Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Nipping out for a quick pint

Our upside down spring continues with April resembling January with northerly air flows dragging snow showers down to low levels. The lengthening days mean warmth while the sun shines but when it drops below the horizon winter comes back. Interesting times and it makes packing for a 20 mile evening ride a bit of a challenge. 
I took to the south side of the river again up through the town and climbing out through a progression of suburban woods, farm land, forestry and then moors to a track high above the glen with unique views down the full length of the loch. The south side route meant maximum sunshine as I battered on through hypodermic gorse bushes. It cannot be long before the fashion for shorts in mountain biking dies a death but not before my shins are permanently skinned. 
Eventually, a path dives off to the right into the woods in the direction of the loch. A twisty, flowing singletrack plunges downwards towards Dores; it's a Goldilocks trail - not too hard,not too easy...just right and in the deep dark woods. After a glorious 5 minute rip I emerged grinning on the main road and cruise into the pub car park spattered in mud and a fair bit of gorse extracted blood. You really wonder what people think. 
The English based bike magazines always seem to feature beer but the opportunities on Highland night rides are few and far between. So sitting down in the beer garden of the Dores Inn with a pint in my hand and a view down the loch is a rare and fine moment. As I set out again the sun set over the steep hills across the loch and the temperature plummeted. From here the route roughly follows the River Ness through a mixture of estate roads, the odd baroque castle, some fine winding single track with nice short climbs and swoops through lovely open bluebell woods. I reached Inverness slightly blissed out - if you had a big box of trail building Lego and wanted to construct a perfect midweek ride from your front door this would be the result. 

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