Tip of the day: click the pix to see the big version...
SSWC: Part III (see parts I and II below to catch up)
After finishing the race people milled about for a bit then started the ride back to Bothy Bikes and/or their abodes. We had a couple of hours before the awards and cook out so we swapped out chamois for loose clothes and rolled back to race HQ. Cairngorm Brewery was set up with some fine brews and a big spread of food was getting set up for a post race feast. The organizers did us right. Class act these chaps. Then on to the awards even though the winners weren't present since they were still getting their prizes tattooed to their flesh. Lots of fun categories for things like best wreck, most drunk the night before, best facial hair, etc. etc. In this world you do not need to be the fastest on the course to walk away with swag. Surly once again gave away a frameset to the best volunteer. This is one of the coolest awards in my opinion. It takes tons of work and sacrifice to put something like this on and there are people behind the scenes who usually go unnoticed. This is one way to help rectify that.
The following day we spent off of the bikes and piled in one of our vehicles to play tourist and make a trip up to Loch Ness. Beautiful country and it was a good way to chill. Saw a few other racers up there. Toured the grounds of a cool old castle and only rode our bikes around town for breakfast and dinner excursions. The only day we didn't do a "real" ride while in Aviemore.
Tuesday we (the guys) met up with the B-more crew and piled 8 bikes and riders into two cars and made a 30 mile trek south to Wolftrax MTB park. Meanwhile the ladies set out on a 40 mile tour of nearby towns on their knobby equipped single speeds. A few days later we happened to be on some of the same roads on our way to visit a Scotch whiskey distillery. Let's just say the girls did a boat load of climbing on their little tour!
Wolftrax was billed as a purpose designed MTB park and it did not disappoint. The Blue trail was billed as the fun park and moderate difficulty: wide open graded surfaces with big fat berms and lots of table top jumps. Pure fun for everyone. The Red trail was listed as difficult. Singletrack with some rock features spread throughout and a giant 45 degree angle natural rock face option to ride. Trails were tight and started in the wide open at the top and dove into foresty goodness as you descended. The final piece of Red was a 750 meter boardwalk through the trees that spit you out on one of the berms of the Blue trail. Very fun stuff. The final trail was the Black and it was rated "double black diamond". It's the reason I reinstalled my rear brake and switched from fixed to freewheel when we headed out here. With descriptions of "no chicken runs", big-hit bikes recommended, expert only trails with boulders and drops we were counting on some primo technical riding and Wolftrax delivered. This stuff so closely resembled some of the riding we have here at the Frederick Watershed it was amazing. Fast, flowing, technical, sphincter puckering fun, it had it all. Features like Two Ton Drop, the Heart of Darkness and The Devil's Chessboard kept you on your toes. We did all of the trails multiple times, grinding up the fire road access many times (shuttles are available if want and you drop a little coin). When we left we were feeling satisfied like we'd just feasted on a gourmet meal. We followed up by meeting back up with the girls in an Aviemore tavern for many hours of food, cask ales and scotch. Definitely one of the finer days of the trip.
And so it continued, more riding, more drinking, and more time spend with old friends and new friends, riding trails in the beautiful Scottish countryside and hills. On Thursday we headed back to Wolftrax, this time with the girls in tow so they could get a crack at the fun. They rode the Blue and the Red like champs and had smiles at least as big as ours. Ricky d and I went off on our own at one point to rip the Black trail. When we got to the top I said "no photos, no stops" and then we proceeded to rip it from top to bottom. It was fast and brutal but I succeeded in reaching my goal of doing it non-stop with no dabs so I was stoked. Just another shot of endorphins and adreneline in the cocktail of fun that was flowing through my veins. Then we shot a quick video of the boardwalk ride (see below). Unfortunatley the "action" mode of my camera limits the time you can shoot video and shut off before we hit the jumps of the Blue trail. Better luck next time.
Friday we hit the Burma Road loop for our Swan Song ride in Aviemore. Over 2.5 miles of dirt/gravel/washed out/rutted climbing to put the burn in your legs and you up at the top where you are surrounded by the heavens. A bad grinder made worse by the headwind we had almost the entire time, but I was determined to turn every pedal stroke if it meant tearning my legs off. Curious sheep on the side of the trail just stared at me like I was some fool as I altenated between hot and cold depending on how the wind was blowing and if the clouds were blocking the sun. The descent brought a huge grin to your face and deposited you in one of the most picturesqe river valleys I've had the pleasure to ride in. From there we followed rolling hills and fields paralleling the river before crossing and working our way back out of the valley and towards town. A few hours later and we were back home, piling in the car to go do a whiskey tour before closing time.
Glenlivet was our destination and it was a nice drive minus getting lost in the beginning where I got a little verbally angry at the navigators/passengers (sorry guys, I can be a high stress driver). Traversed a bunch of what the ladies did a few days prior as mentioned earlier. Was impressed by the hills they tackled on big knobby, geared for dirt single speeds. Learned lots of history about whiskey making in Scotland, sampled a bit of the stuff and then back to home base for more food and drink and then packing up the bikes.
Early Saturday AM we rolled to Glasgow to stay for the day and night. Checked out the city and felt like we had time warped back to the mid 1980s US with the fashion and the street break dancing (not kidding). Couples split up and did our own thing for a bit. Dug on street musicicians jamming electric Bob Marley and Jimi Hendrix on portable amps. Foundd the best beer of the trip in a dive bar called the Bier Halle Republic. Regrouped with everyone and spent the rest of the night drinking and eating in the oldest operating bar in Glasgow (or some similar claim to fame). All in all had a great time until the 5am fire alarm wake up call at the hotel! So it goes. Check in, get bent over for bike fees with the airline, terrible food in Iceland and on the plane and then back to the good ol' U.S. of A. and the hot temps and high humidity. All good things must come to an end, but we've got a lot of great memories and pictures to remind us of the fun and Napa in 2008 to look forward to.
So much fun the first time we had to do it again. Questions? Email me at: riderx AT singlespeedoutlaw DOT com
Starting Location: The Bicycle Escape When: Sunday, September 30 at 9:00 am Pace: Moderate Terrain: Intermediate to Difficult
Ride Description: In 1903 the first Tour de France was held. The roads were rough and unpaved. For this ride we'll seek out the same conditions. We'll head north on pavement through rolling hills and countryside before turning west and up the mountain where you can expect gravel, ruts, bumps, plenty of climbing and some white knuckle descents. From there we'll work our way south along the Catoctin ridge in search of more unpaved roads before working our way back to Frederick. Fixed gear bikes not required but since that's all they rode in the first TdF we encourage you to suffer like those early pioneers. Heck, fill your water bottles with wine just like those guys did and make it a party. There will be one place to refill water or food before we hit the mountain portion. This ride will be tougher than the 1903 version 1 ride. Pace of the ride will be moderate, terrain intermediate to difficult. Cue sheets will be provided in case you aren't able to keep up. 28mm or larger tires are recommended for the rough stuff. Review the 65 mile route