SURLY DUNOON DIRT DASH

Before we start, there are two things that you must know about the Dunoon Dirt Dash:

• It’s not a bloody race
• Don’t be a dick

Oh, and one more thing. Never assume a route created by Markus Stitz will just be a simple easy-going gravel ride.

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EURO FIXED GEAR ODYSSEY BIKE CHECK

One of the things I like about bikepacking is that each setup is unique to the rider. Each person will have different requirements or preferences which are ultimately reflected in their kit. Shaped by experience, setups become dialled in and what works for one person might seem ridiculous to another. There is no rule book to tell you that a setup is perfect other than the conclusion of the ride and even then there are always new lessons learned for the next trip. Even on an adventure where two similar riders tackle the same route on the same bike there are is so much scope for different approaches. This could not be any better demonstrated than by the setups that Stu and I ran for a 1000+ mile fixed tour across Europe which saw us covering the wide range of terrain and surfaces that span between Barcelona and Rome.

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IS THE STOVE ON – OVER PHAWHOPE BOTHY MICROADVENTURE

The echo chamber of our group chat had tricked us again. With the woes of our Gameshope miss-adventure now in the past the idea of getting out for the first bothy adventure of 2019 had got us excited.

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TYPE 2 IS COMING – GAMESHOPE BOTHY MICROADVENTURE

The days of recent may have been doing their best to eek out every last bit of good weather but the tell tale signs are starting to show. There is no doubt that winter has already began.

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BIG MOUNTAINS

When was the last time you rode your mountain bike on a real mountain? Not a hill or a forest, a real mountain that towers over all that surrounds it. The realisation was that (like most riders) my mountain biking is spent pedalling around forests on purposely built trails.

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HIGHLAND TRAIL 550 KIT LIST

I could not get enough of kit lists in my HT550 preparation and poured over many blogs comparing and contrasting my possible setups against others. Some were super light while others not so and many options were considered. Stu and myself had planned to avoid the complications of camping and spend our nights in bothys or bivying depending on weather and enthusiasm. Our goal was to finish in around six days (full write up can be found here), far from speedy compared to those monsters who race the route but still a respectable mileage each day. We also had the advantage of a few extra days flexibility should things take much longer than expected. I finished packing minutes before leaving the house so didn’t have time to take any trendy pictures of kit neatly laid out on the floor so this will be a bit word heavy, deal with it.

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HIGHLAND TRAIL 550 DAY 6

I woke in a moment of panic. It was probably no more than an hour since I had gone to sleep. My stomach was making very loud, very angry noises. I leapt up as best you can when tucked up in a bivy bag and rushed to the toilet. My belly was far from happy. I limped back when it was safe, re-inflated my bed and returned to sleep. This process repeated every hour until I just didn’t get back into my sleeping bag as the sun was coming up.

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HIGHLAND TRAIL 550 DAY 5

I woke at 5am feeling a little perkier, carefully stepped over the sleeping PNT Army on the floor and made my way out. The sun was up but yet to begin warming the land. After fiddling with my GPS for a while I was going again, energy levels were low but the sickness from the day before had passed and I was looking forward to breakfast and a restock in Ullapool.

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HIGHLAND TRAIL 550 DAY 4

I didn’t have a great nights sleep, my mat had developed a hole and was struggling to stay inflated for longer than 3 hours at a time. The sun had returned and brought a good breeze so any damp clothing from the day before was hung out to dry before being re-worn or packed away.

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HIGHLAND TRAIL 550 DAY 3

Although the weather reports had been full of pleasant predictions of sunshine it had warned that the weather for day 3 would be a bit Scottish. Sure enough what had previously been dry and dusty was now soggy and gritty. We busied ourselves making breakfast and fixing punctures. Working towards, but trying to avoid, inevitably going outside. A last look around the bothy, a quick chat with the German’s in the room next door and we were out of excuses.

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