Introduction - how this blog works

The idea of this blog is to share some of my favourite bits of mountain biking with the world. Principally so that you too can enjoy the bits I've enjoyed. And avoid the bits I've hated. So many people have given us advice on biking since we started - what bikes to buy, where to ride, how to ride. So this is my chance to feed a bit back to that body of knowledge.

I'd really welcome your comments - what have I raved about that you thought was awful? What gems did I miss when I visited your local riding spot? Is a bit that I said was awful actually sweet singletrack in the summer or when you're riding well? Comments will help this resource be improved for all readers, and also give me some hints as to where to ride next!

I've written a load about what we've ridden over the last year, and grouped it geographically. My plan is to add to it in the future, hopefully using the tags to keep each region together, though I haven't quite worked out how it will work yet. I may just need to start all over again in a year to keep things organised more sensibly - I'm not really sure a blog is the most sensible format - but it seems the best for me as I'm not terribly motivated to learn any more code than the day job necessitates.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

North Scotland Trail Centres

On a recent tour of Scotland we ticked off several of the trail centres.

Moray Monster was probably our least favourite. We rode two of the blue routes with some friends - Godzilla - which had a disappointing amount of fireraod descent, and Dragon's Trail, which was much better - more flowy with berms and genrle table tops. Then we went to find Pink Fluffy Bunny Rabbits which is graded orange/extreme. We approached it wiht caution, but in reality there were two big jumps (which were obvious and avoidable) and the rest were all rollable. After being cautious on our first go, we pushed up Mast Blast (didn't ride it but it looked very easy) for a second go.

Things improved when we got to Golspie This starts with a lovely singletrack climb. Then if you continue on the black route the climbing gets harder. Rich described it as "improbable looking but satisfyingly ridable". When it eventually becomes doubletrack to make the final climb you don't feel bad at all. The summit is very scenic, with views along white sand beaches. The black descent starts innocuously with berms, some small rollable jumps and some more technical rock ladders. A section of what looks like smooth rollers from a distance turn out to be rocky and steep. After the trail crosses over the deer fence on some northshore (with railings) the trail really starts to get technical although most of the sneak lines are rideable by mere mortals. The technicality increases until you are crying for mercy and doubting your riding skills. Rejoining the red is almost a relief, though there are still some black options and the trail is still excellent. It continues all the way down to the car park. Is this the best trail centre in the UK?

We didn't rate Learnie as highly, though it's possible that if we hadn't done it immediately after Golspie we might have rated it more highly. We rode Learnie Hill -the black route - only about 3km. It meanders in a occasionally indistinct way through a small section of forest. It changes from up to down relativley frequently and as such doesn't rerally seem to flow properly, especially if you are fussy about your saddle height like me! There are three or four rock ladders some of which are more improbable than others - though one of the red alternatives had soem "skidding your back wheel round the corner" moments.......

Our other favourite was Laggan. All four descents routes start with the same fireroad climb, which gets dull on the fourth time but the trails are worth it! The Black route is packed with "feature drops" - Rich onsighted them all and I rode all but one after inspection. The red routes are also good - technical enough, but still fast and fun. The bike park is great - really smooth berms and tabletops.

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