can you taste paraffin?

We’ve just got back from a few days up in Scotland, staying on the coast between Mabie and Dalbeattie forests.Whilst I’m a big fan of trail centres, I thought it would be a good idea to mark up a route cross-country between the two locations, and incorporate a ride at Mabie with Michael. Back over to Dalbeattie, then drop down through the forest North to South, riding as much singletrack as possible.The plan worked. Set off early and started to climb up to the summit of Little Hard Hill. It was a hard hill, but it’s not little. I gained over 550 metres of vertical in 1 hour 20 minutes of continual climbing. The fog that had hidden pretty much everything from view for the early part of the ascent was now below me and I was climbing further from the clouds below, feeling the warmth from the sun.

To my left were some deer, running though the brush. High above a couple of fighter planes were just kind of “flying about”.

From the top of the hill, I could see one of the finest views I’ve ever seen in my life. I could also see the cloud ahead of me that I would be spending the rest of the day in.

I started to descend the fireroad on the other side of the hill and continued to ride downhill, full tilt for 6 or 7 kilometres. I lost all of the altitude I’d gained earlier and only used the brakes to negotiate the tight hairpin bend halfway down. This was just awesome.

Once at Mabie, Michael and I rode the red route. I’d taken him around the red at Dalbeattie a couple of days earlier, and whilst he enjoyed it I think the technical rock-fest sections of it meant he didn’t experience any real “flow”. He was off and pushing quite a bit, in fact. He is only 12 after all. Mabie though is a lot different. Fast bermed turns, roots and lovely forest singletrack is what this is all about and we both loved it. I prefer rock-fests to be honest, but I was planning to do that later.

Back to meet Deb at the car, then I was off on the blue route out of the North side of the forest on my own again. 35 miles so far and well over 1000 metres of vertical climb. Riding along the road towards Dalbeattie I was buzzed again by the low flying antics of Ice Man and Maverick in their multi million pound toys. I remember thinking that someone was playing with firelighters nearby, then realised that the air was thick with aviation fuel. Hopefully there won’t be any lasting damage to my lungs as by this time I was sucking in air from Guildford….

Back into Dalbeattie forest, then picked up the green route that would take me straight to the red route just near the slab. I was tired by this point and was dabbing a few times on the wet granite obstacles. Daft mistakes really, but after this kind of mileage keeping it all together on a relentless onslaught of fridge-sized boulders becomes very tough.

53 miles, 1500 metres of climbing. What makes it even more satisfying is the fact that apart form the two trail centres none of this was familiar terrain – it was all plotted on the OS map a week prior. I have to say though that the first climb did take me by surprise…!