A destination trail, a single ribbon of singletrack sublime enough to make any amount of journey time worth while.
Mastermind and the Ridge are to be found on opposite sides of the Dee next to Ballater. The Ridge is a long rugged natural trail that goes steep once it re-enters the treeline. Mastermind however, is a different kettle of fish and a trail worthy of almost any length of drive.
A lovingly crafted ribbon of singletrack of the highest order, steep and fast, technical yet flowing. Sinuous and supportive turns roll through the trees, with hero lines booting over the berms for those willing (or skilled enough) to hit full send. A true test of skill and bravery, this trail is one to measure yourself against, a litmus test of a trail and one well worth the pilgrimage.
Chapeau to the trail faeries.
On a recent ride I went to find a local legendary trail called Heart Break Ridge.
A long sinuous line flowing singletrack cutting over a open hillside along a wide ridge before dropping steeplly into the tree line for a rooty technical finale. Or so I was hoping for.
Setting off up a burner of a fireroad climb, the elevation grew quickly, as did the wind chill. Hoping to get some higher routes before the winter settled in, I hadn’t fully appreciated the conditions higher up.
With the climb put to bed, I found frozen trails and high cross winds. The climb was followed by an undulating plateau of frozen trail, a sugar dusting of snow covered the frozen puddles. The wind chill steadily grew, and I regretted not digging out all my winter riding gear as my feet began to really feel the chill.
Reaching the start of Heart Break Ridge the cross wind was what you could call, bracing. Remembering caution is the better part of valour, I took a different descent to get into the tree line faster and down into the ley side of the hill.
The Panannich DH was still a good trail, but having seen the ribbon of frozen single track that is Heart Break ridge extending into the distance. I just want to go back in better weather and get that trail under the belt!