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Archive for June, 2012

New Website

I’m very excited to announce the new Bothy Bikes website which launched today. Over the coming weeks we hope to refine and add further content & features to the site. Watch this space!

Our blog is now hosted with the main site and can be viewed at www.bothybikes.co.uk/blog, if you subscribe to our posts via RSS the new feed is www.bothybikes.co.uk/feed. All of our blog posts from now will appear on our new website.

We’d love to hear your feedback so please get in touch here.

Duncan

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Alvie Alive

We missed last Wednesday due to illness and a  lack of enthusiasm for riding in the rain (it had been so nice on Monday and Tuesday…)

This week was looking much better, so we thought we’d go for a classic starting from the Suie Hotel in Kincraig. The Suie is a great place to use as a base for riding: you can head over the Spey to the wealth of trails in Inshriach forest and Glen Feshie or do as we did and head over to Alvie for some rocky madness.

Suie Hotel Kincraig

The ride starts with a zoom along the Speybank Walk path. This features a rather large vertical drop to the River Spey below and is definately not the sort of place you’d want to meet a dog walker while you’re out on your Segway

We then headed over Dalraddy moor, following the line of General Wade’s road before crossing under the A9 to the start of the long climb up to the phone mast. There were ponies in the field here, so it would be a good idea to skirt through the neighbouring woods to avoid them.

The climb wasn’t as brutal as it can sometimes be, due in part to the NE wind which gave us a wee push up the top zag and also to both Jones riders (Phil and Andy) breaking chains on the climb. Coincidence? We shall see…

Fixing a chain on the climb

View from the mast

Last time we were here the cloud base was well below the summit; this time we has great views from Cairngorm over to the Feshie hills and Badenoch. It was a bit chilly so we didn’t hang around too long. When we held our first downhill race here in 19-oatcake we had to move the start down to a more sheltered spot as it was sleeting at the top (also in June!)

Overlooking Loch Alvie

Phil rolls over a rock

The descent was a blast, they have motorbike trials meetings there every now and then, so the track is always evolving in interesting ways. It’s tricky to find your way down if you don’t know the trail well. I’d definately recommend hooking up with someone who does know it, else you’ll spend a lot of time walking back up wondering where to go!

Phil descends

John conquers

All safely down, we returned via Speybank to enjoy the comforts of the Suie bar and reminisce about old downhill races and stuff.

Riders tonight were: Andy, Phil, Fraser, Dawid, Duncan, Ollie, John, Ian and me.

PS Plan A was to ride a different way up and come down the track on the W side of the Allt Each. Just as well we didn’t as someone could well have been decapitated by the zip wire which has been strung across the track. Not good…

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This weekend I went on an “Introduction to Bikerafting” course with Backcountry Biking run by regular Wednesday nighters Andy and Rob.
It’s been a very long time since I did any sort of paddling so I was slightly worried about spinning round in circles, capsizing and abandoning my bike forever to the cold, dark depths of Loch Morlich. Amongst other things…

However, Saturday dawned, and in keeping with the rest of the week it was a scorcher (as they say).
We (Dave, Colin, Jim, Sanny, Gari and me) met up at the Old Bridge Inn car park; packed our (incredibly light) Alpaca rafts and headed for Loch Morlich.

Jones and Horsethief at Loch Morlich

We were shown the correct use of the ‘Inflation Bag’, which is an incredibly simple way to pump up yer raft.

Inflation Bag technique dialled

All my own work

Soon we were out on the loch, the largest collection of Bikerafters in the UK… ever!

On Loch Morlich

After a play around we repacked our rafts and went for a ride around Loch Morlich; riding with a (deflated!) packraft on your back is much the same as with a loaded up 30L rucksac: the paddle splits into four bits for carrying, just make sure you don’t lose any of the bits…

Rob ridin’ the hood

Next we had a play around in the Allt Mor, to get used to paddling in moving water. This was fun!

Playing in the Allt Mor

Having a bike on your boat certainly invites interest, pretty much everyone who saw us felt moved to make a comment!

Is this Benidorm?

Aviemore had gained a lot of publicity earlier in the week for being the hottest place in the UK; as a consequence the beach at Loch Morlich was mobbed. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it so busy there… I was worried they might have sold out of ice cream, but thankfully the Boathouse Cafe had plenty.

The sun shines on the rafters

Andy promised us a following wind for the journey back to the far end of the loch; unfortunately this was not to be, but it was probably better to experience the difference a headwind can make to paddling time.

Nearly there…

Back ashore again, we packed up our kit (getting good at this now) and set off down the Old Logging Way back to the Old Bridge Inn for a well-earned pint.

On Sunday we took no time to pack our rafts and get ready to ride, this time heading for Inshriach Forest where we planned to ride some sweet singletrack on the way to a suitable place to join the River Spey.

Maybe next time…

Splashing through

As it happened, this included a stop off at Inshriach Nursery cake shop where we spent far too much time.

We chose cake…

After all that eating, some excercise was called for, so we headed to the Inshriach clifftop trail, which was riding soooo well. Unfortunatelty, Andy discovered his under-frame bottle cage system is incompatible with a particularly gnarly rock section, and had an over the bars episode as a result.

Getting ready to raft

Down by the Spey, we inflated our boats and put in at a nice gentle section, after being shown some hazardous bits from the river bank.

I absolutely loved paddling down the Spey… it was so relaxing, and so great to see stuff I cycle past every day from a different perspective.

We stopped in a few places where Andy and Rob showed us some fallen trees which looked pretty innocuous, but as it turned out could cause serious problems (such as getting trapped and drowning…) if you drifted into them. The stretch of river we did looks very easy, but there were plenty of tree-lined sections, submerged tree stumps etc which could catch you out. I’m glad we had good guides!

Kinrara from the Spey

Craigellachie from the Spey

Lairig Ghru from the Spey

I really didn’t want the journey to end, so it was cool to discover that the river takes a couple of huge meanders just before Aviemore. This also gave us some opportunities to practice our ferrying technique.

Back at the Old Bridge Inn, we packed up our gear for the last time, and, over a beer, started planning further bike rafting adventures.

I’m hoping to go on the next Backcountry biking packraft course, which won’t involve bikes, but will give an introduction to white water technique. Packrsfting is the best – I can’t wait!

Check out the following for more on the weekend and details of courses:

http://www.facebook.com/backcountrybiking.co.uk

http://www.backcountrybiking.co.uk/

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