Taking the goat

Robin McClory reports on a trip undertaken by a couple of the club’s hardy mountain bikers while the roadies were mumbling about the cold on their short trip to a coffee shop. 😉

Saturday saw both Des Hughes and myself travelling over to Arran to mountain bike down Goatfell.

Up before the lark, the day started with a much needed coffee and roll on the 7am ferry from the mainland. With the sun now up, bringing in a fantastic day of clear, sunny but cold weather, we set off North round the coast road heading up and into the forest around Brodick Castle looking to follow one of the Arran Mtb Clubs trails that would eventually link in with the bottom of the path to the summit of Goatfell.

An hour later, with what now seems like the compulsory hike-a-bike section through the dense woods and steep sided glens over and done with (annoyingly bringing us back to about 200m from the point we left the main trail looking for this fabled section of singletrack – its on the map but it has been obliterated by forestry activities – honestly!) we followed this main route through the woods to the start of the path up to the summit.

The push up for the next hour was spent admiring the views opening up to the South and the mainland, with much discussion about how the trail was getting ever more rocky and technical and that some parts were going to be unrideable on the way down (we were both getting our excuses in early). Reaching the highest point that it seemed was going to be even vaguely possible to ride back down from (at the cairn just above Meall Breac at 650m), we had a quick stop to shelter from the northerly wind and get padded up. Suitably chilled, we then set off on the descent, and what a descent it was!

The first few hundred metres were a deceptive mix of an easy gradient with more open flowy sections interspersed with semi-tech, which we dispatched with some speed – probably due to frozen finger tips! The next section was a much steeper uber-tech-fest, that somehow we seemed to have forgotten about – even though we’d walked up it half an hour earlier! This tested our manualling skills (limited), track stand skills (even more limited) and nerve (in short supply at this point). With gravity’s ever helping hand we seemed to make good progress through this part, clearing sections that we thought we’d be taking the walk of shame on, with only the widest and deepest of water bars defeating us.

As we made or way down the mountain the trail started to open up, with slightly less technical sections which increased the speed and flow – it was amazing! Getting to the deer gate, the trail was open, fast and rough leading into a short series of rocky chutes and drops, we were riding gods at this point! This temporary ego-overriding-skills moment (of course) resulted in the days only over the bars exit (me). Suitably chastised, we headed of for the next section to the bottom which was very fast and wide, featuring some small jumps and drops, making for a great ending to the trail – made even better that it finished right at the front door of the Arran Brewery shop!

All in all, a great winters day (taking out the unplanned off piste diversion) with fantastic riding and amazing views – all of which we had to remind ourselves was right on our doorstep!