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  1. #1
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    A foolish ride - Black Floyd content.

    I've been meaning to give my BFs a decent road ride to get a comparison with ordinary tyres, so I decided to do a century on them, and then report my findings to this forum.

    From where I live on the east coast of Scotland to Kyle of Lochalsh in the west is about 68 miles. I figured I could ride there, turn around and perhaps hop a train at the 100 mark on the way home if I was feeling wimpy (highly likely ).

    Anyhow, I rode my bike down to the sea and dipped the wheel in (I don't have nice beaches like CK) and got on my way.



    After about 10 miles I was getting bored with the road when salvation appeared.



    Strome Ferry road was closed due to landslide - it was supposed to be opened by now - but they had just had another rockfall. This closed the route in practical terms. I decided to head for another coastal town, Ullapool, which was a shorter distance 45 miles, but no wimp option. Seeing as it was a shorter distance I decided to take an offroad diversion which was barely 100 metres past the sign (the road to the right). Serendipity.

    Anyone who has done the StrathPuffer 24 hour will recognise the start of this climb I intended to follow the forestry road on to Garve and then rejoin the highway.



    I was a good citizen and did not exceed this speed limit on the climb



    The road was generally in good condition but a bit soft, but the Floyds rolled easily on it (eg less drag than my 29er)



    It was supposedly closed further on but I just carried the bike past in the treeline to avoid hassling the digger driver. From there lots of the track was very soft, but again nothing that bothered the tyres except ruts.



    I was enjoying myself so I didn't divert on to the highway but continued on the dirt road. On the way was Silver Bridge which was part of the road network built in the 1720s by the British Government to facilitate the suppression of the rebels (my lot).



    Then it was on to some pretty singletrack by the river



    There was some fairly technical bits along it - it weaves between trees, and is rooty and rocky with numerous steps. The BFs handled that fine, just had to be careful on soft edges because there's no lugs on the BFs to grip.

    Eventually all good things come to an end and I intersected the highway





    A few more miles of boring highway and I decided to stop for a snack at the carpark for Ben Wyvis climbers.



    As I munched, I idly read the sign. According to it there is a track almost all the way round the mountain (lhs of sign) with only a short bit not connected. I made an attempt at this last year, but had to give up after I got a pedal ripped off in the heather (it was a QR one) while doing a bit of bike dragging.

    Mmmm, the weather was good - light drizzle, 13-15mph westerly = change of plan. It looked like a good time to try it again, even with the wrong tyres. Be much more interesting than a road ride.

    Started of with a bit of steep singletrack, had to do some pushing.



    I'm no good at clearing even small gaps uphill, and there were a few.



    Eventually I hooked up with a dirt road - it was quite soft, but again no problem with the BFs, and the scenery was great.



    The forest had disappeared since my last visit and was all stacked up waiting to go. The road was churned up by the heavy traffic. BFs still no problem.



    Eventually the road ended and I was in real fatbike territory. Soft marshy firebreak. Needed an even lower crawler gear for this, but the BFs just spun anyway - as you'd expect.



    I was just in time to see the last tree on the mountain come down. Kind of sad - I know it's plantation stuff, but it seems so ruthless.



    And this is where there is supposed to be a path according to the map. Peat bog heaven Not very rideable, especially with smooth tyres.



    I pressed on, frequently having to disentangle my bike from the heather. Heather is tough stuff and very inventive in the way it can entangle itself in spokes, chains, and even the inside of the brake callipers.

    As I got closer to the first loch, the moor got boggier and softer, with a bit of fording which usually involved going up and down stream to find a reasonably level bit of bank.



    There was lots of bits like this - just holes full of water and almost bottomless mud. This one is noteworthy because that stump is the remnants of the ancient Caledonian Forest which reputedly covered our mountains.



    But relief was in sight. There was the loch, and every loch in the Highlands has a path around it so fat wealthy southerners can fish where the locals aren't allowed.



    It was an enormous relief to see the loch. I was running out of daylight and the trek across the moor had been pretty arduous. If you look closely you'll notice the rumps of the deer that fled when I appeared.



    The only problem was that I couldn't find the path. For the simple reason it doesn't exist. The mountainside is steep and covered with boulder scree, and from the looks of it these boulders roll down periodically and come to rest in random places. There were virtually no smooth surfaces, just ploughing through extremely dense heather and up and down over 2 foot rocks and falling into unseen holes while carrying my bike. About the halfway mark I found about 10 yards of passable track and thought I was set, but not for long.



    Well there had to be a path at the head of the loch - I could see boats - how else did they get there?



    No such luck, just more moorland and I was running out of daylight.



    By now I was getting seriously concerned. It had taken me 2 hours to cover about 3 miles, and for half of that I was carrying or dragging the bike, and I was knackered. Like an idiot I was wearing my road backpack so I didn't have my usual safety gear and spare clothing, and a night out on a mountainside in February is no joke. It was definitely the point of no return. There wasn't enough daylight to retrace my steps to the forest roads, and a pretty good chance of getting lost in the dark. The only choice was to press on. The problem was there was a huge unknown descent across a darkening country that may or may not have cliffs etc.



    I ran down the slope like an ungainly hare carrying the bike, occasionally tumbling a few yards, but luckily avoiding all the little 10' drops etc. I did temporarily lose one of my sandals in a boghole, but after a bit of armpit deep rummaging I found it again. It was a great relief to see the dirt road in the distance - at least I knew I would be able to pedal out, and as I got closer it seemed to brighten up because I was out of the mountain shadow. It took half an hour from seeing the road to actually reaching it.



    All in all I covered 43 miles, so I must apologise for not completing the century.

    21 of the miles were offroad and over 1,400 metres of ascent, 600 of which was in the 13 miles from Ben Wyvis carpark to the next gravel road. I was on (and off) the bike for a total of 9 1/2 hours.

    I don't think I have ever covered so little ground so slowly, but I hope you folks appreciate the efforts I have made to test the Black Floyds for you.

    Verdict: Black Floyds are nice and fast on the road, I reckon they are quicker than other fat tyres on gravel roads or moderately soft surfaces. They don't like ruts or soft edges, and will quickly spin out on slippery surfaces.




    (I eventually will try to do a straight road century with them and not get diverted up a mountain, honest )
    As little bike as possible, as silent as possible.
    Latitude: 5736' Highlands, Scotland

  2. #2
    Harmonius Wrench
    Reputation: Guitar Ted's Avatar
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    Foolish, maybe. Awesome? Definitely! That was a great ride story, and your presence of mind to take photos along the way is remarkable. Once I had gotten to the "Point Of No Return" I'd have packed up the camera and buckled down to business, most likely.

    Glad you survived that road century. You may want to reconsider attempting that again.

  3. #3
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    Great trip report. I've been thinking about getting a set of the BF's, but they will be for the roads.

  4. #4
    PRETENDURO
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    Nice pictures and writeup. Thanks for sharing!!!
    QUOTE from MTBR.COM: You have given Brewtality too much Reputation in the last 24 hours, try again later.

  5. #5
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    Excellent ride Velo! Some great pics there
    BF's are good aren't they?
    Drink coffee....ride bikes....eat cake
    http://morayfatbike.blogspot.com

  6. #6
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    Superb trip report! Slightly foolish, perhaps, but isn't that what fatbikes were made for?

  7. #7
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    THAT was an excellent post - thanks for sharing. Later today I'll play Cha Till MacCruimein and think of those images.

  8. #8
    workin' it Administrator
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    Amazing ride and report and pictures! Such a cool landscape and fauna, such a juxtaposition to my cactus riddled, parched desert. Thanks for this!
    Try this: HTFU

  9. #9
    R.I.P. Pugsley.
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    I'm not gonna say what everybody else already did.
    But i would like to compliment you on the pinstriping on the fenders, nice touch !!

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rabies010 View Post
    I'm not gonna say what everybody else already did.
    But i would like to compliment you on the pinstriping on the fenders, nice touch !!
    As a long standing BMW rider, I kept thinking something was missing when I looked at the bike, so 15 minutes later...

    pin stripes.

    And just to add the the general purpose capabilities of the BFs I must add that when I was carrying the bike through bogs, the BFs performed just as well as a Nate.
    As little bike as possible, as silent as possible.
    Latitude: 5736' Highlands, Scotland

  11. #11
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    Great post, sad to see all those trees getting cut down in such a beautiful country. I think your bike looks like a well rounded machine with those bars.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Velobike View Post
    when I was carrying the bike through bogs, the BFs performed just as well as a Nate.
    So true!

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lone Desert Walker View Post
    Great post, sad to see all those trees getting cut down in such a beautiful country. I think your bike looks like a well rounded machine with those bars.
    Don't worry about the trees, it's a forestry plantation, and currently they're planting faster than they are cutting.

    Meanwhile we get the views
    As little bike as possible, as silent as possible.
    Latitude: 5736' Highlands, Scotland

  14. #14
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    Whats an expedition without bushwacking and some hike a bike?

  15. #15
    mtbr member
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    Quote Originally Posted by leeboh View Post
    Whats an expedition without bushwacking and some hike a bike?
    Exactly. Although I'm usually a bit smarter when I head off the beaten track and out of range of phones etc. I've been overnighted in the mountains by blizzards before and this time I had no suitable kit, just luck.

    Tonight my wife will pull the nails out and let me down from the crucifixion she imposed on me for going off-piste. To say she was "piste" when she discovered where I'd gone is an understatement (I'd promised to stop doing that unless I had left a route chart)
    As little bike as possible, as silent as possible.
    Latitude: 5736' Highlands, Scotland

  16. #16
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    Wow some trip Velobike!
    Attempting a Century on a fatty in Scotland! , well the next ignorant person on STW Forum to open there mouth and let there belly rumble with negative comments on fat bikes just send them this route to do...

    Love seeing the countryside at work pics

    well done mate
    plan it...build it....ride it...love it....
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  17. #17
    mtbr member
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    Quote Originally Posted by coastkid71 View Post
    Wow some trip Velobike!
    A Century on a fatty in Scotland! , well the next ignorant person on STW Forum to open there mouth and let there belly rumble with negative comments on fat bikes just send them this route to do...
    Nah, it was only 42 miles or thereabouts. Shows the versatility of the BFs though.

    But it would be a good punishment.

    Century is to follow. Gives me something to look forward to. And soon...
    As little bike as possible, as silent as possible.
    Latitude: 5736' Highlands, Scotland

  18. #18
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    Great Report VB!

    I am with your wife; (we want you around, not to be found sometime come spring)
    but, I completely understand, travel the same way, alone and by impulse, only way
    to go. Might want to wait for warmer weather for the next try?

    Glad to see that the BF's hold their own well, just waiting to see how they may do in
    the sand as a front.

  19. #19
    Geordie biker
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    a long day but interesting adventure.....thanks for sharing.
    2014 milage so far - 2,485
    www.ukfatbikes.co.uk

  20. #20
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    What pressure do you have the Floyds at,for a mix of road & offroad?
    Drink coffee....ride bikes....eat cake
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  21. #21
    mtbr member
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    Quote Originally Posted by motorman View Post
    What pressure do you have the Floyds at,for a mix of road & offroad?
    Had them at 14psi because of the intended road ride. Never got round to dropping the pressure.

    It was only a problem on the last bit of the ride on rough dirt - when I had flatter ground and downhills. At speed I was getting an impressive bounce.
    As little bike as possible, as silent as possible.
    Latitude: 5736' Highlands, Scotland

  22. #22
    Sup
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    Velo do you think a floyd and a bfl combo would be good for mostly road riding with some hard packed single track tossed in just for good luck ?

    Sj
    I am slow therefore I am

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by SlowerJoe View Post
    Velo do you think a floyd and a bfl combo would be good for mostly road riding with some hard packed single track tossed in just for good luck
    If there's no soft surfaces, I'd stick to the BFs.
    As little bike as possible, as silent as possible.
    Latitude: 5736' Highlands, Scotland

  24. #24
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    Great pictures / trip - I'm all for the make-it-up-as-you-go-along style of routing.
    I had my Gryphon out on Dartmoor this week and had a brief, "Err, I've not got enough stuff in my bag if this goes wrong" moment too ...

  25. #25
    mtbr member
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    Quote Originally Posted by ocbuk View Post
    Great pictures / trip - I'm all for the make-it-up-as-you-go-along style of routing.
    I had my Gryphon out on Dartmoor this week and had a brief, "Err, I've not got enough stuff in my bag if this goes wrong" moment too ...
    Shelter, fire, food, dry clothes. It makes for a bulky backpack that you curse - until you need it. At least there's no need to carry water in Scotland

    I've got no excuse. I've been snowed in overnight on a mountain pass in the middle of summer, so I know what can happen. It's not an emergency if you have the right gear, just an inconvenience.
    As little bike as possible, as silent as possible.
    Latitude: 5736' Highlands, Scotland

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