Archive for February, 2012

We had another superb Wednesday night ride – mild, clear skies and perfect trail conditions.

We headed out on the Speyside way, then over to the boathouse at Loch Vaa where the water level seemed high despite the dry weather of late:

After crossing the A9 we rode up through the forest below Beinn Ghuilbin, looking for a vaguely remembered singletrack descent which turned out to be fantastic fun, if a bit on the short side.

A quick contour around the hill led us to the top of some singletrack which roughly follows the line of an old stalkers path (I think) where we paused to enjoy the view.

Some fun was had putting names to constellations (is there really one called ‘The Wee Frying Pan’?) and trying to decide whether we were seeing lots of shooting stars in the same area of sky or one oscillating satellite or space station… Maybe Andy will be able to tell us next week as he was, coincidentally, away on an astronomy course in Fort William.

Back to the riding, we dropped our seats, and dropped down the bermtastic descent, which was in the best condition I’ve ever seen it.

We had energy left for one last climb, this time over to a crazy wee trail that just ends at the confluence of two streams. Not one to visit when the burns are in spate or if you’re not confident crossing scary streams on slippery rocks.

Here’s hoping next Wednesday is as clear so we can enjoy this:

Cold and Spellbinding

An allignment of planets


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Bike Decals

I mentioned how rubbish I was at taking night riding pics. I just want to post something that gives a flavour of the ride, rather than works of photographic genius (although that would be nice), however last Wednesdays efforts were so bad they don’t give a flavour of anything, except that it was dark…

It was a fun ride, we (David, Andy, Fraser and Ollie) met at the Landmark car park in Carrbridge, and did a few nice loops using the off-road sections of Sustrans route 7 to get to the singletrack . The ground was frozen solid, with some choice icy patches here and there to catch us out. Still great riding though.

It’s always nice to visit the Cairn pub afterwards; they had Dark Munro on tap – new for me and very tasty it was too. We also ate far too many hand made crisps again.

Here’s some pictures I took of everyones bike logos when we rode here last April, seemed like a good idea at the time. Maybe I should have had a match the bike to the rider competition…

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This Friday we had a visit from Patrick from Ison (distributors of Surly, Salsa, Rohloff, Identiti and lots of other good stuff) and John from QBP (Surly & Salsa distro in the USA)

They showed us Surly’s new-ish Ogre 29er – possibly the most versatile bike in the world! It’s based on the classic Karate Monkey and you can run pretty much any rack, brake and gear setup you want; use it as a commuter, off-road tourer, anything you like!

We’ve just got a Black Ops Pugsley in for stock – the ideal bike for those of you struggling to decide between a standard Pugsley and Moonlander!

The Black Ops Pug has wider rims (82mm vs Pugs 65mm) and Mr Whirly crank with offset double rings to clear the tyre. You also get a Moonlander fork up front and some neat wee thumbshifters.

The Salsa Mukluk has been around  a while, but this is the first one we’ve seen. It’s a very pretty bike. Sparklyness is always good! It’s designed so you can chuck on a 29er wheelset for summer singletrack trails, or whatever you want to do when you’re not going where no-one has gone before…

Anyway, Friday was definately a day for riding bikes rather than talking about them so Andy from Backcountry Biking and I took our guests out to sample some fine scenic trails.

Here’s Andy, victorious after doing battle with a stubborn Nate tyre:

It was so nice heading up the logging way, snowy hills shining in the distance; of course we told our guests it’s always like this here!

Usually the traverse from Rothiemurchus Lodge is a muddy mess,with a horrendous headwind; not a path we’d recommend at all. On very rare instances (like Friday!) it’s possible to actually ride without contributing to making soup. The only problem was the liberal covering of ice; it was sooo slippy, even the Nates couldn’t cope…

Thankfully, there wasn’t too much of this and we bumped on through the frozen footprints up to the path junction.

The descent was just fantastic. No need to rush, just swooping down, savouring every twist and turn. Riding through the dappled sunshine on the lower part of the track was a sublime experience. Needless to say, our guests were delighted!

It would have been rude not to return via the castle at Loch and Eilein to complete the guided tour. I was quite impressed with the signs advertising ‘warm springs’ and rather wished I’d brought my bathing costume.

Afterwards we returned to the Old Bridge Inn, and warmed up by the fire. And yes, we did talk about bikes. Just a bit.

David – Salsa El Mariachi, blinglespeed

Andy – El Mariachi fat front, 2×5 speed

Patrick – Surly Ogre, Rohloff 14 speed

John – Salsa Mukluk , 3×9 speed

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Wednesday night was one of those when you really want to get riding straight away; no idle chit chat, map consulting or last minute fettling. It was really cold! C’mon, let’s just go, we’ll talk once we’re moving, oh why is everyone looking at Dawid’s bike…

Sooo… after a good 5 minutes of tapping brake hose, we discover the reason the brakes are so spongy is that the pads are missing. Oh, well, it’s only the rear brake, lets do some riding!

Andy had some great tips for getting circulation back to frozen fingers but I found the best way was to pedal uphill as fast as I could, job done! Only problem is you then get an attack of the ‘barfing screamers’ when warmth returns, aargh…

It’s been dry and windy all week, so the local trails are in excellent condition and frozen solid. Also, someone has done a great job of clearing fallen trees off the paths: thank you, whoever you are.

We rode on natural woodsy singletrack, a crazy path winding it’s way through and over massive fallen rocks, through icy streams and pretty much every kind of 95% rideable terrain you can think of.

This, however is the best picture I could come up with, and he’s on a climb! My night riding pics are always hopeless!

From the top of the hill, we had a fantastic view of the moon with an amazing halo around it. This is apparently caused by moonbeams being bent by ice crystals in the high clouds. The picture is from SpaceWeather, but was taken in Moray at the same time as we were riding, so it counts! It’s everybody’s moon.

The descent from here was wonderful: push off, plummet down a vertical slab, put in a quick pedal stroke so you don’t stall in the rocks, then hang on through a series of steep rutted turns, trying to remember which line you need to take to avoid the sheet ice round the next corner. Lots going on there – especially for Dawid with his one brake… That must have been scary.

Next we headed back into the woods for some lovely loamy singletrack, nice to relax and let go after the full-on-ness of the hill.

We finished up with a visit to the Silverfjord Hotel, and the usual post-ride crisp fest.

What a fantastic start to February!

Nana Grizol – Circles ‘Round the Moon (again!)

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