SEVERE : Difficulty Level 3 - 4
For expert mountain bike riders, used to physically demanding routes. Riders should be of a high technical ability and able to undertake skilled bike control, therefore, suitable for very active people used to prolonged activity with good technical skills.
The black trail shares the red-graded route until the main forest road is reached at the top of “Cat’s Climb”. This provides an excellent warm up for entering “Fox Farm”, a narrow singletrack climb with stone features now more frequent and interesting. Still time to enjoy the views and forest wildlife while building up confidence for things to come.
At “Stone Circle” there is a choice of remaining inside the forest on “Treeline” or to emerge onto the open hill to experience one of the most full on and testing technical climbs to be found in the UK. Stone slabs abound, creating many difficult features over the 0.5km section of trail that climbs rapidly through a series of tight switchback corners. Clean that and the award is a tremendous view at the junction of “Black Lynx” and the outward contour trail to the top of Ben Bhraggie.
The link provides a quick route to the roller coaster on “VTOL” (vertical take-off and landing). However, continuing out onto a fairly traditional epic climb is more than justified by the amazing outlook to all horizons from the top of the descent close to the monument to the 1st Duke of Sutherland. A small shelter is provided at the top of the black trail for those wishing to stay awhile to enjoy the view or take on some fuel ahead of the descent.
Saddles down for the fast descent round big berms and over a series of drop-offs on “Mon-u-Mental” before hitting the scree section with good momentum. Full suspension an advantage here and onward onto the unique natural rock paving. Stone slab features are added to create bridges and jumps that require commitment to successfully clear, although escape routes are available to use as an option.
After crossing the footpath the natural and built rock surface becomes increasingly gnarly and includes a long chute down into a gulley before “VTOL”. The gradient increases slightly allowing more speed to be gained for a series of large rock drops and then the roller coaster. Marked by entry stones on each crest, this large feature has its own momentum but focus must be maintained to clear the drop-offs and take-off ramp on the tops.
A panoramic photograph depicitng the trail traversing across the top of the hillside, a steep slope to one edge, where the landscape drops down towards deep lush forests. Way in the distance heather covered hillsides meet the skies. A lone cyclist travels along the trail towards an obstacle constructed of stone.
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A dramatic photograph depicting the sweeping trail as it descends and curves downhill from the Ben Brhaggie monument. A lone cyclist is seen, part way along the trail, rounding the curve and beginning the steep downhill journey, following, some way behind, another cyclist tackles the trail. Beyond the trail, in the distance lies farmland and forestry a sweeping vista of landscape making for a breathtaking journey.
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