Argyll and the Isles, Scotland’s Adventure Coast, provides an awe-inspiring setting for bikepacking. With funding from Argyll and the Isles Tourism Co-Operative, Scottish Natural Heritage and Forestry Commission Scotland we have recently added another trail to our routes, and just released the new short film ‘Wild About Argyll’ to showcase the route. At 655 km (407 miles) the Wild About Argyll Trail is a long-distance cycling trail that was designed specifically with gravel bikes in mind.
To be honest. My feelings about gravel bikes were mixed. Although I am proud that my picture decorates one of the walls at the Radius Brewery in Emporia, the start of the famous Dirty Kanza, mother of all gravel races, I never warmed up to the idea of owning another bike. Drop bars and off-road, this combination only offered limited attraction to me. For me the days of drop bars were gone, and while I sometimes wished for a bit more speed on my Ogre, so far I thought there was simply not enough to make a gravel bike stand out from my trusted rigid mountain bike round the world companion.
I knew that I was wrong shortly afterwards. I worked on a project for Glasgow City Council and it was the first time I seriously thought about the idea of skinnier tires and drop bars again. The interesting thing is that my thinking had nothing to do with bikes, but somehow a rigid mountain bike wasn’t really what I would have expected in pictures advertising city cycling routes. For some reason it felt wrong. Continue reading “Gravel joy.”
Looking into Glen Ample last night, I couldn’t hide my excitement. I had been here once before, and waited ever since for the right opportunity to return. Today was the day, and I was everything but disappointed. I was happy. After two long days riding trails over and over again, this was the last crucial bit missing to release the provisional route for the Central Belter.
After I returned from cycling around the world it was my dream to create a trail that combines the three great bikepacking loops in Scotland, the Highland Trail 550, the Capital Trail and the Cairngorms Loop. And with the Deeside Trail providing another great bikepacking opportunity in the North East of Scotland, this was well worth including as well.
My aim was to create a route that is perfectly worth riding by itself, including parts of the four trails, but also provides the opportunity to create a mega bikepacking loop, like the Tour Aotearoa in New Zealand. I haven’t added all number up yet, but riding the Capital Trail, Central Belter, Highland Trail, Cairngorms Loop and Deeside Trail in one go will be a journey of more than 2,500km. And one of the best in the world. Continue reading “The Central Belter”