Niall’s MTB report – Carrbridge meet (Feb 2014)

14th – 16th February 2014

14/02/2014 18:00 – In Transit: Pass of Birnam

The pouring rain of the carse has turned to a gastly blizzard, annulling line markings and at times defeating the grip of my puny tyres.

Wretched children, I accuse, having assaulted the tyres for these conditions mid-week.

I consider halting a while by the warming hearth of a Birnam Inn, the junction impassable forcing us to press on.

14/02/2014 19:00 – In Transit: Pass of Drumochter

I feared this moment, the highest point of my route, the government men thankfully keeping the road clear enough to aid our crossing, just.

The worst I pray is over.

14/02/2014 20:00 – Lodgings, Carrbridge

At last we arrive, the snow continues to fall, disburdening the car of our luggage we enter to welcoming faces, roaring fire and victuals before settling for a round of Balderdash.

14/02/2014 21:00 – Lodgings, Carrbridge

Mid game, fellow weary travellers, the last group expected before the morrow arrive with more tales from the desolate wastes.

15/02/2014 10:00 – Lodgings. Carrbridge

The weather has improved magnificently, the cold winter sun shining across the frozen fields. My bike and I set out on the trail of my quarry.

15/02/2014 10:20 – Ellan Woods, Carrbridge

My quest is diverted, a trail of interest disappears in to the woods.

The familiar print of Minions I have followed; to the habitat of the gravity tribe, this is no place for myself a lowly XC’er.

I retreat to the village.

15/02/2014 12:00 – Carr Bridge, Carrbridge

My foray into enemy territory has made me peckish, I devour some rations before setting off.

My wheels following the footsteps of the Butcher and the Prince?

15/02/2014 12:30 – Sluggan Bridge

The snow line is long crossed providing extra resistance for my aching limbs, I breath heavy and sometimes I am forced to walk.

I rest for some photographs, Suzy’s Café ruins sit beside this desolate parapetless bridge.

A 4 tone chime rings behind me as I rest, my Nokia’s battery reports it’s dying breath.

15/02/2014 12:45 – Sluggan

I pause once again in a clearing, the frozen Mondaliath pans in front of me, the warm ruddy peaks replaced by cold heartless white.

Another chime from my Nokia, battery replenished by spare, the familiar morse — .. — echoes through the frozen forest, reporting from town of deep snow and high winds, Van bound riders at home.

I retort with my location, target and advice.

15/02/2014 13:00 – Slochd Village

Three young deer dart across my path, their devilish hooves better adept for traction in the snow, another chime.

Van bound riders now report their feeble resolve, and then that they’ve taken my advice.

I can see the road clear through the village, winding up the hill, the summit  is another matter.

I carry on, my quarry is in sight.

15/02/2014 13:45 – Slochd Pass

I climb, odd markings in the snow on the ancient tarmac denote the recent passing of ski tourists, friend or foe, I don’t know…

A small snowman stands guard, where our routes diverge.

15/02/2014 13:30 – Slochd Pass Summit

At last, my objective is complete, the summit reached, modern traffic flowing on the adjacent highway drowned by palpitations and heavy breath.

I descend as fast as I dare, arms fighting, wheels skittering, my brakes complaining and speed waning, Halt!

Repeat to Snowline

15/02/2014 14:00 – Lodgings, Carrbridge

I return first to our winter cabin, a well earned hot shower partaken.

My fellow lodgers: Boarding blagger, Brewery Baggers, Swimming Slackers and Tarn Traipsers winding their yarns as our evening lasagne is devoured.

A game of Scotland Yard is taken before retiring.

16/02/2014 09:00 – Lodgings, Carrbridge

We disperse for our day’s activities, some on foot, some on board and I again on my bike.

What we got up to and how our day panned out will be told next time we meet in the Bank Bar on Thursday, maybe…

Browse Niall’s photo album from the trip