Highland Trail Race 2016

‘The Highland Trail is a long distance self-supported mountain bike time-trail route through the Scottish Highlands. There is no entry fee, no prize money, and definitely no support.’

Race Distance: 536 miles

http://www.highlandtrail.net/

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Before the start with my Yeti ASRc fully kitted out.

Day 1

As we awaited the start of the 2016 Highland Trail Race Alan Goldsmith (event organiser) beckoned me to the front of the group, “Come on, you’re one of the fast ones” he informed me and told me to get to the front. I laughed and obliged, but was highly doubtful that would prove to be the case. Certainly I may be quite experienced in shorter XC events or Enduro events, but over 550 miles? No way. The Highland Trail Race would be my first bike packing event and my first attempt at any multi day ultra-endurance event and I saw it is a chance to really truly test myself and possibly to find my limit.

Months of planning, blog reading and packing had got me here, time to start pedalling. I resisted the urge to join any of the front runners and eased off the line as a few chose to burn some early matches and start with more of a sprint. Up the first technical climb on the WHW I found myself track standing behind other riders who failed to make the climb before riding up behind them and then passing them on the following brief descent. The first section was punctuated by a number of water crossings all of which were noticeably lower than when I had ridden the section the weekend before on a reconnaissance ride and because of this I was hopeful for dry trail conditions! I eased through the first part of the morning, eating and drinking often and picked off riders as best I could, careful to keep my effort in check. On the first tarmac section I chatted briefly with Ian Barrington, whose blogs of the HTR had been highly informative to me prior to my ride but then edged away on the next climb.

For a while I had been able to see Lee Craigie up ahead and was keen to catch her and catch up, having not seen her to talk to before the event. Lee and I are both former XC racers (Lee a significantly more successful one than me), and had both been part of the Scottish XC Programme, her as an elite and me as an under 16. It was fantastic to catch up with her, and along with Lars Henning we passed an enjoyable period chatting about everything from the state of Scottish XC racing just now (very good!) to what to expect from the trail.

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Ben Alder Cottage Bothy taken on a reconnaissance ride

It was around this point that I noticed I was feeling a little dehydrated, the discussion having distracted me from staying on top of drinking and now the sun was beating down. We stopped to fill up at a river and I felt slightly, but not entirely, better. Along the next section Lars dropped off and Lee and I were joined by Alan G; Alan admired my socks as I admired his route. He informed me he would “DQ anyone not wearing wool socks”, so I was understandably thankful for the contribution of the merino sheep to my ride! We passed the Ben Alder Cottage bothy and I marvelled at how on my reconnaissance ride this was where I stopped for the night, about 50 miles in, a good ride by normal standards, but barely half a day in the HTR. Up the next climb I really started feeling the heat, and stopped to dunk my head in any water source that I could find. The descent from the Bealach Dubh was a familiar one to me, and as such I rode it with confidence, enjoying the water bar hops and perfect conditions, I passed both Alan and Lee in the process. However on the next section I started feeling really quite unwell with the early signs of heatstroke and the two of them quickly passed and dropped me. I decided that I would take a longer break at Laggan. With my head thumping and stomach churning I arrived at Wolftrax and attempted to drink a coke and eat a piece of cake. Lee, who was just leaving as I arrived, advised me to take it easy for a bit as did Lars who arrived just after me. I must have looked quite unwell! I sat in the shade with my eyes closed for 20 minutes and started to feel better with my headache lifting.

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Descent from the Bealach Dubh taken on a reconnaissance ride

I rolled out of Laggan with jelly legs and forced myself to sip water; each mouthful required me to suppress a wretch and was accompanied by a fresh wave of nausea as each mouthful hit my stomach. SHIT I thought to myself, having flashbacks to a similar ride last year I had been on with James from Pedals Bike Care when dehydration and overheating had left me in quite an unpleasant state. Mercifully, after consuming 1 litre of water in this uncomfortable fashion, I started to feel better and ascended the Corrieyairack pass and rolled down into Fort Augustus. Again not entirely without issue as a guy in a range rover angrily shouted at me for accidentally going through the wrong gate and onto ‘private property’. He videoed me on his phone saying he was going to phone the police, whilst I apologised and said I was trying to leave the property now. I wondered if he would understand if I told him I had been blinded by pizza goggles and was somewhat delirious from the heat but decided a repetition of “I’m sorry sir” would suffice.

Arriving in Fort Augustus I rolled into the famous pizza restaurant and sat with Alan and Lars, Alan wearing a similar expression to the one I imagine I had been wearing at Laggan. I ate half my pizza as he pushed his around his plate, then I rolled out of Fort Augustus with the other half in my frame bag. My best case scenario going into this event was to make it to the bothy at approx. 115 miles on the first day. However, I ended up getting there in daylight so I carried on catching Andy Laycock and we discussed the problems of the first day, he said he had been suffering with cramp. As I chatted with Andy I suddenly realised how positive I was feeling and it was with joy that I finally switched on my lights as the sun went down. Even after all these years of riding I still get a special buzz from riding at night, following a beam of light allowed for a more focussed mood and I zipped along enjoying the night time bonus miles. I had moved past the heatstroke and could not really believe the mileage I had managed to put in at this point. The next hour or two were punctuated by spotting other riders bivvied off the road and I eventually decided to stop at 130 miles, just before midnight.

Unfortunately, if the heatstroke represented my first mistake in the race, this was the second. I slept quite poorly, jumping at little noises and struggling to actually fall asleep as I was feeling so excited and wired. I later learnt the race leaders continued to another bothy further down the trail which on reflection I could have easily made that night as I was not feeling especially tired when I bedded down. This may have offered me a better sleep but I did not know of its existence. In my defence I had never considered I would cover so much ground on day one so had not researched any other bothy options on this section of trail.

Day 2

Eventually at 4am I decided to get up and get going again as there did not seem any chance of getting more sleep. After a bit of faffing to pack I ate a slice of pizza on the move but I struggled to get into my groove. It seemed like there was an awful lot of riding ahead of me that day! Indeed on each of the following mornings I had a spell where the idea that I had started riding already and likely would continue to ride until midnight seemed obscene and caused me initially to feel a little apprehension but also often to feel giddy with excitement. Eventually I rolled into Contin and suddenly I was passed a huge moral gift package as I spotted Lee. She was sitting on a bench outside the Contin store which had opened early for riders. A  brief chat with Lee, a coffee and a tasty sandwich and suddenly I was back feeling positive and was more optimistic for the day’s riding.

The section from Contin to Oykell Bridge was defined by two pairs, the first of which was a pair of geese that tried to attack me, forcing me to double back then sprint full gas past to avoid their snapping beaks. Obviously the guard geese had not been told I was a vegetarian and as such should possibly be given a little slack compared to the other competitors. The second pair was a pair of riders I would later learn were Stuart and Phil, the overnight leaders, who had enjoyed a lie in. They passed me riding side by side and at the time I did not recognise them, but as they went by I assumed my pace must be slowing and I was therefore probably slipping down the field. At this point I roughly thought I was around the top 10 but was not really sure.

Upon arriving at Oykell Bridge I was pleased to see a few bikes outside including Lee’s and I sat at a table with her and enquired about how we were getting on in the race and who was ahead. I was totally shocked to find out that just shy of 200 miles I was actually sitting in a room with the front group. “Shit, I am not supposed to be here” I laughed, with texts from my girlfriend, dad and James at Pedals all questioning whether I had started too fast. I vowed to try to ride the afternoon more steadily. As Lee and the leaders left I took things more slowly. It would be the last I would see of the front of the race.

In Oykell Bridge I struggled to eat the meal set out before me and left feeling a little sick once again (likely the after effects of my heatstroke and a lack of any real quality sleep). Whilst riding in heavy rain I felt my moral dipping slightly. Over the next section a number of riders came by including Andy, Fraser Macbeath and also an unidentified rider who once again passed me like I was standing still. I would later find out this had been Liam Glen, the eventual winner who had started 2 hours after the main group on day one after an issue with his car. As I passed through Glen Golly my nausea meant I was struggling to eat and I felt like my progress was slow as I did not feel like I had very much energy.

Resupplies are important!!!

Oykel Bridge was the last possible resupply for a while.

This marked my first real low point of the race. Although I had felt unwell the day before and sluggish in the morning I had not really struggled to keep going. However now, the remoteness and exposure was starting to get to me and I began to question, for the only time during the event, whether I was really up to the task. I started to doubt myself quite deeply and I began to feel slightly afraid.

Perhaps I should explain. The fear I was feeling was more than a fear of remoteness and of a weakness in my resolve. A number of issues had caused a negative spiral for me that was compounded by my dislike of riding exposed sections of descent and through this section there was exposure in abundance. This is because last year, whilst racing in the Enduro World Series in Les Samoans in France, I had suffered an extremely bad crash. During a race stage I had fallen and rolled around 30 feet into a ravine knocking myself out, I was eventually airlifted from the scene on a spine board, falling in and out of consciousness. Miraculously I had suffered no broken bones, the X-Ray and CT scans had confirmed my back was not broken and the CT scan on my head also revealed no bleeds or abnormalities. Despite this good news, the crash did leave me suffering with various concussion symptoms and it took me around 4 months from the date of the crash to fully return to normal. Throughout the period I had problems with my concentration, short term memory loss, suffering mood swings and also developing obsessive tendencies. It was a difficult period for me, my family and loved ones.

So perhaps it was justifiable that riding the northern loop of the HTR on my own in thick cloud was making me a little frightened. However I knew that if I kept going things would get better again. I spied Andy up ahead, but unfortunately could not catch him. After eating two slices of leftover pizza, I ascended the Bealach horn and was extremely surprised to see James Robertson, the event photographer. He snapped a few shots and I continued struggling with the descent down to Achfary as my wrists ached. Suddenly my phone pinged to life as I had phone signal for the first time in hours and messages from my dad, girlfriend and James, “it’s all downhill from here” being sent presumably as I had hit the northern most point, these all lifted my moral. I decided that I needed a better sleep tonight so bedded down on the climb out of Achfary just as it was getting dark. I drifted off more quickly, happy I had made it through my first real test on the route. Tomorrow would be better.

Happier times riding in the Alps last summer before my crash

Happier times riding in the Alps last summer before my crash

Day 3

I opened my eyes and could not entirely decide whether I was seeing what I thought I was. It appeared like a dark blanket was pulsing just on the other side of my midge net. As I blinked sleep from my eyes I began to see a little more clearly and realised that the blanket was in fact not a solid mass but instead the most midges I have ever seen in my life. Like a giant Alpkit branded caterpillar I wiggled my riding kit on careful to not let a millimetre of skin show outside of my bivvy sack and packed up as quick as I could before putting in my contact lenses and eating a sandwich when I found somewhere with a little breeze up the hill that was free of midges.

I climbed and descended a number of brutal bumps in the famous road between Kylesku and Drumbeg and planned how best to ration my food to get to Lochinver when suddenly a man in a car at Drumbeg shouted to me and offered my second major moral gift package of the ride, “Are you one of those riders? We’ve opened the store early for you” he informed me.  I could have hugged him. I rolled along to Drumbeg stores and the owner prepared me a cup of coffee, and I ate a warm slice of pizza and two chocolate pastries. I also managed to stock up on baby wipes and some germoline to attend to my saddle sores. Suddenly the world seemed rosier. The next section passed uneventfully and I once again was hugely enjoying myself. I bought pies in Lochinver, chatted with a lovely couple on the hike a bike that followed and then with two more folk as I joined the road section before Oykell Bridge. I also vaguely remember telling a sheep that it had a very nice coat. Brown wool I believe, very stylish.

I arrived in Oykell Bridge and noticed a bike I did not recognise outside. I went in and introduced myself to a tired looking gentleman by the name of Ian Fitz who I quickly found out was the supplier of my paper maps via the Bear Bones Forum. Thanks again Ian! I learnt it was Ian’s birthday and we both discussed how we were surprised how far round the route we already were. Ian left slightly before me. After struggling with my first real test the day before, I was delighted to have other riders to occasionally converse with again and hugely benefitted from the chat with Ian. I was hopeful I would catch him up later. Phil Fraser Thomson arrived and I laughed when I realised he had been behind me having been convinced when he’d left Oykell Bridge the day before ahead of me that I was slipping rapidly down the field. It was an important lesson about how riders ebb and flow may vary and I marvelled at how one minute a rider may seem to have twice your strength and the next you may find yourself ahead of them. On the section to Ullapool my appetite finally returned after a day of occasional nausea and I ate my final Lochinver Pie and two snickers bars. When I arrived in Ullapool I phoned my dad and told him of my plans to reach the Shenavaill bothy that night. I later would find out he stayed up to midnight to watch me get to the bothy on track leaders! The dot watchers are a valuable asset to any riders moral as it’s such a benefit to know people are willing you on and rooting for you.

The amazing maps which thankfully I never needed to use

The amazing maps which thankfully I never needed to use

The next section featured two huge hike a bikes which were passed in the company of Ian Fitz and Phil FT, both of whom I caught during the section. It was an absolute pleasure to share the section with them and I chatted relentlessly like an excited child about everything that popped into my head. I was happy to pass this section in the company of other riders. I marvelled at Ian’s experience in remote riding and long distance events and at how positive he was about really cracking on and his master plan to stop sleeping at some point. Whilst chatting with Phil he disclosed this was his third attempt at the route. I again was left feeling astounded at his tenacity to keep returning to attempt the ride. It was quite humbling to see how much he wanted to finish it and it left a lasting impression on me about what sort of attitude it took to take on and finish a route of this nature. Phil would finish the ride ahead of me in the end and his successful completion offered me almost as much satisfaction as my own.

Whilst riding with these two I noticed how my interest in racing as I conventionally saw it was waning. I was motivated to finish the route as quickly as possible, but any interest in beating other riders or getting one up on them had all but disappeared. These two during this section were my companions through a period of adventure, and I saw that we were each racing the HTR route but not each other. We rode the last section in the dark together before reaching the bothy and all falling asleep rapidly in the company of an already asleep Fraser. It had been a considerably better day than the one before as I had hugely enjoyed the riding both on my own and in the company of others.

Day 4

I awoke to the noise of other riders packing up and rolled over but I couldn’t get back to sleep. I snapped myself out of it reminding myself I was in a race. My morning routine seemed to take longer than everyone else’s and after using the bothy facilities (shovel) I was on the move about an hour after I woke up. It is definitely something I’ll look to improve on in future events as I had far too much faffing to do when I woke up each morning; putting contact lenses into my eyes after 4 hours sleep being particularly difficult. I rolled away from the bothy and quickly entered what can only be described as “the zone”. Suddenly everything flowed smoothly as I pedalled and pushed my bike across this awe inspiring terrain. I occasionally glanced around to marvel at the beauty of my surroundings. THIS is what this race is about I thought, me and my bike against the route. I decided to utilise some music through this section and with some progressive metal blaring I floated up the hike a bike. One of the things I had learned to love about long rides on my own over the past year was the feeling of quiet mediation which made hours turn into minutes and miles disappear seemingly without effort. “A long slow meditation under duress” was how one ultra-athlete in an interview had described the process of racing one of these events, but this was more than that, this was pure elation, pinch yourself to check you’re not dreaming, type 1 fun.

I caught and passed Andy Laycock who had passed me during my morning’s faffing, he had bivvied just short of the bothy the night before.  Suddenly I was loch-side and beginning the much talked about postman’s path which only heightened my mood as I caught Ian Fitz again along the narrow ribbon of singletrack. Little did I know the rude awakening I was about to receive. Suddenly as we dismounted to descend into a gully we were met at the bottom with a hike-a-bike-double-black-diamond-difficulty obstacle course: a number of trees down across a stream. Ian appeared to effortlessly dispatch the section and quickly ascended out the other side. I heaved my bike onto my back and clambered through with all the grace of a tap dancing hippo. I dropped my bike off my back and just before taking my first step up the gully was hit with a crushing wave of tiredness. The inevitable heart rate spike of lifting my bike taking me out of the “the zone” and probably up into zone 5! Ian quickly disappeared as I seemed to be unable to shake my lethargy over the next section. Thankfully I somehow caught Phil FT just as he was back tracking after missing a turn and we rolled into Kinlochewe together as I tried to find some flow again.

The log obstacle course. Photo taken by Ian Fitz

The log obstacle course. Photo taken by Ian Fitz

After dispatching a bowl of quinoa and eggs (accidental but delicious order), a coffee and a huge scone I felt noticeably better. I also quizzed Phil on the social implications of rinsing grit out of my disgusting socks in the bathroom. Socially acceptable he ruled. My feet were noticeably more comfortable after too. Result. The temperature was very high again as I headed for the Torridon section. For some reason I suddenly felt extremely strong and wanted to crack on to ensure I got to Dornie with plenty time for dinner. I dispatched Torridon and the famous Achnashellach descent, riding a surprising amount considering my bike setup and motored along the road and the next section probably riding far too fast but I couldn’t stop myself. I passed Phil and Fraser in the process.

Sometimes I relax in Torridon and soak it in. There for my 21st Birthday in 2015

Sometimes I relax in Torridon and soak it in. Pictured there for my 21st Birthday in 2015

Before I knew it I was following tarmac again and entering Dornie. I headed straight for the shop. Closed. Shit. Suddenly I realised how little eat on the bike food I had with me and I knew I would have to ask for extra food to take away from the pub. I stepped into the Clachan and ended up generally making a fool of myself: ordering too much food, falling asleep, spilling things, spreading out all my smelly kit and generally causing a lot of concerned looks from the staff and other customers. “I’m in a race” I remember feebly apologising. I tagged Phil in just as I left and was hopeful that the establishment’s opinion of cyclists had not been lessened because of me. On the next section I had phone signal so called my dad and girlfriend confirming with them that I was on track to finish under 5 days. Suddenly it hit me, UNDER 5 DAYS! I was still on track for my best case scenario target, I just had to make it to the Camban Bothy tonight then I’d have one last day of riding to go. The next section and long hike a bike took longer than expected. Notable activities include trying to scribble the word ‘bothy’ onto a rock with an arrow beside as a message to Phil. It seemed worthwhile at the time… I arrived at the bothy around midnight, briefly chatted with Fraser (during the race I constantly was surprised who I would bump into as I thought Fraser was still behind at this point) but he fell asleep whilst I got some stuff from my bike. I ate a portion of sticky toffee pudding I had carried from the Clachan and went to sleep having set two alarms. 1 day to go!!!

Day 5

Where the hell am I? *Rubs eyes* Seriously. Where the hell am I? Oh right racing.

Fraser had gone, and I check my watch. 6.20am. Oh shit!!!!! I’d slept in. It was the final day of the race and somehow I had managed to sleep through Fraser’s alarm, Fraser leaving and my own two alarms to wake up extremely dazed and confused. After much faffing, shovel use and extreme sleepiness I rolled out of the bothy before 7.00am. Dot watchers later pointed out to me how silly the fly by is as everyone in the race apparently started quite a bit before me that morning. Doh.

The next section was testing again. I kept the sleepiness and dazed feeling and added the bonk as I was mostly out of food. Occasionally I would notice I was not moving and just sort of standing and staring. Come on Scott you’re racing?! Somehow I blew straight through a resupply opportunity at Tomich despite being out of food so I had to make it to Fort Augustus to eat. I was going super slowly and I knew it. I phoned my dad and told him I may not be able to finish today. He told me to speak to him after I’d eaten. After what seemed like forever I finally I begin the descent into Fort Augustus and spotted a figure that looks different to the usual tourists. Someone with a bike and a similarly haggard look – Andy! Again I resisted the urge to hug someone who may not want a hug. We chatted about the tough morning. Andy, for the second night in a row, bivvied less than an hour before the bothy then had passed me as I had slept. He left Fort Augustus a little before me. After a good feed courtesy of the store I started to finally feel awake. I had been craving yoghurt all morning and somehow bought a 90 calorie diet yoghurt. I had to laugh. My motivation was back as I knew I was on familiar ground from here until the finish. I text dad, “I can do this. See you tonight!!” I re-enter “the zone” and with the help of The Red Hot Chilli Peppers, fly along the Great Glen Way and catch Andy up.

On this section my niggly Achilles really started to hurt, but before I knew it we were in Fort William where I strapped it the best I could and enjoyed some more food. During this section I also noticed that my arms were extremely sunburnt and I had no sun cream so on went the arm warmers. Suddenly Bryan Singleton arrived and informed us that he had seen Alan Goldsmith earlier on too. It was strange meeting up with other racers who I had not seen in days! One look at Bryan confirmed to me I would not be able to keep up with him over the next section as he looked like he is out for a spin, but somehow I dropped Andy on the first section of the West Highland Way singletrack. I was in my own world and loving it when I heard a shout of “hello” from behind. Hike a bike master, race organiser extraordinaire and general chat merchant Alan Goldsmith had caught me up. I was delighted and was feeling reflective. I told him about how I have felt about racing this route and how I was happy with how it has gone but knew I could ride it faster. I dropped Alan on the descent into Kinlochleven and then dropped it myself on a water bar hop. In Kinlochleven I stuffed my face and responded to text messages. One last push!

Ascending the Devils Staircase was like a dream. I was initially in shadow but ascended into the light. It was perfect. I reached the top and before me was Glencoe and the final miles of the event. I finally acknowledged I was going to finish this. No matter what. I amused myself thinking of various catastrophes and how I would overcome them. For some reason I wondered if I was to break my collarbone or similar and walk to the end would I have to drag my bike with me too or would it just be me who would have to cross the line? Such morbid thoughts made me laugh at the time. As the sun set I stopped occasionally to add layers and eat macaroons.

At the top of the Devils Staircase on a reconnaissance ride

At the top of the Devils Staircase on a reconnaissance ride

Before I knew it I was on the tarmac to Bridge of Orchy and I tried my best to stop my head drooping. I felt very sleepy but any progress is good progress. I walked some of the uphill sections. On my GPS I see a little special line: the line that indicates where I’ve already ridden. I re-join the route I used to leave Tyndrum a life time ago. One last climb and descent then I would have done it. I slowly made the ascent and promise myself I won’t pedal again unless I have to. I have to a few times.

Then there was clapping. I see a group of people. Alan is there having finished a little before me. My dad hugged me and I shook hands with Alan. Suddenly my girlfriend Isla appeared and she hugs me too. As she stepped away I almost fell over. I really wanted to sleep. My twin brother Stuart is there too. Everything is a blur and I ate some food in the car then quickly fell asleep (apparently mid conversation with Stuart).

Epilogue

It has taken me a while to write about the Highland Trail Race and even reading over what I have written I cannot do the route, the experiences or what the race has meant to me justice. The ending of day 5 seems a little abrupt, but when the ending of this experience happened that was how it felt. In an instance I was transported from one world to another when I stepped off my bike for the final time. Others in their reflections have described it as ‘life-changing’. For me it was life-affirming. I have overcome adversity but also enjoyed and thrived on the trials of the event. Isla described it as being something I felt like I ‘needed’ to do. I think this is accurate as after the head injury last year and the difficult period that followed it I needed a new focus and a goal. Completing the HTR marks the end of my recovery. I went into the race interested to find my limit, and have found I still have no idea where my limit is, a very exciting prospect indeed. As a racer I know I can do better: I stopped too often, slept too much and aspects of my kit, pacing and preparation could be improved. I will return to the HTR and I plan to ride it faster in the future. Hopefully when I next sit with the leaders at a resupply I will be confident I belong there. At 22 years old I know I have a lot of head room in the ultra-endurance/bike packing racing scene and cannot wait for the events to come. But the 2016 HTR was more than a race for me; it was a truly liberating experience and I feel I understand myself much better because of it. In the modern world it is a rare opportunity indeed to have so singular and simple a focus for so long, it is a simple but wonderful existence when you are out there. It was a privilege to share the trail and experience with so many people. Thank you to everyone who supported me, there are too many people to mention but you know who you are.

Burst

Burst

Scott Lindsay

4 days 16 hours 5 minutes

Patrol Carbon UK Demo Bike + Stock

So, it’s been a few weeks since the first 2016 Transition Patrol Carbons arrived on our shores, and after a small injury related delay we finally have both our demo bike (medium Race Raw) and James’ (me!) staff bike up and running, and even managed to squeeze a few rides in between the heavy rain and snow melt.

We have covered the demo bike previously, and it has been going out on tests regularly with great feedback so if you can make it to the central belt and want a test ride get in touch. Pinkbike have also just published the first full review, and it seems they think much the same as us. It went down a storm!

Pinkbike – 2016 Transition Patrol Carbon Review

Our next delivery of Patrol Carbon frames will be here in two weeks (mid Feb) or slightly before, £100 deposit secures a frame. Head here – Transition Frame Deposit – to put one down and just specify size and colour in the comments box during checkout.

What about this one? It is hopefully going to be my race bike for 2016, however after a winter plagued with injury there is a long way to go yet. The main aim for the year is go get up to speed for the inaugural Trans-Lakes race – three days of epic lakeland riding with some intimidating stats. Mostly timed downhills with a couple of timed ups chucked in for good measure.  Not heard of it before? Check it out – Trans-Lakes Race

Outside this just a few local enduro races and a whole lot of natural ‘real mountain’ riding is on the cards.

What is special about this build? Not much really! Well, it’s obviously all really high end kit, but is nearly 100% just the top level build from Transition. Why? Because if I custom built one for myself it would come out like this anyway! TR really do have their build kits sorted for this year. We changed the brakes, not because their is anything wrong with the Guide Ultimates, but it just makes sense to have the same pads throughout our household. The new Shimano M8000 brake levers have been ‘match-maked’ with the SRAM X01 shifter using Problem Solver clamps. A really neat solution and it’s great to have a company making these.

I am also running an Absolute Black Direct Mount Oval 30t, it’s still early days for us testing the Oval rings but initial experiences are really positive. The only other change was to stick some ESI grips on, ten years of full time mechanic work have taken their toll on my wrists and hands, so a bit of comfort is very welcome. And they are super light.

The full bike weighs in at 28.5lbs ready to ride, with DMR Vault pedals, mudguard and bottle cage.

Managed to get it out on a couple of rides now, and one was even in daylight! What a bike – manages to be super stable and planted but at the same time nimble and agile. In fact, just read the Pinkbike review! They pretty much mirror our own experiences exactly.

Can’t wait to get out on more rides, cheers to loads of riding in 2016!

p.s. My bike isn’t tiny – I am 5 9″ and it’s a Medium

 

 

2016 Ragley Bigwig and B+ / 27.5+ Setup

From the moment we heard the new 2016 Ragley Bigwig frame was 27.5×3.0 ready we couldn’t wait to give it a go, but so many questions..

What kind of clearance would it have? What forks would you fit? How can we bring the cost down a bit?

Well now we have answers! The clearance is great, you can see there is tons of space around both the chainstays and seatstays. These are with full 3.0″ WTB tyres (Bridger and Trailboss combo) on 40mm internal rims. Happy days. Our demo bike should be ready over the next few days, and these wheels will be available to try on that.

Fork clearance – we have tried these on non-boost 2016 Pike 29″ and 2016 36 Float 29″, it’s tight but usable, you could just about squeeze a mudguard in there as well. Not ideal, but fine if you already have a set of 29er forks.

We have brought the cost down by twinning the newly released DT Swiss XM551 rims with a package we can offer at a better price than previously available wheelset kits.

If you like the look of this we have offers on both the wheelset on it’s own, and a Bigwig/Wheelset package:

2016 Transition Patrol Demo Bike Is Here!

It seems like we have been waiting for forever and a day, and for some reason Transition still don’t have it live on their site, but the Patrol Carbon demo bike is finally here and it looks fantastic! It will be with us here in Edinburgh all year, and it’s a medium Build 2. Frames retail for £2599 and this build is £4999, or a little bit cheaper after we integrate our rolling chassis offer.

The weather is a bit grim just now, but the crisp snowy trails are just around the corner so get in touch to book a demo if you are anywhere near Edinburgh, central belt, Glasgow or the Tweed Valley… or anywhere really! We have people coming from far and wide for our demo goodness.

This also completes our Transition demo fleet for 2016, meaning we have a Patrol Carbon Medium, Scout Alloy Large, Smuggler Medium ready to go all year.

We will also be running a Banshee Rune in Large, Ragley Blue Pig in Medium… and?? Who knows. We have room for about seven in our snazzy new shop.

Oh hang on… did we say Scout Alloy? But… that means… there might be a carbon??

Transition Patrol Carbon – In Stock NOW!

Yep you read that right. They still aren’t live on the Transition website but our first batch of frames are in stock and looking good. Pretty stunning in fact!

This means our demo will be built up soon – we just need to send it off to be used for the Invisiframe template then it should be built over next weekend (5th/6th December) and a first ride report to follow just after that, fingers crossed for good weather Monday 7th!

Our demo bike is going to be a Medium, get in touch to book if you want to see what all the fuss is about. The next delivery is arriving in January, so just enough time to get through the festive period and order a new frame to tie in with the days getting a bit longer.

Why did the chicken cross the road?

To get to the Pedals Bike Care on the other side!

Yes, it’s true (some of you may have already noticed), the Pedals workshop has officially relocated to a new abode.

You can now find us at:

Pedals, 7 Bruntsfield Place, Edinburgh, EH10 4HN

Literally a stone throw from our old workshop (opposite the BP station entrance). Now with more than enough room to swing a modestly sized child s’ bike in; which means (hopefully) no more queuing outside as we’ve effectively quadrupled the shop space!

We will still be offering ALL the same services as before, possibly with a few new ones, at the same affordable prices and fast turnaround. We’re also able to expand our range of parts and accessories, giving you more options.

As well as all that, we will be increasing our fleet of demo bikes across our brands, giving more choices of models and sizes to try before you buy! Woohoo!

Please do come and see us and tell us what you think of our lovely new shop. It was a very enjoyable 5 years in the old workshop, so here’s to the next!

Shop Front Crop

2016 Yeti Cycles Launch

With the arrival of Eurobike, one of the biggest trade and consumer events in the UK comes a whole raft of bike launches and this year Yeti chose it to launch their new hardware as well.

So what is new? Well the one that seems to be stealing most of the limelight is the new SB4.5c..

SB4.5c – an entirely new platform that merges the light weight but downhill capable linkage and frame design from last years SB5c with the one-true-trail wheelsize of 29″. Sharing very similar geometry figures with some of our most popular bikes like the Banshee Phantom and Transition Smuggler, but packaging them in a frame that weighs only 5.5lbs including the shock needless to say we are super keen to ride this. We may even get a demo bike for the year if we have some interest, so let us know if you want to try this out.

Full bikes arriving September with an RRP of £5999 and a pre-order price of £5699 for deposits paid before September 15th. Frames arriving a little later and with an RRP of £2999, pre order price £2699 for deposits paid before 31st Jan 2016.  But that’s not all – scroll past the pictures for more!

 



CHEAP YETI BIKES! – Well, cheapER anyway. Almost hidden amongst the the flashy new whips were these two new versions of the popular SB5c and ASRc. Dubbed the new ‘Enduro’ models they really don’t have much to do with Enduro but everything to do with value. Same geometry as the main bikes, same strength and stiffness but around 200g heavier due to different qualities of carbon paired with slightly lower spec build kits these new bikes give 95% of the performance of the higher end versions but leaving a load more cash in your pocket.

SB5c ‘Enduro’ £4299 (Standard version £5899 for comparison)

ASRc ‘Enduro’ £3599 (Standard version £5099)

These are available to pre order now with an expected delivery date of ‘soon’, so hopefully way before the festive holidays.

BUT THERE IS MORE AFTER THE PICTURES!

 



SB6c 30th Anniversary Edition – So you already make one of the best enduro race bikes in the world but you want to celebrate your big three zero, what do you do? Take your frame, give it internal cable routing, update the rear dropouts and paint it in your best ‘Heritage’ decals, and colour match ALL the kit. Oh yeah and that kit has to be the best possible.

RRP £6999, and mostly sold out already after two days BUT if you like the look of this let us know! There are still a few available but be quick.

 

 

 

2016 Transition Pre Order

We are now taking pre-orders for all of the new 2016 Transition Bikes products.

Want a frame? Use this link to put down a £100 deposit – 2016 Transition Frame Deposit  Just let us know which frame, size and colour at checkout and we will message you back to confirm.

Want a full bike? Get in touch to chat through availability.

2016 Transition Carbon Patrol

Woah there! What a thing to wake up to, the first pictures of the new Transition Bikes Carbon Patrol. Thanks Vital! And well done Lars n Bars, way to leave you bike in photogenic poses by accident.

Head over there to check out their full slideshow – Vital MTB Spy Shots 

We will release more details when we can but if this is enough to have you sold (and we don’t blame you, it looks ace) then head over to our frame deposit page – 2016 Transition Frame Deposit 

 

 

2016 Transition Bikes + Frames Preview

Well well well.. what do we have here? With full announcements of the 2016 Transition Bikes range coming over the next few days, and some other shops showing pictures of the new products from Core Bike Live, we thought that a few pictures here and there wouldn’t land us in much trouble!? Fingers crossed.

There are some pretty good things on the way this (next?) year, we are really looking forward to working with them again to bring some of the best bikes around and set them free to roam out in the wilds. Big thanks to all our customers from this year as well, it makes all the hard work worth it when you see people out riding having a great time! (it never stops for us – this is my Sunday night!)

Right then, what do you want to know? A couple of things are still under wraps until Crankworx, so forgive the obvious missing bike (that is most likely the reason you are looking!).  One of the biggest changes for 2016 is the introduction of complete bikes, pre-assembled, at great price points.

Scout

Scout_Kit_1_AngleThe Scout frameset remains the same price at £1399, with full builds from £2699 to £4899 (for the ‘almost like our perfect custom build’ shown above). BB has been raised 4mm, and a slightly more progressive shock tune, but everything else remains the same. And rightly so, it’s nearly perfect.

Patrol

Patrol_Alloy_Kit 2_Angle

Patrol frame goes up a tiny bit to £1549, but otherwise remains the same with just some Bold New Graphics. And it does look ace. Doesn’t that make it seem like a great idea to pick up one of our clearance 2015 frames for £1275???

Smuggler

Smuggler_Kit_2_Angle

2016 Smuggler remains £1399, gets the same BB and shock tune treatment as the Scout, and is available in this sexy stealth! Trail. Weapon.

Over the next few days we will be releasing more details and launching our online frame and bike deposit function, but if you want to get in line earlier to secure your frame get in touch. £100 deposit for frames, £200 for bikes, fully refundable if you change your mind (before September 15th anyway)

We have loads of frames on pre-order, with the first delivery arriving September. That isn’t very long now! WELCOME TO THE FUTURE

TransAM275_Complete_Orange_Angle Smuggler_Detail_3 Scout_Detail_3