Page 1 of 2

Cairngorm Loops 300

Posted: Sun Sep 01, 2019 4:12 pm
by ScotRoutes
Just a few words to round up much of what I'd already posted.

Lots of prep, recce rides, "training" for a Group Start. Amazing weather window approaching the event and then, blam! Constant heavy rain and flood warnings. I got sorted anyway and drove down from Aviemore on Saturday morning. It didn't look too bad leaving home but the various water courses as I headed south looked full. Initially, any falls were white, indicating that the rivers might be high but were at least on their normal river bed. As I carried on, they became more swollen and that muddy brown colour associated with spate conditions.

Parked up in Blair Atholl and was shortly joined by Jon. We headed off to the Tilt Car Park in the rain to find another 6 riders there, plus Steve W. A bit of chat, a group photo and I led the reluctant group away.

Image20190831_100335 by Colin Cadden, on Flickr


The first bit is minor/estate tracks, then an old bit of trunk road. Lots of puddles and the River Garry was particularly angry looking. By this time, Lee, Jenny and Mark had already cleared off into the distance. Heading up into the Gaick, we split up a little more. The boggy push at the end of the landie track was taken pretty much direct. Already soaked, there was little point in avoiding puddles. I took it very easy along the lochside track, much too early to be risking a fall. At the end of the loch we hit the first river crossing. Jon was already there, looking for a decent way across. Iain was close behind. I saw a likely spot directly ahead and went for it. The water was up to my crotch and running fast. At one point it caught my wheels and I struggled to hang on to the bike. I watched as the other two made it across too.

ImageA bit wet out by Colin Cadden, on Flickr

Jon put on another wee spurt while Iain and I spun along, with another minor river to cross. He stopped for a bit of food but I decided to crack on to some woods. I'd forgotten there was another river and when I arrived, Jon had already been in so far then come back again. We struggled looking for a safe option, then Iain arrrived too. There was no sign of Lee, Jenny and Mark so we assumed they'd made it across. As we contemplated heading downstream to where the river widened, we saw the three of them coming back towards us. Upstream it would have to be then. Again, we dithered around, crossing many small, troublesome tributaries and sometimes making it across into the middle of the main river onto a wee island, but all routes across looked dangerous. Eventually, Howard and John joined us and we were back as a group of 8.

ImageDSC_0623 by Colin Cadden, on Flickr

ImageDSC_0624 by Colin Cadden, on Flickr

ImageDSC_0622 by Colin Cadden, on Flickr

ImageMOV_0621 by Colin Cadden, on Flickr

I'd pedalled through this river about 4-5 weeks ago without a second though.


As we discussed options, Howard headed away upstream in search of a crossing. I was becoming increasingly cold with all the hanging around, especially as I was basically soaked through. I was also looking at the continuing rain and wondering what effect it was having on the rivers we'd already crossed. By this point, I'd decided to head back to Blair Atholl, only 32km of a 300km ride complete. Iain, John and Mark concurred and we headed back. The others decided to press on after Howard. My fears of the rivers rising were correct and one bridge we'd passed safely on the way out now had water running across it. A strong breeze was whipping to and fro, chilling me despite the effort I'd put in.

On the way back we stopped at some falls on the Garry.

ImageMOV_0626 by Colin Cadden, on Flickr


Meh. Disappointed not to make it further, even getting to Glenmore would have seemed more of an achievement and I could have just cycled home from there, but we'd already lost lots of time and I knew I wasn't going to make it up anywhere and, with more river crossings to come and more rain forecast, I wanted neither the risk nor the purgatory of continuing.

On the other hand, a pleasure to meet up with some of the Boners and put faces (and real names) to the nicknames.

Re: Cairngorm Loops 300

Posted: Sun Sep 01, 2019 5:04 pm
by Bearbonesnorm
Never ever a failure though Colin. Good work from you and everyone else. :-bd

Re: Cairngorm Loops 300

Posted: Sun Sep 01, 2019 5:39 pm
by ScotRoutes
Bearbonesnorm wrote:
Sun Sep 01, 2019 5:04 pm
Never ever a failure though Colin. Good work from you and everyone else. :-bd
Strange you should put it that way. "Fear of Failure" has prevented me from participating in a few things. A lesson from this has been that it's OK to try and to fail. Better that than just not trying.

Re: Cairngorm Loops 300

Posted: Sun Sep 01, 2019 6:09 pm
by Bearbonesnorm
Certainly doesn't sound or look like any kind of failure to me.

Re: Cairngorm Loops 300

Posted: Sun Sep 01, 2019 8:14 pm
by middleagedmadness
The only thing I've ever viewed as failure Colin is not having ago at something you really want to but are a bit scared to try,fair play for having a crack in that weather

Re: Cairngorm Loops 300

Posted: Sun Sep 01, 2019 10:02 pm
by RIP
Impressive, character building attempt that. Echoes of BB200 '18... Deciding a risk is too great is a success not a failure.

Re: Cairngorm Loops 300

Posted: Sun Sep 01, 2019 10:39 pm
by redefined_cycles
Well done on making the right judegment call Colin. Being able to stay safe is a skill indeed...

Thanks for sharing it :-bd

Re: Cairngorm Loops 300

Posted: Mon Sep 02, 2019 4:00 pm
by JoseMcTavish
At the very least, you all provided me with some entertainment, as I was avidly watching your trackers to see if anyone was going to get across! I initially though Jon was being a muppet and heading up the wrong glen, until I checked yours too and figured it was water woes...

Re: Cairngorm Loops 300

Posted: Mon Sep 02, 2019 4:19 pm
by sean_iow
Definitely the right decision. I've also seen a video on Lee's Instagram and it looked treacherous. Surviving to try again isn't a failure. Good on you for heading out in the first place.

Re: Cairngorm Loops 300

Posted: Mon Sep 02, 2019 11:17 pm
by Landslide
Having seen Lee and Jenny's video, I'm impressed the Argo made it across!

Re: Cairngorm Loops 300

Posted: Thu Sep 05, 2019 3:39 pm
by ChrisS
Nice one Colin, sorry the weather was so bad. Not sure I would have made it out the car park. I really did get lucky with the weather a few weeks ago.

Re: Cairngorm Loops 300

Posted: Mon Sep 23, 2019 7:05 pm
by ScotRoutes
Bit of a stunning weekend weather-wise and it happened to coincide with my plans to try the Cairngorms Loop 300 ITT again after having had to abort three weeks ago due to spate conditions.

ImageP1060071 by Colin Cadden, on Flickr

ImageP1060080 by Colin Cadden, on Flickr

ImageP1060095 by Colin Cadden, on Flickr

ImageP1060099 by Colin Cadden, on Flickr

ImageP1060107 by Colin Cadden, on Flickr

Full story (and more photos) here.

https://www.blog.scotroutes.com/2019/09 ... p-300.html

Re: Cairngorm Loops 300

Posted: Mon Sep 23, 2019 8:18 pm
by htrider
:-bd

Re: Cairngorm Loops 300

Posted: Tue Sep 24, 2019 10:04 pm
by Rasta
I'm here now. It's piddling it down. :|

Re: Cairngorm Loops 300

Posted: Tue Sep 24, 2019 10:24 pm
by ScotRoutes
In Blair?

Re: Cairngorm Loops 300

Posted: Thu Sep 26, 2019 10:28 am
by Borderer
Nice write up Colin and a solid achievement. I quite fancy doing a bit of that, so I might pick your brains later about a customised shorter loop. It looks great.

Re: Cairngorm Loops 300

Posted: Thu Sep 26, 2019 11:30 am
by JoseMcTavish
Great job Colin and excellent timing for the weather too - enjoyed the write-up.

Re: Cairngorm Loops 300

Posted: Tue Oct 01, 2019 12:37 am
by redefined_cycles

Re: Cairngorm Loops 300

Posted: Tue Oct 01, 2019 7:11 pm
by htrider
redefined_cycles wrote:
Tue Oct 01, 2019 12:37 am
Just gonna plonk this vid ere

https://bikepacking.com/plog/bikepackin ... orms-film/
Quite a good film that but I didn't think it was as snowy as that in May?? - April maybe?? Please all note Colin's smug comment :grin:

Re: Cairngorm Loops 300

Posted: Tue Oct 01, 2019 8:53 pm
by redefined_cycles
htrider wrote:
Tue Oct 01, 2019 7:11 pm
redefined_cycles wrote:
Tue Oct 01, 2019 12:37 am
Just gonna plonk this vid ere

https://bikepacking.com/plog/bikepackin ... orms-film/
Quite a good film that but I didn't think it was as snowy as that in May?? - April maybe?? Please all note Colin's smug comment :grin:
Can't see the comment.. what was it :???:

Re: Cairngorm Loops 300

Posted: Tue Oct 01, 2019 9:56 pm
by htrider
redefined_cycles wrote:
Tue Oct 01, 2019 8:53 pm
htrider wrote:
Tue Oct 01, 2019 7:11 pm
redefined_cycles wrote:
Tue Oct 01, 2019 12:37 am
Just gonna plonk this vid ere

https://bikepacking.com/plog/bikepackin ... orms-film/
Quite a good film that but I didn't think it was as snowy as that in May?? - April maybe?? Please all note Colin's smug comment :grin:
Can't see the comment.. what was it :???:
"Its not always like that", followed by a link to his blog on his CL sortie in the sunshine!

Re: Cairngorm Loops 300

Posted: Tue Oct 01, 2019 10:38 pm
by ScotRoutes
Hey! That's just for balance :lol:

I don't remember those conditions in May either. I had a look back at all my photos and can't find any like that. Of course, maybe I just chose not to go out for 5 days (this didn't happen).

Re: Cairngorm Loops 300

Posted: Wed Oct 02, 2019 12:56 am
by redefined_cycles
:grin:

Re: Cairngorm Loops 300

Posted: Wed Oct 02, 2019 8:26 pm
by htrider
ScotRoutes wrote:
Tue Oct 01, 2019 10:38 pm
Hey! That's just for balance :lol:

I don't remember those conditions in May either. I had a look back at all my photos and can't find any like that. Of course, maybe I just chose not to go out for 5 days (this didn't happen).
I reckon it was that week in April (about the 9th or 10th?) when Cairngorm recorded its biggest single snowfall of the season. I was up in Ben Alder area at the weekend (i.e. the 13th) and it was pretty snowy higher up.

Re: Cairngorm Loops 300

Posted: Wed Oct 02, 2019 8:27 pm
by whitestone
htrider wrote:
Wed Oct 02, 2019 8:26 pm
ScotRoutes wrote:
Tue Oct 01, 2019 10:38 pm
Hey! That's just for balance :lol:

I don't remember those conditions in May either. I had a look back at all my photos and can't find any like that. Of course, maybe I just chose not to go out for 5 days (this didn't happen).
I reckon it was that week in April (about the 9th or 10th?) when Cairngorm recorded its biggest single snowfall of the season. I was up in Ben Alder area at the weekend (i.e. the 13th) and it was pretty snowy higher up.
They should have gone a week later, it were glorious sunshine!