But you can’t take the cycling-addiction out of the man.
So, on a recent trip to the Highlands of Scotland, MUMMAAzone was curious how the bikers at this end of the world got their kicks, and when the opportunity to be shown round one of the most popular mountain bike tracks in the UK by the experienced rider Johnny Maitland, this writer couldn’t say no.
After getting a short briefing about the mountain bikes that we were riding, we headed into the woods at Aonach Mor, which contains a huge network of bike trails that are all sign-posted and graded for the experience required. Naturally, we start at the easiest one, “the Bubble route”… Awwwww. Sounds cute; but dodging patches of ice, rocks, and making a steep first climb, the indication was this isn’t a sport for little Barbie dolls.
[Wild West Biker Johnny Maitland - Photograph by George Maitland]
After the climb, the path gets narrower and we joined onto the Puggy Line route, where Johnny explained some techniques that he had learnt in his four years of biking up here. “You need to keep the bike flowing like a burn” was an important nugget of truth about maintaining a constant speed through the course, thus helping to control the flow of the bike over any wobbles and bumps. And there were plenty of those!
Not only that, the steep descents were terrifying, and seemingly impossible at first. But after a chat about body positioning, feathering the brakes, and hovering over the saddle, these soon became an absolute thrill to negotiate.
With it’s fast-paced action, fresh-air, and beautiful scenery, it’s easy to see why many people are getting into cross country mountain biking. And with every ride, there is the reward & satisfaction of learning more and more about the technicalities of this type of biking. So if you’re tired of threading the needle amongst stinky buses, and yearn for the days when more gears = cool (not the other way around), a wee jaunt up to Aonach Mor or some other forest might just be for you….