"You rise, you fall, you're down then you rise again" - a line from one of my favourite songs that perfectly sums up the last 12 months...
However, the summer has returned, and so have better times.
July has been all about rediscovering some of my favourite routes along the Moray coast between Nairn and Spey Bay
Culben Forest is a massive network of forest roads, but if you know where to look, some great singletrack can be found
Most riders in the area discount Culben as not having any good trails because of the sandy conditions, but these are perfect for the big Moonlander
The beaches at Culben are the nicest and cleanest in Moray, yet very few people make the effort to head out this far and explore them
Miles and miles of pristine coast and nobody in sight
Culben is not all about the forest and sands, it has an extensive area of marshlands and is also an RSPB reserve. The flats are still covered in anti glider poles installed during WW2.
Right bike, right place, right time. This is known as the "gut" which is the tidal inlet that separates the East and west side of Culben
Another day of fine weather allowed for a trip from Lossiemouth to Findhorn. That's home up there.
Storma in Lossiemouth harbour
A calm Burghead harbour
Started life as my fat bike in 2011, but these days the 9zero7 is my full time 29er +
Lots of nice trails in the woods at Roseisle
Burghead headland on the horizon
Findhorn bay with the Eastern edge of Culben on the other side
This is very useful for crossing between Findhorn and Culben. It takes 2 minutes to cross the bay by boat, or 45min by bike.
Nimrod at what was once RAF Kinloss, now a barracks for 39 Engineer Regiment
With the school summer holidays in full swing, meaning that trips are now accompanied
As you can see, we had the place all to our own again
Fantastic and it is all on the doorstep
The marina at Findhorn runs trips out into the Firth for dolphin and seal watching
Did I mention that there are seals?
Lots of seals!
You don't get experiences like these when your kids are sat in front of the TV or Ipad
Such a great day out
Another solo trip, this time heading out on a midweek overnighter. Typhoon rapid response aircraft at RAF lossiemouth
Airborne in a matter of minutes if the Russian aircraft get too close
29er + bikepacking setup works really well on the soft trails
Room with a view
Quick brew while the fire gets going. Not the smallest or lightest, but the jetboil zip is a fantastic bit of kit
Doesn't get any better that this on your doorstep
More coastal exploring the next day, this time at Covesea
The butterfly catcher at work
Looks lovely, but it was bloody freezing
With the kids worn out after a day of adventure, I grabbed a few hours on the old Dyna Tech. I have been riding this in one form or another for 22 years!
Lovely vessel spotted between Lossiemouth and Spey bay
There was just enough daylight left to check the future camp options with the 7 year old
Some of the building are in immaculate condition. Check the size of the tree growing on the roof
The clearing skies the following night meant an impromptu ride on the Moonlander to catch the last of the sunset which was spectacular