What to pack for your mountain bike adventure
A guide to what to pack for your mountain bike adventure, by Chris Gibbs
We asked one of our local guides, Chris, what to pack for your mountain bike adventure in Scotland, and here’s what he said…
“Ask most people what they know about Scotland and they’ll say, “They all wear tartan skirts, otherwise known as kilts. There’s some kind of monster in Loch Ness and it rains a lot” Some of these misconceptions might be loosely based on fact or tradition but as a mountain biker here in Scotland the “it’s always raining” stereotype gets me the most.
“The truth is it’s not always raining and I have actually just finished a ride in 33°C heat, but we do get a lot of the wet stuff which makes the trails incredibly green and lush as well as being great for whisky production!
“However The Scottish weather is very unpredictable and can lead to riders experiencing all four seasons in one day! So how do you best prepare yourself for a mountain biking adventure in Scotland, especially one like the coast-to-coast or Torridon + Skye trip?
“In the kit list we recommend you bring a 20 litre ride pack with you – which seems like a huge amount of space, but we promise you’ll need it!
“Your guide is carrying gear for the group, we want you to carry everything required for you, individually, to have a great experience in the mountains, whatever the weather does.
“Here’s a list of the kind of things you’ll need for your mountain bike adventure in Scotland:
1. Waterproof jacket – A good jacket not only keeps you dry it also keeps the wind from stealing the heat you have stored up between your layers. Even when it’s 33°C and pure blue skies the jacket stays in my pack…Don’t start pedalling without it!
2. Layers – Mountaineers don’t wear one huge jacket with a t-shirt underneath. They use many different layers that wick away sweat and help to keep you warm or cool in different temperatures and conditions. Mountain bikers are mountaineers on wheels so pack a few different layers that you can put on or take off to keep comfortable. Include something warm like a neck gator that can go under your helmet or round your neck.
3. Food – Carrying enough food to keep you going is essential. Lots of frequent snacks keep your engine constantly fuelled and, thus, your legs turning. Carrying more food than you think you will need is always a good idea. For example, I carry a hibernation’s worth each day and I will easily go through 4 cereal bars, a malt loaf, a snack bag of dried fruit and nuts, and 3 filled wraps (peanut butter and jam is my favourite) in just one ride! Don’t rely on energy gels but feel free to pack them as an addition to your food stash
4. Bike specific parts (If you are bringing your own bike) – Any spares that are specific to your bike i.e. mech hangers, inner tubes, brake pads and any bolts or spares that are not common on other bikes
5. A small amount of money – It’s always a good idea to have a small amount of cash with you just in case we happen to finish the ride near a particularly nice pub or cake shop!
6. Riding glasses/sunglasses – Rain or shine you only have one pair of eyes so protect them
7. Insect repellent – The Scottish midge can be a force to be reckoned with
8. A midge net – This easy to carry head net can make stopping a lot more bearable if the bugs are out
9. Sunscreen – Scotland gets sunny!
10. Lip balm – Keep those lips kissable no matter what the weather throws at you
11. Have some flip-flops in the van – After a full day in mountain bike shoes changing into a pair of flip-flops and getting your feet aired feels amazing!
12. At least 2 spare inner tubes – We have lots of rock in Scotland, as well as a feature you will become very familiar with known as a water bar. When you’re starting to run low on energy these tricky features will test all your skills in order not to get rear wheel flats
“In summary: plan for the worst and hope for the best!
“As an extra – In my pack there is always a small plastic squirrel, but you will have to come on an adventure with me to find out why!”