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International mountain bike guides in Scotland

International mountain bike guides in Scotland
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International mountain bike guides in Scotland

H+I Adventures international mountain bike guides experience Scotland

Despite our politicians’ best efforts to the contrary, we’ve been working hard here at H+I Adventures this year to build international relations and nurture bonds with our fantastic teams around the world.

As part of our mountain bike Guide Exchange Programme, we’ve welcomed to H+I Adventures HQ this year our international mountain bike guides from Canada, Chile and Namibia, to share knowledge and experiences with our team here in Scotland. And, of course, to join in with tours and ride our favourite Highland trails!

First up, we welcomed our MTB guide from the Yukon in Canada, David Pharand, who put on his ‘big-boy pants’ to join local guides Alex Glasgow and Jono Baldwin on our epic coast-to-coast Scotland adventure. And it was indeed ‘epic’ with interesting weather conditions and long days in the saddle, but our crew of riders from the US, Canada and Germany were up for the challenge and everyone had an unforgettable experience. When he returned to the Yukon, David wrote a few words on his coast-to-coast experience in Scotland…

“Going to Scotland has been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember, before I even got into mountain biking something about the country gripped me and fueled my desire to see the age, the vastness, and the beauty of the lands.

“I have had the fortune to be able to mountain bike in many places in the world from New Zealand to Ecuador to the United States and I am blessed with amazing singletrack riding right in my back yard in Yukon, Canada, but Scotland…the Highlands drew me in.

“Riding the coast-to-coast was consistently blowing my mind with the way the clouds rolled around the mountains and how the rain misted freshness. The ancient smells of earth and stone remind you of how old the land is and when the sun came out it baked permanent smiles on everybody.

“Prior to riding the singletrack on the coast-to-coast tour I had only seen the videos, the short segments of our elite athletes ripping across rocky paths, skipping over water bars and descending steep and gnarly sections. Now when I watch the same videos I know exactly where they were and I know exactly how they feel.

“And it feels just as good as you think.”

Hot on David’s heels was Ernesto Araneda, our champion mountain bike guide from Chile, who travelled to the Highlands to join our international clan of adventurers on the Torridon + Skye trip. Ernesto added a South American flavour to our group of riders from Luxembourg, France, England and Finland! With H+I Adventures director Euan Wilson guiding and the sun splitting the trees for the whole week, Ernesto and the crew had a “marvellous” time riding the crème-de-la-crème of trails around the west coast.

When we asked Ernesto what he thought of his Torridon + Skye experience, this is what he said…

“Going back to the roots.

“My Torridon + Skye experience was totally what I was expecting: a real mountain bike adventure. It’s well know that our sport has grown a lot in terms of technology, skills, and places specifically designed for mountain biking. But with that we’ve lost one of the most essentials things; the independence and freedom that only a bike can give you. Those moments where you feel like you are in the middle of nowhere, on an adventure.

“That feeling was what I was able to have in Scotland. Riding in those hidden gems of trails was something incredible, difficult to put in words, it has everything that a true mountain biker might want – technical sections in different kind of terrain, indescribable landscapes and the feeling of accomplishing something great… a true adventure.”

Finally, in July, we were delighted to welcome two of our guides from Namibia, Zieggy Mengersson and Jacques Gryffenberg.

Zieggy joined local guides Euan and Mark Clark on our coast-to-coast Scotland tour, and Jacques had an incredible time with a great group, guided by Jono, in the Cairngorms National Park.

Coming from Namibia, the most remarkable thing about the Highlands for Zieggy and Jacques was how green the landscapes were. Namibia is experiencing a drought at the minute and, here in the Highlands, there has been more than enough water falling from the sky these past few months, so the contrast was especially striking for them.

They both swapped sand for mud on their respective adventures, but had a tremendous experience riding the Highland trails and working with our fantastic team of local mountain bike guides.

Our Guide Exchange Programme is designed to give our team of international mountain bike guides the chance to come to Scotland to spend time at H+I Adventures HQ, working with the founders and local MTB guides, and sharing knowledge and experiences from across the globe. It also allows guides to travel to other H+I destinations to work with guides there and further expand their knowledge base.

So far, we’ve welcomed our mountain bike guides from Nepal, Slovenia, Spain, Canada, Chile, New Zealand and Namibia to the Highlands and we’re looking forward to further building international relations in 2017!

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