Mind Over Mountains – the Cairngorms Loop ITT

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I first saw this film at Kendal Mountain Film Festival and enjoyed the insight into different ways of riding long distances, plus the gentle pace of the scenic footage in the Cairngorm. Lucky for you, the film is now available on YouTube.

‘Mind Over Mountains’ is a short film about the mindset behind riding far and fast. Challenging the idea that speed and suffering go hand in hand, it follows Annie Lloyd Evans, Huw Oliver and friends as they ride Scotland’s stunning Cairngorms Loop ITT on a perfect August day. Moving fast, light and in the moment, they show us that love for a landscape and joy for the simplicity of movement are what fuel unforgettable rides.

The Cairngorms Loop is a 300km Independent Time Trial route that circumnavigates the mountain range that gives it its name. It circles the Cairngorms twice, following long and lonely glens on heather-fringed singletrack, traversing beneath sub-arctic plateaus and their fickle weather, and crossing wild watersheds by trails that are far older than the bicycles that ride them now.

Only rarely has the trail been ridden in a single push, but in August three new course records were set in a single day, as Annie rode home in 26 hours 57 minutes as the fastest woman to have completed the route, Liam Glen lowered the singlespeed record to 18 hours 55 minutes, and Huw Oliver and Ewan Thorburn pushed each other to finish in 17 hours 53 minutes – the route’s fastest completions to date.

In those hazy areas between night and day, elation and fatigue, possibilities and unknowns, is where we find the state of flow that takes us outside of what we know and towards what we could be. This is a film about using mountains to overcome the hurdles we put up in our own minds.

For more takes on riding a very long way, look out for our feature on the Great British Divide in issue 141 of Singletrack Magazine, or check out these articles:

Or maybe plan your own big ride?

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Viewing 11 posts - 1 through 11 (of 11 total)
  • Mind Over Mountains – the Cairngorms Loop ITT
  • sboardman
    Full Member

    Annie is currently doing a casual winter HT550 attempt which you can track via her Instagram

    Full Member

    For those interested, the Cairngorms Loop has its own website.


    The route can be ridden as an ITT at any time, whether or not you want to abide by the “rules” that govern these self-supported ITTs. We’ve not yet set any Group Start dates for 2022, but it’s possible that there will be both a Spring and an Autumn GS. Historically, the GS always coincides with a spell of inclement weather 🙂

    Full Member

    Needs updated on the women’s record holder as I understand it.. 🙂

    Full Member

    This loop is on ‘the list’…. Has been for too many years

    Free Member

    My favourite ride of last year though at a slightly slower pace.

    Full Member

    Needs updated on the women’s record holder as I understand it..

    Yeah, Gemma Baird took almost an hour off Annie’s time as part of the Group Start in September.

    I’ve already had some interest in both Spring and Autumn Group Starts for 2022. I might even consider doing it again too.

    Full Member

    The ‘outer’ loop is a great gravel expedition if you’re less bikepackingly or hike-a-bikingly inclined.

    Fastest time I’ve seen was sub 20hr for 200km of tough riding in places but that might have cut out the big chunk at the end via Fealar Lodge

    Full Member

    Great tip. Cheers.
    I’m eyeing up a little trip like this for next year, with a mate (not to do the formal timed / by the rules ITT, just as a great day or two out in some proper countryside. As I’m still not dropping £££ on a European trip given the erratic nature of governments and sudden border closures.

    Full Member

    A spring event sounds very interesting….

    metal heart
    Free Member

    Having done the inner and northern loops (and kinda the western side down Tromie on the southern loop) I really need do the southern loop properly (maybe as a a complete outer loop) then ‘just do it’…

    I’ve been lax on my bikepacking since covid, need to sort that out…

    thanks for the article, nice to see a film and know the majority of the trails being ridden for a change…

    Full Member

    I enjoyed the video. But they seemed to edit out the hike-a-bike bits out. So don’t assume that it’s all rideable.

    Great route though with some truly class remote trails.

    If I was doing it again then I’d have a few weekends in mind and then pick the one that coincides with the best weather and lowest river crossings.

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