The Deeside Trail

I rode the Deeside trail  the weekend of 4th July, the day after Coronavirus lockdown restrictions were eased in Scotland.

I don’t often write up events, the last time was when I did Celtman! in 2015,  and before that when I did my first Ironman in 2012. I ran the West Highland Way Race in 2018, an amazing run and should have written it up, but it was too big an experience to process at once, and I’m still thinking about it. I made this doodle which helps me but probably not much use to anyone else!

The Deeside trail was ace though, and I haven’t used this site (originally a place to list epic events) for years, so here is what I thought of my ride:

I’ve been minded to do some longer bike packing trips for a while, and because of the pandemic have been riding my bike a lot. I have a few bikes, and always ride a lot, but have only really been on a fat bike since November.

During lockdown limited swimming meant more biking, and because of movement restrictions riding the local hills, finding new trails in familiar places, and just journeying about. The riding has been great, but with the end of lockdown I felt that I needed to go somewhere, do something, and the Deeside trail seemed like the right thing to do. That and I can see it from the kitchen window, right where it passes over the summit of Pressendye

The route is a figure eight loop around the Dee officially started at the bridge in Banchory, and just about meeting itself at Ballater. But it is a loop and the closest point to me seemed like the best place to start, and is about an hour and a half uphill ride to get there from home. I’ve been up Pressendye numerous times during the lockdown, and looked at the view above and thought ‘must ride the Deeside Trail right round and back here’!

So I edited the .gpx to begin where the trail hits the ridge between the Socach and the summit of Pressendye, loaded it into my watch, loaded it onto the OSmaps app on my phone, downloaded the OS maps to go with it, and packed my bike on Friday 3rd. 

Normal sort of breakfast on Saturday, then Fi gave me a lift in the van to the closest road point at Cushnie Forest. Quick hug then set off at 08:23 for the 4 mile ride from there (and 1000ft uphill) to the start. Here is the track for the ride there.

Not a bad morning at all, t-shirt weather riding up. Quick stop for a picture and to turn the .gpx track on on my watch – my ‘Start’ where the Humphrey’s well track meets the ridge between the Socach and Pressendye is at ~600m and NJ 481 097.

I was away at 09:18. Woohoo! Bike was heavy though (too much stuff with me I thought), and I was (as I often am at the start of things) beset with FUD – fear (of failure), uncertainty (would it be fun), and doubt (should I be doing something else?). Quickly over Pressendye and steeply down and then up and over Pittenderich. Track was wet, and the rear bag was rubbing on the tyre when the saddle was dropped. Track was steep and slidey. More FUD. Stopped and adjusted straps on bag, rode on. 

I passed a couple of walkers around Burnside pond, through the familiar gates on Long Hill, over the road and steeply up the start of the Craiglich climb. The gate at the forest is unmovable, and was the first of two gates I had to lift the bike over. Bike was heavy! Up, over Craiglich, down the steep side. FUD evaporating with the movement! 

Riding down the woods towards the Lumphanan road could see a family with a dog ahead, and as I got closer realised it was Jo, Gordon, Freya, Finn, and Coco. Unusual co-incidence to bump into Gordon, who would actually understand where I was going! Gordon took this photo with the comment ‘in case Colin Calder is never seen again’!

Didn’t want to sound too committed – see how it goes etc, but I felt a bit more committed telling someone else what I was up to. Quick chat and onwards. 

There is a bit of road to traverse then a familiar trail down to Lumphanan. More road, then up towards Learney from Torphins. This was one of the few bits of the Deeside trail that I wasn’t familiar with. Followed the .gpx on my watch to the gate of Learney House, where there was a big ‘private no walkers, bikes, horse, etc etc’ sign. Two hours into the ride I didn’t feel like going off piste so just followed the .gpx up to the big house. Very smart gaff it is too. Lots of rangerovers and lux estate vehicles, dogs barking in Kennels, but no sign of people. The track takes you quickly past but a little further on it was obvious that the big house could be easily by-passed by a forest track around the north side. Oh well, no harm done. 

Crossed the road and through a car park busy with dog walkers and headed on up towards the Hill of Fare. Surprisingly ridable even with bags until the last half a Km, when it was a hike a bike up the steepest bit. The weather was great, thumping tunes on my headphones, gentle breeze, and great double tracks all the way down to Raemoir. Until the music abruptly stopped. Had a quick look at Spotify on my phone, or tried to – completely flat! Aggghhh! This wasn’t good. I’d brought only one cache battery to re-charge phone, headphones, and most importantly watch which is the easiest way to keep on the .gpx of the route. My phone never goes flat like that, and there are only two phone charges in the Cache I’d brought. FUD returned. Oh, well, nothing I can do, put it on charge for an hour and see what happens, carry on. If I can’t charge it I’ll just ride around as far as I can today and spin home.

Onto the road again, thinking five mins and I’ll be down to Banchory and the ‘real’ start. Going down through Brathens was nostalgic (I was there doing a PhD in what was then the ITE thirty years ago) but also an early education in the Deeside trail – don’t expect it to be quick or easy. The riding was great, but when you have a long way to go winding back and forth about local MTB trails seemed like a frustrating amount of time! Around the golf course and along the river to the Bridge, and it had taken me nearly an hour to get from Raemoir to the ‘normal’ start.

Up the little climb over the bridge past many many many brightly dressed MTBers coming and going from the Scolty trails, and onwards towards Potarch. I stopped and checked the phone charge situation, which was phone re-charged but cache battery now at 50%. Contemplated phoning Fi to see if she was going swimming at Knockburn – if she had been our paths might be close to passing and I could plug the battery into the van. The battery though takes several hours to re-charge. Considered phoning pal Ian who lives a little further up the road for same. Dismissed both and carried on, self sufficiency etc. Switched the data off on the phone.

Second lesson in Deeside trail route setting, up the hill to almost the top towards Shooting greens, then all the way down again to a point five minutes down the main trail from the start of the up, perhaps just to experience one of the MTB trails at Shooting greens. Nice enough red sort of technicalities, but felt a bit frustrated not making direct progress. Oh, well if you are going to ride someone else’s route better stick to it.

Across the road and up into Balogie Woods. Hot now, and flies, but those woods are stunningly beautiful, and a new trig point as a bonus.

On the road again for a mile or so then into Birse. I’d been perplexed before riding it why the route doesn’t go over Carnferg, rather traversing around to the south. The answer is the traverse is amazing! On down to the Fungle. Slippery and wet the trail here, and I crashed painfully into a tree with my right hand, care required! 

Filled up bottles at the first stream crossed by the Fungle path. This was the first water I’d want to drink that I’d seen on the route – further west water is plentiful but it is limited at the eastern end. Familiar terrain here, the Guard, Glen Tanar. The door to the half way was hut taped shut with Coronavirus signs. A beardy guy passed me here on a sort of flat bar cross bike, heading in the same direction and spinning away at a speedy cadence. No bags, probably not riding around the Deeside trail!

Out of the trees and then up, up, and on my way over to Ballater. Never ridden this path. Looking down I could see the other cyclist now heading back down the glen, and the sunshine lighting up Clachan Yell and Mount Keen. Pretty stunning spot.

Good double track too! Making progress. Er, until the .gpx trail turned off it. Onto heather bog. Eh? Why? The answer revealed in half a km as a grassy trail led beautifully down another valley I’d never been in to cross the Pollagach Burn. Unexpected views here of Bennachie and the eastern hills of the shire, from where I’d come this morning. I’d been riding now for ten hours, and expecting an easy spin along the road to Ballater, chips, and a re-supply of food. 8 o’clock. Got the phone out to ring Fi, no signal. Checked the route. Eh? Off route again. Not the 3 Km along the road to Ballater then? Nope, down fields towards the Dee. Fi phoned me back so my first call must have done something. Had a chat as I rode towards the obvious landmark of Camus o’May bridge, but on the unfamiliar south west side. Had to lift my bike over the second immovable gate, then fisherman’s tracks around the river, past a few campervans probably out for the first time after lockdown too. Fi gave me a weather forecast (heavy rain due 10pm) and checked the chip shop close time – I had 45 minutes to get there. With that forecast I defo wasn’t getting over the high point into Glen Gelder that night. Cracked on for chips though the track was quite overgrown, and steep down to a fairly full river – I was now used to what would seem like an easy spin being something else.

The objective always arrives sooner or later though, and I made the chip shop to place my socially distanced order, then around to the co-op while they fried it, then back for the much needed calories. I’d taken too little food with me for the day, a peanut butter sandwich, a couple of roast potato left overs, a Torque bar, some cheese oatcakes, noodles, and five caffeine green tea stick packs of tailwind. The limited water meant I hadn’t stopped to use the stove for noodles, so still had them and three sticks of tailwind, but nothing else. Bought two packs of Edam, two packs of butteries, and two bars of fruit and nut in the coop, and headed up Glen Muick, in drizzling rain and darkening skies.

As I’m going past Birkhall it is starting to really rain, and now also getting dark. Even without the ominous security camo netting, presumably for Charles and Camilla’s privacy, I didn’t fancy trying to camp where I was, so carried on up. 

The track up the glen was good going but wet. A few miles on as I’m going through the Linn of Muick I spotted a small flat area sheltered by trees and thought just stop. Now. Tent up in the dark, stuff out the rain. No phone signal, but it had retained plenty of charge. Put the watch on charge. 

Moving for 12 Hours and 75 miles. Time to sleep.

Sunday dawned bright and breezy. I made coffee, and drank it watching the large frog sat outside the tent while I ate breakfast. That and the river, which was up from the night before. I also considered for the first time whether the stove was a useful addition to my kit. Nice coffee, but … Filled one bottle with Tailwind, and left the other empty. Quickly packed up and was away by 0830. Lovely morning coming up towards Alt-na-G, a few camper vans away over on the road side of the glen, but no one on my side. Didn’t see any other terribly promising camp sites either but was at the Lochnagar turn in 20 minutes, where the open shelter of the stables would have been a perfect bivvy. 20 minutes extra riding, and no tent would have been required. I’d brought my smallest tent, nearly 20 year old exped vela extreme, it is pretty minimalist with no zip and in it’s day was super super light, but at ~1800gms not so competitive today. Considered bringing just the flysheet and a bivy bag, but with just my equally old 670g gortex bivy bag I would have saved nearly a kilo and a half. There are lighter bivy bags now too. Hmmm, pondered stove and tent choices heading up the Lochnagar landy track.

The river crossing was sufficiently up to not be ridable, but the shining sun and still dry feet after a day of riding lured me into shoes off to wade across. Carried on up the track, riding some, pushing some, catching up a couple of hillwalkers. Rain squalls started coming through, and it was windy as I approached the high point, so waterproof top and shorts on, but stunning views of Lochnagar, a wee snow patch left of the wreath of Cuidhe Crom, which I’d been watching melt at a distance from the top of the local hills during the lockdown months.

This was the highest point of the Deeside Trail (~700m), the path ahead now downhill into Glen Gelder.

Gusty though, and care needed at speed while trying to gawk into the corrie as it opened out. Down. Miles down. Down into the Balmoral estate. I stopped at the Gelder Burn, lying on my stomach on a wee wooden bridge and reaching down to fill both water bottles, and noting a fishing shelter that would also make a great bivy spot. The ancient scots pine woods from here for the next ten miles would however also make any number of amazing bivy spots, assuming no royalty to spoil the peace.

These trails are also sort of familiar from the 15 mile trail race and duathlon courses in ‘the Devil of Deeside‘ at https://runbalmoral.com, but can’t recall being here much past Garbh Alt Shiel. It was raining on and off, a gravel bike passed going the other way, and Guy from the Braemar mountain shop passed heading in the same direction on an MTB. At the Invercauld gate I passed two runners I recognised run with Ros, but who I don’t know. Onto the road, and on towards Braemar. 

I’d thought I might get a take away coffee but there were a couple waiting at the shop. The public toilets were surprisingly open, with one at a time social distancing signs. Pressed on towards the big hills, expecting a quick spin up to Mar lodge, familiar ground, here last in the Lairig Ghru race a year ago. The pattern should be familiar though – think easy but Deeside trail says no. The trail here spurned the fast, smooth, scenic road and went up into a mess of heathery boggy trails before dropping down through trees to the road at Corrriemulzie half an hour later. I was still undecided about whether to go for the long Deeside trail or the standard one. Both routes familiar. Time the limiting factor. I realised after the unexpected Corriemulzie detour that I was probably not going to get around to white bridge and make it to the end before midnight. Perhaps I should look at the map and then I would know what to expect! I’d downloaded OS maps to the phone, but selecting the route to access them seemingly needed data to be switched on. Note, get maps and route started in wifi or 4G. To be fair I wasn’t really needing a map enough to switch the data on, and I was enjoying the game of following the .gpx.

Lovely sunshine going over the Dee and into a very abandoned feeling Mar Lodge. A wee bit of tarmac and then I turned right at Claybokie for the climb up the Lairig Ghru race course into Derry lodge. I had only the long .gpx on my watch, so was off piste until I picked the route up again at the Clais Fhearnaig turn. Nice riding and familiar terrain, too steep to pedal in a couple of places. Then down to the bridge and three girls heading the other way on bikes out of Glen Derry. Wondered where the turn would be when the watch buzzed me that I had missed the turn. Back up. Up here? Really? This was hike a bike with perhaps 1 or 2 short riding sections for 2km. Steep in places, I considered the tent, and stove I had used once, and the excess spare clothes I hadn’t worn, as I manhandled the bike up and around steep obstacles. Coming down the other side in to the Quoich three more girls hill walking the other way commented I could do with a motor as I pushed the bike up and around boulders.

Ridable in the Quoich again, the river was high though. Sections ridden easily a year ago with Fi, Sally, Caroline, and Stuart, were now over the knee fords. There is a wee bit of an art to stopping a fat bike floating while fording deep water. At least if I swim anytime it will be a helpful raft!

A couple of hillwalkers sitting in the sun outside their tents waved at me as I headed towards the woods, and I thought feels late, been going a long time. After the last ford before the woods I stopped and thought I had better make use of the stove. Surprised that it was only half past two in the afternoon. Hot noodles and coffee was great. Cheese, and chocolate calories as well. Bottles filled. Put the watch on to charge and increasingly confident the cache would cope. Charged the headphones too but left the phone. Felt in really good shape.

The Quoich woods are one of the wonders of the world, but the trail was a bit wetter than last time I was here. After multiple fords I was wet anyway, and planned to wring out socks after crossing the top ford. Riding was good, but fell off twice as front wheel, massively fat though it is, failed to come up out of peat bog.

Out of the Quoich, socks now wrung out and dryish, and upwards onto the drainage bars of the trail up to the sneck. Ridable but needing a bit of care. A couple of larger patches of snow still on the south slopes of Beinn a’ Bhuird.

Then a hike a bike up to the col before dropping into the top of Glen Gairn. This is the second highest point of the circuit at ~700m, and the next section is the crux of the whole trail. I’d been here before three years ago on a 23mile run, and it had impressed me how wild, and difficult to traverse, the terrain in upper Glen Gairn is. To be fair a ~20kg loaded bike didn’t really help that. 

Some of it was ridable, but those sections were short and interspersed with a lot of difficulty. I was glad of the fat wheels in places allowing me to ride over the very wet terrain, but the multiple river crossings are unavoidable, and I missed being able to fully drop my seatpost on the steeper sections. I didn’t really stop for anything, took no photos. Four miles took an hour and a half. Near the end you can see a bridge at NO172 998, and it tempts with thoughts of easy ridable track. Nope, the easy ridable track is another Km!

There is this beautiful stalking bothy at NJ 167 006, where the double track starts again, the view to the west in the photo above the line the ‘trail’ has come down. The bothy unsurprisingly locked, but a nosey through the windows revealed a lot of empties!

Taking pictures wasn’t going to get me home today though. From here the riding is easy for a good while, and familiar, down good fast double track and gravel past the turn for Loch Builg, Corndavon Lodge, and on down to Gairnsheil. The further down, the more sheep. Very dim animals, and often in the way when travelling fast on a bike! Somewhere down here the watch needed charging and my headphones died shortly afterwards. I decided I had enough cache left after the watch charged to 80%, so put the phone on charge, and turned the data back on.

At Gairnshiel back on the road and down to Ballater. Again easily so I thought, again thwarted by the Deeside trail .gpx. Turn left here it said, as I looked down a short track to a very fast moving river in spate. Really? In fact I didn’t need to ford the Gairn, the track led onto a hidden narrow but rideable fisherman’s path down the riverside to a bridge. Wish I’d taken a picture of the footbridge, with a ~15ft set of steep wooden steps up and down on either side. Glad of the brakes and the fat tyres going up and down, one step at a time.

On the other side I ate the last of the cheese and Fi phoned. She could now see where I was again. I thought I’d be about two and a half hours from Ballater, and that I would be ‘shortly’ in Ballater. Almost right, and wrong! The trail goes down the east side of the Gairn and up and down the spurs coming down from Morven Lodge. Took a while longer than I anticipated, but again great riding. I took a wrong turn in Ballater, the gps signal lost in the trees and I thought the trail would go around the river to the campsite, but uncharacteristically it took the easy way on the road. After that straight through on the fast, and wind assisted, old railway line to Camus o’May, this time on the more familiar side of the Dee. 

Time was getting on as I turned north onto the trails leading over Cnoc Dubh to Kinord. Sort of familiar but getting gloomy and disorientating in the woods, must have been about half nine. Again nice riding but I was pressing on, through Kinord, a short section of road I put on my orange windshirt to make me more visible in the gloom. Should have got the headtorch out at that point, and put it on the back in red light mode, but no traffic anyway. Onwards, into, and down the Tarland trails, through Tarland, and I can see the finish. Sort of. At the top of the longest climb on the circuit. My choice of end point!

I was at this point really pleased that finishing that day was pretty certain, but also pleased I was in really good shape. Singlespeeding sort of dictates the pace and the long climb up out of Tarland was a nice steady trog out of the saddle for an hour or so. I wasn’t sure where it would join the Lazywells ridge line, but I’m very familiar with the route when it does. I stopped at the end of the tarmac and got the headtorch out, and put it on shortly afterwards as it was now very dark (and steep) in the trees. Out of the trees near the top of Broom hill my headphones ran out of battery and the music died, and I emerged into strong wind and flurries of rain. Dark but I can see lights dotted about the shire and nearly home now. Rain jacket on, down Broom hill, up Humphrey’s well, and I’m back at the start. It was about quarter past 11. Stopped the watch at 38:07:4 total time, 23:54:03 moving time. 144.23 miles. 15, 210ft of climbing.

Here is the track on Strava

A very quick stop, then carried on down. When I had spoken to Fi in Ballater she could at that point track my phone and planned to come and pick me up from the Glacks where she had dropped me off the day before. 34 Minutes and 1000ft lower down and there she was 🙂

Here is the final short track on Strava.

Epilogue

I had a really enjoyable Deeside trail, rode some familiar ground and some unexpected and great new trails. I also played the game of following a long .gpx for the first time. All good!

Some thoughts:

Battery Management

Right devices – iphone XR (for camera, OS maps, backup GPS, phone, music), and Garmin fenix 5s plus (for tracking, on wrist warning of route/visual maps, spare music), and AfterShokz Aeropex bone conducting headphones (awesome – music and phone on the bike, don’t stop your ambient hearing, don’t get in the way).

Not enough reserve charge. An additional small cache battery (66g) would have saved a lot of anxiety, as alone it would run the watch for a trip like this. Another large cache battery (200g) gives two more complete phone charges. My phone would normally be fine for this duration with one charge, however the lost charge culprits were spotify and apple photos apps trying to down/upload in poor data coverage. Need to watch this and/or shut the data off.

I didn’t take a spare headtorch battery, rationalising that I could also charge it from the cache. Wouldn’t have been able to charge it with a flat cache. The headtorch has a 380 lumen mode, but it’s short lived. I think an exposure joystick would have been a better choice of light.

Too much stuff

I took a second set of riding clothes, and a dry thermal top and longs to sleep in. It was pretty wet some of the time, and cold too, but with the securtity of a sleeping/bivy bag I think all of the spares were unnecessary. Perhaps 1-2kg of unused clothes.

I took a stove. Used it twice. Full gas bottle @190g, 25g stove, 200g pot and coffee. 

Tent with minimum pegs etc ~1800g. With hindsight bivy bag would have been fine. Knowing now where to bivy better than the tent. 

The bike itself is a very simple completely rigid Trek Farley 9.6. Apart from being ace in all respects it’s worth highlighting the awesome ‘stranglehold’ adjustable dropouts. These were a major contributor to my interest in the bike, and being able to easily singlespeed it: It came with a 1x 12 speed transmission which I immediately improved by removing 1.6kg of shifter, massive cassette, rear mech, cables, and 18 chain links to be replaced with one 22 tooth sprocket. The circumference of the wheels on this bike is somewhat bigger than 29+, and 30×22 with these wheels measures at 42 gear inches. Whatever, I only have 22 tooth singlespeed sprockets, and seems to work fine!

I also swapped the stock level brakes for guide Rs, maybe slightly more powerful but feel much the same , but they have adjustable reach without tools, and I went through sufficient pads that I was adjusting them on this ride. Also no innertubes (fat inner tubes 800g), added a reverb stealth dropper post, changed the saddle to a ti flite, and am riding it with PX ‘Geoff’ jones style bars (‘wolves did it’). The bike weighs 11.8kg with a reverb stealth dropper post, and give or take changes in bars and bags I’ve ridden ~1600 miles on it in the last eight months in this configuration. Very stiff, amazing power transfer, very comfortable, the mahoosive 27.5 x 4.5” wheels roll fast and easy over many surfaces I wouldn’t have ridden much on my previous 29er. Massive grip, but fast rolling. Perfect singlespeeder.

On singlespeeding

I’ve ridden ~2000 miles singlespeed in the last two years. Every now and again I feel I should have gears and pondered putting them on for this ride, but when I ride gears I realise all the things I like best about singlespeeding.  Occasionally (flat terrain, or tarmac) I could be going much faster with gears, but largely not, and with patience the flat terrain where gears would be faster is a good rest.  Generally, and climbing in particular, I’m always surprised that I seem to go faster and easier off road with no gears!

Singlespeed is simple, quiet, light, but mostly for me it’s the mindset which comes with it. If you don’t do it, you won’t get that.

Take more food

I didn’t have much in the way of food reserves. At the end I had one tailwind (200 calories).  Partly this was for weight, but also bag capacity. With fewer spare clothes, no cooking kit, and a bivy bag instead of a tent the capacity limitations sort of disappear. 

Bags

I used these bags:

2 x Alpkit stem cells (these are brilliant). Carried a 750ml bike bottle each plus space for whatever, wet jacket, gloves etc.

1 x Alpkit fuel cell top tube bag. I have had an alpkit possum frame bag fro a few years with a cable hole, and it’s always wet inside in the rain because of this hole. I added a wee cover to the fuel cell where the power cable hole is at the top and was dry in the rain. Carried sunnies, glasses, contact lenses, phone, battery, hat.

1 x Alpkit fat stingray custom frame bag (this is brilliant too, custom fit and specified with a horizontal divider, and without a cable hole). Bottom compartment carried tools, pump, tubeless repair kit, first aid kit, midge hat and smidge, suncream, hand sanitiser, odds and ends. Top compartment stove, 600ml ti pot, food, tent pole.

13l double ended handlebar dry bag under jones style bars. Carried sleeping bag (Rab neutrino 400 pro), and spare clothes.

13l seatpost shaped dry bag (supported by a wildcat harness, and an exo-rail, but see below). Carried tent (exped vela I) and sleeping mat (sea to summit ultralight insulated)

2x small drybags flexibly on top of bars or seat pack (OMM Kamleika waterproof smock, trousers, clothes not being worn etc)

All bags performed perfectly, keeping everything where it should be and bone dry despite heavy rain and numerous river crossings. I’ve had some of these bags years, but the stem cells were new, and to be recommended – they really are good.

I however have low confidence in the straps with fastex buckles that Alpkit supply to attach/compress their bar and seat pack bags. Cam-lock kayak straps can compress bags more, are quicker to attach/remove, more secure, and with the right strap have minimal weight penalty. I have lots of these for carrying boats about, so shortened four of them and used these – a broken strap buckle would be a real problem.

In total this gives ~35litres of bag capacity, but I would rather not stuff to their limit. 

I used a wildcat saddle harness which I’ve had for five years, and a new alpkit Exo-rail to hold the seatpack. Super stable but I think overkill using both. My rationale was the stability of the familiar harness, but in a position which allows use of a dropper post. However, the exo-rail by itself with good straps would allow more usable seat post drop (up from 90mm to 120mm), and save 200g weight without the harness. Exo-rail alone is for loads under 2.3Kg, and would have been fine for tent and thermarest. Harness itself works fine, but sits lower allowing minimal seat post drop.

I think I could get rid of a lot of superfluous stuff and get the bike and kit down to ~16Kg, and have everything I want.

Last thought

Altra Grafton shoes. Over the last few years I’ve run a lot of ultras and have come to appreciate the flat wide and foot shaped altra trail running shoes. Altra introduced the grafton shoe last year with a Vibram sole with a similar pattern to 5:10 flat pedal MTB shoes, a lacing pattern like a climbing shoe, and a low flat firm last. Amazing foot shaped bike shoes! They are somewhere between 5:10 and Shimano shoes for pedal grip, but you can walk/run easily in them too, and they are half the weight of not foot shaped enduro focussed MTB offerings. Totally recommend these.

Some more photos here.

1 thought on “The Deeside Trail

  1. achrayfarmcrispin

    What a great write up! Brought my 1 and 3/4 Deeside Trails back to vivid life every mile of the way. Thanks for the tech details and kit list too… Singlespeed Fat is much respect – 10 less gears than me but 0.3″ less in the tyre choice

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    Reply

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