Back from Scotland. And we’re fried…

We’re back from Scotland, and are now catching up with emails and making final arrangements for the summer in India. We’re off on the 18th – just two weeks away – but will have regular access to the internet once we’re there to deal with any last minute queries.


It was a great two weeks of solid, wall to wall riding. Here’s Cara negotiating a superb offroad loop on the island of Harris, in the Outer Hebrides, suggested to us by Andy Mac, the photographic and route expert for the area.


And here’s our picnic spit on the beach at Horgabost. The sun was out, the water was turquoise, and it was fresh salmon (smoked over a peat fire) and soda bread on the menu…


It was a good chance to try out some kit. I took out the Big Wheeler, set up with Hewitt-built DRC ST19 rims on Royce hubs (an indestructible wheelset), SJS/Dura Ace thumbshifters and V brakes. I wanted to see how a low maintenance, rigid bike would cope with ‘proper’ rocky mtb’ing, day after day – including a Lakeland loop on the way up, and the 7 Stanes’ Ae Forest on the way down. The short answer: impressive. It was so much more confidence inspiring than a rigid 26incher. Okay, so my hands took a pounding on the roughest descents compared to a bike with front suspension, but a mixture of Ergon grips and Specialized super padded Body Geometry gel mitts helped. Definitely lots of potential for roughstuff, technical touring, though I think I’d go with Avid’s excellent BB7s mechanical disc brakes next time for more forearm-friendly all weather braking. Of course, getting spare 700c rims might be an issue – hence the Extrawheel. It’s designed to run with 700c wheels, though I ran it with a 26in Halo Twin Rail, as there’s no clearance in the ‘shell’ for a big volume 29er tyre. But if it could be adapted…


Incidentally, the trailer itself is superb offroad, despite being a bit fiddly to load and in need of a couple of extra straps to stabilise the bags when things are really rough. It can handle the steepiest, rockiest, slabbiest of rides. It’s only on the tight, rocky singletrack that it (literally) gets stuck, as the baggage, which sits fairly wide compared to a BOB, gets clogged in tight rock alleyways. It doesn’t have the robust chromo cage of the BOB (the plastic shell is a bit flimsy) but it certainly out-handles it in most situations. I had about 13-15kg in the nets, and could ride most of the trails I’d tackle with a normal pack but would have steered well clear of with panniers. Not an enormous amount in ‘expedition’ terms, but certainly a lot more than you’d want on your back…



6 Responses to “Back from Scotland. And we’re fried…”

  1. 1 Simon A July 5, 2007 at 12:07 pm

    Great photos as ever!

    Where exactly did you end up going? (I’m off for a weeks tour in September heading NW from Inverness up towards Lochinver/Cape Wrath). Any recommendations for places not to miss?

    Good luck in India – hopefully there’ll not be too much rain this time :o)


  2. 2 otbiking July 8, 2007 at 11:13 pm

    Hi Simon.

    We were more to the west. Caught the train to Malaig from Fort William (fantastic train ride, of Harry Potter fame) then picked our way across Skye on a mixture of trails and tarmac. Took the ferry to Harris for a few days of exploring, then backtracked to Malaig.

    I road toured in NW Highlands some time ago and it was superb too, but details a little hazy…

    Will it be Orange Action?

  3. 3 Simon A July 11, 2007 at 1:22 pm

    It will quite probably be ‘Orange Action’… there’s really no other way. Whatever bike, I can’t wait!

    When are you off?


  4. 4 otbiking July 17, 2007 at 4:54 pm

    Off a week today (-:

    After all this rain, bring on the monsoon, I say!

  1. 1 The Way of the 29er « out there biking: the blog Trackback on July 5, 2007 at 8:22 am
  2. 2 Practical Pedal magazine « out there biking: the blog Trackback on July 20, 2007 at 6:17 pm

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