Archive | Mountain Biking

Biking the Lochnagar Five

On Tuesday we headed up to Glen Muick to do the five Munros around Lochnagar. We did the route in a clockwise direction, reaching the summit of Broad Cairn first, and Lochnagar last.

You begin by cycling along the land rover track from the Glen Muick car park, then reach a bridge to cross a burn which marks the start of the push up. The gentle track becomes a steep climb zigzaging the hill for about 150-200m of height gain. It doesn’t take long though and soon you are on the plateau and back in the saddle. From here you can ride right up until the last 200m of height gain up to Broad Cairn, where a section of boulder field must be crossed and a hike-a-bike is required. From the car park to summit of the first munro took us about 3.5 hours including a couple of breaks for food.

View of Loch Muick from Broad Cairn

Riding up towards Broad Cairn, Lochnagar behind

 Theres quite a fun rock slab to have a play about on leading off from the highest point of the hill for about 10 metres or so.

A short descent, plateau bash and climb leads you to the summit of Cairn Bannoch after about 20 minutes. Its another 20 minutes or so from here to the path contouring around Munro number three, Carn an t-Sagairt Mor, where a further fairly steep push/carry takes you to the summit (5 hours from car park to here).

Cairn Bannoch Summit

Terrain between Cairn Bannoch and Carn an t-Sagairt Mor

 We just descended back down the way we went up to reach the path marked on the map, and traversed over to the climb up Carn a’ Choire Bhoidheach.

 The climb up Carn a’ Choire Bhoidheach is quite long, about 1km or so, and about 150m of height gain. We had to carry the bikes for some of it, and some of it was rideable. It would probably be fully rideable for those feeling fit! It took us around an hour to get between these two summits.

 Its quite simple to reach Lochnagar from here, a long ride along a flat plateau, followed by a small amount of pushing and plateau riding! We reached the summit of Lochnagar 7.5 hours after setting off.

The crags at Lochnagar
Final summit of the day

And now to the important bit – the big descent! Sadly I think it is over-rated. It may be one of the longest descents around (in Scotland anyway) but certainly not full of quality :( I’m sure many will disagree however. The drainage ditches – lots of them you can Bunny hop, but we had several offs for the ones that were rather massive, at a bad angle or were immediately before or after a step up. Once past the massive drainage ditch path, and down to the steepest part of the descent, a lot of it is unrideable. Not necessarily because its too technically challenging, but purely because our bottom brackets would smash into rocks, pedals get caught, or mech get ripped off!

It was still an awesome day out though despite the numerous rain showers and the torrential down pour, thunder and lightning we experienced on route back to the car park! Our shoes etc are still drying out now, 3 days later! 

Tweed Valley Biking

Over the past two weeks we’ve been down in the borders with the bikes quite a lot. Its now a mud fest again with all the rain we’ve been having. We had forgotten how to ride in mud as its been so dry for so long, so we found ourselves being thrown off the bike numerous times! Good fun though :D

Glen Feshie Bike Circuit

On Tuesday, in the boiling heat, Keith and I had plans to head up to Glen Feshie, do a couple of munros by bike and descend via Carn Ban Mor. However it was so hot when we parked up we decided to just do the Glen Feshie bike circuit and go for a swim in the river.

Wise decision it seems as reading someones post on trail scotland earlier, the trail has been re-laid with grit and lots of drainage ditches, so won’t be anywhere near as good as it was meant to be now :(

The Feshie circuit was really nice, although there’s quite a bit of landy track cycling (which we don’t like so much). The views were awesome though, and the single track was good once you reach it.

Map of our route

The route is just under 16km long, and only about 330m of ascent. Nice gentle day on the bikes!

Heres a video showing some of the best bits:

Glen Feshie Bike Circuit, July 2013 from GetOutAdventures on Vimeo.

Two Days in Ben Alder

Ben Alder Bike Circuit – 53km

On Friday, after sleeping in three hours later than planned, we headed up to Ben Alder area with all our overnight gear to spend a couple of days based at Culra Bothy. 
The cycle in was much harder than we had imagined. Simple land rover track, but not so simple with a massive pack to carry! Not to mention the heat – a balmy 18 degrees or so. I felt like a proper girl on this trip – I took THREE pairs of shoes for two days. Flip flops for the bothy – essential, my five ten biking shoes as I didn’t like the idea of cycling in my walking boots (and my pedals would probably have shredded the soles anyway), and finally the hill boots. However, the suffering was worth it as my five tens were soaked through in bog by Friday night so I was glad to have some dry boots for Saturday morning. 
We also lugged several locks for leaving the bikes unattended at the bothy – will never take the risk of ‘The Beast’ being stolen. 
Landy track cycle in
Approach towards the bothy
The cycle in took us just over 2 hours, with a break for some food and shoulder resting. We reached the bothy at 3pm. 
We left loads of stuff, packed up our day sacs and headed off to do the Ben Alder bike circuit:
Green = Rideable, Red = push/carry
It starts off with some nice single track up a valley for about 4-5 km. There are some drainage ditches to negoitate, a couple of which we got off the bikes for as they were quite wide. Also a few stream crossings, but it was rideable until the very end when you reach the steep ascent. The steepness only lasts for about 500m or so, and I’m sure some of the super fit xc lycra riders would manage to cycle, but we just pushed.
View to the East just after leaving the bothy
Heading up the valley
Some sweet big mountain single track
We were then at the first Bealach looking at a nice long descent ahead of us. Some awesome cross country riding was had, a mix of up and down, but all fully rideable (with the exception of a few stream crossings).
About half way along, I managed to put a hole in my tyre – another expensive day out!
My successful tyre boot. Made out of inner tube and gaffa tape
This lasted for about 8km, until Ben Alder Cottage (rumour has it this bothy is haunted? – I didn’t go inside) then the grueling 2km hike-a-bike begins.
The hike-a-bike was pretty horrendous actually, especially as our shoulders were killing from lugging all our kit into the bothy earlier in the day. The path wasn’t very well defined at all – infact we are both really surprised its even shown on a 1:50,000 map as paths like that normally aren’t. Thats if you call it a path. It was a mix of bog, boulder field and heather. 
The guidebook told us that it was ‘an hour of hard work’, but it actually took us 2 hours. Pretty hard going! 
Here we go!
Happy faces at the top
Was it worth it? Well I think ‘possibly one of the best descents in the country’ may be a bit of an exageration, but it was good fun. We couldn’t ride along side the loch as it was super boggy…it would go after a long dry spell though which would probably add to the quality of the descent.
All in all it was an amazing ride in good weather and the struggle to carry the bikes was worth it. We got back to the bothy about 9.30pm, so the circuit from bothy to bothy took us around 5 hours 30 minutes. We fuelled up on the overly priced Mountain House dehydrated chicken tikka, which was rather minging and tasteless, but good enough when you’re starving.
Bothy life
Here is a video of most of the biking action:

Ben Alder Bike Circuit, 5.7.13 from GetOutAdventures on Vimeo.

The Aonach Beag Four 

On day two after not much sleep thanks to the snorey man next to us in the bothy, we headed up the four munros on the Aonach Beag ridge. 
Ben Alder in the morning sun
This began by walking along the same valley we cycled yesterday, but then contouring round the southern slopes of Sron Ruadh and up onto the ridge between Aonach Beag and Beinn Eibhinn. From the bealach the entire ascent was pathless and hard going on the knees and ankles! 
Plane crash remains
 We came across the plane crash remains (above). Apparently been there since 1942. More info: here.
Keith enjoying the view from Bealach Dubh
Single track from yesterday – scarring on the hill (left in photo)
View from Aonach Beag summit
We continued along the ridge towards Carn Dearg (the fourth munro) before descending down yet another pathless slope to the bothy. 
Carn Dearg in the distance
Keith and some cool looking chasms in the background
Final summit cairn (Carn Dearg)
Hill fog closing in
Culra bothy and lodge
We got back to the bothy at 5pm, packed up our stuff and cycled back out to the car. The cycle out only took 50minutes (there’s less up on the way back). 
An awesome two days in the mountains :)

Mount Keen from Glen Esk, Big Country Biking (ish)

On Wednesday after tiring Lilly dawg out and leaving her in the hands of our wonderful doggy walker, we headed up the east coast with the bikes, to the Glen Esk side of Mount Keen.

Mount Keen is Scotland’s most easterly munro, and also a rather dull one as the landrover track leads right up to 1.5km before the summit. However, on a mountain bike its quite good fun, and if you want to tick off all the munros it will need to be done at some point!

The weather was awesome, but quite windy. Once again we didn’t set off from the car until after lunch meaning all of the walkers were walking down as we were ascending. Our late start meant we didn’t scare any of them on the descent, and only caught up with the last one on the flat track back to the car.

The route starts off on flat land rover track for about 4.5km until you reach the wee cottage which marks the start of the main ascent.

Having a break before the ascent starts

Sections of the landy track going up the side of the hill are rideable, and parts aren’t. There are loads of loose melon sized rocks so not much traction (especially when you’re unfit like us and sitting in granny gear), so we pushed these bits. Once you reach the walkers path, its totally rideable until the hike-a-bike section through the boulder field. Considering its not that steep you could just push/lift the bike up, but we found carrying them to be much faster.

Happy faces at the summit
Happy bikes at the summit!

The descent from the summit was by far the best bit of the day. Nice wee techy boulder field to negotiate, followed by bunny hopping the drainage ditches before reaching the landy track again.

Heres a short video showing some of the top bits:

Mount Keen 26.6.13 from GetOutAdventures on Vimeo.

The landy track descent was mediocre, although a lot of speed could be gained which was good. It took us about 35 minutes to get from the summit back to the car including the wee bit of faff taking a few videos at the top. In total the whole route took us 3.5 hours, including a stop for lunch.

Tongue out concentration!

Ben Chonzie could be on the cards tomorrow evening, we shall see.