An idiots guide how to take a road bike up a mountain
by Mountainlove » Mon Jun 22, 2015 7:23 pm
Route description: Carn a'Chlamain
Munros included on this walk: Carn a'Chlamain
Date walked: 20/06/2015
Time taken: 6.5 hours
Distance: 30 km20 people think this report is great. Register or Login free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).
Can a street bike be used in the mountains? The answer I got was no. As I am not a regular or keen cyclist, my old street bike had served me well for many years and to buy a mountain bike for a handful of times I might need it in the hills seemed silly.
But what to do when time is limited and a bike would at least allow you to get out and do 1 Munro?!
I had to re-think my options when I decided to climb Carn a Chlamain. The path I had seen in a few trip reports looked good and what else can possibly go wrong!?
On Friday I googled how to put a bike into a car and learned that the only chance I had to put my rather large street bike into my tiny Kia Picanto was to dismantle the front wheel. My knowledge of bikes stops at how to pump air into a tire, so numerous youtube videos later with frequents trips to my toolbox and bicycle, finally had taught me how to take the wheel off. Putting the dam thing on was another story and about an hour later I had learned everything there is to know about wheels, tires brakes and wheel alignments.
Now it was time to put the bike in the car. Even with the wheel off it was a tight squeeze and I would be eye to eye with my handle bar, for the whole journey, but things I will do to climb a mountain!
I arrived at the Bridge of Tilt car park during the next morning and by the time I put my bike together, fixed the chain which had come undone, my hands were black from grease. Luckily Avons skins so soft proved great as a grease remover! Thanks to the Walk Description I had checked out the estate website and had found out that part of the track was closed, as the long distance shooting range was being used.
No bother!I simply would use another path higher up the road. I had the bike, so whats an extra kilometer?
My cycle up the road was short lived, when the ascent got too steep and I was left to push my bike up the road. Not a great start and walking up a hill, while pushing a bike was pretty hard going. I was glad when the track I was looking for, led me off the road and towards the forest. Awww finally I was able to jump on my bike again and enjoy the ride.
The first part of the track
Lovely views towards Perthshire
Well at least for a few hundred yards until I reached the first gate. Note to self -opening a gate while holding the bike in the other hand will result in a bruise, when one loses control of the bike, bikes falls and one gets stuck between gate and bike. Looking around there was no one in sight- just as well as I must have looked like a complete idiot!
Once through the gate the path became grassy and still relatively easy to use. Soon after I had to cross another gate and reached the forest. Millions of damp pine needles and muck stuck to my tire and a scraping noise coming from the tires, made me stop (again). Upon further investigation I realized that lots of mud had got stuck between the mudguard and the tire. Using a small stick I tried to poke it out, but when I tried to cycle again the scraping sound continued. So it was off the bike again and with the help of my fingers, bending the mudguard and a lot of cursing I achieved -nothing.
To make matters worse the sound level around me was horrendous. Regular shots from the shooting range echoed loudly through the forest. A war zone in full battle would have probably sounded the same and it was pretty nerve wracking.
I decided to ignore the scraping sound and carry on, but it went from bad to worse, when my brakes started playing up as well. Raging I was close to dump the bike into the forest (and jump on it for good measure). Stopping again for another inspection, the only way forward was to remove the mudguard and loosen up the brakes. I had taken half of the content of my toolbox with me, but obviously was missing the right size allen key. The only other way was to unscrew the mud guard and leave the connection metal thingies sticking out. But I was beyond caring! With no mudguards and a loose brake, I finally able to ride my bike again. By that time I would have probably been faster walking!!!
Cycling along the track turned into a mud track and many times I had to get off the bike to push it. Where was the great track I have seen on pictures? Cursing my idea to take the bike I struggled onwards until I reached the end of the forest. Halleluja the track finally improved to a grassy slope again and I was able to see the proper path below me…Throwing kisses in the general direction of the path I cycled on and soon joined the main path.
The proper path below
Finally I was able to enjoy myself again and the previous nightmarish 5 km were forgotten. This was fun and what a change to walking a never ending path alone…so much better on a bike!
Enjoying the countryside I crossed a few bridges and soon reached the Forest Lodge.
The proper path- now thats easy!
A few great bridges to cross
Glen Tilt in its full glory
The Forest Lodge
I cycled through a lovely path throught the forest past the lodge and got to the starting point of the path. I stopped and looked for a place to lock my bike and had some much needed lunch. 2 other men had a break not far away from me and by the time they walked past we said a quick hello.
The track through the forest- lovely isn't it?
A good place to leave your bike
The path continues
The start of the walk. The stalkers path starts as soon as you go through the gate
I finished my lunch and got ready to climb the hill. Through a gate a well visible stalkers path sloped up the mountain. I made good time and by the time I reached the first top, I had caught up with the two men. Saying hello again I joined them and together made our way up the mountain. The path was clear and easy to follow and we all agreed that the weather was much better than expected.
The clear path
Great views towards the valley
Towards the east
Towards the east higher up
Towards the west. The cairn indicates that the worst climb is over
The summit clearly visible
1.5 hours after setting off from where I locked my bike, we reached the summit. Time for a rest and some snacks. Another man soon joined the summit group and I said good bye to my 2 companions who decided to walk back down the shoulder of the mountain. Soon the wind made me feel far colder than one should feel mid-June and it was time for me to head back down to my bike.
I made it to the top
Pretty nice views towards the west
Towards the east
A cloud berry flower- I have yet to find a cloud berry to eat!
The journey back was steep, but pleasant and riding my bike back I decided to stay on the main path as the shooting sound had stopped. I had also learned that I could have taken another path to bypass the shooting range on my way to the mountain.
The lovely stone bridge on the way back
Myself on the bike
As nightmarish the first part of the walk had been, the return journey was great and I ended the day with a sore saddle bum. It was a first not looking forward to sit down in the car after a day in the hills. Will I take a bike again? Oh yes, but I might need to look for a used mountain bike
by jamesb63 » Mon Jun 22, 2015 7:38 pm
and have read a lot of your reports ( Also Petr,s)
And again here as in all your other they are sprinkled with humor great detail and great pics
keep up the great posts and I hope to meet some WH members sometimes
I am away tomorrow to do the Ben Lui 4
by kaye.cantlay » Mon Jun 22, 2015 8:10 pm
I have a small car and only need to take the front wheel off to get my bike in the boot with the back seats folded down.
Maybe I'm missing something...
I must say - a mountain bike with big knobbly tyres is much better for those tracks
by Essan » Mon Jun 22, 2015 9:32 pm
by denfinella » Mon Jun 22, 2015 9:56 pm
If you happen to be up in Caithness ever, the steep slopes of Maiden Pap have lots of cloudberries... that's the only place I've seen them in decent numbers.
by dav2930 » Mon Jun 22, 2015 10:14 pm
You don't need to pay the earth for a half-decent mountain bike esp. if 2nd hand. My old Raleigh Trail hybrid serves me well & it doesn't even have any suspension. It has a rack which I can fix my daypack to which helps. Well worth the investment I'd say.
I didn't quite understand the tyre removal bit. Did you mean front tyre or front wheel?
by malky_c » Mon Jun 22, 2015 10:18 pm
by angusb » Mon Jun 22, 2015 10:31 pm
Thanks for a great report and all those photos. I'm afraid I just took a couple at the summit. A good day out, and the weather forecast was right on the button. A long walk back, as I followed the track on the east side of the river (looks like what you cycled up the glen), and was back at the car within 9 hours (maybe about 7 hours walking?). I'm thinking of getting a mountain bike for some of the longer walk-ins, but that's for another day.
Good luck with your remaining Munros!
by gman » Mon Jun 22, 2015 10:38 pm
by prog99 » Mon Jun 22, 2015 10:55 pm
The keen can cycle straight to the summit. Once that way was enough, 2nd time I saw sense and walked the last few k.
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by kmai1961 » Tue Jun 23, 2015 10:30 am
From the looks of your photos, I should have had a bit of a lie-in rather than an early start -- I saw nothin' at the top, nor most of the way up.
by Mountainlove » Tue Jun 23, 2015 10:52 am
kaye.cantlay: Sorry I made a mistake meant to say I took the wheel off, will need to fix that in the report!
I think a normal mountain bike would have been ok, but yes for a normal bike I would not recommend it.
denfinella: Thank you for that tip. I had looked hard last year after seeing all the flowers, but I think sheep and deer must have beaten me each time.
dav2930: Sorry meant wheel not tire
malky_c: Great to see that you used a 'normal' bike as well. Was thinking of doing Mount Keen with my normal bike to save the long walk in - hopefully that will work out as well!
angusb: OMG when I met you I thought straight away that I thought I know you, but then wasn't sure. I even kept on thinking that I have you on one of my photos. Which now I remember...it was when I walked with my walking buddy Colin and met you and Lynne...and yes that was a hot day! Still remember how good that pint tasted at the end
gman: Lol you are right in one photo it looked even paved
prog99: Yes I was off the normal route...quite a nice way to take- when on foot I have to add. Don't think I will ever be fit enough to cycle up to the top.
Karen: Yes I remember seeing you and saying a quick hello and thinking OMG she must have left so early, to be back already! Hat off! I never seem to get out of bed before 6 the earliest.I remember that 'Short Cut' sign from my way back and wondered where it lead to...just as well I stayed down at the valley.
by Mal Grey » Tue Jun 23, 2015 12:26 pm
by Phil the Hill » Tue Jun 23, 2015 12:52 pm
You should also carry 2 spare inner tubes (as you don't want to try and fix a puncture on the hill), tyre levers and a pump.
If the bike won't fit easily in the back of your hatchback, you can get a rear carry rack for not too much. You may also need a spare number plate to stay legal if the proper one is obscured - I used to hold mine in place with heavy duty sellotape!
It's definitely worth all the extra effort for long walk-ins on tracks - especially downhill on the way out!
by AnnieMacD » Tue Jun 23, 2015 4:48 pm
I think it made your day into much more of an adventure though!