Love the bike…..

loath the colour.

Having ridden the Genesis for a few weeks now I have to say that I am really impressed with it. The sizing is spot on for me, plenty of reach(which I like) and not too much standover. Build quality is what you would expect given the reputation Genesis have for good QC.

It rides singletrack really well: very nimble, responsive without being twitchy. Loaded it is still a fun bike to ride, but exhibits non of the flex that I was concerned might be a problem for such a light bike. All in all I think Genesis did a great job with the angles etc, I struggled with the low stack height, which given the fact that it is a race bike is to be expected, but that was solved with a 10deg rise stem. Only other issue for me is the lack of full run braze ons for the rear mech cable. Granted as a race bike it is likely to be ridden for a few hours, washed and put back in the shed, but still, even a few hours round here can be an ordeal for an open cable run, especially under the BB shell…..really.

It has had many day rides, a few overnighters too, the component choice has worked out well for the most part, though I could do with a little more range than the 1×6 currently offers. I am toying with a 27/34 Duo set up with the Middleburns, the lower ring as a manual “bail out” option given that the bike won’t take a front mech. Currently it is 32×32-18 on a short XT cassette. On the odd occasion I have had to walk, mainly on long steepish climbs rather than the short sharp ones, and I often spin out and have to just roll along. No real issue for the most part, especially as the Hope hubs run so well.

So no real issues so far with the bike, and a whole raft of new camping stuff to strap to it. More in the next post, plus a few actual trip reports.

A few pics of the story so far.

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SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERASAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERABurma road ride, short overnighter at the bothy in Glen Dulnain

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Braemar overnighter via Glenfeshie, Glen Builg and Braes of Brown back to Glenmore.

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Glen Einich day ride. Windswept and always interesting.

I am trying to decide wether to keep the frame next season once the custom build is ordered etc, if so I shall get the cable runs sorted, and maybe get some cage mounts put on the forks, oh and a slightly less attention seeking colour job!!!!

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One out, one in.

Last Sept/Oct I bought myself a med Ogre frame ready to build up in the spring for this years bikepacking ride, having read various reviews, spoke to folk who had one, or a Karate monkey, which is much the same thing in terms of ride/geometry and in no small part to Cass Gilbert who was riding one through Chile and Bolivia while I was reading his blog over the winter. Once built it was pretty obvious that I had got a size too small, which is a shame as it rode really well. For a frame that is built for resilience etc it was surprisingly nimble, even when loaded it was very responsive and didn’t feel as lethargic as it’s weight would suggest.

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Surly really did make a great job with the handling. one of the reasons I chose it was the fact that it would do almost anything, and while I was pretty sure that the racks weren’t going on it, it was nice to have the option. I also hanker for a Rohlof at some point, so that was attractive too. A shame then that I found it a little too short, feeling quite cramped  with a 70mm stem. I didn’t want to use a long stem as I felt that it might make it a little too twitchy. The irony of the fact that I bought it to replace the Singular, which I felt was a little long, isn’t lost on me!! It still hangs in the shed and may get built back up as a SS.

The build itself was born out of the desire for reliability, simplicity and ease of maintenance on the hill in the main, so I went for cable disc brakes this time, and in a change from my usual preference for IHG hubs, I bought a Hope SS trials hub and put a 6 speed XT cassette on it, mainly to see if Rear mechs are reliable enough for these parts! and the riding I like to do. The Cairngorms are very unforgiving of components, I went through about 3 sets of pads, per bike, between March-Oct, about a dozen sets in total…..The brakes on the Singular were Avid Elixir 5s, and had been put on the Pugs for the winter, but with the problems I had last year I wasn’t really keen to put them back on this bike. I had continual problems with the front caliper seizing after a few rides. I would clean and strip the pistons, oil them and get them all centered and set up again, only for them to start sticking within a 100km or so. I also had a new set of seals and pistons fitted by the LBS, which sorted it for a little longer, but it still didn’t last the season.

So I figured I would give BB7 a try. In fact I saw a set of Gussets on STW and bought them complete with rotors and Avid levers. I have to say that they were very quick and easy to set up, and as they are twin pull(both pads move) it meant that centering was simplicity itself. Once the pads had bedded in they are plenty “stoppy” enough for the my riding style for sure.

The only real problem I had with the Ogre was that it was a little short in the TT for me, especially as I want to run my Titec/Jones bars on this build. Having rode it for a couple of days on the bottom half of the WHW it was clear that I was going to have to get the next size up, hopefully I would be able to trade with someone who had a L that wished they had got a M, an Ogre as first choice, but if not there were several framesets I would be happy to try.

As luck would have it my LBS had a 19in Genesis Fortitude Race that they were selling on, having stripped it for parts for another frameset for a customer. A deal was done and I rolled home with a new frame to swap parts onto. For thet most part it was a straight swap over, the only changes being my Middleburn RS7s to replace the XT chainset, and the Jones bars. I managed to completely overlook the need for a longer cable run with the Jones due to the extra sweep, though the bike was rideable unloaded, it was a dogs breakfast once the bar bag\harness was fitted, especially the front. I have a new sealed cable set on order but it seems to be taking an age to get here!?

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Partly built, just a chain, wheels and pedals and were good to go.

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The Gusset brakes. Easy to set up as they have pretty much the same tri-align adjustment as Avids.

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All done.

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Jones H bars. Look so very wrong, but feel so VERY right! The shifter is a Suntour thumbie, SIS 9 speed indexing, £20, what’s not to like???

The Genesis is completely polar to the Ogre: Lighter, faster and a lot more sculptered, given that it was designed for racing not that surprising really. Having ridden it a few days I am pretty confident that it will be resilient enough for the bikepacking trips I plan to use it for. It is something of a missile, even with me on it!! I have taken it around the local single track a few times and it is extremely nimble. I recently took it out on a S240 and it rode very well loaded too, more of that in the next post.

All in all the Fortitude frame has built up into a great bike, a couple of caveats however.

The frame is built with braze ons for the gear cable run to be open, and under the bottom bracket shell. Most of the bikes I had in the late 80’s and early 90’s were built like this, and given the British weather I am at a loss as to why? I know its a race frame but really, another 1/2 mtr of cable outer and a couple of cable tie points would break the bank? or add that much weight?

If I were keeping the frame I admit that I would get the frame repainted a more sober colour, and while doing so would get a cable run on the right to match the brake run on the left….but I’m not(almost definitely).

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This spot is a bit of a “right of passage” for all of my builds. Looking toward Ryvoan Bothy.

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Overnighter through the Laraig Ghru.

Finally got some settled weather to cycle thru the Lairig Ghru earlier this week, I have been wanting to do it all winter. The high pressure we have had over the past week meant that the sun shone and the temps went up to almost double figures!!
I had looked into the pass about 2 weeks ago while ski touring to Ben Macdui and there had been plenty of cover then, looked rideable all the way through from the lip of Lurcher’s Gully. The warm weather meant that most of the coverage had gone lower down, so the initial trek past the Rothiemurchus lodge was through horrendous bog, any one who has been there will know what I mean >:(, fortunately just past the junction with the path for Braeriach, the snow firmed up a bit and was for the most part quite rideable. I was using quite chunky tyres (HuskerDus) and have to say that the rolling resistance was pretty harsh, even on the flat it was almost easier to walk, given the conditions I think my Surly Endos would have had more than enough grip, with a lot less effort required.
I may have to rethink the tyre choice for what I want the bike for…..

As I set off a little late I was at the top of the pass at around dusk, with amazing light as the sun caught the rim of the glen, and once the temp dropped the snow firmed up really well making for pretty good going up to the Pools of Dee.

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Looking up the glen towards the Pools of Dee.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAt the top of the pass, looking toward Rothiemurchus.
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At the top, looking down to the bothy, the large peak is the Devils Point.

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Once over the high point it was (mainly) downhill all the way to the bothy, however as I got lower down the snow softened as this side of the glen is a fair bit lower than the other, also there was a lot of heather showing, which warms up in the sun, making the snow pack even softer, and the snow packs pretty patchy.  So navigating around these “islands” of firm snow, while avoiding being drawn to the burn and probable/possible dunking required a little faith and some use of the “force”! especially given the fact that it was dark by this time.
Snow-bi one kenobi if you like…

Though I knew where the bothy was (I have been here several times) and I had my map etc, actually finding it in the dark was still a bit of a challenge. Amazing how well camouflaged these things are.

Arriving at the bothy around 19.30 there was one other guy in there, actually in his bag already. He wasn’t sleeping, just in his bag as it was pretty cold, and was “bored”!!
A meal, brew and a chat saw me ready for sleep by around 21.00!!! a quick visit outside before getting in my bag was met with an awesome sky, incredibly clear(and cold). no Aroura though, shame as that would have been the icing on the cake.

The following day dawned sunny and bright once again, not a breath of wind or cloud in the sky. I enjoyed my morning coffee sat on a chair with the Glen spread out in both directions, with the bulk of Ben Macdui as a remarkable backdrop. Out of the wind the sun was quite warm so I had breakfast out here too. Mark set of to climb Cairn Toul and the ridge of Sgor an Lochan Uaine-Braeriach via Coire Odhar, which looked pretty steep and corniced from my vantage point.
I kept an eye on the Coire as I made my way up the Glen back to the Pools of Dee but never saw him in the top bowl, as I was climbing away from the glen bottom I could no longer see back to the bothy path so was not sure if he had decided on another route.

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Bothy view, looking down the return route. Plenty of heather showing this side 😦

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Crossing the bridge over the Dee.

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A fair bit of walking on the way up as riding between the patches of snow was really time consuming, much easier on foot.

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Once back up into the glen proper I was able to ride for the most part again, but those tyres were still hard work.

A pretty quick descent to the junction with Braeriach and it was back to the slog out to the lodge, of course this time I knew how painful it was gonna be. I had toyed with the idea of dropping down to Piccadilly but it was quite a way further and the slog through the peat was in fact less than a km from this junction with the Laraig Ghru path!!  so I figured I should just man(person?)up and get the job done.

All in all great trip, which I really fancy trying again when/if we get more snow, preferably as a round trip back thru Glen Derry. Anyone game??

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‘cos you can never have too many, right?

So after about 18 months of prevarication I finally bit the bullet and bought a fatbike, mainly for snow touring and some adventure biking in the summer months on trails that the 29er would struggle on.
I built it from the ground up using some stuff I have been “bottom drawing” for a while, some gear I had from other builds and a little new stuff.  I used an old Alfine8 hub for the rear, with a singlespeed Surly for the front, and as the bike is offset (Pugsley) it means I can swap wheels over if I have an issue with the Alfine. The drive train is a Surly Whirly crank set running 24/22, this gives me plenty of scope for soft snow etc, which has been very useful through Glenfeshie and the Laraigh Ghru in particular. Avid discs and that is about it, pretty lean build as they can get quite weighty in no time!!! I finally finished building it around mid Jan, it snowed the very next day! which I took as a good sign, of course.
So while not the lightest build it is quite reliable and a great load carrier, I have done a few overnighters and lots of riding around the local trails while there was enough snow around for ski tracks to be pressed even! So far I am very happy with how it is riding, though I think it may not be as useful for the adventure biking as I was hoping as its weight makes t hard work when the inevitable portage is required, and it has quite a bit of rolling resistance in mud etc, I read a lot of guys posting that it is great in these conditions but I am inclined to using a proper mountain bike in summer etc rather than trying to make the fattie a “do anything” steed.

So a few pictures of the trips so far….

The first trip was around the local trails, in the Rothiemurchus estate, which is just over the road from me.

Outside Glenmore Lodge

first day on the bike in the Glenmore forest

first day on the bike in the Glenmore forest

Looking back toward the Glenmore forest

Looking back toward the Glenmore forest

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Second ride out, through the x-country tracks behind Loch Morlich

Second ride out, through the x-country tracks behind Loch Morlich

Bike on the shores of Loch Morlich.

Bike on the shores of Loch Morlich

After a couple of short day rides I figured that I should try it a little further afield if I was going to see how it would fare over the distances I wanted to cover while touring. From home I can go through the Ryvoan pass and on through Nethy Bridge, from there I went over the Sluggan and back to Glenmore via the Badaguish trails which end at my door pretty much.

Just past the bothy, pretty deep snow meant I had to push/drag/carry/manhandle the bike through about 1.5km of unridable snow!!!!

Just past the bothy, pretty deep snow meant I had to push/drag/carry/manhandle the bike through about 1.5km of unridable snow!!!!

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Quick break at Forest Lodge.

Quick break at Forest Lodge.

Heading toward the Sluggan

Heading toward the Sluggan

The ride up to the bothy was fine but the next 1.5km was pretty deep, thus a bit of pushing was called for. The snow coverage was pretty consistent for the remainder of the ride, a steady 7-10kph got me back just after dark. The ride through Badaguish was interesting in that it was the dog sled weekend and so I kept running into on-coming dog teams, often to surprised faces, for biking on the trails, and of course the “double take” when they noticed the tyres….. I have found the bike to be a bit attention seeking which can make a short ride a time consuming affair. I have often thought a FAQ t-shirt or bib would be useful, you can just turn around and call out a number when asked a question, the tyres being the most asked about.

Multi day trips next….

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Cairngorm tour, day3

A late start to the day, mainly due to spending ages chatting with the hostel manager having got myself sorted and ready to go. I was on the road by around 11.00 I guess, not a real problem as the light was good until around 22.30.

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A short ride along the road to Invercauld Bridge, better known as the Brig ‘o Dee, a few photos and then it was into the Invercauld estate to find the track that leads through to Glen Builg.

Plaque says it all!

Plaque says it all!

The weather was OK though it looked a little windy on the tops, that said it wasn’t cold here in the valley. The ride into the estate is initially on a sealed road, past the estate office and once past the main house the track veers to the right and heads uphill, into the woods. Pretty sheltered in the woods, I was starting to overheat as I climbed through the estate, a couple of stops while trying to tally the map with the web of trails going in all directions.

riding through the woods in the Invercauld estate.

riding through the woods in the Invercauld estate.

I managed to identify the trail that heads to Craig Leek, and pick up the gate that gives access to the glen I was looking to follow. The gate was in deer fence, and as the main gate was locked I had to squeeze the bike through the walkers gate!! A bit like the picture of the monkey trying to get the fruit out of the box.

Once out of the estate and on to the hill I was confronted with a good double track, this heads over the shoulder of Culardoch, it starts out fairly innocently but you can see it winding up the shoulder a few Km ahead, and pretty steeply too!

The steep climb over to Glen Builg, just beyond the Invercauld estate.

The steep climb over to Glen Builg, just beyond the Invercauld estate.

The high point is around 700mtrs, climbing almost 400mtrs to this point. The difference in the weather up here was quite marked. A very strong wind that made moving quite difficult, even the short push over the final 100mtrs of the saddle, and pretty cold too as the cloud was down to about 600mtrs, thus visibility was down to less than 100 mtrs on the saddle itself.

A nice descent of ~200mtrs down to the Gairn river is a fair reward for your effort, not least because it warmed up a little and I could see where I was going again. At the bottom of the track there is a ford over the river, while the track itself continues right, this side to a bridge about 1Km away. As I was aware of the time I opted to follow the track in order to save a little time, especially given the weather. This proved to be a bit of a mistake as the track was very wet, and as the infamous Argocats had been used it was all I could do to walk through it, let alone ride. I think it took me about 30 mins to get to the bridge!!

There were a couple of guys working on the bridge, stone masons I think, and the look on their faces was a picture, given the weather, and the fact that the bike was so loaded they thought I was mad to have ridden it over the hill. When I told them where I was heading the just looked at each other and shrugged…. I bet they checked the evening news for reports of a found body on the hill.

Having left the bridge the track bears left/north to the old Loch Builg Lodge, now derelict, and then follows the east shore through to Tomintoul. Some really nice single track along the shoreline finally gives way to double track, but all nice riding. The weather was improving too so all was well with the world.

The track ebventually heads north along the shore of Loch Builg, toward Tomintoul.

The track ebventually heads north along the shore of Loch Builg, toward Tomintoul.

Looking back along the track from Loch Builg.

Looking back along the track from Loch Builg.

I was planning to make it to Tomintoul in time to have coffee and a bacon&egg roll in the old fire station cafe, and did so, just! The conditions through the Glen and the wind etc had made for slower going than I had expected, and given the late start I was finally left the cafe at around 6.00. There was quite a lively DofE group having tea and cakes having just finished their expedition, I seem to have been followed by these groups on this trip, some of whom were asking about the bike etc. We had quite a good chat about doing expeds on bikes, including the assessors, who have seen groups doing it with trailers but felt that the set up I was using would be much better for the off road trips. It seems that there are several schools in the Perth area that have a fleet of BOB trailers for school trips and DofE expeds. It seems to me that we may see more and more education groups putting their toe in the bikepacking pool, only a good thing in my view.

Leaving Tomintoul involves a short road section that takes you just past the turn of for Glenlivet, after which you follow a Rights of Way marked track through to Glen Brown, via the woods behind Kylinadrochit Lodge. The track over the the glen is very easy going, if a little “washboard” in places, especially on a rigid bike. Once one drops to the river at the bottom of the glen a faint trail follows the SW bank of the river, there are a few crossings back and forth which are fine when it’s dry. I have done this ride a few times now, some when it was wet and it’s a completely different proposition then. Fortunately today it was pretty dry.

The track along the Burn of Brown is quite indistinct in places.

The track along the Burn of Brown is quite indistinct in places.

At the end of this short glen the track heads right, and over to Dorback Lodge. Along the way there are lots of ruins, some very old, others not so. The old farmhouse at Letteraitten looks almost like a Roman villa with it’s pillars facing you as you approach! By now the time is getting on and I still have the Braes of Abernethy and Eag Mhor to negotiate.

Coming the other way this section can be a tricky needle to thread as the track veers one way, but the route itself crosses a river at a very unlikely looking spot, with the track on the other side not really being visible until you have crossed and headed into the growth. This way though is much less problematic, hough there is a bit of a tricky climb up to Eag Mhor from Ballintum, after another river crossing the trail heads into the moorland and is very narrow in places, such that pedalling can be quite difficult due to catching the sides of the path with pedals! Once into the cleft though the track from here to the river crossing previously mentioned is some of the best bit of single track on the whole trip.

A great piece of single track through Eag Mhor, that eventually joins the trails from Forest Lodge to Ryvoan Pass.

A great piece of single track through Eag Mhor, that eventually joins the trails from Forest Lodge to Ryvoan Pass.

Once through Eag Mhor itself and across the short stretch of moorland, the trail that winds through the tree line to the river is great, even with a loaded bike. Once over the river it becomes double track again, all the way back to Glenmore. The track gives great views over to Meall a’Bhuachaille and the Cairngorm hills. A shallowish ford takes you over the river and joins the track from Forest Lodge through to the Ryvoan pass. The riding along here is extremely bumpy on a rigid bike, and given the late hour the need to race the fading light to get home before dark just made matters worse…. 70km in the saddle and now hammering along the trail left an impression(almost literally!!) on my rear that would stay with me for a few days.

A quick drink and a chance to enjoy the view over Meal a Bhucla

A quick drink and a chance to enjoy the view over Meal a’ Bhuachaille before the light goes.

The ride past the Bothy and Lochan Uaine is a lovely stretch of open double track, with a little bit of tech descending just past the Bothy. I whizzed past Glenmore Lodge, giving the bar a miss in favour of getting home for a meal and shower. I finally propped the bike against the wall at home at around 22.00, about 30 mins of daylight to spare. A long day to cover some ~75Km, the conditions didn’t help, nor the fact that I carried a little too much kit, which both highlighted my lack of base fitness, but as this was the first multi day trip with a loaded bike this year I did ok I think. A few lessons learnt.

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Loaded ride into Glen Callater

A quick run up the glen with the bike loaded for an overnighter for the exercise really. I also wanted a quick look at Jock's road that runs down into Glen Clova, I want to do a coast to coast and have toyed with the idea of coming through this way, rather than the usual Ballater-Mount Keen route. Pretty rideable if dry I would say. I also wanted to see how it was riding the bike, set up for touring, with lights.

 

 
 
The ride through the glen up to the far end of Loch Callater is pretty scenic, again mainly land rover track but a lovely ride along the river with fine views. I was away by about lunchtime and as it was only about 12 Km to the far end of the loch I was in no particular rush, I had of course packed the stove so had the option of making a brew along the way, or at the spot overlooking Jock's road. My other passion is photography, and though most of my bikepacking/riding pics are taken with a point and shoot, I also like to use it as a “sketch pad” if you like, anything I really like I often return later with my landscape set up. So I spent a lot of time doodling with the camera too.

The weather was pretty cool, though the forecast was for it to get really cold later. I got to the end of the loch, by the old Lodge building after a couple of hours (I did say I was in no rush!) of picture taking and just enjoying being out on the hill again. I stopped at the lodge to take a few images of the loch, and as I have a thing for all things derelict, inc buildings, I went for a wander around the lodge building looking for close up studies to photograph. While wandering around the buildings I came across a bothy, Callater Stables.

 
I hadn't expected one up here so was quite surprised, though when I read the plate on the door the name rung a bit of a bell. When I got back I had a look on the MBA site and of course there it was. I took a few pics around the place and then headed of to the far end as I was running out of light, maybe an hour or so, and I wanted to get a quick look down the far end of the glen.
 
 
 
 
I even got some company when I got back to the bothy.

Apparently they are used to bring Stag off the hill during the culling season.

 

Callater Stable bothy.

Loch Callater

Loch Callater again!

The bothy itself was pretty cold and cheerless given that there was no fire in it, great in summer/ spring etc but I was freezing sat in there while getting abrew on. That said, the bothy is pretty well set up with a few beds and lots of comfortable chairs. I shall certainly keep it in mind as a possible wet weather stop if the C2C route comes through here (I have no intention of doing it during the main midge season!). I had a brew and even made a quick meal as I waited for the sun to go down and the light to go. While I was cooking etc there were a few snow flurries went through so when I was ready to set off there was a thin but full covering of snow on the ground. The ride back was really nice, what with the snow and the full moon! I managed to ride most of the way back on low beam, I have to say I love night riding in the snow, not sure why, I just find it very , relaxing?
A short ride along the road got me back by about 19.00, a hot shower and gear sorted I settled down with a proper meal and a glass of Jura, now what better way to spend a day in the highlands?
As I have just bought Blogsy I was also posting to see how it goes for posting “on the hoof” as it were.
Seems fine this end, I guess publishing it now will tell if all is well the other. Pretty easy to use I must say.

 

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Cairngorm tour, day two.

Day two dawned well, but very midgey. I really hate midges by the way!!!

Track down to last nights campsite. The track to Tromie is just out of shot, right of image frame.

So, as the midges were so bad I decided to just pack up and get moving. I figured that once the sun came out the midges would run for cover, hopefully there would be a bit of wind too. Once I had got some a few Km down the road I would be able to find somewhere to stop to make a brew, or find somewhere for breakfast.
Having climbed out of the dip that I was camped in it was a nice gentle descent through the woods on forestry track.
As it was a Sunday morning the A9 was pretty quiet, making crossing it an easy affair. I picked up the old A9, which is now the Sustrans Route7 that runs between Perth and Inverness, and had a nice warm up spin along the road as far as House of Bruar.

Old A9, looking down toward Pitlochry, now a cycleway. I really enjoyed this ride on the old road, Sustrans have made a really good job of it, so much so that I intend to do a few days along it on my road tourer.

I was going to avoid the place altogether but as I passed the entrance to the car park I spotted what looked like a coffee shop.
Actually I was a little “under dressed” so opted for the ice cream cart outside, which turned out to be a far better choice. I ordered a double scoop cone, Rum and Raisin and Pistachio nut….yum. I developed a real taste for pistachio ice cream while living in Norway, and am constantly irked by not being able to find it here at home. I have on occasion got really excited only to find that what I spotted was just Mint choc chip! Anyway, I digress, I think the guy must have taken pity on me as the cone was huge, looked like Marge Simpson’s head, only brown and green rather than blue. He also had a fruit stall too, so with some Raspberries, cherries and my ice cream I sat on a bench and had a healthy(ish!) brunch. I was quite amused by the number of people who would look at me and my stash, then the bike, and do a double take at the gear on it. One American tourist asked where I had come from, and when I told him he thought I was insane, he must have asked me to confirm what he had heard several times. I think maybe he was out of his comfort zone as he was at least 20 mtrs from the coach!!!!

Next stop Blair Atholl, from where I can pick up Glen Tilt. There is a good cafe/chip shop at the far end of town so I figured I would have second breakfast and coffee before heading into the glen( I really could like this hobbit thing). After a quick bacon sandwich and coffee I headed up the glen. About 2km up the road I followed the Rights of Way signpost which sent me up a steep hill, through a couple of fields, a short section of woodland and finally dropped back down to the road into the glen.

I suggest ignoring the green sign, and just going to the car park instead.

In hindsight, and next time, I shall follow the sign for the car park, it’s shorter and certainly quicker, and the 2-3km diversion is hardly a stunning ride.

Bridge over the river at the bottom of Glen Tilt.

So a little further on you cross a small bridge and continue on past Forest Lodge, finally pick up a landrover track. Great track all the way to the Falls of Tarf, just before the falls the track turns into single track.

Bridge over Falls of Tarf, end of landrover track, start of singletrack. Much of the riding to Glen Feshie was like this.

Bridge over Falls of Tarf at the end of the landrover track. After this it’s all single track to the junction with Glen Feshie.

Falls of Tarf themselves.

The bridge over the river at the falls is wire suspension, built in  1886 to commemorate the death of Francis Bedford in 1879, who drowned while crossing the river close to here. It was payed for with funds from the family and friends, plus the rights of way society.

Once over the bridge it is some great single track over pretty wet moorland, following the river more or less all the way to Red House. Again, for the most part it is rideable, A few more short portages with drops into the glen bottom or river to contend with.

The track through the middle of Glen Tilt, great riding, if a little difficult with a loaded bike. a few short portages due to long drops into the river, I found the bike difficult to control on slow tech stuff, which at the time, I put down to a lack of fitness and bike time on my part. Since re-visited that idea, I think maybe the frame is too long for me.

There is a short section of a Kilometre or so that can be very boggy after rain, but today it was pretty dry, I think maybe a fat bike would be a good option for large parts of this trip in inclement conditions. From here it is a short fide to the end of the glen, where it joins the Geldie coming in from the left hand side. As there is no bridge here a crossing is the only option, and although it looks pretty innocuious the water was well past my knees!! fortunately it’s quite a slow moving pool.

Crossing the Geldie Burn at Red House. The crossing was a lot deeper than it looked, about knee/mid thigh high in the middle!! Glad it was pretty slow moving.

Back onto Landrover track and the ride through to the Linn of Dee is pretty fast from here. I planned to camp at the White Bridge, but when I got there I was confronted with about 3 groups of DofE expeditions on assessment by the look of things, complete with their supervisors. So after a bit of a chat with same, decided to carry on down the valley and see about camping closer to the Linn.

White bridge over the Dee, place was mobbed, with several DofE groups camped around the bridge just out of shot. decided to head down the glen a little more.

Bridge over the river at Linn of Dee. as the site I was going to camp at was busy, I decided to run down to Braemar to the hostel.

Having reached the Linn of Dee with a couple of hours to spare, I decided to go on to the hostel in Braemar and visit a couple of friends in town

The rain finally caught up with me on the road to the hostel. As it was just 10Km back to Braemar I wasn’t particularly worried.

A short ride along the Inverey road was a little wet, as the rain came on halfway back, but as it was only about 5Km back to the village it was no real problem.

I went to the Co-op and bought a Pizza and a dram to take round with me. A good night all in all, plenty to catch up on and lots of tales of derring do around the fire, true or not!!

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