3 days in the Cairngorms - Ride report

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  • Parts of it are but you'd have to carry your bike ALOT .

  • To echo @georgel I def wouldn’t use a gravel thing, woukd get stuck just getting over the hill to the start of the loop :)

    However if you haven’t got an MTB I can sort one from Pitlochry.

    I’ll be on a HT Genesis Tarn, which i’m Getting when ever I get round to selling my Cotic soda....

  • Yeah, you, always sodding you

  • Keen to join on this. Might also give the Cairngorm Loop a try this April.

    Would be keen to do as a 300km audax in the future, but first time I'll take my Genesis Longitude in bikepacking mode.

    Audaxing would be 21 hour limit which might be unrealistically ambitious...

  • I think the record is 18hrs.....can’t think where I read that though

    But very welcome to join us! More the merrier

  • Having more of a look, it looks like a lot of 30+ hr completions.

    If conditions are dry a gravel bike with 47mm+ tyres might do the job, but I've heard with the storms a couple years ago Glen Feshie is pretty boggy in places as the path washed away.

  • Having ridden near there with @Ecobeard late last year, I would highly recommend a mtb

  • I would suggest that 30 hours is quick if you intend to do any sleeping. I rode the group start last year in September and I was totally battered after getting round in 34 hours and i slept for about 2 hours. Three days would be much more enjoyable but still challenging .

  • Definitely, I'm going to run up route sections for a 3 dayer and a 4 dayer and we can adapt as we go along.

    34hrs is bloody good going, did you pack ultra light and plan on not sleeping or did it just pan out that way?

    @motoko when the last of the snow disappears I'll take the dog up and have a look.

  • I packed pretty light , just a bivy , sleeping bag and tools. I had planned not to sleep at all but that didn't pan out. Im sure you know but the escape route in Pitlochry does a good fry up for profesh athlete recovery purposes !

  • Ha ha, yeah that cafe is amazing, I have more loyalty points in there than I do in the shop at the moment :) A few road rides have been cut short by 'accidentally' stopping there on the way out....

    Light seems to be way to go. I'm no fan of bags strapped to bikes, so i reckon for a 3 dayer it will be whatever I can fit in or on a Caradice longflap on a bagman and a bar roll. although I think I might have to take the 'puffer kettle for nostalgic reasons.

  • This is what I rode. In parts I felt under biked but that's probably cos I'm shit at proper mountain biking .

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  • A set up @Colm89 would be proud of.

    120mm Yari’s?

    I always feel underbiked at home.....some of the trails are just brutal, especially at Dunkeld and some of the red and blacks in Craigower

    Whereabouts are you based

  • This bike had a 1o0mm Reba. I'm based in Nottingham so not very local !

  • I've started editing a 3/4 day route for the loop here, if folk have any input/suggestions?

  • Just had a few days walking in the Cairngorms, tried to head to faindouran but navigation errors in a whiteout resulted in an unplanned stay at the fords of Avon refuge. It's very snowy up there at the moment! Met a few cyclists but most were struggling due to the conditions

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  • Great stuff, propper adventuring. Not the comfiest spot i hear? At least there was a plan B. That's what that ones there for really. No fire? Would have been chilly.

  • No fire but the hut is well insulated so was surprisingly warm and comfy!

  • Apologies for the dredge but doing a bit of reading on this. Is the consensus / experience,

    Outer loop - rideable - doable on gravel bike?
    Inner loop - hike a bike bits - hardtail recommended?

  • Just done another three days (mainly) in the Caringorms - did a write up in the off-road thread - but will be easier for me to find in the future here:

    My brother lives in Edinburgh, so a Thursday afternoon train had me sat on his couch by the early evening. He's converted a massive Merc Sprinter, so we set out Friday morning for some van life adventure.

    First stop was Dunkeld for some proper chunky riding. Couple of well known descents before a slightly more secret bit of gnar. Tricky rooty roll overs and heavy compressions. I was very chuffed to make it out in one piece. If you like a mix of flow and tech (who doesnt), I really recommend Dunkeld. Some of the best bit are not on trailforks though, so I was very thankful for the local knowledge by brother has picked up. It also has some sweet views -was hella' muggy though - the waist pack was there to avoid a sweaty back!

    With Dunkeld survived we jumped back in the van (after a well earned shandy and fries at the pub on the riverside) and headed over Glenshee to Braemar and then wiggle over to a cracking little van life camp spot at Linn of Quioch. Quick shot of the boys toys for the weekend:

    Next morning we had our sights on Bein a Bhuird, a not insignificant Munro with a well reviewed descent from the top. We plotted a loop and kicked off with easy landy tracks taking us up Glen Slugain. After a few km the landy track gave way to some trickier walkers path. However, after a short section of hike a bike the trail turned into a ribbon of perfect gravel. An easy tail wind shoved us up the gentlest of inclines, winding our way through the most beautiful deserted valley. It was like riding along a brand new forestry commission green trail - but in the middle of nowhere.

    After about 4km of perfection we got to the meat of the climb. We were heading up to the saddle between Bhein a Bhurd and Ben Avon called "The Sneck". It was bikes on back time as we trudged up towards the clouds.

    The saddle came surprisingly quickly though, and the clouds lifted just enough to reveal a stunning U shaped valley ahead. The wind was whipping over our backs up here, so we found a spot to shelter, stuff some food in our mouths and enjoy the view. Looking at the map I realised I'd been down at the far end before, slugging up towards Faindouran bothy on this trip.

    After our brief but beautiful stop we were back on our feet to polish this hill off. The next section was the steepest, so bikes were back on backs for an almost scramble up a very loose ascent to the summit. Once the hardest part was over it's a very flat summit, so finding our way to the top in the now pretty thick cloud was a bit of challenge - paths appeared and disappeared randomly. Some pedalling and some pushing later we found it. Views were sub optimal, but at least afforded some privacy.

    With load lightened, we were now ready to begin the descent. It heads south west from the summit, and the early part is gentle but with some big rocks to pick your way through. It does take you close to the cliff edge and some alarming looking drops to a lochan below. fortunately the cloud lifted enough that there was only limited danger of certain death.

    The trail soon became more defined, another ribbon of perfect single track. The only thing slowing me down was the thought of smashing myself up this far out of town. The trail swooped down a ridge before traversing across a stunning valley. The main obstacles were the periodic drainage bars, but unlike some other mega descents, they seemed to have been built by riders. The uphill side generally angled as a little launch pad to help hop over the downhill one. Much better than some of the monsters out there that seem to want to eat tyres and rims for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Views weren't too shabby either - just a shame I had to focus on the trail!

    Anyway, the 7km of flowing descent ends with a short loamy section through some Caledonian pine, which was a great little bonus before a couple of fords and some good old landy track brought us back to the van. A smashing 5 hours of fun all round. This edit makes it looks super easy, but there are loads on youtube if you want to live vicariously.


    Sausage buttys were consumed back at the van before we got back on the road and drove over to Ballater for dinner and then parked up in a nice forestry commission spot by Cambus O'May with the plan to hit the legendary Heartbreak Ridge (HBR) in the morning. For some reason, we took no photos of this, but you can trust me that the day dawned bright and blue, with a decent breeze from the south west. The climb is a bit of a slog, nice landy track but at a gradient that, given our tired legs, does just seem to just keep going. However, the reward at the top is something else. We had that gorgeous tail wind pushing us all the way down. It's an epic descent on the grippiest of Cairngorm granite. Swoopy, techy and stunning. Given the absence of photos, this video from McTrail rider will have to do.


    With smiles plastered over our faces, we had time enough to do a quick run in the hills behind Cambus O'May on another awesome little loop, before a dip in the Dee to refresh ourselves ahead of the drive back to Edinburgh. I was pretty relived to come out unscathed as I've had a few too many crashes this year. A great trip though, that will live long in the memory. The Surrey hills do not quite compare.

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3 days in the Cairngorms - Ride report

Posted by Avatar for Scrabble @Scrabble