Friday, 14 October 2016

Highland 550

It's been extremely difficult to put this adventure into words, to express what it meant to me.  I feel so honoured to have had the privilege to appreciate the beauty of Scotland whilst riding some of the best singletrack in the world.  

Just before summer with my class I was modelling acrostic poems and had a light bulb moment (ish) What better way to try and sum up the Highland Trail 550?  I'm not a writer or a poet and I do teach little ones (sorry for any grammar mistakes) but here are my thoughts of a trip back in May.

Hope and excitement as we rode out of Tyndrum in preparation for an exploration beyond our daily recognition. 

Into Fort Augustus we raced for pizza, eating like wolves in the cool, chilly evening.

Gradients increased, pedals turned, trees whizzed by and at long last Oykel Bridge pub came into vision.  Stop that teasing it was time for pleasing!

Hundreds of tears dripped gracefully down as goodbyes were said, a scratch for one and a grunt of determination for the other.

Looking ahead into the mist of the eerie northern loop, a lonely separation followed by an hallucination of a sea, waves, ice-cream, faces and singletrack?

An energised body and two for awhile (Nick) scrambled up and down rocky singletrack to a Loch in the fading light with welcoming campers Rob and Chris.

No more sleep!  Crunching wheels on a pebble beach woke my Paddington beast and off we went for a nice cup of tea, cake, cooked breakfast... in the bustling town of Ullapool.

Dreaded COFFIN trail evaporated from my memory as solitude hours passed spent in a Fisherfield dream, encaptured by it's devilishly red causeway and mystical mountains.

Two friendly bikepackers and then more and more as we were spitted out of the claws of the Postman's path into the sunshine filled Whistle Stop cafe.

Rollercoast riding on the Torridon trails with drops, drainage bars and swooping corners.  What more can you ask for Alan?  I just don't know!

Affric climb sent me a little loopy with Stuart C's Jen ride song regurgitated in a breathless encore of wanting an electric bike again and again and again.

Indecisive times as a few of us sat in the bothy.  Should we sleep or ride?  Decision made then off as a flash until sleep drifted teasingly upon my lids whilst the brisky air seeped into my bones. It was time to sleep.

Long miles, windmills, hills and the thought of the canal dazed me as I sprawled smelling like a tramp on a bench in Fort Augustus with a Red Bull dangling aimlessly from a dirty non-compliant hand.

5 days and energy sapped yes it's time to snooze.  Not again!  Wheels crunching woke me from my soothing thoughts, I sprang onward and up along a thrilling ice-cream I mean trail to Kinlocheven. 

5 o'clock came and went as the air cooled on the devil's staircase, definitely not a path to hell.  Dusk appeared as I rolled into Tyndrum with a cheer, a beer and a tear.

0 regrets, thank you Highland Trail 2016 you gave me an inner feeling of calm and peace I'll never regret. xxx


Sunday, 22 May 2016

Highland 550 crikey it's less than a week off!

Where has the last few months gone?
Sat at home on a glorious day trying to rest!  It's hard when the sun is shining and the trails from your doorstep are dry but it must be done with less than a week to the start of the Highland 550.  How do I feel at the mo?  Not sure!  Have I done enough biking?  Will I be fit enough?  Am I mentally ready to suffer?  Will the weather be glorious and let me battle through the leg ache as the amazing scenery of Scotland whizzes past?  Can I cope with 5 hours sleep a night or the thought of not having enough food? (I love my food)  Could my shoes cripple me on the hike a bike sections?  At least they will give my bum a rest!

I've spent the last few days constantly changing my mind of what I should or should not take, packed bags, unpacked bags, searched the internet for last minute panic buys.  Phew one decision has been made the bike I will take. My lovely Carver Gnarvester with plus wheels, it rode amazingly last week on the Jennride softening many bumps and technical sections.
Good luck to everyone else who is also trying to decide what to take, I'll probably decide and change my mind 10 minutes before the start.

Now  for a week of early nights, plenty of pasta and rest whilst following Howard with my fingers crossed for him on the trackleader.  I've been given some tips, read other people's blogs and the general banter on bearbones so now it's time to look closely at the maps and mark on FOOD.

One thing I know is I love Scotland and I can't wait to tackle old and new trails.  I just hope those midges are still sleeping.

your Profile Photo

Sunday, 10 April 2016


So the first test for the new bikes was the Bearbones 200.  This is a 200km ride around mid wales. The original plan was  to head down and spend the night in the van, then do half the route sleep in a bothy then do the other half the day after.  As always the ride never goes to plan, that's why we love bikepacking due to the freedom and opportunity to change plans at the drop of an allen key!    Nearly half way round we came across dolgoch-bunkhouse  luckily for us they were having a work party and said we could stay the night.  The afternoon got even better when they also said we could join them for tea.  Homemade curry and crumble or a freeze dried meal!  No competition here.

After a good night sleep (ish), plenty of hot drinks and freeze dried porridge for breakfast we were off. The weather was very friendly to us as we headed over bogs with some pushing until we reached Rhayader.  10.55 and the cafe opened at 11 definitely worth the wait for a mega breakfast baguette, more food from the the Spar (excessive amount) before we continued on.(Handy tip from Fi - if there is a shop buy as much food as possible you never know if there will be another one!)   Many more hours followed observing landscapes never seen before (to us) as we trundled our way back avoiding shortcuts.  Oooh they were tempting but the sun had come out and was enticing us to keep going. Finally after two fun days and winter boots that kept our feet toasty we arrived back at the van dry!   Loving the new bikes and this bikepacking malarkey!

Getting Ready for the off

First road since the van 

Wales looking like Scotland 

Very happy with the new bike 

Lunch stop 

Long road stretch 

Fi loving her new bike too

Needing the GPS with the mist coming in

Getting closer to the end 

Last Gate 

Sunday, 20 March 2016

New Bike

So the fat bug has hit Fi and I  Fi got a Carver Gnarvester and I got myself a Surly Wednesday