Saturday, 23 June 2012

Very steep, very long, very interesting.
The Red route at Glenlivet is now flagged; stats at the mo' look like 6.5k of continuous downhill single track. Well there is a teeny weeny 10m climb at one point
So far managed to tick off all the features that people had been asking for: drop-offs, berms, fast and flowy, tight and tricky, rocky bits (hard and not so hard?), pedally bits (thank you), Laggan-esque, Golspie-esque, Innerleithen-esque (now you're just getting silly)
Only problem is there's thousands of trees in the way and we'll have to ship in hundreds of tonnes of rock to tricky positions, hmmm.
Next week, map drawing, some extra 'links' flagging, an important meeting with the planners and would love to find an extra 500m to equal the Golspie 'longest single track downhill' tag....

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Glenlivet Flagging

Flag, flag, flag, approximately 1500 of them down so far.
My first full week of flagging the routes at Glenlivet has been my time to really get to know what the ground can offer. So far, I've discovered some excellent terrain varying from quite steep exciting sideslopes to more open gentle gradients, superb viewpoints, heavily wooded areas and areas of more open big mature Larch (good digging ground)
All in all the ground is excellent and so far thoughts are leading me to a Blue that will be unique in it's amount of single track and length of downhill sections, a trail that really will take the riders on a journey, with easy single track climbs interspersed with big views and long sustained flowy downhills that weave through the forest like a natural track rather than feeling like a manmade motorway in a wide cleared corridor.
Of course there'll be lumps, bumps and berms, but it won't be a feature laden artificial feeling trail, rather it'll feel like you've just discovered miles of fantastic secret single track.
I'm excited just walking it, can't wait to get to get busy with the red flags next week!

Saturday, 2 June 2012

The start of Summer

Yowsers what a finish to May! Scorching weather, the end of the 'lurgy', a big fat new trail building project and a lovely new camera.
Not too shabby.
The heat wave was bliss, lots of garden, river, loch time with the family, bbq's, outside DIY, beautiful sunrises and long evenings of golden light. The only downside was the lingering 'lurgy' that I have been suffering for several weeks now, really knocked any form of strenuous activity on the head - oh, I tried, but the results were days of tiredness and prolonged bouts of violent coughing up green phglem (lovely).
Eventually I decided to go and bother the doc and after various blood tests and stuff, a hearty dose of penicillins finest and various steroidy type things I now seem to be out of the other side of it and raring to go. It's gonna be a long way back to 'proper' fitness, but I quite enjoy climbing that ladder!
Workwise. Yahoo. I landed the contract to design and build the new trail centre for the Crown Estates at Glenlivet, 20k of singletrack. Bliss.
Now, much as I love the whole jumpy, bermy, pump track, fun park type thing, my heart lies in miles of old fashioned, twisty, turny, narrow, singletrack, ideally with a few rocks thrown in and some nice trees to weave through. Well thats just what Glenlivets going to get. I think the market is still there for this style of trail rather than jump laden 'motorways' in big wide corridors. Nowt wrong with them, it's just that theres a huge number of riders who just enjoy a good old single track blast.
The team is made up of experienced trail building, bike riding digger drivers and I'm so looking forward to working with these guys - they are not just good contractors, but just real nice people to share the 'craik' with.
My design-ery side of the project has already kicked off with the inevitable chewing the fat with local users and businesses, doodling on maps and general immersing myself in the build environment. All going well the diggers will move in during early June and work will last the rest of the year (hoping for no early snow....)
The only downside is turning down some really nice clients who needed my services sooner rather than later, but big trail builds like this are few and far between these days.
So, new camera time. After much thought I realised that the DSLR was hardly ever used for just being out and about with the family and the iPhone, good as it is, isn't real any good for bright sunny use - try looking at that screen to compose on a snowfield!
I hummed and haa'd over various reviews, tests, flickr images and users blogs and ended up with the Fuji x100.
Now, this camera is decidedly 'left-field' when it comes to modern point-and-shoot compact cameras, being old fashioned in looks, having a fixed prime lens, manual controls, slow auto focus and generally devoid of all the usual bells and whistles a modern compact can offer. But, and heres the clincher, get it right and the image quality is stellar, like better than the big Nikon.
The files this produces are soooo clean and sharp even way up to iso 3200 (that's getting a bit geeky now, I'll stop using terms like iso)
The out of the camera jpegs are outstanding, in some cases even better than post processed RAW's - oops getting geeky again.
Actually, in case any camera type people are reading this and have read dodgy reviews of this camera, here's the real world low down.

  • with the latest firmware and a fast sd card there have been no lock ups
  • yes the menus are fiddly, but no worse than some
  • the +- ev control wheel isn't as loose as to be a problem
  • the battery can do a full days shooting (carry a spare anyway)
  • the focus although not super fast is fine and suitable for the type of pics I use it for

But you get the drift - I love this wee camera and for those of you that know me on FB or Flickr will testify, all I've been posting for the week I've owned it now are endless black and white pics. Mainly because the camera shoots b&w jpegs that are gorgeous, but also because it's just so addictive to use. It's small, unobtrusive, silent in use and is so less 'in your face' than a hulking great big Nikon.
Velvia film profile
ISO 3200
b&w jpeg

It'll never be a sports fast action camera, but for this apprentice shooter who is still learning the basics of capturing a good image - composition, framing, light, etc, it's perfect and just what I was looking for.
I'll try and keep Glenlivet build updates coming regularly.