our default ride – just behind the shop and full of wonderful trails) then on the 24th we journeyed to Grantown-on-Spey for a tour of the town’s excellent singletrack courtesy of local Wolfpax riders and Basecamp Bikes. We incorporated the Anagach Woods skills loop into the ride – it’s such a fantastic resource for the area.



The last day of October was incredibly wet, I don’t think I’ve ever seen the trails so muddy… We started from Feshiebridge and did the classic loop from there to the Badan Dubh. Unfortunately one of the descents we’d planned to do, Dom’s Demise, has met its own demise thanks to most of the trees that lined the way being clear felled. The harvesting operations extend from the main climb almost to the trig point and over to the top of the Green Dream.




November’s first ride was another local ride, the on the 14th we met at Inshriach Nursery car park for a great wee Clifftop Trails/Cake or Death loop – tracks back to perfect condition with a seasonal covering of pine needles.


Having heard that Bill at the Glenmore Shop has converted part of the store to a bar (the Pine Marten Bar) it seemed rude not to pay a visit, so we arranged to meet there on the 21st. We rode the Badaguish circuit, followed by a loop around the back of Loch Morlich – trails once again in great condition for the time of year. The pub was great too, thanks Bill!

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Rights and Responsibilities…

August 2012

This Summer, Developing Mountain Biking in Scotland (DMBinS) launched their excellent new Do The Ride Thing guide and online game. It’s a fun (and educational) look at some of mountain bikers’ access rights and responsibilities.

In Scotland we’re lucky to have some of the least restrictive land access in the world. Imagine needing a permit to go into the backcountry or being forbidden to ride on certain paths, whether they’re suitable for bikes or not…

No Bikes

In Aviemore we’re also extremely lucky to be surrounded by some really amazing trails in a beautiful area with a rich and varied natural (and human!) history.
When customers ask about trails, we like to suggest something that will give them good value (route advice is free, riding time is precious!) for the day’s ride.

There are some wonderful routes like the Burma Road or Ryvoan Pass which are rewarding landrover track rides, with great scenery and simple navigation – both ‘must do’ routes for any rider visiting the area.
What a lot of people are after though, is singletrack – flowy, rocky, techy techy gnar gnar, big stupid grin stuff…

Here’s where suggesting a route becomes a little bit trickier; we’ve got to consider obvious things like what condition the trail is in and is it appropriate for the rider (skill level, attitude towards riding) but also we need to know if there is any forestry work going on, is there any potential threat to wildlife and how might other trail users (walkers, bikers) feel about ‘their’ previously quiet trail being used. So much to think about!


Our plan was to ride from Glenmore to Cairngorm via the Allt Mor path. Our route would take us to Coire-an-t’Sneachda, a wonderfully wild-feeling coire, especially popular with climbers in Winter.
The whole route (apart from one very short boggy bit in Sneachda) is on hard packed rocky trails. It’s really challenging stuff: you need to be fit to enjoy the climb and have good bike handling skills to make the most of the descent (there are a lot of drainage ditches) It was never designed with riders in mind, in fact the Allt Mor path has features which were actually built to discourage mountain bikers (the “No Mountain Bikes” signs were taken down after the current access legislatation came into being)
I think it’s a circuit that’s appropriate for bikers to ride, but it’s definately one I’d only recommend after making sure the rider(s) would safely enjoy it.








Anyhow, it turned out to be blowing a force ten hoolie, so we decided to do a lower, less exposed route, which for various reasons is not one I should tell anyone about, not even you. Sorry.

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