An Af­ter­noon Spin

A quick ride up and down Glas Tu­laichean is the per­fect au­tum­nal out­ing… though shoes do help

The Scots Magazine - - On Your Bike - By ALEX CORLETT

IFORGOT my shoes! Un­be­liev­able. I was an hour from home at the Spit­tal of Glen­shee, away for a trip up and down the Munro Glas Tu­laichean, so nip­ping home and back again wasn’t an op­tion.

It’s not the first time I’ve for­got­ten some­thing vi­tal, but it’s get­ting worse as the years go by and I pack lighter and lighter. Bikes are so re­li­able th­ese days that a bag of spares is no longer a ne­ces­sity so at times all I need is a wa­ter bot­tle. Un­less I’m wear­ing my shoes, I for­get them.

It’s a bit of a disas­ter with cli­p­less ped­als, which refuse any at­tempt from an un­cleated shoe to get grip. I love be­ing clipped in, but for­got­ten shoes are of­ten the end of a day out be­fore it’s be­gun.

It was the sec­ond time in a fort­night. The pre­vi­ous time, rid­ing pal Mike of­fered to split time on his with me. But I have a thing about wear­ing other peo­ple’s shoes. The train­ers would have to do.

Climb­ing south up into the woods felt fine, and it was eas­ier to jump off for gates along the track through the plan­ta­tion. I felt vin­di­cated by my choice to carry on when I emerged above the Dal­mun­zie House Ho­tel and the views opened up into Glen Lochsie and Glen Tait­neach.

This was one of the first routes I’d done that I didn’t pluck from a guide book. Por­ing over Ord­nance Sur­vey maps I’d seen this wide track al­most to the sum­mit, with con­tours a re­spectable dis­tance apart.

Not many Mun­ros en­ter­tain the no­tion of cy­cling to the top, and of those that do the ma­jor­ity are in the Cairn­gorms. Rounded like huge peb­bles, they’re more ac­ces­si­ble than their west coast kin.

The vi­brant colours and long shad­ows make au­tumn the best time for a go at it. It’s only around three hours to the sum­mit and back so no wor­ries about day­light.

The ru­ins of Glen­lochsie Lodge mark the start of the long pull to the sum­mit, with a loose climb that rises sharply above the glen. The al­ti­tude gain is quick and painful. When you fi­nally crest the end of this sec­tion, there’s a long, long ridge­line curv­ing away to the dis­tance, but the gra­di­ent lends it­self to re­laxed rid­ing and tak­ing in the view for the rest of the way.

With Beinn a’ Ghlo to the left, the Cairn­well hills to the right, more sum­mits

“Grav­ity tugged the bike up to a speed” brisk

Worth it for the views!

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