Coed Brenin Enduro 2014

Coed Brenin Enduro 2014

Sunday, 27 September 2015

Not for the faint hearted.....

Or so the guide book said about today's ride around Grizedale in the Lakes. Mentally the ride I'd planned couldn't fail to be great fun for us, admittedly I knew it was very hilly, with a few challenging sections but what could go wrong.....

Abi's face says it all...

I guess my brain had blanked out how tough the first section was, and it quickly became clear that Abi was not enjoying herself. I can't really blame her as it did feel like a proper downhill course with massive rocks, roots and holes to dodge, all wet and slippery naturally.

Coniston Water
There was talk of going back to the car, or waiting at the Grizedale visitor centre, but luckily the ride improved in character, helped immensely by the views of Coniston water once we got to the stunning Parkamoor section. There was still the odd swear word and comment such as "my knee's have gone to jelly", not through tiredness, but fear......

Today I wasn't fully able to embrace my love of stopping to take pictures, as I don't think this would have gone down too well, asking the team to re-ride certain rocky sections would have probably ended with being hit or worse, the focus was more directed towards moving on and getting to the finish! Luckily all of us had a smile on our faces by the end, possibly for different reasons!

More rocks...

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Its good to have choices, or so its said...

I had to force myself not to go climbing in the Lakes yesterday because I had a real yearning to escape into the wild, albeit very briefly, and the tug of Scotland was far to great to ignore, particularly with the forecast of nice weather.

Time to leave the station at tyndrum

Claggy on the West highland Way

I hard 4.30am start saw me at the Green Welly stop in Tyndrum as it opened at 8.30am, and I tried to load up on fat/food, which was great until I started biking, but maybe I shouldn't have eaten so much.

First of many river crossings

Unloading the bike in the cold at the station I startled a heron from the grass and this lifted my spirits as I headed up the WHW to the bridge of orchy which was a nice quick ride. I'd always wondered what this section of the WHW would be like as it trails/parallels the road, but it was an enjoyable ride only taking 50 minutes to cover the 12km.

I forced myself to slow down as the weather was overcast and claggy, but looked like it would clear later and I wanted it to be nice on the following section of the ride. I also thought the ride would be over very quickly given the early speed (I didn't need to worry on that front!).

Sticking to the WHW I went over Mam Carraigh to Victoria Bridge which was a great move. I'd read it was a chore on a bike but it wasn't at all and the descend on the far side after stopping for pictures with 2 German guys made me beam like a cheshire cat - such a great section.

Loch Dochard

Slab riding
After nearly knocking down a hiker who boldly decided to step into my path at the last minute even though I'd hollered I turned off the WHW and headed down into Glen Kinglass. Wow Glen Kinglass is long! Its a great, remote route and extremely scenic, particularly around Loch Dochard where there was a breeze that kept the midges away so I had a break and took a few pictures (well lots).

Lunch stop!
The route then seemed to go on for ages, with river crossings, through a Moab type section riding over slabs of rock, more river crossings before a final rickety bridge deposits you at Glen kingglass Lodge, I guess a shooting lodge. Its still another 25km to civilisation, what a remote place this must be to live.

The only deer I saw today 

Loch Etive
The route continues down to Loch Etive, a sea loch and at this point I started to feel very tired. I guess I haven't done any long routes like this for a while. I presumed the final track trailing the sea loch to Taynuilt would be flat?! Mentally I struggled on this 15km last section as there were loads of short but sharp hills before I finally (slowly) rolled into Taynuilt 60km and 6 hours after leaving the car. Luckily there was a cafe and I had 6 cups of tea and shortbread before catching the train back to Tyndrum which was free (no ticket collector!), brilliant.

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

End of the summer.........?

Some would argue that it hasn't been much of a summer weather wise in the UK, but I seem to have got stuff done  so all is okay with me.

Setting off, where's the forecast heavy cloud...?

Abi storming off on the first big climb

Dreamy descent and scenery
It feels very transitional at the moment, with days shortening, vibrant rowan berries and cooler mornings - heading in to Autumn. I love the change of seasons and can't wait for the tree's to slowly change and the first frost (as I write this I have just noticed that its meant to be 20 degrees in a couple of days time!).

Ab shredding....

Hill of Doom comes into view

knuckle down for the climb
I needed to get out on the bike again with the Coed y Brenin Enduro fast approaching so took the troops (Abi and Steve) up to the North Lakes for a route around Skiddaw that I think of as 'Skiddaw Lite', mainly because its 10km shorter than the normal loop but still packs a lot in.

Belted Galloways looking like models

Abi adrift in a sea of heather
The weather was better than predicted too, showcasing the spectacular colours of the ling heather in bloom, an added bonus to this ride which I'd not considered beforehand...

Skiddaw topped with cloud (sorry picture washed out a little!)

Steve flew down here (to get to a BBQ we think!)

The ride went well, even the Hill of Doom up to Skiddaw House was a pleasure to push up! And I've never known the 10km descent back to Mosedale to be so dry as it was today. Fantastic flowing single track for mile after mile really put a grin on my face.

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Sheddy's first munro and midge-geddon

Sheddy has never been up a munro so we took the bikes round to Braemar and planned a little 2 day trip into the park from the Southern side to put this right.

If you have ever walked in to Derry Lodge/the Cairngorms from the Linn of Dee you will know its a pain and much more efficient on bikes to cut out a long slog along the land rover track.

Bags packed, setting off

getting boggy

epic scenery
We packed up and cycled in, making swift work of it as the clouds gathered, and ditched the bikes near to Luibeg Bridge and set off up Carn a' Mhaim. Its a nice hill, but we got drenched on the way up. Luckily when we topped out the rain stopped and clouds cleared to allow us views to Ben Macdui and across to The Devils Point where I'd been on an epic winter trip a couple of years back.

nearly the end of the biking, the munro comes into view
We headed down and found a camp spot near to the path as this was the only spot not boggy. We deliberately avoided the bothies as there were a lot of folk about.

Shed on top of his first munro as the rain stopped

heading down

We started cooking (midge free), and can you guess what happened.....? the midges flocked and engulfed us in a cloud of misery, so as we had the previously mentioned tent (not midge proof) we manically packed up and continued upon our way.

camp 1, before the midge plague

eaten alive
Bizarrely we found another bivy spot quite near to the river that was midge free and settled down (again) for the night. It was a great spot watching the moon rising.

camp 2, evening light

camp 2
In the morning I woke early (6 ish) thinking I could hear rain tap, tapping gently on the tarp, but as I slowly woke I realised and could see that it was 1000's of midges trying to get in and eat us. They slowly penetrated 'the tarp gap' as we manically packed our stuff and broke free of camp again.

hikers passing through
Moving on the bikes again was bliss. By this point Tom was bored and ready to get back to civilisation and his Essex beauty regime, but Shed and I cycled further North from Derry Lodge eventually ditching the bikes in the tree's and heading up Shed's second munro Beinn Bhreac.

the 2nd hill

down we go...
It was great being on top of it for 9am seeing the fine views North to the glen Avon basin area. We didn't see a sole up here. We got back to the bikes quickly and cycled out still early as lots of people were walking/cycling in.

nearly back at the bikes

We found Tom at a cafe in Braemar (of course!) and all celebrated a fun 2 days with a famous Elmore's breakfast, rather good I have to say, and Sheddy broke the toilet (no comment). So all in all a very successful trip, midges not-withstanding.