Epic Scottish Weekender – (pm) 2nd June

Smitty, James and Bruce look at yet another ‘bloody hell, look at that!’ view

Learnie Red Rock…. no me neither! IV10 was the only bit of post code we’d got. All I knew was we were heading South on the way there. The climb up and over Struie Hill from Dornoch Firth had warranted another “Panorama Photo” from Dom…. “Have you seen this iPhone app?….”   We crossed the bridge back over the stunning Cromarty Firth with it’s massive oil drilling rigs at the sea end, and turned left before we got to Inverness.

We pulled into another car park in the middle of nowhere surrounded by pine trees…. While the others got there kit on, me and Smitty had a look at the jump track next to the car park. He proved that “Scotsmen can jump” and I took some photo’s to prove it. Looking at the trail map, most of the riding was graded blue (easy). Not a bad thing as I’m pretty sure everyone was feeling the effects of the previous 5 trail centres, be it aching muscles or bruising.

We headed out along a fire road, to the start of the first blue section of trail. This gradually gained some height, but ‘easy’ height, as the trail was nice smooth graded stone that snaked up through the trees, to the top of Callachy Hill. The trail now turned back down the hill in a series of swoopy traverses. Not technical at all, they just let you concentrate on getting the lines through bends right…. get it wrong and cut a corner and you’d probably hit one of the numerous rocks that had been strategically placed just inside the apexes!

The trail now climbed up to Fir Hill, and it’s breathtaking views of Fort George on the spit of land on the opposite shore and back down the Moray Firth. A 10 minute break was had, just standing there looking down at the view below us. I tried taking some photos but none of them do it justice.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_George,_Scotland

Decending towards the sea, we got to the start of the black section at Learnie Hill. In actual ground area terms this section is tiny, but whoever laid this out did a brilliant job. The trail twists, climbs, descends and snakes round the hill. Every couple of hundred metres there’d be another technical feature to tackle. Stunning!

Soon we dropped out on the fire road and climbed back up past the start. I’m sure if we all had fresh legs we’d have done several laps, but we carried on up to the start of the ‘Firth View’ blue section. Climbing to the highest point we were greeted by another amazing view. This time of the entrance to the Moray Firth and along the north facing coast towards Lossiemouth.

A long fast singletrack descent, and short fire road climb saw us back at Fir Hill. Along the tree covered ridge to the top of Callachy Hill and we were at the top of the drop back to the car park. A series of bermed drops and massive rollers got us back down the hill, and to the cars. Time to point the cars South to our base in Avimore, get some washing on, crack open some beers and decide what to do tomorrow…. a rest day…..or ride some more!

Less than 36 hours into the “Epic Scottish Weekender” and we’d ridden 6 trail centres, slept in a train, been eaten by midges, had 7 punctures, 1 OTB, and been involved in a RAF Sea King rescue……

Ride – #95     Bike – Gary Fisher Paragon 29’er

Miles – 10.3     Total 2012 miles – 1940.7

“Epic Scottish Weekender” miles – 71.6

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