After waiting weeks for the right conditions for snowboarding in Scotland, it finally all came together last weekend. The storms had subsided leaving masses of snow, and a band of high pressure moved in bringing clear skies and sunshine to all five of the Scottish areas.
It looked amazing, but rather than being up there with my snowboard, I was at Glentress on my mountain bike, experiencing very similar conditions. Although I was desperate to get some Scottish sliding in, Dan was working so I promised to wait until the following week when he was free, consoling myself with the fact that it would be loads quieter then, and I could do some mountain biking in the snow instead.
Despite having encountered some treacherously icy trails at Glentress a couple of days previously, I decided to head back in the hope that the fresh snow that had fallen since then would have covered the patches of sheet ice and frozen tyre tracks. It was a beautiful day with still, blue skies and a deep covering of fresh powder snow. The sun felt warm but it was cold enough for the snow to stay dry and light. The conditions were perfect for snowboarding, but also, as it turned out, for mountain biking in the snow!
Although slightly harder work than usual, the climb was a piece of cake compared to when it had been icy, and I was amazed at how much traction I was able to get on even the steepest sections of the climb. I dare say my newish “Fat Albert” tyres helped (although they weren’t much good on the ice!) and the fact that there had obviously been a few people up before me to forge the trail no doubt helped too. In some ways the snow covered trail was even easier to negotiate that usual as all of the rough and rocky terrain had been filled in and the step-ups were significantly lower than usual! mountain biking in snowThe same applied to the drop offs on the descent, which you were just able to roll over.
Although the trail was much grippier than it had been when icy, it was still pretty slippy at speed so I had to take it relatively easy, although I didn’t have the same worry about falling and landing on hard ice. At one point I did skid out but the landing on a pillow of soft snow was actually quite nice!
Spooky Wood resembled an awesome boarder cross course with added jumps and drops, and all the way down I couldn’t help thinking how much fun it would’ve been on a snowboard. There wasn’t quite as much snow lower down and I was able to go a bit less tentatively, but the aching in my leg from my recent fall on the ice served as a reminder not to go too crazy.
I’d been desperate to go mountain biking in proper snow and it didn’t disappoint, especially on such a beautiful day. The Tweed Valley is a stunning setting at the best of times, but covered in a blanket of snow, it was almost magical, particularly as there was hardly anyone else there. Going downhill on snow is undoubtedly more fun on a snowboard, and going downhill on a bike is undoubtedly more fun on dirt/mud, but the overall experience was awesome, and easily made up for missing out on the first good Scottish ski day of the season. Particularly as I made it up there a couple of days later…
This article was originally posted on my other blog, Riding Switch.