Coed Brenin Enduro 2014

Coed Brenin Enduro 2014

Monday, 26 May 2014

Skiddaw Lite

It wasn't planned this way but I've come to the realisation that 2014 is the year of the bike for me. Usually I would switch more to climbing in spring, but this year I'm still loving the mt biking. Also I seem to have entered a 70km race in Scotland (wine was involved in the decision making process), so need to get fitter and maintain it! 

Oh I wondered where I was....

Today I decided to head to the Northern Lakes for a ride. Initially I considered a great 45 km loop that I've done a few times, but feeling distinctly unfit I opted for a shortened version. It starts at Mosedale and takes in a counter clockwise loop North of High Pike, Longlands Fell and Great Cockup (great name!) before heading up the final brutal climb to Mordor (Skiddaw House - YHA). 

Lovely flora at the mo

This climbs a horror, mainly because it should be rideable, but because you see it in its entirety snaking ever upwards into the next climatic zone and you've already cycled 25km it psyche's you (well me) out. 

Nice lunch spot

Clouds forming over Mt Doom

Climb to Mordor....
Overall its a fairly fast route, on and off road and I think 35km with roughly a 1000m of ascent, but today I felt boned (tired) after it. I did enjoy it immensely..... but I couldn't help constantly thinking that its half the distance and ascent of the 'fun' event I've entered later in the year - oh boy.....!

Saturday, 10 May 2014

A few river crossings on the way up Gleann Einich....

Gleann Einich cuts a deep north-south trench into the Caingorms and ends at the beautiful and remote Loch Einich. I've wanted to do this ride for a couple of years and hoped it wasn't going to disappoint. 

I'm not normally a big fan of rides that go out and back the same way, but sometimes in the mountains it makes sense and means a more enjoyable and rideable day as opposed to carrying your bike just to make it into a loop.

Leaving the forest behind

Cold feet after this point!

The route gradually climbs over 15km from Aviemore, firstly through the Rothimurchus Forests before heading above the tree line and into the wilder country up to the Loch. The guide book/locals all warn about making sure you don't go after lots of rain as there are a few fords and one is impassable in spate. Clearly this added to the excitement of the day! 

Abi being more careful trying to keep feet dry - but failing

It is a stunning ride, as you gently climb and get more into the wild with every kilometre. And yes the fords did add entertainment. It feels very wild and remote at the Loch surrounded by the nearby mountains. We stayed as long as we could before the cold made us turn around and head back. On the way back the trails a blast being mostly downhill, but I did find myself stopping to look back lots - a special ride for me.

Sorry I just love my bike - oh and great views

Stunning at the Loch
So we got back to the car after the 30km ride and the sun came out. Someone (Abi) suggested that as it was our last day riding up here why didn't we do an additional 20km 'quick' blast of the Lairgh Ghru circuit!!



Well we did, and it was worth it, but I was pretty tired after 50km on the bike. A great end to the trip.

Note - Back home 2 days later I thought I'll just check whether there's any water in my wheels after all of the river crossings - I took the tyre off and about half a cup full poured out. This ride just keeps giving I definitely recommend it......

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

A gritty day

These alpine type resorts (Aviemore!) are great, but sometimes you need to escape before you get too sucked into the exotic local way of life, partying, biking, riding the steam train, erm...... maybe that's it!
Off we go..

I'd read about a great route further North so we headed to Glen Affric for the day. Pretty remote spot at the end of a very long single track road. When we set off it was really warm and sunny, as we trundled up easy tracks along the Southern side of Loch Affric, heading deeper into the hills.

Is it really Scotland?

Beautiful, but hard to imagine living and surviving in this remote glen
At the far end of the loch there were various intriguing tracks heading off into the wilds, including one to a remote unmanned YHA (maybe next time).

Leaving the savanna behind

Seemingly endless mountains

The way back along the Northern shore was great being more technical and including a few burn crossings. I'd read one could be problematic in spate, and I was glad that it was only 12"-15" deep!

Shelter in the old forest

During this return leg the weather deteriorated and bands of rain chased us down the glen. We were damp by the time we got back and it was extraordinary how covered in grit the bikes were, it was almost like they'd been in a desert all day....

 Lovely spot for a ride in a wild landscape with great scenery.

Monday, 5 May 2014

Nellie meets Larry.......

Abi’s bike had to spend the morning in the local bike shop to sort out the gears. Whilst this happened we got to have a late breakfast and hang out at the Mountain Cafe, which was cool. 

hmm cake...
The guy in the bike shop advised against the circular route on the Lairig Ghru that we were going to do, stating that part of it would be very boggy. Instead he suggested we should go up the Lairig Ghru until it gets unrideable, then turn back and descend the same way. He even claimed this trail to be the best single track in Scotland (mighty words indeed). 

Lovely forest

starting to become interesting riding..
The Lairig Ghru is the best known hill-pass in Scotland. It climbs to an altitude of 835 metres and crosses through the central Cairngorms, forming an old drovers/trade route through the area. I know lots of people do mt bike over it to Braemar, but having walked it previously I know that basically it would be more like a ‘hike with a bike’ and not enjoyable unless pain and suffering is your master!
Great views of the pass

Will it rain (or snow)!? 
We took the guy's advice and headed into the beautiful Rothiemurchus forest from Aviemore, heading gently up, first on fire road, then on brilliant singletrack. It was nearly all rideable, with the odd high rock step that needed a dab. Beautiful views as we broke free of the forest and caught sight of the high pass and mountains guarding it's entrance.
Now the fun bit....

Abi breaking back into the tree line
Abi again was proving a demon on the trail, but the rocky/rooty trail did cause some concern as Abi got some ‘first’ scratches on Nellie!
So much fun...

Go girl....

The trail was even better when we turned and started the descent. Wow - I had a big grin on my face at the bottom, and we decided to go half way back up so we could ride it again. Its definitely the best track I’ve ridden in Scotland so far…..

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Glen Feshie Singletrack

As a warm up we decided that a ride in Glen Feshie would fit the bill. Its the first time I’ve been in this area and the drive down the glen was very beautiful. This would also be the first outing of ‘Nellie’ Abi’s new bike. Rather annoyingly it soon became apparent that the shop hadn’t set up the gears correctly and only the middle ring at the front worked (bad Bike shop). 

The scenery made up for it, even though no low gears meant Abi occasionally had to push up steep bits (good excuse!). The route I got from a book suggests heading South down Glen Feshie from the end of the road until you get to point when you can cross the river. Sadly for us the bridge had been washed away in 2009 (the year my guide was printed)! 

Is that 'all mountain' bike too big for you?
Looking at the remains it looked like even if it had been standing we would have been putting our lives in our hands using it as the remaining timber was very rotten. A helpful sign by the ruined bridge suggested it was to be re-built in 2010!!!!

Great forest trails
There was the option to ford the ‘big’ river but neither of us fancied wet feet/legs all day - even though the pictures could have been entertaining.

Wide open spaces
We had to retrace our route 3km to another bridge, then again go back South on the far side of the river but it was worth the extra mileage as the next section was ace.

Abi blasting the trails
We headed up a shooters track and gained a fair bit of height. Great views of the hills from up here and as it flattened out the trail headed deep into forest before dropping down rooty/rocky/muddy/ technical single track and bring us out at deserted high glen with old croft ruins. 

Nice rest spot
On her new bike Abi shredded this technical single track and I struggled to keep up. There’s a new Queen of the mountains, and her name is Abi….. I think Nellie and Abi are going to have a fine time together….