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  • Classic 90s MTB a.k.a gravel loop in the Ochils
  • Premier Icon 13thfloormonk
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    Took the opportunity of a visit to the in-laws to try out some new tracks and trails in the Ochils.

    https://strava.app.link/ndUpXmF1x8 — Braco Ochils Gravel Loop

    Great climb out of Blackford, good surface and gradually steepening/wildening as it went. The bike seems to climb beautifully at higher revs, I’m guessing this is something to do with my legs rather than any sort of traction science! Either way, wish I had more gears, could easily use lower gear than my 31×34 lowest…

    The track turned to ‘classic 90s MTB’ singletrack at the top as it started to descend into Glen Bee, skirting Craigentaggart Hill.

    Skinny grassy singletrack with lots of slightly off-camber stuff and the constant threat of slipping an (almost slick tread) wheel off the side of the trail and rolling off down the hill

    There were, inevitably, a couple of sections requiring pushing, more because I didn’t want to put in the effort required to muscle up the short punchy climbs out of stream crossings or to power through boggy tussocks.

    I made it to the reservoir and swooped down the awesome tarmac access road to the main road in Glen Devon, accosting a passing roadie to recommend the reservoir road climb.

    Next stop was Burnfoot and the turnoff for Glenquey reservoir, although not before I realised I was riding on a loose crank from my late night last minute tinkering the night before.

    The Glenquey track was odd, it started as steep slippery grassy singletrack, then became a proper landrover track, and then eventually more grassy/gravelly singletrack, albeit under a foot of clear, shockingly cold water from the over flowing streams.

    The final descent was more classic MTB territory, lots of whoops and compressions, some roots, and eventually a steep plummet down past Castle Campbell

    I can’t actually remember my exact route from Dollar to Menstrie but it took in some great farm tracks high up the hill before joining the cycle super-highway between Tillicoultry and Menstrie.

    The final climb took me from Menstrie up and over to the Jerah plantation. This was a bit of a monster, several false summits and a penultimate steep pitch which almost broke me. I wasn’t supposed to be considering pushing up a wide gravel track! Definitely need lower gears..

    More lessons learned:

    – No such thing as ‘low intensity’ easy gravel rides, landrovers and quad bikes obviously have lower gears than gravel bikes…

    – Must. Stop. Assuming. 20km/h. Another day, another 1.5hr late return…

    – Vittoria Terreno Dry tyres can handle a ridiculous variety of terrain for a virtually slick tyre…

    – Double wrapped bars are great

    Premier Icon dukeduvet
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    Great! Having moved away from Scotland a year ago to the flatlands of East Yorkshire I really appreciate the photos and rides posted on singletrack. You best dig out more classic mtb xc routes to explore!

    Premier Icon gordimhor
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    Good post. Having just decided to sell my touring/gravel bike I may now have to reconsider 😊

    Premier Icon 13thfloormonk
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    Ha, well the moral of the story above is that I’d probably have been better off on a fast 29er, so sell away! 😉

    Premier Icon stevious
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    Good write-up!

    I seem to remember doing the Castle Carey descent on my hardtail many years ago and thinking it would be more fun on a full sus.

    Premier Icon StirlingCrispin
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    Excellent effort!

    I first did Upper Glendevon in 1999 on a Roughstuff Fellowship ride with George Berwick.

    George and his wife were on a tandem and I was on my Trek 520 touring bike. I cycled from Stirling to the Dunning Glen hut before we did Glen Borland in the morning. Skirted the Upper Glendevon reservoir to the south because that’s how the Right-of-Way was signed and routed – swinging the bikes off wire fences to get across burns. We reached tarmac as it got dark and I cycled back home on road by dynamo with George and Margaret returning to the hut.

    Have been back a few times since on an MTB – either climbing from Blackford or descending from Andrew Gannel / Skythorn. The windfarm tracks from Ben Buck are an obvious gravel bike approach.

    The Menstrie forestry road is really opening up the Ochils – it’s a relatively easy to access Colsnaur from the track highpoint just south of Big Hunt Hill – and from there you can go anywhere.

    PS: I think a carbon CX bike is the way to go. A local 73-yr old did Sherrifmuir to Blairdenon to Ben Cleuch last week on one.

    Premier Icon kcal
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    Nice one! I recall doing – just like you – some Ochils stuff in the 90s guided by a local – buggered if I know where we went though – was around Castle Campbell, Dollar, Glen Devon and possibly down (then up). Some great fun was had on rigid bikes, 26″ wheels and canti brakes!

    Would love to visit again but no idea where we went or how I’d find it.

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