Monday, 22 August 2011

Big fat beach ride

This weekend's ride was an overnight tour from Lossiemouth over to Culbin Sands, riding off-road where possible on beach, trail or coastal path. 

24hrs....5 beach rides.......1 salt flat......68 mile

The route was Lossiemouth west beach to the cliffs at Covesea, then short road section & rejoin the coastal path at the sandstone Quarry at Hopeman that would take me to Burghead.

From Burghead it was over to Findhorn using a mixture of beach & trails. Once in Findhorn, you can look over the bay to the Easterly edge of Culbin forest which is only 500m across the bay, bur requires more than an hours riding to reach, as the only way to access is the road around the Bay to Forres, then out to Culbin. A packraft would have been handy!

My plan was to camp at the Westerly tip of the Sands, but a later departure from home & strong headwind meant I had to pitch up on the Flats, as daylight was fading fast.  Not such a bad thing as the whole area is an RSPB reserve & a really cool place to camp.

Once the tent was up & first coffee brewed, the lights were put on the bike & I had a short ride over the salt flats at low tide to the sand bar to check how do-able this would be for future rides. It turns out that these are no problem at all, which I was very surprised at!

Culbin is far too big to do in a single ride, so I plan to return several times to ride each are in more detail. It is like a fatbike playground!

The following morning was a 4am wake up call so I could ride West to investigate the trails & access points to the beach from that side of the sands. After more coffee, it was a quick sprint back to my camp spot to pick up my gear, head over the flats on the East side to the dunes for a hike-a-bike-athon over the dunes to reach the beach that would take me round to Findhorn Bay again. Timing was perfect this time, with early morning sunshine & a receding tide, I would be riding beach all the way home! 

A great weekend on the bike, but I have only scratched the surface of some fantastic coast riding. Plan already underway for return trip!

 A sunny Burghead harbour

 Lots of old pill boxes in the area, but these are still used....
 Looking out to Findhorn & over to Culbin
 North side of RAF Kinloss
Some sort of Radar arrangement?
Main Runway RAF Kinloss
 Looking back to the peninsula at Burghead 
Sand/Shingle dunes at Findhorn
 Easterly Edge of salt flats at mid tide
 Shells everywhere from a lot of hungry sea birds. this went on for miles
Cosy campsite
View from my window at dusk
I found some challenging trails the following morning!
Like most areas of scotland, Forestry plays a large part of the local economy. In my case it provides employment for my brother, who happened to be working here removing several thousand tons of timber as part of a forest management program
 Out of the forest & over the salt flats to reach the beach

 Then the beach riding home begins......

Enduro trails

I found a wee film of this years round of the Scottish Enduro Championships in my local riding spot, Lossie forest.

These guys have created a fantastic network of trails in the forest that add about 15 miles of singletrack to the regular roads. Most of these trails are too soft for regular mountain bikes as the forest was planted on an area of sand dunes, but the fatbike allows some really fun riding right on my doorstep.

As you can see, there is a common theme in the riding weather in North Scotland!

Friday, 19 August 2011

Ryvoan Pass Aviemore

During the one break in the endless heavy rain during our holiday, I managed a nice loop from the door of the cottage up to Ryvoan pass, through Glenmore, along the old logging way for a pit stop with the nice folks from Bothy Bikes.

After lunch I headed along some of the lower trails in the Rothiemurchus Estate back to Loch Morlich for a Ride along the highest natural inland beach in the UK (1050Ft). From here It was another climb up the Sluggan Pass to Boat of Garten then finally back to Nethy Bridge along a section of the Speyside way.

In total 35 miles with a loaded fatbike. A great route that confirmed to me that the 9zero7 makes a fantastic XC touring / bivi bike. Now that the Brooks saddle is breaking in nicely, it is my bike of choice for all day riding. Not the lightest ride I have, but it rolls so well & is so comfortable, you can put up with a wee bit of extra weight on the uphill sections. 

I'm looking forward to returning again in the next few weeks to bag a few more of the "classic" routes before winter!

All loaded & ready to roll in the summer sunshine
The trails were pretty boggy due to week long summer rain......

Climbing out of the treeline, looking South towards the Cairngorm Range

Heading down towards the Ryvoan Pass
 Ryvoan Pass & bothy. Camera went a bit wonky here - colours a bit bright!

 Hard to tell if this was a path of river at this section!

 The "Green Loch"

Beach riding at 1050 Feet!

 Lharig Ghru from Rothiemurchus
 I will be back to ride this very soon!!

  Cairngorm club footbridge

 Looking south from the climb up An Sluggan

 Al Sluggan Summit looking towards Boat of Garten

End of the Pass at Kincardine Cottage.....Nice downhill section here!
Nice singletrack on Speyside way just before arriving back home to a well deserved cup of tea!