I have to admit I’m not a big fan of group things. With group things I mean commercial trips involving a group of strangers partaking in a leisure activity. I mean I like people just fine but committing yourself to a week long mountain bike ride with strangers is risky business. Having said that, this was the first group thing I ever partook in. Naturally, I was more than a little wary, when eyeing my companions to be for the next week or so.
The trip TKS-1 and I found ourselves on was organized by H&I Adventures. We chose them as they seemed to have good grip on things. We had been in contact earlier during the year and all communication had been prompt, friendly and intelligent. The trip we decided to go on was Scotland coast to coast. We chose this, as it was a long continuous trip in the Highlands as opposed to light biking around the lakes or a DH centre type of event. We decided to go on this commercially as it would have been a lot of hassle trying to organize this by ourselves.
We met outside Inverness Railway Station and unloaded our kit from the rental car to the H&I van. Our bikes were strapped to their bike trailer. We also met up with the rest of the group. Our companions would be a Swiss couple, a French couple, an American woman and a British guy. Adding us and the two guides, there would be ten sets of tyres on the trails. The Brit was riding a hard tail with everyone else on full suspension bikes.
We had a brief supply stop at a supermarket where we shopped for all trail and recovery food. The guides gave some solid advice on what to think about in terms of keeping fit to ride long days back to back. We also got a full briefing of the following days during lunch, after which we got on the van and drove north.
After lunch we headed to a local mountain bike park. I’m not sure which one it was but Learnie Red Rock sounds familiar. It may have been that one. Anyhow, we unloaded the bikes and took a spin in the trails. The guides also did a skill check and gave people a hand if they weren’t familiar with shifting weight around the bike or bunny hopping. Apparently the trails would contain a lot of rocky water bars which punish careless riders with snakebites without hesitation.
After the skill stuff we did some more cycling before heading back to the van. We spent our night in fantastic accommodation in Dornoch.