Midges and Mountains

Rise and shine
Milk that tastes like wine

Drive over to Glen Coe
Up Nevis Range we go

To look at Top Chief track
Now there’s no looking back

Over rocks and holes
To reach our MTB goals

Looking down Top Chief, I didn’t have the same trepidation as the World Cup run I did with Aimi a month earlier. But it’s still a significant Black track which most people have said is sustained. I can tackle Blacks but I haven’t trained enough at all, to survive something sustained…

Still, we set off and immediately popped off a beautiful rock drop. It was big, but not scary, and landed really nicely, boosting my confidence. Straight onto a boardwalk that had some serious consequences for fucking it up. The ground here was really marshy and soft so if you fell off the boards, you would immediately sink the bike into bog and be catapulted over the handlebars. There was no run off, either you followed the track or you ate dirt. There were a couple sections of this which were quite steep, where you picked up enough speed to be worried about making the approaching turn. Luckily, it was bone dry today so grip was not an issue. I can imagine in the wet when things are slippery, or windy conditions, the boardwalk is much trickier than it looks.

Round the corner and pretty much the rest of the way down you are confronted with lots of bedrock. Really grippy, solid, steep bedrock. Some bits are a real challenge and, as Aimi pointed out, bigger than I fancy attempting on day 1 of a week’s holiday.

Down at the bottom we were all very excited to have completed Top Chief, if a little shaken and tired. Having bought the multi uplift pass, we jumped back on and headed for Blue Doon. Last time Aimi and I were here, it was very loose. The surface was not compacted enough to keep any speed and there were potatoe sized rocks everywhere that kicked your wheels out from under you. But pleasantly surprised, we found it a lot better this time, and actually enjoyed sweeping down the smooth berms. And it turns out the design of the track is such that you barely have to use your brakes. 

This was a nice change compared to the World Cup run that Adam and I did next. At points we had to stop to give our braking fingers a rest, and could smell the disks burning blue with heat… Adam wanted to give it a go, and having done it slowly with Aimi a month ago, I said I’d go again now I vaguely remembered the route. We got down in one piece, even after I attempted a wall ride and stacked it slowly into the underbrush…

By the end of a great day riding, we were all knackered. Grabbing some supplies from the supermarket, we made avocado salad and garlic lemon chicken for dinner, washed down with lots of Punk IPA. We have rigged up a canopy across between the van and Tims Teepee tent, and spent the sunny evening under here chatting and drinking. When the midges got too bad we retreated to our van and locked them outside.