Friday night and I am planning the final details of yet another training ride for Saturday when a friend phones to ask if I can do some bike guiding tomorrow… Travis and his family are getting towards the end of a trip to Scotland and he wanted to get out early tomorrow before heading for Edinburgh, then home to the States.
After a discussion of what Travis was wanting to experience, the weather forecast and the time we had to ride I made the decision to head to the trails at Carrbridge and Lethandry Hill. We’re spoilt here in the Cairngorms for trails to ride on so I could have suggested at least another two or three venues but I wanted Travis to spend as much of his precious three hours riding. We agreed that Travis could use my Merida 140mm travel full suspension bike and I’d use my Brother Cycles BigBro 29er.
Travis was already ready when I drove into the Muckrach Hotel at 7:00am. We introduced one another, checked out packs, food and fluid before the 15 minute drive to Carrbridge. Travis’s relaxed, friendly style meant that long before reaching Carrbridge I knew we were both going to have a great morning!
There are many ways of accessing the swooping, flowy trail that descends Lethandry Hill, this morning I chose the initial easy gravel track so that we could ride side by side to talk. Soon we reached the first gate and the singletrack that gently climbs to the second gate. The bikes were going well for both of us and after a short chat about flat pedals and the attack position we enjoyed the first of our descents towards the farm buildings at Lethandryveole. Forks were locked out and low gears chosen as from here there was a bit of work to be done as we started to climb in earnest up towards the Lethandry HIll.
Just before heading back into the trees and onto the ridge I chose a viewpoint to show Travis the open spaces to the north and where the ‘Burma Roads’ were built here for practice in WWII. When we reached a pylon clearing Travis treated me to a Lara’Bar which made my day. I have been reading about riders stocking up on these on the Great Divide so it was great to know before hand that they taste great!
The connecting trail to the top of the descent is beautiful. The brown singletrack, the grey tree bark and the green vegetation all combine to give a wonderful sweeping run to the top of the Lethandry Hill descent.
Travis and I lingered at the top to take photos, enjoy the rainbow and discuss the other road and trail rides to be had in this fantastic location in the Cairngorms National Park. Once we’d had our fill of the view it was time for the main event and I was absolutely delighted to watch Travis confidently and fluidly ride this fantastic piece of trail. Take a look at the photos to decide for yourself.
Once we exited the ride I then moved to the front to guide Travis onto a wonderful wee sheep track that continues the theme of flow, flow and more flow. I knew that my companion for the morning would have no problems with the testing wee climb back up to the first gate before heading down via even more flowing singletrack through the trees right back down to the car.
Travis said that when he got home to New Jersey he’d be getting himself a mountain bike to ride the trails near to his home. You can’t get much better feedback than that can you!
blog by Jim Sutherland, nineonesix-guiding