20-22 February 2015
Nominally a meet to Roybridge, Saturday saw club members scattered all over Scotland! From Drumochter, to the Grey Corries, on- and off-piste Aonach Mor, and even in Glen Affric, what we all shared was a complete blanket of snow right down to ground level and a forecast-defying clear blue sky.
Sunday seemed like a day for low-level activities which unfortunately meant rain too but that didn’t stop us enjoying the mountain bike trails at Nevis Range. This was a good opportunity to get in some hard-core training for Team DMC in the upcoming Relentless 24 competition.
My MTB Baptism of Ice
I hit the track with the bike on top of me after only 20m – not a great start. Clearly I was not yet at one with my new-to-me mountain bike. It felt like my pleas of “Be gentle with me Niall, it’s my first time” had fallen on deaf ears. But I picked myself up and got right back on – a lesson learned from horse riding. At least the bike doesn’t kick.
Within half an hour or so under Niall and Dan’s expert tuition I’d got the hang of a few of the basics like ‘steep downhill: bum out back over the saddle’ and ‘steep uphill: press-up position over the handlebars’. The adrenalin was speeding through my system and I was switched on to action. As Andrew commented – not a day to be admiring the view or looking out for wildlife.
The route took us through a variety of sections – some easy paths with muddy puddles, firebreaks, uphill switch-backs, technical downhill sections with boulders, tree roots and big drops on each side and angled board walks wrapped with chicken wire – the grip was OK unless it was covered in snow. Eeek!
The long uphills (long for me, short for Andrew) were a good time to make a mental shopping list: item No1 – a set of pedals with spikes like Diana’s to stop my feet jumping around so much on the downhill sections; item No2 – waterproof gloves to keep my hands dry in driving rain and snow and item No3 – jelly babies! Now I know what cyclists put in that wee pocket tucked under their saddle. For the conditions on Sunday something to keep the rain out would have been handy but apparently wet feet are to be expected. Next time I might try out Paul’s bubble-wrap idea for hands and feet, or maybe just all over.
My highlight was skiing Winger Wall in the Back Corries in perfect powder (and bumping by chance into two other freeriders from British Backcountry while attempting to cross the line into the unpatrolled area). Second highlight was sharing a lovely dinner in the pub with two other DMC members and learning cool stuff about them ( for instance that they can both speak Czech and that one of them has once trespassed into a radioactive ghost town).