Bitter North-Westerly

Ross and Cromarty, Scotland

  • -1°C

Scottish Winter Riding

I've been down this road many times en route to the ski centre. I've seen this area on foot too, clocking big miles training for the West Highland Way race. Today the beauty and vastness takes on a new dimension, experienced as they are from the saddle of a bike. All this a mere hour and a half from the city of Glasgow.

We start at 5am on the main road to Glencoe, called A' Chàrnaich in the native Gaelic language. Our first coffee stop is in a village that has seen some hardships. This is the location of the Glencoe Massacre - when King William III's forces murdered 38 members of the Clan MacDonald following the Glorious Revolution. Today all was quiet. 

This is mountain country. The village itself is hulked on all sides by peak after peak. This makes it a magnet for mountain lovers - hill walkers, trekkers, ice and rock climbers. All drawn to the endless adventure potential on offer. 

We're here not just to test our new 2017 bikes' comfort and durability, we're here for some real introspection. To ask why we ride the bikes we do. To ask if we can make the best bikes for this environment. We're here to feel it, live it, breath it. Ride it. 

    Bealach na Bà

  • 9.1km length
  • 626m ascent
  • 20% gradient

Scotland has its own kind of cold. A harsh cold with an edge that can cut through any amount of expensive, high-tech layers with ease. It's a coldness that comes for free with the beauty and a coldness that's often accompanied by an evil wind. A wind that grinds away at the very sanity of many cyclists - coffee and cake the best way to deal with it. 

Sated, our journey continues on along the A87. It's a spectacular route, allowing us time to acquaint ourselves with the bikes and to feel the familiarity that only hard miles in the saddle can bring. 

Our sights are set on the legendary Bealach na Bà - the iconic mountain pass through the Applecross Peninsula in Wester Ross in the Scottish Highlands.

It's the climb that's the jewel in the NC500 crown. Unable to match the famous Euro climbs in sheer vert, it more than holds its own in raw, against-the-elements difficulty. It's a relentless, exposed and twisty climb. We're taunted by the headwind and threatened by the dark ice patches. It's a test of body and mind, but the promise of chips and a warm van ride home has us pushing watts.

This is our kind of riding. This is #LeaveHomeComeBackStronger.