Wednesday, 30 May 2012

High Rollers

Last week we had some wonderful spring weather here in the UK, so soon as I arrived home, plans were made for a bike trip to Aviemore, to maximise the biking opportunities!

Because I have been off the bike for nearly 3 weeks, fitness was not 100%, so an easy route was planned around some of the lower trails in the Cairngorm area, with a trip up Glen Einich being the main feature of the day.

Just to give you an idea of how nice this area is, here are a couple of videos I found that illustrate the attraction of visiting this special place.

After the short drive to basecamp in Aviemore, via the baker in Grantown, the bikes were unloaded & it soon became apparent that it was going to be HOT! 11.00am & the temperature was 25c & climbing... It was going to be a great day for riding.

Photo stop with friend Graham, who joined me for the day. As we both work offshore, on the opposite sides of the earth & on different work schedules, it was good to get out again on the bikes together

Loch an Eilein in the morning sunshine looking south towards Creag Dhubh

Starting the climb up the Glen. In the heat, the sound of the river was quite tempting!

One of my favourite photos of the day. However, the last snow on the mountains in the distance would soon become a problem...

The now warm drinking water, that we had brought with us was quickly replaced, with the fresh, cold water seen here. Cannot describe how good that tasted after the long steady climb.

One of the last manageable river crossings...

This was the last photo I snapped before we came to a grinding halt. Just beyond the ridge, was a small river crossing, but due to the warm weather, the level was really high, caused by the melting snow. We witnessed one guy falling while attempting the crossing, we decided to postpone this leg of the journey for a later trip. We had a lot of trail miles ahead & I didn't fancy doing it soaked, or worse, spraining an ankle on rover rock we couldn't see. I will be returning in a few weeks to get this ride in the bag.

I found this video taken on Cairngorm a few days later after we passed through, which shows why there was so much water. Enjoy!


Graham now looking a little flushed! it was good to be back in the tree cover after spending so long exposed on the hill.

The rest of the day was spent exploring the trails in & around the Rothiemurcus Estate. These are pretty touristy, but these low level tracks were perfect for some social cycling & taking in some great scenery 

We made a pit stop for coffee, coke & ice cream at Glenmore & met a really interesting guy called John & his home made recumbent. Excellent machine made from whatever was laying around. I loved it.

On the beach at loch Morlich

And finally, back to loch an Eilein & the late afternoon sunshine. A fantastic day on the bikes meeting some lovely people on the way. It very much felt like we were on holiday. You could pay good money to have days like these, but we are lucky to have all this on our doorstep, taking only 1 hour to drive here from where I live on the coast.

Friday, 25 May 2012

back in the day

A rather interesting video I found on you tube, documenting the engineering & people behind the Marathon Brae Alpha oil platform. 
This is of interest to me, as I worked for several years in the construction yard that fabricated the Jacket for this platform at Ardersier, on the Moray coast & of course, my general interest in offshore engineering.
Sadly this yard was decommissioned a few years ago, but I intend to visit the site in a few weeks with the bike so see how it looks now. 

Monday, 21 May 2012

Trails, tyres & tiredness

We recently had the Scottish enduro championships pass through my local trails in Lossie forest again. The route these guys take varies each year & usually there are quite a few Km's of new track created & this year was no exception with some some lovely new singletrack snaking off between the trees. Usually these fresh tracks are really hard work on a mountain bike, but the wide tyres of the fatty make it really good fun. In a couple of months, these loose trails will pack down nicely.

New trails on my doorstep - excellent!

A wee video of the rather wet, but fun, round of the enduro championship

A few days later I was out on the West beach & discovered we had a Fat visitor! As you can see in the photo above, some fresh Endo tyres prints in the sand. I also seen them out on the trails, but never found out who they belonged to? I'm sure I will meet another fatbike rider coming the other way someday.....

Talking about tyres & sand...I tried out my set of black floyds again, in preperation for summer adventures. I was curious if they would perform in the sand & I can report that thet work just fine.

I think these will work great for light summer touring, they roll really well & seem to cope with most dry conditions just fine if you are not in a hurry. They do self steer a bit on the road, but that is something you soon get used to. They would be great for touring the west coast if you wanted some beach exploring along the way.

Photo stop at Covesea cliffs, looking back towards the West beach.

A few days later & we were heading East to the firing range that is about 7 mile along the coast. Short pit stop for some interesting angle shots...Just hangin' around!

Another tyre change - this time to Nates when the really heavy rain returned. Remember those new trails? After a good soaking, they were really difficult to ride on.

Transmission problems

Yes, that really is a Nate under there!

Oh, I forgot...I also got a couple of mini panniers,so a loaded beach test was needed to try them out. The bike handled great & I am really happy with the quality of these & they are 100% waterproof. 

I have been exploring some longer routes lately, leaving early & catching some great sunrises along the way. Here is a Sunday morning breaking over Spey Bay.

Taking the Salsa El Mariachi out on it's first real ride. I am really happy with this bike & it complements the 907 perfectly. 

Some days you can piece together a really nice mix of riding conditions into one route. Forest singletrack near lossiemouth

Scary doll on the shingle at Kingston

Riding farm road along the River Spey. Looks like the river won this battle

This is why I love Fatbikes. The trail was all washed out after a flood a few days earlier & blocked with debris, so I just rode up the riverbank.

Back onto singletrack again, heading to the top of the hill at Fochabers along the soggy walkers path. 

Looking down onto the gully monster - one of the local MTB trails. Worth a look if you are in the area.

At the beach again, this time it's Spey Bay on the way home. A favourite spot for Dolphin watches in the area. Totally knackered, but an excellent ride. Hopefully I can put the waterproofs away soon & start riding some dusty trails!

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Saturday Tuneage

Have you had a bad week at work? I have...let that weekend stress go with some of these top tunes

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Stormy weather

April has been another really busy month, so I have not updated for a while. It has been full of riding bikes, looking after kids & other things that seem to fill our lives. Now that I have returned to my work in the middle of the ocean, I have time to sit down with a coffee & catch up with the blog again

The theme for all the riding this month has been rain, rain & more rain...perfect fatbike riding conditions! we had one particular storm moved in from the Northwest, which brought very strong winds overnight, so when they started to ease in the morning, there was no better time for some virgin beach combing!

Using the tail wind to my advantage, I headed out along an empty East beach towards Garmouth

I took this just as I left lossie & I think it captures the feel of the day perfectly

With the strong surf coming in from the North, the  beach was covered with a thick layer of sea foam. Most folks often think this is pollution, but it is naturally occurring, created when organic proteins in the water are aerated my the waves & act as a surfactant & foam up

I didn't have to ride in it.....but I did

Froth shot

This is why I never ride with shorts

The strong winds over the last few days have stripped all the fine sand from the top layer of the beach & blown it over to the dunes. This left this lovely hard layer exposed, making for some very fast beachriding

I soon realised that maybe riding in the foam wasn't such a great idea...the drier sand was now sticking to everything

Oh dear. Not to worry, the rain that was heading my way would soon clean that up

Some nice big surf breaking at the start of the cobbles

This section soon becomes too loose, even for a fatbike. Time to head inland

It's Scotland after all...put on a jacket & keep on riding...

Riding up some of the great singletrack created by the enduro bike. There will be more on these in my next post

The photos end here as it was far too wet to be using the camera, but on the way home I found this wee guy. Not unusual on the coast, but this trail is over a mile inland. I guess some seagulls lost their lunch.

It was a good few hours spend on the bike, proving yet again, some of the most rewarding rides are done in the worst of conditions. Time for a hot shower & a good cup of tea.