Archive | Mountain Biking

Mountain Biking, Glen Einich, Cairngorms

On Wednesday we had a group ride to the fine Loch Einich with Robin and Debbie to celebrate her birthday, happy birthday Debbie!

This was a fantastic mountain bike tour up the glacially formed Glen Einich. We started by following our trail through the picturesque scots pine woodland of Rothiemurchus estate to the Am Beanaidh river, continuing to the head of the glen where we stood at the feet of the Cairngorm giants Sgor Gaoith (1118m, peak of wind), and Braeriach (1296m).

Glen Einich Mountain Bike

It was nice to see the hills in transition between seasons; large snow patches surviving thanks to the prolonged winter snow fall along with the plant life colours representing the start of summer.

To add a bit more excitement to the ride, there are numerous river fords to cycle through which presented us with lots of laughter and wet feet. But fear not, it’s possible to stay fairly dry if you’re good at rock hopping!

Glen Einich, Mountain Biking

We saw lots of geese and ducks lower down, evidence of grouse higher up and hundreds of tadpoles. Sadly we never caught sight of the glens resident eagles or the forests capercaillies, but there’s always next time!

Trees and plant life encountered consisted of scots pine, silver birch, juniper, blaeberry and the ever abundant heather. Thanks to the Rothiemurchus Estate who manage the land, we were able to see the heather in different stages of growth due to recent muirburn management. Muirburn is a way of managing the moorland to create patches of heather at all different stages of growth – essential to maintaining a healthy and abundant grouse population.

Glen Einich Bike

The Glen Finglas Mell Trail by Bike

The Glen Finglas Mell trail is situated in the heart of the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, and is a terrific cycle route for the intermediate but reasonably fit rider.

The majority of the trail itself consists of land rover track so the riding is by no means technical, however, a lot of speed can be gained on the descent and there is definitely the potential for accidents, so it’s important to control your speed. The views from start to finish are just spectacular and it’s a very worthwhile day out.

To access the car park, turn right at Brig o’ Turk by the tea room and continue to the end of the road  where you will find parking on your left hand side for about 5-6 cars. From here the route begins with a climb up a steep minor road (the right hand side road at the fork – do not head towards the dam) which offers an excellent view of what lies ahead from its high point.

Glen Finglas Mell Trail 2

You then start to descend and eventually reach a farm where the minor road becomes a land rover track (after approximately 2km). Follow this hilly track for a further 1.6km and you will reach a fork (just before a bridge). From here we took the left fork towards Glen Finglas and continued around the north side of the reservoir, however, it’s possible to do the circuit in either direction.

3.5km after the junction and many photos later you will eventually reach a ford on the trail. Depending on the water levels it is possible to ride through this – and if you do this will definitely be one of the highlights of your day (remember bigger splashes = bigger grins)! We would advise riding through it slowly at first though before going back for round two … full speed down the hill, off the brakes and ploughing into the water! There is also a bridge for when the water is too high.

Glen Finglas Mell Trail

The long lung bursting climb then begins! Its 3.6km, but a good chunk of it is a gentle traverse with a steepening at the start and finish. You’re rewarded at the high point of the track (marked by a large cairn) with panoramic views over to the Corbetts: Ben Vane and Ben Ledi and the Munros: Ben Vorlich, Stuc a’Chroin and Ben Lomond…and of course the fast descent that lies ahead!

Glen Finglas Mell Trail 3

Without stopping to take in the views you would be back down at the head of Glen Meann within a matter of minutes. It’s definitely worth having a few breaks to spend some time admiring the scenery.

Eventually you will re-join the original track by the reservoir for the return trip to the car.

Distance: 22km

Height Gain: 860 metres

An alternative start, adding a few more kilometres onto your route would be to park at the Glen Finglas car park 1km east of Brig o’ Turk, just off the A821. Follow a marked path which begins with a steep climb and you will eventually join the minor road. Make a right turn here and follow the road to reach the farm which marks the start of the land rover track and follow the remainder of the route as above.

Mountain Biking Skills Weekend

Over the weekend Keith and I ran a mountain biking skills weekend at Glentress for a group of 11 kids from the Ratho Scout troop. It was awesome!

All of the kids progressed heaps over the weekend. All 6 in my group are now able to manual, rear wheel lift and get some air on the table tops! 4 of them really stood out as having loads of potential and I’m hoping they will get into mountain biking properly now after me trying to convince their parents! Managing to get 1ft+ in height on the jumps on what was their first weekend biking for some of them is some really impressive stuff!

Airtime!! Woohoo. He got even higher later in the day!

My group also mastered some cornering techniques, played around on the log skinnies and learnt how to tackle tree roots on their final descent of the weekend, which we had to step up to a red run as they were cruising the blues with ease!

Jack showing us his newly found cornering skills!

Oh and I musn’t forget to mention two of them sending the black graded rock chute in the Skills park only a few hours in on day one…AND 4 of them clearing the black graded drop off! They all managed to send the red rock chute, and red drop off in the skills park too.

…and this is how to manual.

Keith’s group also had a go on some log skinnies and spent lots of time whizzing down the blue graded trails, with ‘Berm Baby Berm’ being their favourite!

They all learnt about bike safety checks, the Scottish Outdoor Access Code and general trail ettiquette too, as well as consuming several packets of jelly babies, nom nom!

Amazing weekend with a lovely group of kids!

A Dark Ride in the Forest

On Wednesday, we headed down to the Tweed Valley for a chilled day on the bikes. Our friend Neil had just finished his new trail on Tuesday night so it was great timing to be the second people to ride it. The ‘second descent’ doesn’t really mean anything in the biking world like it does for a ‘second ascent’ in climbing, which is weird since it’s the same concept!

I love new fresh trails. Loads of work has gone into it and its safe to say its pretty awesome. So thank you Mr Carnegie!

Below are some photos of us in action. Sadly the light wasn’t great with there being such a low cloud base and no sign of any sun! Its quite a dense forest…we were riding almost blind by the end of the day. Really need to invest in some bike lights!



Mountain Bike Leader Training

Over the weekend we were on our mountain bike leader (MBL) training course down in the Tweed Valley. This is the highest level and the most widely recognised qualification for biking. We picked up lots of awesome tips on coaching and leadership styles from Andy  (Ridelines (Mountain Bike Tuition) Ltd) and Al (Wheelie Cool Mountain Biking).

Saturday was mostly classroom based with some skills coaching sessions and Sunday was a full day ride.

I spent most of our ride out day dying to reach the descent and hit the natural techy trails as Keith and I haven’t had a chance to ride much recently due to our upcoming ML assessment.

In the process of booking our MBL assessment now so will hopefully be fully qualified in a month or so :)