Saturday, January 21, 2012

Ptarmigan.

A little while ago, i rode/carried up Ben Lomond, turned tail and dropped down. Despite suffering numerous punctures as i plummeted over the sharp rocky trail i had a great time. It was very clear and sunny at the top and, for the first time, i saw the Ptarmigan Ridge trail in sharp relief. This was a little bit of a surprise because i have been up Ben Lomond quite a number of times - by bike and on foot.

Needless to say, the idea of riding that trail has been worming around in my brain for a while.

Whereas the main trail up the Ben has been worked on in order to be sustainable given the presumably large amount of footfall, the Ptarmigan Ridge trail is 'natural' for the most part. As such, it is way less impervious to Scotland's famed precipitation.

Same old same old: tired, unwell and busy. But just just as the cold, low, cloud cleared on occasion as i ascended the mountain, the will and the opportunity coalesced and i had a window to go for a ride. I like my local trails, but at the moment they are sodden and i'm pretty sure we are doing a fair bit of damage as we ride them. I'm philosophical about this...you would never ride in Scotland if you avoided commiting rubber to trail in bad weather. I also have issues riding the same trails time after time. So i dropped Daisy off at nursery and then loaded the car - it's been a while, so i had to find my 'further afield' kit - and after much delay i headed off to the Ben.

Although it was a bright, clear day at the bottom, as i cleared the first portage section i climbed into cloud. There were myriad, amazing frost patterns on the windswept grass. After the plateau-ish area i was into the second portage: it was here i hit boiler plate ice. It was tricky to get to the top, and lets just say the scramble down to the Ptarmigan Ridge from the summit area was interesting. At one point i slipped and mashed my knee into the fork so hard i thought i might actually be out the game. After a bit of massage and cussing, that saw me cooling rapidly in the biting wind, i knew i needed to get moving. Limping along, a sling to attach me to the bike in case of slips, i came to the point where i could ride.

This trail will not be for everyone. In places i was on the limit of my abilities and was having to display some serious cojones. In other places i needed accept my limitations and get off and walk - and not just for ice. This will be a test piece for sure, but it certainly isn't for everyone.

Of course, i wasn't helped by a contaminated front brake on BA. Seems my hose/banjo crimp joint started leaking and dribbled some oil into the caliper. Needless to say it was noisy and sketchier than it needed to be. Despite the odd light, i got some snaps. Maybe a bit too processed, but i think it gives an idea...here you go.























8 comments:

felonious said...

I'm looking out my window at snow and a similar adventure today here, on the east coast of the US of A. Best wishes for more great rides.

davechopoptions said...

There's local stuff that holds up you know....
It's just not very obvious... ;-)

badger dave said...

Be interesting to see what the 'further afield' kit bag looks like a la Mod (http://mod-spot.blogspot.com/p/winter-clothing-guide.html)

Sanny said...

Rode it yesterday. Headed up Ptarmigan and left the bikes about 150 below the summit. Cracking descent but the ice and wind meant a bit of discretion was needed near the summit. Gloriously tech descent. Can't wait to do it in the dry in the Spring. Definitely a descent that will divide opinion. Sanny

Sanny said...

Oh and fair play for doing it solo in the ice. That's pretty full on!

RICHARD COSTELLO said...

sweet photos posted that evoke everything wonderful, solely about mountain biking in general.

grant said...

You're on the front page of twentynineinches.com. :-)

onereallynicespeed said...

im so envious..lt looks smashing.went to loch lomond on my travel holiday last year.we stayed at inveruglas at the north tip of the loch.woke up to the sight of ben everyday.sadly never went across that side of the loch.where did you park your car mike? love your blog btw.