Friday, January 11, 2008

Icy Cycles

Sorry, I've been out cycling again.

I first went from the house and around a loop I had never done before.

Leave the A9 beside the Tomich Restaurant and head on up the hill. Turn off towards Kinrhive Farm.

As you can see it's a pretty steep climb up to the farm and beyond. It was quite cold too.

I noticed a sign saying that shooting was in progress and soon saw some evidence of this. Some Pheasant and Snipe ? hanging. I didn't pinch any, honest.

There were pleasant views at the top of the hills I turned west and headed for Inchidown.

The grassy parts had been muddy but were now hard with frost.

I had one more stop to admire the view, which included Fyrish and a snowy Ben Wyvis, before descending at 30MPH and trying to dodge the ice.

Talking of ice, now today's cycle was all about ice.

I was accompanied on this one by Andy Todd. It was going to be a longer loop including Inchidown and Aldie Burn. You can start this one at the same place.

We were under no illusions about the cycle. The hills are easily visible from Invergordon and we knew there would be both snow and ice.

We ascended and descended Inchidown without much trouble, gliding over the top of some nasty icy patches. We then 'hit the tar' by the Drove stance and worked our way along the Struie road towards the next part of the offroad.

The next part was difficult. I have climbed Cnoc an t-Sabhail loads of time but today it was mostly trail-wide ice. There was no grip at the lower levels. Brief respite came when we got into the more snowy parts but when this became the noisy stuff it sapped the legs. We eventually made it up.

Now we had to descend. At first it was OK though rather slow as the crusty snow seemed to hold onto the tyres. Hitting long flat frozen water was great, but then you would hit the snow again and it was like throwing out the anchor.

Lower down the snow disappeared and the nasty ice returned.

I yelled as I nearly lost the bike on a particularly nasty bit, I then heard another yell and a crash. Andy had been kicked off the bike.

No broken bones or bike parts so we soldiered on. There had been a lot of tree felling in this area and the vehicles had compacted the snow and ice making the conditions treacherous. We were barely able to walk let alone cycle.

The red section below shows the uncycleable ( is that a word ? ) part of the trail.

Checking the FR305 data we walked/coasted for 5Km ! We eventually got out of hell and hit the gritted tar to take us back to the start.
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