Apparently in Scotland the long days always involve two long climbs and two descents. At least that’s the pattern I’ve found. This day would be testament to that theorem. We started off on tarmac before peeling off to a dirt track, climbing up into the hills.
Some of the group wanted to take an easier route so the went their separate way at some point. We would meet them later on down the trail.

Climbing up to the first col was pretty rough. I was mostly walking my bike instead of riding it. We took a short break on the col. It was very windy so we took shelter behind some rocks. After a maybe half an hour more on the trail we hooked up with the rest of our group. They were huddled at a bothy, where we also took a break before pushing on.

We climbed up the valley for quite a while. I remember thinking that this trail is really getting pretty bad and wondering where it was going. At some point I realized that the only exit would be over the huge wall towering in front of me. I had already been skeptical of the trail and now made up my mind that Scotland was not suitable for mountain biking. Then again that’s probably the feeling you get anywhere in the world if you’re exhausted and carrying your bike up some hill. It just doesn’t make too much sense at that point. All those thoughts would evaporate shortly though.
None of the hills are very high compared to the Alps for example. So no climb is really that long. Sure enough we made it to the col and the payoff would be good. A long technical single track downhill all the way down to Torridon.

The ride down really was superb, but I was seriously slowed down by sheer fatigue. I think everyone was. Also a lot of the bikes had punctures which was nipping at peoples nerves. We’d start downhill and get warmed up only to stop and spend twenty minutes waiting for a tube being changed. Then start cold again. I was getting tired and managed to go over the handlebars once. Luckily without damage. We all finally made it down in one piece and stumbled into a pub conveniently at the bottom of the run.

After some quick pints we packed our stuff into the van and shuttled from Annat to Shieldaig, where our home would be for the next two days. The next day would be a long awaited rest day.