The Winter West Coast Biking Office

A few words about the life in the office world of West Coast Biking which is run by Emma Holgate …..

Over the winter I ski as much as possible, giving me a break from the biking to come back in March/April with rejuvenated enthusiasm and excitement.

I work from different locations across Scotland over the winter as I use my time to complete other jobs that don’t get done over the cycling season on the west coast of Scotland. I also take on a part time/flexible role on the ski hill in Fort William – Nevis Range Mountain Resort – http://www.nevisrange.co.uk/

I work 3 days a week on the ski hill as a ski patroller with a great team of people, with often stunning office views from the summit of Aonach Mor. We are currently lacking snow, so a lot of people are doing the snow dance to encourage its arrival!

ski-patrol-summit-office

This winter the other big job is to get a house in Kinlochewe, Torridon habitable with a bike workshop. New windows & roof, lots of decorating and kitchen fitting. We have lots of ideas for the house and hope that we will have the UK & wider world wide cycling community calling in on us for spares and repairs, advice about best routes to take on any sort of bicycle on the west coast of Scotland, plus we hope to be able to provide practical and convenient accommodation for cyclists.

Currently I am writing this post from a hotel room in Austria where I popped out too for a last minute week of blasting about on my skis.

For more photos and what I am up to then please check out our instagram account – https://www.instagram.com/westcoastbiking/

Further blogs to come explaining life as a Ski Patroller in Scotland and Ski Touring.

Emma on Skis…..

 

Gateway to Torridon

A wee update….KINLOCHEWE…gateway to Torridon and amazing riding for every cyclist.

kinlochewe

Our 2nd base..next season – bike hire fleet, spares and repairs shed, and links with other adventure tourism businesses plus accommodation (currently uninhabitable but its a project that’s started to create a cyclist friendly house and facilities) WATCH THIS SPACE, we are excited about the possibilities in this unique west coast village.

Autumn exploring on a bike in the north-west of Scotland

The weather has just been phenomenal the last couple of months in Scotland, allowing some big mountain bike rides to continue long into the autumn season when usually it is a time we all want to hide in the low level woods for shelter against the weather.

We have cycled in Torridon, Lochaber and Skye plus further north but if I give the location away then it could end up being overridden 🙂 We have explored new areas and ridden what had been possibly virgin trails to the two wheeled bicycle.

The satisfaction and feeling of adventure carrying your bike for hours into the unknown to then descend a ribbon of single track that puts a smile on your face as you power round every corner is like nothing else. The exploration of what were once old stalkers paths and pony tracks is exciting and usually rewarding on two wheels…….although there are days when you feel like your taking your bike for a walk, this has occurred in the years of exploring. Or when you just accept that a trail is simply more enjoyable to walk, take photos and take in the views, stashing the bikes once a period of stubbornness has past!

Come and explore with us, or ride some of the trails we have discovered, and very few folk have ridden before.

Cyclo Cross

What is Cyclo Cross?……Cyclo cross is a form of cross country racing on adapted road bikes to enable riders to take them off road to travel fast and efficiently.

You could also call the bikes ‘Gravel’ bikes, which are great for our area with lots of forest tracks to link with single track roads, making spectacular journeys in the wild west. Some ideas below:

Lochaber Cyclo Cross

There are endless forest tracks and stunning routes to take with a cyclo cross bike in Lochaber below outline how to make a 5 day cycling holiday on a cyclo cross bike.

Day 1 Tour de Ben Nevis (can be made into a 2 day bike packing journey with use of a bothy as accomodation)

Day 2 Train ride to Corrour Station and ride back

Day 3 Loch Laggan and Ardverikie Castle Circular

Day 4 Glen Etive

Day 5 Oban Circular

Lots of scope and we can provide the best routes and which to avoid 😉 Cyclo Cross Scotland

North Coast 500

North Coast 500 by Bike

The North Coast 500 is Scotland’s biggest road trip measuring over 500 miles. The route begins in Inverness and flows along the stunning coastal edges of the North Highlands in one round trip. Bringing together the best of the Highlands from glistening beaches, haunting castles, monumental munros and hundreds more scenic stop-offs, you will be spoilt for choice on this road trip!

Cycle Touring
Touring on the west coast of Scotland

The website below provides a great detail of the route and ideas of how to do it independently if you wish to, but please contact us if we can assist in any way, we also have great inside knowledge of where best to eat, sleep and take wee excursions out of the original route!

http://www.northcoast500.com/itinerary/cyclists-(1).aspx

 

Skimo Scotland

What is Skimo? skimoscot

Skimo Scotland is ski mountaineering racing in Scotland. http://www.skimoscotland.co.uk/

What is Ski Mountaineering?

Ski touring and ski mountaineering are terms used to describe essentially the same activity – travelling through snow covered terrain, using skis to go both uphill and downhill. Ski mountaineering emphasizes getting to the tops of mountains along the way, and ski touring emphasizes the journey, but there is considerable overlap, and the terms may be used interchangeably.

In order to travel uphill on skis, alpine ski-tourers use “skins”, which are stuck to the bottom of the ski – these allow the ski to glide uphill, but not slip back down. At the top of the hill, the skins can be removed, and the slope skied downhill in a similar way to a piste skier in a ski resort.

Your all now know what Skimo is! I have competed in 2 races this season, with 3 more planned. I can’t emphasise how excited I am about these events due to the sport itself, the people organising and marshalling and the other racers.

I have a huge love for skiing and to bring together, racing, skiing, adventures and a big work out is awesome fun! I have been to the Lecht and Glenshee with a win at the first then a kick to train harder after the second as the British team showed up and showed us how it was really done!

Mavic Transprovence

West Coast Biking does not cover everything and once in a while we escape to hotter climates with dustier trails, but don’t get me wrong the cycling on the west coast of Scotland can be dusty! So I headed to the Maritime alps to work as the race sweeper for the Mavic Transprovence race 2016.

This is how the race is described by Ash Smith the race organiser:
“Trans-Provence is a manifestation of what we believe mountain biking is all about; a melting pot of our sport’s finest ingredient elements.

In physical terms this means a week-long itinerary of true mountain wilderness, a huge and varied catalogue of awesome gravity-fuelled singletrack from the High Alps to the Mediterranean Sea. It exists since 2009 as a rally-style race which many past participants will tell you is more about the adventure than the time on the clock.”

The race starts in Embrun and finishes in Menton on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, here are the stats:

Distance: 271km

Height Gain (all pedalling/pushing/carrying!): 9177m

Total Descending: 18003m

No. of Special Stages: 24

I completed the entire race course, collecting signs and tape plus encouraging those feeling the strain on their bodies aftrer long days on the bike. Below is a picture including myself of the team who make the race work for all the racers, including catering team, drivers, timing team, sign posters etc.

A very special race to be a part of. If you want to know more or race or go on one of the guided weeks then contact Ash or Melissa via their website, or any more info I can give you then just get in touch. http://www.trans-provence.com/

Mountain Biking

Below are 2 fantastic 6 day holiday ideas which can be condensed to 3 day trips, adjusted and altered to suit you.

Highlands Trail Centre Tour

Day 1 Arrive into Fort William with Ben Nevis towering above, head out for your first days riding on the way marked witches trails at Nevis Range Mountain Resort, starting with flowy and fun green and blue routes then finish the day with a spectacular gondola up lift and descend the Giant Red route on a man made mountain trail descending more than 500 meters over 5.5 kilometers!

Day 2 Head west to Mallaig where we can  will take you on an adventure and we will team up with Minch Adventures taking a boat trip across to Knoydart peninsula and ride at the small community trail centre at Inverie, a magical experience crossing the crystal clear sea to a remote and isolated part of Scotland.

Day 3 Now to a renowned and fantastic play area on a bike at Laggan Wolftrax, this trail centre has everything for all with lots to do and some natural trails to also try.

Day 4 Heading north onto the east coast takes us to Learnie Red Rock and Golspie, two very different trail centres one in the woods with lots of berms and rollers then the other spices things up with some technical ascents as well as descents on open moorland above the tree line.

Day 5 Contin home of the famous and extreme 24 hour race held in January called the Strathpuffer. A fun and flowy area to ride with trails linking all over a large forested area.

Day 6 Glenlivet, Scotland’s newest trail centre takes us to the heart of the Cairngorm National Park and provides a fast, fun, riding location.

Important information, all trail centres either have great cafes on site or very close with tasty, high calorie cakes for sale.

Lochaber Single Track

Day 1 Get the head focused on the single track descents take in a few laps of the gondola at Nevis Range descending the Giant Red with some green and blue enduro style tracks mixed into the day though the woods.

Day 2 Head to Glencoe and complete a classic bucket list trail, the Devil’s Staircase. A spectacular and technical route, a very rewarding day on a bike.

Day 3 Complete ‘the dudes of hazzards’ enduro trails around the industrial village of Kinlochleven, providing long and fun single track descents.

Day 4 Take a trip up the spectacular Glen Nevis where there are hidden gems linking into other trails not yet seen this week at Nevis Range.

Day 5 A big mountain day into the wilderness that surrounds Ben Alder, an epic day on all proportions.

Day 6 Let’s now cruise at Laggan Wolftrax, sure to put a smile on everyone’s face, this trail centre has something for everyone including good cake at the cafe.

We will also incorporate Skye, Glen Shiel and Torridon into the above agenda’s if you wish.

The Importance of DIN Settings

img_3844DIN stands for Deutsches Institut für Normung (German Institute for Standardization) and is the industry standard scale for release force settings for ski bindings. This is the tension adjustment on the front and back parts of the bindings, and it determines how easily your boot will be released from the binding.

The DIN setting you should have is calculated by your weight, height, skier type, age and boot sole length.

The correct DIN setting for you should be high enough that the skis do not come off when you don’t want them to, but low enough that the skis will come off before you are in danger of injuring your legs. 

Above is what is a very fine balance especially as you become a faster, stronger, more aggressive skiier, the more you increase your din setting as the more power you push through the binding. Equally crashes become bigger and the force required to eject your boot from the ski becomes higher. But to ski at a high aggressive level you do not want your boot to eject as you power out of your turn as this could then become a reason you crash. Tricky!

Food for thought but check your DIN settings, please. Mine were set well and I’m happy I had the balance right as any higher then the boot may not have released causing a total rupture of my ligament = season over and lots of intense training.

Useful link:

http://www.mechanicsofsport.com/skiing/equipment/bindings/din-calculator.html