We had started off well, the snow and ice crunched under our fat tyres. It was better than that feeling you get when you sit chewing gum and popping bubble wrap. Rolling out of the Glenmore forest a winter wonderland opened up in front of us. Beyond lay the Cairngorm Inner Loop as it is known by some; a 90 km circuit that circumnavigates Cairngorm, Ben Macdui and Braeriach.
My goal was to keep up with Paul and Scott for as long as possible. I didn’t think that would be long… then 20 minutes in Paul’s chain snapped. I was thankful it hadn’t happened to me, the thought of fixing a chain in the cold was unappealing, but I could see the benefit to Paul; coping with this scenario was great preparation for what could happen in February. I left him to it, sucked in the awesomeness of the situation and took some photos. If I had thought about it more I could have gained some ground on them both.
Paul and Scott were here with serious intent, to train for the impending Rovaniemi 150 winter bike race in Finland. As much as I wanted to tag along I didn't want to turn their training mission into a Sunday soother of a ride.
We made good progress out of Glen Derry towards the Lairig an Laoigh. The paths had seen some traffic, were fairly well compacted and wind swept. We were hopeful that we would be able to ride the path up to the flanks of Bynack More but we soon relinquished such ridiculously positive thoughts.
The snow started to deepen as we approached the top of the first hill. The wind picked up and a lone figure approached us. A guy in snowshoes trudged passed, we didn't say anything, it was too windy. I started to wonder if anyone had ever been rescued out here in winter on their bikes.