If you are looking to explore Scotland by gravel bike you will be hard-pushed to find a route much grander than the Badger Divide. The route, curated by Stu Allan, links up existing sections of gravel to forming a 210-mile route from Inverness to Glasgow that is packed with stunning valleys, mountains, beaches and forests.continue reading
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.
It was time. We got up, ate and faffed around making sure that everything was packed. Stu had lent me an extra gas tank last minute which was fitted and filled with extra snacks. The weather was a little dull and there was a morning chill although this soon left us as we pedalled out of Tyndrum.
Bombtrack have put together a top notch grav grav shredit of the Dirty Reiver that really captures all the good vibes and is well worth a watch . Especially as I make numerous wheelie, whip skid and chatting with Mr Vear at a feed station appearances.
Back in yester-summer of 2017 Rich and myself rode to Glentress and back when I was testing the feasability of off road fixed on the Steamroller in preparation for Grinduro. Since then I have been super keen to repeat this ride on a more robust bike so that increased rowdiness could be factored in. As Stu was yet to ride his Highland Trail 550 bike we decided to get out and put his sparkly single speed through its paces.
Gravel is the new frontier. The roads are clogged with speeding cars and the forests are crowded with artificial mountain bike trails yet miles and miles of gravel lie ignored waiting to be explored. There is an abundance of routes that are too bumpy for road bikes yet too far for mountain bikes which contain staggering views, lung busting climbs and ripping descents. It is no wonder that the gravel scene is exploding right now.
It didn’t take much encouragement, the draw of the mountains is always luring and the Highland Trail 550 has patiently been waiting on my bucket list. So, when Stu floated the idea of giving it a shot this May I was all in. The Highland Trail has made a name for itself as an extremely remote, rugged and gruelling route but its 550 mile length offers rewards of all the lochs, peaks and untouched glens that you could ever want.
Whether it was the expectation of mutual fun or simply an act of love, when Ruby suggested that we go for a overnight bike ride to celebrate valentines day I was not going to say no. We don’t really buy into the whole corporate love fest thing however it doesn’t mean that it isn’t a good reason for us to escape and go for an adventure together.
The best bike is the bike that you enjoy riding however as each weekend approached I would look at my Genesis Day One and pray that nobody would invite me on a gravel ride just so that I had an excuse not to ride it. This resulted in a built up resentment of a bike that I had hoped would open me up to a world of dirty drop bar adventures but instead was banished to the back of my bike pile and ignored. I am still to this day unsure what it was that made me hate it. I suspect that it was a combination of a weirdly long feeling fit, the infuriating mechanical disk brakes and the fact it simply felt boring compared to my track bike. It could certainly get rowdy but it never felt like it actually wanted to.