Aviemore to Braemar (day 2) — Cairngorms Gold
Mountain Biking Highlight (Segment)
Mountain Biking Highlight
Scotty Laughland went mountain biking.
September 20, 2020
Day 2, riding from Aviemore back to Braemar. We were blessed with the weather, it was chilly and a light frost kissed the ground and the air was cold. I left Aviemore and started heading up to Cairn Gorm Mountain. Riding along the flowing logging trail towards Glenmore Lodge, past Loch Morlich, the Reindeer Centre and up to the base of the mountain, here there's an optional coffee stop and refuel before the real work starts.
Off the graded paths and onto singletrack, I'd be lying if I said the ascent to Ben Macdui was easy. You're putting in real effort, jumping off the bike carrying for a while and then back on. It's a relentless effort to get to the peak but totally worth it.
Summiting (on a good day), the views all around are spectacular. It's worth stopping here putting the bike down and walking around, with panoramic views of the Cairngorms and all the way to the west coast and the Arrochar Alps.
The descent is no easy feat, and it's my style of riding; technical and you've got to work to get it all the flow well. I chose to take my 120mm SCOTT Spark, as a full suspension bike is necessary and something with at least 120mm will give you added confidence. Maybe I should have gone for more of an Enduro style bike for this, but it was still a lot of fun.
The top quarter is through glacial debris, and there are a LOT of rock slabbed sections. As it starts to drop, the path narrows and you're really kept on your toes. You descent towards a lochan and it flows well, before hitting the ravine down to the Hutchinson Hut. This was really an awesome section of trail and my personal highlight of the two days being rewarded with a 500m descent to the Hutchison Hut.
The Hutchinson Memorial Hut was a great stop over to have a snack before we did the final part of the descent back to Braemar. This part flowed beautifully and was really rewarding after such a challenging upper section.
We climbed back towards Bob Scott's bothy and pedalled towards Linn of Dee passing Mar Lodge and taking the road back to Braemar for a well earned ice cream.
I'd advise you add on at least a couple of hours to the ride time for breaks, photo stops and time spent in the mountains, this is not a route you want to rush.
Remember to carry necessary spares with you, food and plan to do this in the good weather. There is limited cell reception so download any maps before you go!
November 12, 2020