My first official job for Jim and nineonesix-guiding was a trip up to Golspie to do some guiding and coaching on the Wildcat Trails.
In the planning since around last September, Dawn was bringing her son Keane over from Texas to drive the North Coast 500, and wanted to sprinkle a little MTB goodness into the trip.
Planning any trip to Golspie in January always ran the risk of being white-out with snow, but the weather was looking ok right up to the last few hours beforehand.
A cold snap descended on Easter Ross just in time for the big day, so a bit of creative thinking was in order. Keane comes from a driver instruction background, and was quick to pick up tips and techniques for managing the bike in colder temperatures (not to mention some loaned waterproof socks!). We headed up the unavoidable climbs of Golspie for the a closer look at the state of trails, and found clear and relatively dry going, so took some alternative lines to reach the top of the red route.
Keane told me he had been looking endlessly at online videos of singletrack trails in Scotland, and after his first run down the red route, said he had never seen anything quite like it. We quickly got to technique chat, and that led to ‘let’s have another go’. A few circuits later with a little coaching on corners and the tell-tale grin said it all.
After a break for some hot lunch in Golspie, we headed a little higher towards the beginning of the black climb ‘Lactic Ladder’. Going well at first, the snow started to settle in and by the time we reached our turning point talk turned to snowboards maybe being more appropriate.
With the trails still being relatively clear, we headed for the final run of the day. Keane had really got the hang of carrying speed through the turns and features, so had an upgrade to full suspension for the last part of the trip.
A great day in cold conditions – Keane was great company and didn’t seem phased by the wintry weather at all. Hopefully this trip set him up for the planned snowboarding at Nevis Range for the next couple of days? Good times.
blog by Ian Sikora