Titel Div

Samstag, 29. April 2017

Sloth in Scotland - Alex' POV (english) 2/3

We both were in surprisingly good shape the next morning and set of to our next destination - Fort William.
Knowing that the famous DH track was closed for maintenance, we still wanted to go there, even if it had not been on our list - probably an early hint to later reasoning. Once at the centre - the trail centre is located ‚around‘ the ski lift base station and it’s surroundings - we hit the bike rental to ask for directions. The very friendly young man in the shop gave us a map and told us that the ‚Red Giant‘ should be OK for us and our rides. So we went and bought the most expensive lift ticket I have ever seen, of course not without having filled a form confirming we understood the dangers, emergency phone numbers etc. So up we went. Our bikes mounted tipped over with the saddle’s tip hung in a rung outside the cabin, we went up by cable car to the upper station (1200ft) from where we only had to aride a few meters uphill to the start of the trail.
The Ben Nevis Range behind us, we started off facing downward on the trail.For me, the whole ride was accompanied with way more respect than the day before. Overall, I felt not really at easy anywhere on the trail, probably on the last part. The reason is certainly not the trail itself. It starts up with a fast and wide gravel track, winding it’s way down not too step, with a few drops and rocks, but all in all relaxed - only to immediately switch and to rock sections which, if being hit unprepared, can be pretty discouraging. It then flows onwards on long northshores, only to here and there become again gravel/rock mix, in various grades of descent.
And boy it’s long. Really long. Being almost completely down, we had to stop as a kid’s race was carried out the same day, and we were asked to deviate. Steven, obviously a local, offered us to join us on the way down. He showed us the other possible descents, from which we took the Blue Line leading down and in the course of our little tour we came to talk.
We told of our previous day at Laggan, how we loved that and how great the riding was. As Steven had seen us coming down the last bit of The Red Giant before, and as he asked how we liked it I said that it probably was a bit too much for me from a technical perspective but still doable. He agreed to that and even shares my disliking for extended northshore tracks. Steven asked us on where we were staying and what else we were up to. Being it quite early in the day, I mentioned we had thought about going to Kinlochleven, being one of the trails we had downloaded and had read some articles on it. His comment was „If you didn’t like The Red Giant, don’t go there. It’s great scenery but very hard and stepp riding or carrying - both up and down“. So I didn’t even mention Torridon anymore… In fact, the riding in Scotland had been fantastic yet, but very challenging to both our technique and fitness. The experience on Laggan’s Black Line and The Red Giant in FW had brought the realization that some of what we initially thought possible was in reality way out of our league. So we marked some of the trails we had in our mind’s maps as strictly ‚the not-there-yet zone‘ and it was clear we had to shift focus a bit.Lucky as we were, it was Steven who told us we should go for ‚Lairig Ghru‘ in Aviemore. We had a map of Aviemore, and some trails on the app ‚Trailforks‘ had been recommended by the dude in Bothy’s Bikes. As said trail was among the tracks André had downloaded in preparation of our trip, we both liked the idea and it became a potential destination for our last day. With the Kinlochleven from our maps, we told Steven that one of the loops had been recommended, but he warned us and instead drew us a little route on the map we had been given by the bike hire guy, meanwhile explaining on where to head to. It was his fantastic advice that brought us discovering some stunning trails - and some of the worst I have ever seen. After a little break we followed Stevens directions up a fire road slightly uphill. Our plan was to go up mostly on fire road to ride the descent of the ‚World Champs‘ trail. We met a few guys on the way up and said good bye on the peak. Again wide berms and gravelly slopes, it was a perfect start to the trail. It is overall through shrubbery, very curvy and full of flow. There’s no ‚killer‘ features, but lots of little playful possibilities to jump that it again was a trail that fully fit our upper comfort zone and allowed for nice speed.
Of course we’d go up again. Which we did. Steven had drawn a few Black Lines, natural trails not being officially maintained and thus not on the map. I could not get these out of my mind, so I took a look on the entry of the upper one, which started slightly below the start of our last descent. It was in a densely planted forrest, pretty steep and obviously muddy too. Lot of roots. We did not do it. Instead, we again went down the World Champs trail. Crossing a fire road halfway down, I decided to cut a little further to join the Black Line coming from top. I.AM.AN.IDIOT.Remember the not-there-yet zone? I was right in the middle of it. A Terrain completely unrideable for me. It was muddy, full of roots, steep and an almost 30cm deep cut had been ridden into it. It was hell. My feet hardly found solid ground and it was very hard carrying. On the next occasion, I cut back to the red line, all the way cursing myself and the ‚idiots who find something like this cool‘ („Wie kann man sowas bitte geil finden“). I told André of my rather unpleasant experience on our way up again, where - following again Stevens advice - we used a path on the hill’s side to the entry of the Orange Line aka Jump Line, a collection of small and medium sized jumps sloping down the last few hundred meters of descent to the base station. This nice little ride marked the end of our adventure, and after using the bikewash facilities we packed our rides and went off towards home. We passed Laggan again on our way, and even though it was really tempting - the parking and the cafe are right next to the main road - we continued our journey back to Kingussie. The obligatory shower before the equally obligatory search for food and drink washed away the day’s sweat and dirt and left exhaustion and heavy limbs behind. The result was a rather quiet evening in The Tipsy Laird (honor told us to eat there after having bought our pints for dinner in The Bistro with them) with an excellent meal and some pints. The quiet left when a bunch of soccer supporters returned from the day’s match (Hibernian : Aberdeen 2:3) and we decided do do so shortly after. Which was good. Day 3 should deliver a worthy ending to our trip.