What a weekend to pick for our first mountain bike trip of the year. Enough breeze in the evening to keep away the midges, planet Mars at its closest to earth for over a decade provided the late evening theatrics. Gus’s “ooh aren’t we all so insignificant” chat was my cue for bed. The sun shined for the whole next day with what must have been the highest temperatures of 2016 so far. Factor 50; we gingers salute you.
Leaving the car late afternoon at Linn of Dee we pedalled an easy 8 or so km to a beautiful well known camping spot Bynack Lodge, the ruins of an old 19th century shooting lodge.
Tents up, brew on, fire lit, map out, to plan as ever an overly ambitious route for the following day.
The plan: Head down glen Tilt to Blair Atholl, hang a left, head northeast along Allt Coire Lagain, east to Daldhu and north through Fealar to be spat out back at the falls of Tarf at the top of glen Tilt, fetch our tents at Bynack lodge and retreat to the chip shop in Breamar via the car at Linn of Dee.
A lazy 0815 start and some slightly technical initial singletrack meant a later than planned arrival at the Falls of Tarf for the start of the loop. A beautiful spot for a water refill.
Next, onto good land rover track, past the scary rifle range and down to sunny Blair Atholl. A spot of lunch, so far so good. Now for the uphill bit. Also known as the rubbish bit.
A handful of km on tarmac brought us up out of the town then on and up past loch Moraig. Cracking views of the southern highlands were our reward for the effort. Now came the crux of the day.
The crux in this case being the lack of path along the Allt Coire Lagain. Much pushing ensued through the heather and along sheep paths but this altitude gain did leave a fast decent down to Daldhu. A good road up the Allt Fearnach led to an even faster descent to the remote Faelar lodge.
Through the fields then twisty paths closed our loop as we arrived back in glen Tilt just above the falls.
After a long day toiling in the sun, the rain that had been threatening finally made an appearance. It was a respite for about 90 seconds but soon started to dampen our spirits as we trudged back to Bynack lodge (mostly pushing now). Our one and only puncture of the day at this point was unhelpful but the skies cleared as we packed up camp and set off for our victory roll down the Dee.
Now for the prizes.
Maillot jaune - Gear Pest Eamonn. An attack over the last 5km brought victory for the special one. I think he just needed the loo.
Lanterne Rouge - Gear Pest Gus. In fairness he was nursing that puncture.
Gear Pest Andy finished in the peloton. Again an average undistinguished performance
A 76km circumnavigate of Beinn A’ghlo completed and legs given a good blow out.
Alas... we were too late for the chip shop.