Nimbo Cumulos

Loamy moss and pine needles rooster tailing off your back wheel, endless grip and at the end of another great ride, a clean bike to go back into the shed.

Then as the nights draw in and the lights come out, the trees shed their foliage and stop drawing water from the ground. The heavens open more often, the mercury is a little lower on the scale and the ground starts to hold a little bit more water than it had a few weeks before.

It happens every year and every year it catches you out, there is always at least one ride where you ride like a total squid as you have forgotten how to surf the slop. Winter riding, (or Autumn, Winter and Spring riding in Scotland) is a particular type of wet, and the wetter the better once the ground starts to get slick.

winter-riding-mud-pligging-mtb-scotland

A change of rubber is usually when things start to click again, the spikes come back out and the wheels start digging for grip. Once confidence in your grip starts to return (slowly) you remember braking works differently in the slop. In that, you brake less and have to look harder for safe braking points. The soft mud is scrubbing speed off your wheels for you anyway.

there is a special kind of panic reserved for when both wheels try and drift in different directions

Your body movements have a different effect as well and you work harder to keep momentum. Or more accurately, you let the bike move around more and your body has to instinctively react to counter the bikes sudden wiggles in the mud.

Then there are the unexpected drifts, moments when the back end just lets go and makes a pretty good attempt to overtake the front wheel. The front end likes to wander as well, cutting loose and sliding downhill on both wheels is hilarious fun. That said, there is a special kind of panic reserved for when both wheels try and drift in different directions.

The important thing is to stay loose, the moment you panic and get tense is the moment your over the bars and you get muddier than you already where.

The winter is when I usually remember how to properly control a bike and when I usually notice some improvement in my skills. The pace may be slower but I love this kind of riding, I find myself hollering and laughing out loud to myself as I drift into a deeply ruddered corner hoping to hook into it.

I love hardtails for this kind of riding, a simpler bike for slower, more comical pleasures, less linkage to clean out as well.

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2016 – What a Year

2016, what a year, memorable, for all the wrong reasons, and some good ones too.

A years worth of riding, starting with a frozen Aviemore and a flooded Aberdeenshire through to dust and sun (honest). It was a year of extremes and contrasts, political upheaval and tragic loss, but for all of it the riding and escapism from all that bad news was always there.

It was also a year when I enjoyed 6 months of parental leave being a full time dad with my wee boy which was just the greatest time ever. Coming up in 2017 I have some exciting projects which I’m looking forward too and will share more on when the details are confirmed.

Roll on 2017, hope the world chills out a bit, but if it doesn’t you know were to find me.

Shed Life
Shed time

Cairngorm Golden light Dawn Winter Snow Clear Sky All Mountain Enduro SCotland

Dawn light over the Cairngorms.

DCIM101DRIFT

Clachnaben Tor

Mount Battock desert Mountain Bike Scotland Stravaiging

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Sounds Different in the Dark

The frozen dew drops reflect crystal light from my head torch, the winter air crisp with each intake of breath.

The darkness just increases the contrast of the light, making each drop, on each blade of grass and pine needle all the more stunning. The song birds are back in their nests, the evening chorus long since sung. The darkness awakens and conceals other animals who silently stalk through the understory.

SONY DSC

As you enter the sanctuary of the trees, the boundary is marked by a literal hard line on the ground where the frost ends. The ground becomes blanketed by pine needles, the boughs high above softening and warming (just enough) the air. Your senses dial up to eleven as things look and sound different. Familiar trails level out and low ridges exaggerate as your vision renders the ground differently when illuminated in measured lumens.

The silence is held back by the sound of your effort and when the trail allows, the whirring buzz of your freehub. But pause to gather yourself and the starkness is striking, we are unfamiliar with this environment and situation now, but we evolved from it.

The school yard logic tells us that our ancestors went to bed when it was dark and awoke when the sun rose, but in the extremes of the hemispheres, that is just impractical. Man once stalked the landscape under the stars, living as an nocturnal and daylight creature, when the seasons or latitude necessitated.

We used to be at home in the dark, our eyes, whilst not ideal can still navigate without the aid of artificial light. Our torches whilst lighting our way, in fact blind us to what our eyes can see once accustomed to the night.

We have moved inwards and surrounded ourselves with conveniences, which is all certainly progress in the right direction. But sometimes we need to be in the dark, we need the silence, we need to hear our own hearts beat.


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Blog Awards Public Vote

Stravaiging is through to the public vote stage of the UKBlog awards 2017

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The awards which are in their third year the awards celebrate companies and individuals who use a blog and web content to spread their message and to share thoughts and opinions. The awards recognise and celebrate those who generate engaging content and who share best practice, with 16 award categories the UKBlog awards represent the full spectrum of blogging being produced today.
 
The long list is then opened up to a public vote with the finalists being judged by a panel of industry experts.
The public vote is now open so please vote here.
The vote will close on Monday 19th December at 10.00am

I work really hard to make the site what it is and a vote is a deeply appreciated way to help support both the site and my blogging, which will help me to promote and share my bike based adventures.


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