SkiBike Tour 2009-10 - Many A Mickle Makes A Muckle

Posted: Saturday, 13 March 2010 by Mark Kinnon in Labels: , , ,

For this trip I had downsized from a Citroen Berlingo to a Ford Fiesta, being much more aerodynamic and lighter it will achieve 45 mpg on a run, even at the motorway speed limit. This shaved around £100 off the fuel bill, but you have to pack things a lot more carefully and take the skis off the skibike each day. I also saved a night's hotel expenses by driving back at the end of the afternoon and taking a couple of power naps when drowsiness became an issue.

Fuel - £134
Accommodation - £190
Lift Passes - £132
Food and Sundries £80

Total of Above - £536

SkiBike Tour 2009-10 - Glenshee Day 2

Posted: Friday, 12 March 2010 by Mark Kinnon in Labels: , , ,

The weather closed in a little and was windy and changeable with occasional bright spells. I chose South facing runs to warm up on, then headed across the road to the Cairnwell Chairlift. It was the first single seat chairlift that I had encountered and is also unusual because it is powered by diesel and not electricity. I was a little concerned that the bike's skis would foul the suspension pylons on the ascent and checked with the lift operator who seemed unworried. I took a selection of different runs down the face, most were very icy with a smattering of bare rocks, so were not much fun for going flat out, but good from a technical perspective. The red run leading up to the Bunny Run had an uphill section, so it was better to go off piste and make some long traverses riding on the foot pegs to reduce drag on flatter sections. I wanted to try the black run called the Tiger, but in such icy conditions decide not to risk it.

In the afternoon I returned to Glas Mol to play around. Having had a great day, with lots of variety, I packed the car and drove straight home, arriving back at 5 in the morning.

Panorama from near the top of the Glas Maol poma, Glenshee - source - Steve Terry

SkiBike Tour 2009-10 - Glenshee Day 1

Posted: Thursday, 11 March 2010 by Mark Kinnon in Labels: , , ,

I left after a leisurely breakfast and arrived in time for an afternoon session. The weather was overcast with sunny intervals and the occasional very light shower. On my previous visit due to the inclement weather had been restricted to the Sunnyside run. Eager to explore the other valleys accessible, I crossed Meall Odhar and Coire Fionn. I had some initial problems with the Glas Maol Poma which took off with an almighty snatch, lifting me off my feet. Thanks to a friendly operator was able to make some experimental runs on footskis alone, before trying it again with the skibike at my side; this ironed things out and I could make a successful take off.
There is a long red run that follows the ridge before heading back down, but beware it has a lengthy uphill section, so ride like the wind or be prepared for some pushing. I preferred the black/red run that stayed close to the Poma. I was so chuffed to have survived the black section that I tried it again to make sure it wasn't a fluke the first time! It felt the steepest run I have so far attempted and was quite intimidating due to the many bumps in such flat light.

For some variety I moved on to the Coire Fion Poma red run where the snow was lush and soft. I played at seeing just how far you could lean the skibike into a turn, the answer, more than you can imagine in good conditions. I chatted briefly with an American visitor who turned out to be a friend of Don Koski.
The blue run off the Fion Poma had so much snow cover that you could go wherever you wanted on the mountain, there were almost no other skiers about, the feeling of emptiness and peace was bliss inducing.
I spotted a pair of skiers utilising a gully as a half pipe and followed their trail, I had no idea they could be so much fun, I repeated this run a few times, on each occasion swinging up higher and higher. Inevitably I reached the point of no return and landed in a crumpled heap at the bottom, laughing like a loon. A passing skier stopped above me and waived his finger at me as if to chastise a naughty child.

At the end of the day I retraced my route back to the car park encountering a hilarious piste with moguls the size of washing machines and had great fun tracing a route through this minefield of bumps. I returned to the car and enjoyed an entertaining drive back through twisty and bumpy B roads south to Pitlochry and the quirky Cara Beag Guest House. Went for a stroll around town, downed a couple of pints of Scottish Ale and saw David Icke in the pub having a meal. On returning to Cara Beag a fire had been lit in the lounge, glasses and a decanter of sherry had been placed on the table, what a civilised end to the day.

Looking E across Coire Fionn - source - Steve Terry

SkiBike Tour 2009-10 - Aviemore Day 3

Posted: Wednesday, 10 March 2010 by Mark Kinnon in Labels: , , ,

The day started Sunny at first changing into patchy cloud with a light wind. I alternated between the M2 and White Lady routes, just enjoying the moment and feeling at home.

At home on Cairngorm Mountain
As I approached the West Wall Poma for yet another uplift I was told by the lift operator to report to Ski Patrol immediately.
I would have felt the same sense of unease and apprehension if they had told me to report to Father Greystone my old headmaster. I dutifully presented myself at the hut and whilst waiting chatted with a group of Mancunian scallies who had spotted me the previous day "You looked like a complete psycho going down that run" was their opinion. Bummer, was I about to be thrown off the mountain for being a hooligan? As it turned out my Poma difficulties had been noted and they were worried I might have hurt myself, I'm not sure what they needed to check, but it was all very gentlemanly and friendly, if a little odd.

In the afternoon I made a demo run down the M2 with a couple of lads who were keen to see how a skibike worked in practice, they commented that they were "impressed by the way it handled changing from powder to hard pack/ice.." and asked a question that I had not been asked before "how much effort is required?".
Then they shot off over an icy mogul field taking the opportunity to put in a few jumps, very flash lads, that put me in my place.

M2 Piste, Cairngorm Mountain

SkiBike Tour 2009-10 - Aviemore Day 2

Posted: Tuesday, 9 March 2010 by Mark Kinnon in Labels: , , ,

The day brought more alpine conditions, sunny and clear. The higher runs still held a dusting of powder on hard packed snow higher up with spring snow, turning softer in the afternoon, lower down.
I returned and made repeated runs on the M2, playing a game with myself to see how far you can get the back end out and still keep moving, stretching "the envelope" and occasionally overcooking it, but managing to recover well.

Feeling  confident (possibly overconfident) I rose to the challenge of some expert skiers to demo a run down the M1.
Later I tried "The White Lady", one of the most intimidating runs so far, quite steep and bumpy, very satisfying to survive the experience unscathed. Near closing time I followed the "West Wall Coire" off piste route, which was hard work but felt very rewarding to bag some "expert" terrain.

By the end of the day I had built up a lot of speed and confidence. However the greatest and most unexpected challenges can still be from the mountain infrastructure viz. Pomas.

Aviemore - Expert terrain

SkiBike Tour 2009-10 - Aviemore Day 1

Posted: Monday, 8 March 2010 by Mark Kinnon in Labels: , , ,

I left Glenfarg around 8 and headed northwards for just over an hour, the east coast fog and gloom cleared and the weather became much sunnier. I stopped briefly in a lay-by near Crubenmore Lodge for a muesli bar breakfast and some water whilst rechecking the map to confirm my location, great I was only 20 minutes away.
 On arrival at Aviemore I quickly got my pass and made my way to the Fiaciall Poma.
I chose the Fiaciall Ridge run first to warm up and refresh my technique; for a scary moment I thought I had forgotten everything as I jiggled and scraped my way down the slope with little finesse, as it was very icy with marble sized bobbles of crud everywhere. A women came racing down the same run, skis chattering and bouncing, "oh that's horrid" she said with a big grin "conditions are much better higher up".
Following her advice I followed the "Cross Over" run to the M1 Poma and she was right, the sun had warmed the upper slopes which were covered in a dusting of powder on a hard base. I followed the "Traverse" on to the "105" then tried the "M1 Race Piste".
On the other side of the Ptarmigan restaurant I discovered the fantastic "M2 piste", a very flattering run, wide enough not to feel cramped, even gradients, lots of powder, some steeper bits to get the adrenaline flowing.
Later I had a tumble on the Poma and ended up with a sore bum and bruised ego.
At the end of a glorious day in truly alpine like conditions, I retired to my new home from home International Starters

SkiBike Tour 2009-10 - Scotland Again

Posted: Sunday, 7 March 2010 by Mark Kinnon in Labels: , , ,

Against all odds the unexpected cold snap continued through February and into March. Going through my work diary I spotted an empty week from 7th to 13th March. Having proved that jaunts up to Scotland were feasible providing I could keep awake for the 12 hour journey, I made hotel bookings through Late Rooms, packed the car, waxed the skis and set off around 11am to avoid London's rush hour traffic.
It was an uneventful run up spoiled by a lengthy batch of roadworks on the M6 and the A74 with enforced 50 mph speed limits; needless to say, I didn't see a single person working on any of the 100 miles or so of restrictions. Bad traffic tailbacks around Stirling wasted a further hour of my time. Luckily I go to my hotel in Glenfarg near Perth just before closing at 11pm.