…it’s certainly been a while. Coming on for a year since I last posted an update worth reading. There’s been a couple of minor posts, just so you know I’m not dead, but other than that, nothing to report beyond the excuses for the lack of action. Then winter kicked in and I’ve been patiently waiting for it to end.
This has given me plenty of time to address the musculoskeletal dysfunction that crept up on me last year, brought on by a desk job/years of neglect. Thankfully yoga seems to be helping, I’m not as disciplined as I should be, but I seem to be more in tune with what’s going on and how to address it. At any rate, it’s a finely balanced thing. Some days, I can be digging out tree roots and chopping wood without issue, the next, furiously trying to inflate a tubeless tyre with the floor pump has my shoulders seize.
As such, this left me scaling my Easter weekend plans back to a jaunt along the Fife Coastal Path. Then the forecast improved drastically. I wasn’t about to forego the opportunity to head north in great spring conditions. To the Cairngorms then, predictably. I wanted a route I could vary in distance and the path and trail network though Abernethy, Rothiemurchus, Inshriach and Feshie is hard to beat in this regard. Lots of options, lots of interest, despite my (over?)familiarity with the area. The plan being to go slow and leisurely, mostly spinning along easy forest tracks, in amongst the pines, seeking out the odd ribbon of singletrack when the opportunity arose.
Slow and leisurely is the antithesis of rackless touring, according to at least one forumite on a UK bikepacking website. It seems like ‘light and fast’ bullshit is not confined to just backpacking circles. The whole idea of which seems to place more value in the destination than the journey itself. Go light, by all means, but when it descends into sneering at others who prioritise differently, then frankly, I’m not interested. ‘Hike your own hike’, etc.
With that in mind, my luxury item was my SLR. I’d been looking for a secure means of attaching to the bars for a while. A LowePro holster with suitable D-rings works well with Jones bars and my Revelate harness. A little awkward to get into maybe, I think a couple of spacers may help, so further experimentation is needed. Still, more accessible the a padded backpack, and robust enough to deal with clattering down rougher sections (RIP Ryvoan descent).
I found myself hooting as I rolled along the hardpack to Forest Lodge. Blue skies and pine scent. Progress was slow, due to the newfound camera accessibility. Stop, snap. Chat to some passing cyclists. The diamond frame and unicrown fork is positively conventional, by Jones standards at least, but continues to draw questions from curious passers-by (Is it specially reinforced?). No doubt in part due to the ‘purposeful’ aesthetic of the Dually rim up front.
The sun is warm, but pleasant for cycling, in the shade of the forest the air is cool, but not cold. Even on Easter weekend, Glenmore has enough space for everyone, I take the high route to Rothiemurchus, over the Cairngorm Club Bridge and stop for lunch and a rest. Loch an Eilein is busier with young families and smiley walking pole toting septuagenarians. More bike questions. I peel off toward Inchriach bothy, ‘Path not Maintained’ and long may it continue. Not a soul.
I press on to Feshiebridge, I watch as the aerotow circles once before coming into land at the glider club. My knees are getting a bit sore and I’ve had my fill of trail mix. I need some proper food. I revise my camp plan from upper Glen Feshie to Ruigh-aiteachain, too nice an evening to be spent in the bothy though, after such a long lay off, nothing less than a fabric shelter will do.
I realise quite late on that I’ve gone quite light on the food supplies (by my standards anyway). My MYOG Caldera Clone is fit only for retirement (suggestions for a new meths stove welcomed! What’s good these days?).
I start plotting my breakfast, Something involving bacon and egg. I’ve taken to using SIS electrolyte tablets and I have to say, being a bit of a sweaty munter, I’m finding it makes a noticeable improvement to how I feel the day after. No more headaches! I even went easy on the Sheep Dip, just in case.
Clear skies and a bright moonlit glen, not a bad way to reboot my outdoor activities for 2015. The body held up, at least until the two and a half hour drive home, I had more discomfort in the car than upon the bike! Here’s hoping 2015 will be free from too many distractions, we’re settling in nicely in the new home and I made a point of tackling the most pressing jobs over winter. I’ve already turned my thoughts to some multi-day routes, a Hebridean cycle tour, or coast to coast? We’ll see how the summer pans out…