If someone asked me to name the one personal possession that I treasure most, I would have to say my bicycle. It could be any of the bikes that I have owned over the years, for it is not as much about the make or model as it is about what a bicycle represents – transportation, adventure, independence, fitness, escape, adrenaline, fun.
Unfortunately, increasingly crowded cities have amplified the dangers of road cycling, which makes the discovery of a good mountain biking centre a truly exciting prospect. Just outside Tomintoul in the Carn Daimh Forest, set amongst some of the most breath-taking scenery in Scotland, awaits just such a discovery.
BikeGlenlivet is a recent addition to the Glenlivet Estate and its instant popularity is a ringing endorsement for this Crown Estate project. Comprising two graded tracks, a pump track, a café and an equipment-hire facility, this four-star venue attracts mountain bikers of all ages and abilities.
For the slightly less adventurous, and I place myself firmly in this category, the blue graded trail offers nine kilometres of smooth, fluid track with enough adrenaline to keep it interesting, but not so much that you forget to appreciate the scenery. At this pace, you can work up a good sweat and might even be lucky enough to spot some local wildlife.
Adrenaline junkies will want to try the red graded trail, which has some optional black grade technical features thrown in for added buzz. This 22 kilometre trail takes you to the top of Carn Daimh where you would be advised to drink in the view before putting your head down and hurtling down the Glenlivet descent. This route is so intense, I had white knuckles just watching the video of someone else riding it!
Regardless of how daring you feel, with a facility of this calibre on the doorstep, the best thing you can do is get on your bike and discover it for yourself.