Excellent. We can go with 2nd weekend in June unless there are a slew of responses otherwise... It would be good to be flexible re the weather, and holding off on going if it is looking bad on the planned day. The pass tops out at 780 m, so not a great place to be if the weather isn't good.
Just bringing this back up - looks like entries are going well but they could always do with more, given your entry fee is supporting a very worthy cause.
I am still thinking about a recce - maybe the first or second weekend in June. Logistically this would be a bit tricky, as the race route is point-to-point. It's a three hour drive from Stirling to the start of the climb in Fort Augustus, and just over two hours to the end of the off-road section/start of the road section at Melgarve bothy/Laggan. Best plan might be to head for Garva Bridge, halfway between Laggan and Melgarve bothy, and ride over the pass in the "wrong" direction to Fort Augustus, have a lunch stop there, then turn around and head back to Garva Bridge. Not the most interesting route, but it is good to see how the pass rides in both directions, and the views of Loch Ness as you descend into Fort Augustus are really good.
Overall this would be a good 4-5 hours worth of riding, with you either going uphill and working hard, or descending (with your brakes working hard), and very little flat (maybe a few rolling miles on tarmac roads between Garva Bridge and Melgarve bothy).
In terms of how technical it is, heading west the ascent is very steep and hairpinned at the top, so there might be a bit of pushing in places. The descent to Fort Augustus is long and fast and quite steep in places, so very good brakes are a must. The descent is broken up by a couple of short climbs though. Heading back east, it is a long climb (with a couple of descents), with the last 4 km to the summit gaining 420 metres (do the maths...) so a real slog and maybe some pushing needed if you are not very fit (but you won't be going much slower than those riding). On the easterly descent, there are some hairpins at the top, and all the way down the trail are a number of drainage ditches reinforced at the far end by boulders - these are real showstoppers if you don't get your front wheel over them. However, most of them have been flattened a fair bit since they were installed, so are now quite rideable, with only a few that the less skilled (like me) need to dismount on and hop over. There are also a few stream crossings on both sides, but these are reasonably shallow and rideable with care. the surface is double track all the way, hard packed in places, loose and rocky in other places. The biggest technical challenges are now the drainage ditches on the descent and keeping traction on some of the steeper, looser stuff.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Michelle Gallacher
Completely agree with David. This is one of the most spectacular routes mixing Offroad and road run and have done this many times on either a Rigid, hard-tail or full susser, but always 26" wheels. (Scottish weather would probably mean CX doubtful unless tropical sun for a month before!)
There has never been a shortage of riders wanting to do this run, but the volunteers were getting very thin on the ground which caused the suspending? of the event. There is a great feed station provided by the local scouts/BB's and water stations along the way too. Last time I did this I had looked at getting a Warrior Team together and had the OK from the organisers. It is a race - for those that have the fitness to race - but approx 80% of the riders are trying to beat their own times and still manage to talk to and encourage the other riders, rather than be head down biting the bars.
However you do it, when you get to Badaguish and see the fun that the adult and kids have in special surroundings and play areas - that makes your effort all the more worth it.
Defo up for a recce Dave. (and also check out the local rehydration shops!)
It's a 52 mile race starting at the bottom of the Corrieyairack Pass, just outside Fort Augustus. The route takes you over the pass, which summits at 790 m, on a rocky but very rideable double track. The descent features a series of about a dozen hairpins, and these days the trail is in a pretty rideable condition on the descent too. At the bottom of the track, near Melgarve bothy, the surface changes to tarmac, and here you are allowed to change wheels to use slick tyres on your MTB for the road section to Badaguish outdoor centre, on the road up to the Cairngorm, beyond Aviemore.
The race is a great test of all-round ability, with climbing, descending, and TTing on the road all in one event, and this makes the event really unique, I think. Coupled with the special place the Pass occupies in Scots history (it's one of General Wade's military roads and the route also passes Ruthven Barracks, just outside Kingussie), and the fact that the race raises money for the Badaguish outdoor centre, which provides outdoor activities and respite care for children and adults with learning difficulties, I think these are all great reasons to support the event.
This edition will of the race will be the 25th, and sadly, support for the event has really dwindled over the last couple of years. It would be great to see a strong field of competitors this year. For those of you not into MTBing, there is also the option to run(!) or walk the ~13 miles over the pass and then road bike the last ~40. The whole route is also rideable on a CX bike, with a bit of skill and care.
If there is any interest, I may organise a recce of the off-road section some time in June.