Burns Night has past us this past weekend which had me thinking of home. Scotland. What a hell of a place. Not always on the top of every persons to ride list but having lived there for 25 year of my life I have to ask, why? If you have been lucky enough to go you will know what I’m talking about. Rugged mountains, deep Lochs and some of the best all round riding I know of.
Although its more associated with some of the best mountain bike riding and riders in the world, Scotland’s growing gravel scene and ‘Right to Roam’ mean that the whole country is accessible to those with a bike and an adventurous spirit. Scotland does not suffer fools lightly though and knowing how to survive an adventure there means having some local know how.
Good thing you have me then!
Spring is king and Autumn is Awesome
You would be mistaken for thinking that summer in Europe is all sun and sangria’s but Scotland’s weather systems don’t play by the usual rules. Late spring Autumn in Scotland are some of the best time of year to doing anything in Scotland with some of the longest periods of sun and warm weather coming at these times. My personal favourite is Autumn with the leaves changing colour and that slight dip in temperature that allows you to ride hard without sweating from the moment you leave the house. If you want to experience some proper Scottish Racing why not book into the Dukes Weekender Gravel event at the end of September for a weekend of some of the best Gravel riding around. It’s also a perfect excuse to get your first gravel bike ( we have some good ones.)
We do roads as well you know!
Ever heard of the north coast 500? Well you have now! The NC 500 is one of the most spectacular routes you can ride a bike on. The route follows the rugged Coastline of Scotland’s North, Starting and ending in Inverness with lots of small towns town’s along the way. For those of you wanting a multiday trip of bike packing this is a joy from start to finish and GCN even did a video on it.
Scotland is harsh, no way around that fact, so coming with the right kit is a must. A basic set of extra ride essentials are needed to make the most of your time in Scotland. So as always bring your standards: tube, pump, jacket, phone, hydration and fuel but also bring:
• Midge repellant/ mosquito repellant- the best repellant and more on midges can be found here
• Camera- trust me on this one Scotland throws picture perfect moments all the time
• A route map- if you can get this on a bike computer even better! It’s also a good idea to leave this route and a rough time to do the route with someone.
• Money- not going to pretend you’re in Italy, but our cafes have some great coffee and food (also a good place to shelter from the weather)
• A Local- not only do the locals know best when it comes from the rides but they also like to get involved and help you out.
• Common sense- Scotland’s roads aren’t super highways, so room for you and the other traffic can be small. If you have to stop to let other road users by then do it, last thing you want is an angry farmer in a Land Rover shouting at you.
Whiskey, Gin, Beer and Food
You didn’t come to Scotland just to ride your bike did you? No, you came here to enjoy yourself! So plan your trip around the fun stuff, ride to a distillery and get a tour (and a dram), find a tiny restaurant with local food or even finish your ride in a local brewery that sells food and beer! We aren’t afraid to have a good time so neither should you! If you need any bits and pieces for your next trip give us a call or come in store! I may even tell you some more about Scotland.
Alasdair (a slightly Biased writer)
Alasdair, you can’t say enough about the beauty of the north. I also recommend a trip up Skye at least to Portree. Spectacular!