The purpose of this post is to show readers how awesome Scotland is for biking and showcase where you can go on 2 wheels.
I wanted to interview my close friend, Siusan because she has cycled her way around Scotland and is pretty clued up about the industry. If you’re reading this and thinking about taking a trip to Scotland or embarking on a “staycation” with your bike then keep reading.
Siusan, 30 from Keith, Moray has always had a passion for biking ever since she was a young girl – always out and about exploring.
Her love of bikes first stemmed from her Grandfather, who would often take Siusan out with her sitting on the handlebars of his bike.
In her opinion there was no better way to spend a Sunday! Since her childhood, her love of biking has grown and in recent years she has taken a serious interest in mountain biking which she has been doing for 4 years. She tries to get out on her bike at least once a week, but that very much depends on the unpredictable Scottish weather!
Where do you usually cycle?
My local mountain biking trails are in Moray (North East Scotland) and I can usually be found at the Moray Monster Trails in Fochabers. There’s something for everyone at these trails, ranging from beginner trails to the more extreme.
What's been your best biking experience in Scotland?
My best biking experience in Scotland has to be at Glentress, near Peebles (30 miles south of Edinburgh). There are many different trails which suit any level of rider – from beginner to expert. The scenery is breathtaking and the trails are a lot of fun. There is a lovely cafe in the car park to grab a snack after a long day on the paths.
In May each year there is a biking event spread over three days called Air Maiden Freeride Festival in which women gather together for workshops, coaching sessions, demonstrations, competitions and and a few beers!
Do you have a favourite biking trail in Scotland?
I love Laggan Wolftrax, they certainly make you push your limits but are also a lot of fun! The famous “Ayrs Rock” is located there – a huge steep rock face. It’s not for the faint hearted! I’ve yet to crack it but someday soon I will take the plunge! In the car park entrance there is also a cafe that serves well earned pieces of cake.
What's been the most challenging and difficult trail you've experienced?
Last year I attempted to ride the Red Giant Trail in Fort William – I walked a lot of it! I took the Gondola (chair lift) to the top of Aonach Mor and I began the descent back down the mountain. It was an incredibly rocky, steep and challenging trail for sure! Although I walked some of it, the trail gave me the opportunity to see exactly what it was like and I will ride it again in the future now I know what to expect.
What's been your experience of the Biking World Cup?
I absolutely love the World Cup! I’ve been going year after year for four years. The atmosphere is fantastic, the people are friendly and if you’re lucky you may bump into some well known names within the bike industry. The weather up there can be so changeable, it can be glorious sunshine in the morning, heavy rain in the afternoon and then sunshine again later on. You need to dress for all weather!
*Packs disposable rain poncho
I would definitely recommend buying a ticket which includes the chair lift up to the top of the mountain. It allows you to see more of the track and it really makes you appreciate the scale of trails which the professionals hurl themselves down. The chairlifts are extremely busy, especially on the Sunday (final day) so be prepared to wait in line.
I usually take the chairlift up to the top of Aonach Mor and walk back down which takes a couple of hours.
In your opinion could non-bikers attend the event and enjoy it?
The World Cup can be enjoyed by anyone. You don’t specifically have to be a biker to enjoy it. It is easy to watch and follow. The event is easy to get around and there is plenty to see and of course the location is stunning!
Also there are many venues in which you can grab something to eat if you want a break from it all.
*More information on this event can be found at the end of this post
If someone was visiting Scotland for two weeks and wanted to cycle, where would you recommend and why?
I would recommend Glenlivet Bike Trails. There are currently two trails here – a blue graded one suitable for all levels, a nice flowy path which is approximately 5 miles long. Be prepared for some hill climbing though!
The second trail is the red graded trail which is suited to the more experienced rider which is approximately 13 miles long. This track involves a lot of hill climbing, but trust me, it’s worth it for the views. The descent is thrilling and challenging making it all worthwhile climbing to the top.
I’d also recommend a trip to Aviemore in the Cairngorms – there are some hidden gems up there. It is also worth making a visit to Mikes Bikes in Aviemore to arrange a guided trail and if you need to rent a bike he’s the man for you!
The best time of year to cycle in Scotland?
Mountain biking can be done at any time of the year – sunshine, rain or snow. Of course everyone would prefer to ride when it’s nice and dry but if you were to wait just for that then you’d spend more time off the bike than on it. Sometimes it’s fun to slip and slide on a bike in the snow.
What is your dream cycle destination in Scotland?
Any websites/groups/social media that you find useful within the biking community?
One group I’d recommend is Flow Riders which is a group of like-minded women who enjoy going out on adventures together. They not only enjoy riding bikes but also other activities in Scotland such as snowboarding and skiing.
Another group is Dirt Vixens which is where women can go and learn the essential skills needed for mountain biking.
The Forestry Commission website also has useful information about the different trails you can ride in Scotland. It’s great for some inspiration!
A coaching group local to the North East of Scotland is Rideout Coaching which helps bikers of all abilities and backgrounds to develop their skills.
End of interview
I want to thank Siusan for taking part in my interview and I hope she has inspired you to try cycling in Scotland. Check out her Instagram to follow her adventures in the world of mountain biking!
Personally, I’d love to get out more on my bike. I live in a busy city and so far I’ve not ventured out yet – I’m too afraid! I love exploring Scotland and getting outdoors so I’ll need to get back on my two wheels and explore some of these trails.
Mountain Bike World Cup Fort William: Information
Deemed as one of the best sporting events in Europe, the Mountain Bike World Cup will take place on the Nevis Range near Fort William in the Highlands of Scotland.
This year the event is open to the public from the 6th -7th of June, 2020.
The event has been held there since 2002 and is spread over two days. The first day (Saturday) is the 4X Competition which sees riders race down a wide track, four people at a time. You can watch the action from the spectator track and there is a practice event on the Friday before hand if you want to watch them pre-race.
On Sunday the Downhill Competition takes place. The downhill track is 2.82km and trails down the mountain. Professional riders can race down the track in less than five minutes! Get yourself a position near the finish line in the car park to catch the best of the action. There is also a large screen to watch the action at the start of the race.
If you get hungry during the event there is The Pinemarten Cafe and the Snowgoose Restaurant near the Gondola lift.
During the event there is a chargeable park and ride system which operates but there are free buses which run on both days from Fort William.
Tickets can be purchased on the day. But be quick! Prices start from £17.50. For a guide price, check here.
For a full list of the event schedule check here.