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Archive for the ‘Adventures’ Category

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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Magical March

This really has been the most amazing winter for off road bicycle riding. Trails are dry, dusty even, wind hasn’t been too bad, and there are no midges!

Last Wednesday (14th) we set of from Lagganlia seeking sweet singletrack. Trail pixies have been out clearing  fallen trees from many of the tracks, unfortunately not the route we chose to get to the top of Creag Dubh. The windblown trees covered every junction, and we ended up following forwerder tracks that led nowhere. We got so lost!! All that floundering around was forgotten on the whooptastic ‘Green Dream’ – is it possible to ride this trail without grinning like a maniac?

What should have been a relatively gentle meander back to Lagganlia was somewhat spoiled by an entire avenue of fallen sitka spruce trees, and we ended up bushwhacking again, grrr…

Never mind, off to the Suie Hotel for fine Cairngorm Beer and the usual 40 packets of crisps, and planning the following week’s ride which proved to be an entirely different beast.

So, a night ride on Cairngorm? Why not, let’s do it!

Glenmore Lodge was the base for our adventure, and we managed to resist the urge to play on their skills course (and the £10 ride and meal deal)

The Allt Mor trail is fun to cycle up, apart from the steep pushy bits and the anti-bike obstacles. If only there was a more bike-friendly way back down; hopefully this will happen in the not too distant future.

The sky was perfectly clear, and it was magical to see first Jupiter and Venus, then the brighter stars appearing. By the time we reached the top, it seemed every single star visible to the naked eye was out. Here’s Orion appearing to the right of the Goat Track (and Fraser’s forks)

Coire an t’Sneachda (Corrie of the Snows) isn’t living up to it’s name; there’s no way we could have done this ride until at least May in the last three years. Although it’s fairly accessable (especially from Cairngorm Car Park if you want to cheat) this isn’t a route to undertake lightly; there’s a lot of opportunities to hurt yourself and despite the fine weather it was pretty chilly up there.

So, not wanting to hang about to much, we set of back down to Glenmore. It’s an awesome descent. Sometimes trails feel easier at night, I think it’s because you just focus on where your lights are pointing (really?) and there’s no distraction. Well, tonight some sections I’d normally ride were frankly terrifying. Can I really ride down that? Not tonight. Fraser and Andy of course rode everything; Fraser on his first visit too…

Safely back down at Glenmore, we headed to the Lochain bar for afters, and forgot to plan next weeks ride. Should have time to dust my bike before then!

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The last 2 rides

It has been a little while since we have updated our blog and a few Wednesday night rides have taken place. The weather has been pretty good while we have been out on the rides but a little windy in the open.

Last week we rode out along the old logging way to Badaguish, it was a good turn out for a cold winters evening with seven of us in total and a wide variety of bikes from a single speed rigid 29’er to 6″ travel full sus bikes.

We pedaled round the flowing singletrack of Badaguish which was in really good condition with only a couple of muddy sections to goosh through. Everyone re-grouped at the bottom of the Canadian trail to the sound of howling huskies from the nearby sled dog centre. We then raced back down the old logging way to the Old Bridge Inn for a nice cold beer and a  few bags of crisps.

Last Wednesday it pretty much snowed all afternoon which may have put a few people off heading off into the hills but as we left the shop it cleared up a bit.

Just three of us this week, winter Wednesday night regular Oli and Joe Barnes who was taking a break from building the mountain bike section of the Red Bull 50/50 race course which takes place on Saturday up Cairngorm mountain.

We decided just to head up High Burnside as the trails are pretty interesting up there with some fresh snow on them.

The ride went up the usual fire road and singletrack climb past the sheep skull which was very slippery towards the top and up to the trails which are skiers right of the rock slabs.

Oli and Joe in the snow

The three of rode some corners for a while on a new trail that is under construction up there and then slid and drifted our way down to the lower fire road through all the fresh snow. From there we headed up to Ed’s trail with the big swooping berms and the wooden North shore style bridges which we managed to slither our way across in the snow and made it over the streams and slippery rocks at the bottom without incident. We then all headed off to get some food from Costcutter as it was getting pretty late and were all fairly hungry.

Hopefully we will see you next Wednesday.

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On Wednesday the big thaw set in but there was still plenty of ice and snow to make things treacherous out on the trails. We reckoned the ice would be the main obstacle to riding, but we hadn’t reckoned on the destruction left by ‘Hurricane Bawbag’

Setting off from the shop with ice spiker tyres rattling away, I began to think I’d made the wrong tyre choice… untill we hit the start of the trails proper where they came into their own!

It's a bit icy...

Fraser makes the most of the conditions

The main climb up through the forest was covered in a sheet of melting ice. I was delighted with the performance of the Ice Spikers – don’t think I’ve ever gone up that hill so quickly, it felt like riding slickrock!

I like ice tyres now...

None of the other Wednesday nighters (Fraser, Ben, Jim and Olly) were as sensibly shod and had to push most of the way.

It'll be worth it for the descent!

Higher up, we encountered deep, heavy snow so everyone was pushing, and we decided to cut things short.

Santa put in appearance with some christmas pudding (hot!), Jim had some mince pies and Ben supplied the malt whisky. Splendid.

Fun, slidy ride back down then over to the top of our planned singletrack descent. We thought it would be fine as natural singletrack doesn’t get packed down like surfaced trails.

Unfortunately, as mentioned before, we hadn’t reckoned on storm damage from the other week, most of the trails around here didn’t seem to be affected too badly, although Laggan Wolftrax needed a lot of tree clearing.

Attack of the giant Xmas pudding

The whole top section of the trail has disappeared under fallen tree after fallen tree, we kept thinking it would get better, but gave up in the end…

The alternative way down some old double track wasn’t much better, but at least everyone got to do some riding.

Encouraged, we headed up for one last singletrack descent, no tree damage here at all, though the final part where you have to hop over a stream turned out to be a major challenge…

What now?

The ford over the Milton Burn was about as deep as I’ve ever seen it, but we all made it across fine.

All good character building stuff, at least we got out there and did it!

Now most of the snow and ice has gone from the  tracks, and I’m sure the trail fairies will be out in force over the next while to return things to their former glory.

Happy Christmas!

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We were delighted when we found out we were top of the queue to get one of (the?) first Surly Moonlander bikes to make it over the pond. Disappointment when nothing arrived for us on Friday’s delivery, was replaced with delight when the courier made a special Xmas run on Saturday, and  look what was there!

Moonlander in a box

Moonlander out of the box

Rob from Backcountry Biking had been waiting for this one since he had an epiphany riding Iona’s Pugsley, so a call was made and he was over here before you could say ‘Fat Bike frenzy!’

Plans have already been hatched for Winter epics through the Lairig Ghru (return on pack rafts down the Feshie) and Summer jaunts round the Uists… Stay tuned here and over at Backcountry Biking for ride reports and comparisons between the Pugsley and Moonlander (fat vs FAT)

Moonlander in the bike shed at Bothy Bikes

Moonlander and Pugsley share a berth

Here’s a link to the Surly site for some more info. A complete Moonlander will costs £1999 and if you’d like one there should be more arriving at the end of January, and we’d be delighted to order one for you!

In the meantime, if you’d like to have a ride on a Pugsley, we have a 20″ bike you can try in the snow!

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We’ve finally moved into our new shop. The last few weeks have been crazy, getting the shop ready and moving everything from the old shop, but here we are at last…

I’d have liked to have had more posts detailing the move (and rides we’ve done, and new stuff we’ve got in etc, etc) but here’s a few pics to be going on with:

Russwood delivering the floor

Luckilly Fraser and Ben popped by to help!

Fraser and Jim fitting slatwall

Aahhh...

Amazing the things you find when you're moving; Rob discovers SSWC 2007 memorabilia

Thank you everyone who gave up their time to help with the move. Here's Mette, Jim, Gordon, Fraser, Rob, Andy and Ben - helping instead of riding (it was Wednesday night)

Some 29ers, clothing and a flying road bike

We have stuff displayed!

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Changes

November is always a time of change here at Bothy Bikes: summer staff leave for winter slopes, most of our hire bikes go to new homes and we start preparing for whatever winter will throw at us.

This year there’s more than ever going on. Phil has left to live in Edinburgh and Fraser has joined us as his replacement, but the really big news is that after 7 years at Rothiemurchus we’re moving to new premises in Aviemore.

We’ll be over the other side of town at the new Dalfaber Neighbourhood Centre (you know, where the new chip shop is!)
Right now we’re fitting out the new shop and we’re looking at opening towards the end of November.
It’s a big change and a challenge, but I think it’ll be a really great place for us to be – hope we’ll see you there!
More will be posted later!

Movin’ on up

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