Mostly, this is random stories from my various trips as I collect them, but I've a wee backlog to get through too and those will pop up occasionally.

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Friday 16 September 2011

C2C Summary

I’d been thinking about this route for quite a while, so was pleased to eventually get around to it. A bit like the Curates Egg, it had it’s good and it’s bad. The Corrieyairack was awesome despite the weather and doing the route all of the way to Ruthven gave me a real kick and encouragement for another project which has been on the back-burner for a while.

The Speyside Way turned out to be a bit of a disappointment. I’d cycled much of it, in parts, previously and had assumed it would all be similar. In retrospect, not following the advice on the official Way markers turned out to be a bit foolish and I could have saved myself some grief by taking the B9102 from Mains of Cromdale to Ballindalloch. However, many of the problems exist because there are sections where it looks like the Way is barely tolerated by the landowners, squeezing round field margins or in a thin muddy strip between a golf course and some houses. The parts which are easily navigable by bike also tend to lack any decent views - much of this a consequence of following the old railway line along a wooded valley. Truth is, I’d not recommend it as a walk either.

The weather obviously plays a major part in how we view our activities and for sure it was disappointing to have quite so much rain, but that’s the nature of cycling and at least I stayed mostly dry under my protective gear.

The bike performed really well and I reckon I made the right choice. The CX option would have been increasingly uncomfortable as the journey went on, and downright miserable over the Corrieyairack. Panniers were, perhaps, the wrong choice. Loading all of the weight onto the back was mostly fine but the excess width was a real problem with some of those gates and when negotiating some well-overgrown singletrack. Some permutation of handlebar bag/ rackpack/ frame bag option would have kept it all “in-line” and a small rucksack would have been fine.

Overall though, I was taken by how much of the route was on remnants of older means of transport. As mountain bikers, we are blessed to have access to so many canal towpaths, disused railways and old military roads. Of the 245km or so I travelled, around 45 was on tarmac road and much of that single-track lanes. Sheer bloody-mindedness might have decreased that slightly but I was happy overall with my dirt:road ratio.

It was also great to meet up with friends - David at Craigellachie and Jo at Buckie. It's nice to be able to travel to such nice places and meet up with folk en route. I aim to do a lot more of that in the coming year.

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