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.
But back to the Central Belter. The provisional route is now online, and a lot of detail has gone into the planning. Not just from me. The whole project would have come to an end before it event started without meeting Jay. Part of the joyous group of riders that finished the Capital Trail Jay took me around his back garden in West Lothian, and we spent many many rides mapping this part of the trail. Riding the trails around Beecraigs showed me how much good riding there is in this part of Scotland. But most of the time we venture far afield in search of the perfect ride, not acknowledging that there is much fun to be had outside our kitchen windows.
Especially the section from Edinburgh to Stirling is packed with hidden gems. Although you are cycling through one of the most densely populated areas in Scotland you’ll never remotely recognise this. Instead you’ll enjoy the great mountain biking and wonderful architecture, including the Forth Bridges, the Kelpies, Falkirk Wheel, the Wallace Monument and much more. In the short video below you will get a feel for it, does that look like a densely populated region?
There is still a lot of work left to do. I will have at least ridden each section of the trail once, most of them many times though. This is the provisional route, with a few additions still to come. The overall length will be around the 1,200km mark, and with no less than 17,000m of climbing. This mostly on off-road tracks, perfectly suitable for two inch plus tires. Not so much fun on anything less, but fine on a rigid adventure bike.
But what better idea than to find out yourself? Find out whether you can enjoy some of the best mountain biking in the world, combined with first-class food, breathtaking views and the feeling to be part of something very special. There’s only one chance to ride the route for the first time in history, and that even is free. Sign up now for the group start on 9 September here.
(Author: Markus Stitz)