Retro ride: 22nd August 2004

Mount Keen 22/08/04
Munros: Mount Keen
Accomplices: Ewan, Stuart

Following the Ben Macdui epic, a ride up Mount Keen was not the most enticing prospect the next day. However, arrangements had been made and the three of us set out early on Sunday morning to Glen Tanar. There was some fatigue in the legs, but they seemed to warm up okay as we rode up the glen. Eventually, we reached the river crossing before the real climb up the flank of Mount Keen on the Mounth Road. The cycling was pushed as far as legs would allow, before giving in to inevitability and pushing the bikes to the right fork of the path, allowing us to skirt around the final climb and tackle it from the smoother path to the South.

Unfortunately, the exuberance of being back in the saddle went to myself and Ewan’s heads, resulting in an almost simultaneous failed bunnyhop over a large drainage ditch and two instant snakebite punctures! Whilst we watched our tyres deflate rapidly, Stuart chose that moment to crash off the flattest bit of path we’d seen all day, landing in the rocks and heather, where he lay until he realised we were not paying any attention to his plight.

Punctures repaired, we headed up the smooth path to the summit, interrupted only by the odd drainage ditch or bout of fatigue. After a final carry over the rocky final few hundred metres the summit was reached and photos duly posed for, trying not to annoy the people nearby giving us the “What the hell did you bring a bike for?” look. After an enjoyable lunch in a sheltered hollow near the summit, keeping us out of the wind but in the sun, thoughts turned to the descent. Another short carry over rocks to find the top of the path we had eschewed earlier and we were staring down at the descent to end all descents.

The first short extremely steep section had to be walked due to the difficulty of just getting on the bike without falling over the handlebars instantly. Once this slackened slightly, bikes were boarded and the fun commenced! The first part was very steep with embedded rocks to be avoided, as well as the odd walker. Once the Mounth road approached, the path began to be made up small to medium rocks, meaning speed had to be maintained to prevent sudden stops. Unfortunately, a particularly large rock managed to stop me dead, resulting in a leapfrog over the bars and impromptu sprint down the heather to stop myself falling.

Bike retrieved, the remains of the descent followed uneventfully, leaving the pleasant ride gently downhill along Glen Tanar and back home for a well-earned break after two tough days in the hills.

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