We had a fair amount of biking planned over a few days. Picking up the van was a breeze with a good clear instruction booklet on how everything works. Time to head to Mike Bikes Aviemore to pick up some supplies and a hire bike. They have a great selection of bikes to hire- MTB, road bikes and even E-bikee and everything else you might need from bottles and buffs to cycle tops and shoes!
They were happy to show us how to put the bikes on to the tow-bar mounted rack. The rack easily adjusts to whatever length your bike needs and locks the bikes firmly in place, just remember it’s there when you reverse! I would advise anyone taking bikes anywhere now to ensure you always have a good quality bike lock with you. Mikes Bikes Aviemore had those too.
ready to go!
First Stop – Glenlivet Bike Trails
We started off our adventure with a days riding at the recently re-opened Glenlivet bike trails. After being closed for over 8 months for tree felling, the trails are in stunning condition with jaw dropping views round every corner. Typically just as we were about to set off, the heavens opened however it wasn’t too much of an inconveniance as it gave us time to have a proper look around the nooks and crannies of storage inside it.
Plenty of space to get changed
And to wait out passing downpours!
Rain clouds gave way to some stunning views from immaculate trails
And always my favourite part of any bike ride!
The Coffee Still cafe served up well deserved scones and a cuppa on our return.
An overnight stay is not out of the question up at Glenlivet, with the building keeping its toilets open 24 hrs. Very van-life friendly. Having the toilet in the van is certainly a bonus in times of need but I’d always use other toilets where possible. Leave some pennies in the charity box.
The famous Laggan Wolftrax
Laggan Wolftrax is only a 45 minute drive south west from Aviemore and has some of the areas best bike trails with something for all levels of rider. The van is just perfect for negotiating the very narrow sections of road where you can meet a logging lorry or tractor head-on and sitting in a higher driving position means I could to see more incredible Highland scenery. My moto when driving the campervan – “Drive slower, let your eyes explore!”
A wee warm up on the skills loop first.
Pit stop for cake and coffee!
ETAPE Loch Ness
Mark’s road bike ride had been looming for months. The 100km Loch Ness Etape has a crazy early 6.00am start in Inverness’ Bught Park. Overnighting / wild camping (nothing wild about it apart from crows stealing the dogs dinner) in a car park is not romantic in any way but the van served the purpose perfectly. We got our car-park-camp set up, had dinner, walked dog, set a very early wake up alarm on my phone and had early night.
With the roof popped up and Mark cooking steak dinner, I couldn’t have been more content sitting watching from the captains seat. The van has such a user friendly lay out, he could even wash up and cook at the same time. My job was handing food out from the fridge to him. What more does a girl need?
Not the wild camping I had in mind…
Chief cook and bottle wash
Were race day nerves setting in?
Smashed the road ride in under 4hrs on a beautiful spring day
Happy pooch along for the ride
We’d put a very thin rubber mat on the floor so jet didn’t slide about. The bed rolled straight out over it. Simple solutions.
Within 48 hours we were on the road south to Pitlochry where Mark would join some of the Mikes Bikes Aviemore race team for a leg of their 90 mile Snow Road “just for fun” bike ride. The van had been unpacked from the Etape and repacked for a 50 mile “support vehicle” and photographer task. We wild camped in Faskally Wood and I would see them off from Pitlochry and follow over the majestic mountains of Glenshee and down into Royal Deeside town of Ballater. There are a good number of great quality camp sites in this area with plenty to do besides ride bikes. Did I mention mouth wateringly delicious cafes? Not yet, but we did stop in Braemar at The Bothy en route.
Close to toilets again!
The Escape Route bike cafe in Pitlochry is just wonderful.
Even Jet was getting in on the warm up.
Without the bikes on the rack, access to the tailgate storage area was easy.
The girls were carrying everything they needed in their bike bags and staying in B&B’s. Waterproof and secure, these can also be picked up in Mikes Bikes Aviemore.
Stopping , photographing and then waiting on them as they cycled cross country allowed me to take stock of what a versatile, beautifully furnished and tardis like camper van this really was. It did have everything we could have needed for our travels. I would absolutely, hands down recommend this vehicle for anyone biking and touring around the Highlands. We loved it.
Waiting road side at Spittal of Glenshee for team Mikes Bikes Aviemore to pass safely and start the climb.
I’d parked up in Ballater after a relaxing drive and met the team for some more…… Cake and coffee! Just perfection.
Jet looks pretty happy with his trip too.
Read Sallys blog about their Snow Road ride