On Friday we drove up to Scotland and set up camp at Hoddam Castle, near Lockerbie. There were to be eleven of us camping there. The facilities were good, plenty of toilets, showers, washing up area and laundrette. Some alcohol was consumed by a couple of members of the party and a good laugh was had by all.
On the Saturday we did Dalbeattie, the girls rode some of the red then went on to the blue to avoid doing ‘The Slab’ and the men rode all of the red. I really enjoyed this trail as it was technical, there were lots of boardwalks, rocks, drop offs and a rocky descent reminiscent of a down hill race course. I really surprised myself by doing most of the technical features and after looking at the rocky descent I summoned up the courage to do it, although I was rather relieved when I managed to get to the bottom in one piece. The girls finished up by doing the skills loop which I enjoyed.
On Sunday it was Glentress, this started with a climb up through the trees with technical bits, rocks and skinnies. We reached the skills area, this had a skinny with corners on it, after falling off several times I managed to complete it then I attempted the rock drop off which I managed to do, I did, however, fail to do the rock climb which consisted of a rock step up. We then split into two groups some of the men did the red and the rest of us did the blue. There was lots of climbing, some on single track and some on fire road. Then came the descents, there was a very long descent through the trees, this had some roots and switchbacks but went on for a long time. The rest of the descents were shorter and these had rock drop offs on the trail and larger ones to the side for the more adventurous then we crossed over a bridge with a drop off the other side of it. Another couple of sections of switchbacks and we arrived back at the cafe.
Monday we went to Kirroughtree, we started by having lunch in the cafe then started our ride. We started off on the red route and this had technical features with occasional black options to the side. After doing some of the red the girls split off from the boys and did the blue, the descents were nice and flowing and we really enjoyed them. The ride finished at the cafe, but we decided to climb back up the first section to do the skills area. This was good as it had a blue loop, a red loop and a black loop. We did the blue loop a few times and then stepped up the challenge for the red loop, this consisted of a rock step up, immediately followed by a rock switchback climb another switchback and then a couple of rock drop offs. As it had been raining and the rock was wet it made it difficult to manual over the step as the back wheel kept sliding and then there wasn't enough momentum to get around the rock switchback, I did give it a go but ended up having to dismount and push my bike around the corner, unfortunately I slipped on the rock whilst pushing my bike and managed to land on my hip which came out in a huge colourful bruise. I continued around the rest of the loop and then gave it another couple of attempts. I didn't manage to get my back wheel over the step up but I gave it good try. We got one of the lads to show us how to do it but he appeared to have the same problem as we were, although he said something about wet rock being slippery and not having the correct tyres for riding rock. Then it was quickly back to the cafe for a hot drink before they closed.
Tuesday we packed the camping gear away amidst torrential rain thunder and lighting and hail stones. At one point there were three of us with umbrellas huddled over the electric hook up to make a drink just as the heavens opened up again and the hail started. When we eventually managed to get packed away we headed for the Lake District to ride Whinlatter. It was late when we arrived and so, of course, we had to check out the cafe as we had missed lunch. After eating we set off for our ride, we did the north loop this consisted of single track with a drop to the side. We climbed up rocks and roots and climbed and climbed some more then we came onto a fire road and climbed a bit further as we entered the single track again guess what? Yes you guessed it more climbing but what goes up must come down and the down when we got to it was great, flowing single track with drop offs and steep down hill sections and switch backs going through the trees which by this time was quite dark as dusk was fast approaching. When we arrived back at the car park it was virtually empty, quite late and we still had to drive back home.
Fab company; lots of laughter; superb trails; great biking; brilliant hills and to top it all . . . the coconut and cherry scones at Kirroughtree!
The two things I enjoyed at Scotland was having a laugh with the trail builders and Glentress. I enjoyed Glentress because of its blue routes last three sections (they are all downhill). The best bit of them was the bridge going over the other trail and the jumps. Thanks for organising it. It was so much fun.
Jessica aged 10
Abby and I don't do camping ... that was blatantly obvious from our lack of camping gear! No tent, no sleeping bags and no camping style catering implements! But that didn't matter too much, as our fellow holiday goers were well equipped! Thanks to all who we scrounged from!
It also goes to show how much of a draw mountain biking is for us ... choosing to sleep in a field to ride some of the country's best trails says plenty.
Both Abby and I thoroughly enjoyed ourselves ... I'm already thinking when I can go up there next!
And the riding? ... It is a completely different story up there, the terrain, materials (and money) used to build them culminates in some seriously bonkers trails. They are trails that EVERY mountain biker should ride at least once.
Red grade trail really is red up there ... you think werewolf drops is difficult ... ride one of the red sections on Kirroughtree and you won't think twice about riding werewolf again.
Oh and now we have some ideas up our sleeves. Expect some 'upgrades' over the next few months, all of which we will need your help with!
Chase Trails Scottish Summer Shenaniganry Awards
Best Cafe - Mabie - “I'll have a Shed burger and Shed Chocolate please” (for those that stopped the full week )
Best Campsite Cooking - Profiteroles & Beer - we ate like Kings (again, for those that stopped the full week )
Worst luck - Jez (broken spoke & shock two rides in a row)
Most punctures - Dave (every time he rode a black feature!!)
Most forgetful - Rob (gloves, bottle, glasses - maybe I just like doing that first climb twice!)
Most improved - Petra (seemed capable of riding anything)
Best Riding - Bruce (nailing The Slab)
Best trails - Kirroughtree and Dalbeattie
I too could be nominated for the worst luck award as after breaking my frame a couple of weeks ago, the replacement didn’t arrive until 4:30pm on the Friday afternoon before our trip. If the courier had delivered in the morning, I’d have had my “new” bike ready to ride in Scotland but c'est la vie …. Thanks to Dave and Jez for lending me their spare machines and Jack and Steve at Swinnertons for trying to get me back on the road in time.