With some miles in the legs, the next ride leaned towards technical riding. The forecast suggested 45 mph winds on the plateau, so I needed to plan accordingly. An obvious choice was the Creag a’ Chalamain Gap to the Lairig Ghru and then down to Rothiemurchas.
It has been many years since I first went through the Chalamain Gap and my memory of it was incomplete. I remembered the extreme sloppy, peaty crap on the far side – descending down to the Lairig Ghru path. I also remembered a sense of foreboding, which was separate from the concern the large and often mobile rocks cause as you try to climb up through the gap with a bike in tow.
Pedaling out through Rothiemurchas was as beautiful as ever. Transferring to the side of the Allt Mor I climbed then crossed the ski road, mindful of some potential damage to the trail from a previous flood. Climbing out of the Allt Mor gully towards Airgiod- meall, the views of the northern corries were stunning but it was also clear – as the cloud skipped across the peaks – that it was the right choice to stay low.
Soon enough, the Gap came into view. The trail to it is in very good order – perhaps as the Gap itself is quite difficult, it may not get the same foot fall as other trails in the area.
It was exactly as I remembered it: the almost Khazad-Dûm like entrance led to a rideable section and then into the rock fall itself.
Loose, large rocks scrape and click as you exert physically and project mental calm and climb though the sheer Gap.
Soon enough, I was through and the full strength of the wind could finally be felt. The trail has been hugely improved down to the Lairig Ghru but some of the rock step jumps were a little iffy due to the wind taking me as I left the ground.
A snack (very nice, actually – more on Fori later) whilst staring into the great pass of the Lairig Ghru behind the shelter of a large rock, then it was time to drop back to the tree canopy one last time.
The B-fat tyre made this rocky, narrow gauge trail an absolute blast and I felt a real flow before letting my breath out and pedaling home, through the Caledonian pine and heather.
It has been a fun few rides: I’ll be back soon.