The plan was hatched we were going to practice.
Dr Heart as he is now known is my partner in the upcoming race the Strathpuffer 24 (aka stupidfest). the plan was made to go up to Laggan and ride the Wolftrax route that is supposed to be a good guide on what we are do to encounter in the Strathpuffer. I was fired up and changed the oil in the rohloff Speedhub on Friday and loaded my bike ready to go along with lights changes of clothes as well as sleeping and bivvy bag as i wasn’t sure whether we would be spending a night in a hostel or bothy or even a car.
Here is a description:
The red route is a fantastic 15km experience in two sections – but watch out for Wolftrax’s predatory instincts! For the inexperienced it is technical and challenging; for the experienced, it strikes a good balance between being rideable and interesting.
The upper red route uses the existing black-graded singletrack climb and exit. With a fast descent and a choice of ‘opt in’ features, you’ll find the views that open up quite stunning.
Much of the lower red trail is narrow black shale with embedded rock obstacles, drop-offs, rock causeways, boardwalk and lots of tough little technical climbs.
Look out for features such as Air’s Rock, a challenging slab reminiscent of ‘The Slab’ at Dalbeattie, and the natural rock features of the Bhadain Boulder Field.
After Fang Corner, you can pause for breath at the Blue View and watch your fellow riders try to tame the Bike Park. The trail doubles back, bringing you into the Wolf Run: 300m of bermy timber boardwalk, twisting tightly through the trees and depositing you in the Bike Park.
Hurtle through for a short but immensely enjoyable blast back to the car park – and, more to the point, the tantalising cakes on offer in the café.
Well the weather was not on our side ….
well unless the weather was also training for the worst case scenario …. it was dreich as they say up in these parts.
We started with one lap in daylight – the next at dusk and the last with lights on in what was complete darkness. I was using a Lezyne Superdrive XL on the bars – it has tidy design features, but it’s ultimately short of lighting punch out on the trail. the output is claimed to be 500-lumen but it didn’t seem even twice as bright as my helmet mounted wee 100 lumen torch – I think a second 400lumen (true) torch on the helmet is needed for the race ……
The ride on the last lap was tiring – I was cold, hungry and the weather hit me hard – horizontal rain ruined visibility and wind even blew me off the stone trail at one point. So finished with scraped leg and ego deflated. Laggan was frozen up to last week and I must admit it is a technical red. Unlike Glentress which has great flowing sections and is brilliant on a hardtail – i think Laggan rewards the dual sus rider more. On my first loop I went onto the wooden rails thinking that although soaking and slightly slimy they would be wire meshed like glentress – WRONG – front went away on first turn and slam I went off to hug a tree at the side. Even if I had spiked tyres on i don’t think you could ride this. Judging by marks on the ground where I fell and footmarks back up to alternative route my mistake is a common one …..
That night found a great hostel in the village 7 miles away had a great hot shower then hit the hotel bar for food and 4 lovely pints of Spitfire Sledgehammer. Next morning it was back to the trail for one final loop in daylight (and to remind ourselves that it wasnt too crap) then back to the ladies and kids. This time was quicker even with tired legs – had two dabs on red upper route but went clean through the lower red which was pleasing.
Judging by the signs on the cafe – this is now shut so bring your food and drink with you … and remember to pay your £3 parking fee which pays for the trails ……