As its Bike Week (9th to the 17th of June), we wanted to celebrate by showcasing one of the wonderful young cycling talents in the area. Sally Devlin not only works in her parents’ well-known Aviemore cycle shop Mikes Bikes, but also races in a number of cycling disciplines, and leads the brilliant weekly Wednesday women’s ride which Tanja and Kyla (from Handpicked Lodges) both enjoy joining - when time allows! She was recognised in 2016 with the Developing Mountain Biking in Scotland (DMBinS) ‘Local Hero’ award - in recognition of her involvement in the local cycling community. If anyone has the inside track on cycling around here, it’s Sally, so we sat her down for an in depth chat about everything on two wheels in the Cairngorms!
What are your own favourite bike trails around Aviemore?
Oh that’s a hard one! If you’re looking for a long day out with stunning views one of my favourites has to be a trip to Loch Einich. Although it’s an out and back rather than a loop it’s still a great ride, there’s some fun rocky singletrack along the river side before you climb through the moorland to Loch Einich which is overlooked by stunning clifftops including Sgòr Gaoith. It’s definitely one to do on a warm summers day as the river crossings will keep you cool!
For a quick blast I love a little loop around the High Burnside Trails - Aviemore’s best kept mountain bike secret! In High Burnside you will find a range of steep technical climbs and descents, all easily accessible from the Trails End Lodge. My favourite thing about High Burnside is that fact that you can head out for a quick 30 minute blast or spend hours and hours up there on the trails! It’s a great area for fine tuning your mountain bike skills.
If someone hasn't cycled in a while or are just getting back into it, what route(s) would you recommend for a few hours or half a day?
I would recommend the Speyside Way (National Cycle Route 7). This starts at the north end of Aviemore next to the Mikes Bikes Bike Hire Centre and takes you along a well maintained, smooth track to Boat of Garten (approx 9-10km). There are no major hills but there are stunning views and well earned cake at the 1896 cafe in Boat of Garten!
There are also some lovely routes to Loch Morlich and Glenmore which are great for starting out however expect a few hills in that area!
We've heard a lot about electric bikes - how easy are they to use?
Very, and don’t say people are lazy because they use them! There are many reasons why you would use an electric bike, through my work at Mikes Bikes in Aviemore I have met lots of e bikers from many backgrounds. Some people will use them if they have a medical problem that is restricting their cycling, if they have a physical job and not enough hours in the day, or if they do just want to keep up with family and friends.
They are very easy to use and there is a huge choice of e-bikes available now, from city bikes to downhill mountain bikes. Most electric bikes will have 3 or 4 modes that are operated using a handlebar control, these range from Eco - > Turbo mode, Turbo obviously providing the most assistance. If you use these modes correctly and efficiently you will get up to 90 miles per charge on most e bikes, our rental ones are powered by a Shimano Steps motor and will do 90 miles on one charge.
Some of our guests want to give downhill mountain biking a shot - where should they head to to get started on some easier routes? What equipment do they need?
I would definitely recommend fine tuning your skills up around the High Burnside Trails or along at Badaguish, although there is no uplift there the trails offer a great downhill/enduro mountain bike playground.
If you are looking to try uplift then Nevis Range/Fort William is worth the visit, it’s around 1hr 15 from Aviemore and there you can use the Gondola to access two downhill mountain biking tracks.
A full face helmet, knee and elbow pads and a full suspension bike will be mandatory for riding the downhill tracks at Nevis Range however most trails in Aviemore can be tackled on a hardtail bike.
Do you have a kit list of what people should take with them whenever they go out for a cycle?
Here are a few things I recommend for your cycling Adventure in the National Park.
You are probably going to be riding the Cairngorms and the weather can be changeable here, one minute we can have sun and the next sleet or heavy rain, so don’t let bad clothing let you down.
· A 16 – 20 Litre comfortable backpack, this way you will have plenty room for what you need.
· Cycling glasses and gloves
· Padded Cycling Shorts (a must!) and this doesn’t mean being seen in lycra, you can pop them under your baggy shorts, waterproof trousers etc.
· Durable, cycling specific (if possible) shorts or trousers. Nothing too baggy as these will get caught in your chain/chainrings/or any other bike part!
· Protective Gear (knee/elbow pads): I always wear soft knee pads as a precaution (and they keep your knees warm).
· Durable cycling specific shoes or high quality outdoor shoes, no plimsoles/sandals. A well fitted cycling helmet that complies with EN 1078 Safety Standard.
· A cycling specific jersey and thermal top.
· Leggings (not cotton) keep you warm and are great under your baggy shorts.
· Longer socks protect your ankles from sharp pedals, branches or anything else that may jump out on the trails, I recommend these over ankle socks. Ankle socks on a bike are not cool
And obviously bike spares, even if you don’t know how to use them, someone else will. Upon booking of any Mikes Bikes Guided Bike Ride we will provide you with a full kit list and recommended snacks!
We hope that’s whetted your appetite for cycling in the Cairngorms. Don’t forget that if you’re planning on renting from Mike’s Bikes during your stay, they offer a really helpful drop off and pick up service to your Handpicked Lodge. So no need to rush back from your ride to return your bike - and no having to clean it either! See you on the trails!