10 Things I Learned from Aberfoyle

I’ve been back just over a week now and still day dreaming about it. Here are 10 things I’ve thought about and taken from the trip worth sharing

It’s a long way but worth it
For me it was 6 hours door to door with a stop or two. That’s in my moms old Fiat Panda with two bikes on the roof, batting up the M6. Now that might conjure a picture of me hunched over the wheel, gritting my teeth, bouncing the car to go faster. The reality was an endless playlist of my favourite tunes curated by YouTube Music while I chilled at 60mph watching car after car overtake me. I was in no rush. No cruise control either, just my aching foot trying not to floor it and save my fuel. I couldn’t even get there on a full tank! But when you leave the motorway and spend the last twenty minutes weaving cross country towards the peaks of The Trossachs National Park in the distance, the previous 5.5 hours become insignificant. I’d drive it again in a heartbeat but I would like to try the train (takes even longer) or share the driving with someone.

11 years old and still going

The area is vast
Coming from a relatively small part of North Worcestershire that touches Birmingham. Rocking up in The Trossachs took me back to when I visited Canada in 2018. The area is BIG with not a lot of anything in it. That’s the attraction. Go for a ride or walk and within minutes you are lost in the wilderness. Loved it.

View of the week for me

Be prepared
It’s a bit of a cliché but if you are going out riding into the middle of nowhere, be prepared for adverse weather and mechanicals. I nearly got caught out with my tubeless drama and for a moment I was technically stranded with no phone signal. I was calm and got through it but worse case I made sure I emailed my route to Sally every day and stuck too it. I took the spares I needed and clothes appropriate for the weather too. The other bit of advice I would give is ride well within your capabilities. An off out there and you are in the shit.

sealant spaff

Enjoy the wildlife
There is an abundance of wildlife to enjoy. Just staring out my kitchen window I became a bird watcher. I saw a woodpecker, nuthatches and one day I rounded a trail and a massive eagle flew off in front of me. Either a bald one or white-tailed. Huge. Deers are definitely about because of the tall fences that keep them where they need to be but I only saw the arse-end of one scurry off into the trees once. If you focus, the bird song is beautiful and everywhere.

Moo neighbours

No horse riders
Weirdly, I never saw one horse rider. No idea why. I thought I would have seen loads trotting about given the ideal terrain but nothing. Does anyone know why?

Endless Gravel
There are 200km of gravel trails to enjoy in the area. If you like that type of riding, it is paradise. If you are looking for trail centre type singletrack you might find the odd one but that’s it. It’s all based around really good forest roads. Some new, some old, some tricky, some fun. A really good mix. There are a few waymarked trails you can explore but I would rely on a planned route rather than just heading out. It is easy to get lost. I nicked my big days out off Komoot from locals that know the area and made the odd mod to make it mine. That took out the guess work and worked really well.

Drivers and the locals are very courteous
If you are on the few roads around there, drivers are very patient. I was crawling up Dukes Pass on my first ride around hairpin bends and a stream of cars patiently waited to pass me and did so safely and wide. No horns all week. It was really refreshing. The roads are generally quiet anyway given what a tourist hotspot it is. The locals are lovely too. They will talk to you in the coffee queue and be interested in where you have been and may even recommend somewhere. Tourists from Glasgow are hard to understand though. Their accent is like a foreign language lol.

Some fitness required
You can’t really get anywhere and enjoy the area unless you have some moderate fitness. There is some serious climbing in the area. It is definitely not flat and if it is you have to climb and descend to get there and back. An ebike is a great idea and you will need low gears and climbing legs. My Dolan GXC has a 31×34 low gear and I saw that a few times. There is no need to flog yourself to death though. I would use the term ‘low n slow’ to describe the riding I did there. Gears I could engage to just pedal and enjoy the scenery without blowing out my arse. If you want to ride every day, don’t burn your matches too soon either.

Low n Slow

Do something else
If you want a day off the bike make sure you do something else. There is plenty to do. I went to a Whisky Distillery but you can play endlessly on the water, there is Go-Ape, you can take boat trips on the Lochs, go sightseeing and there are miles of walking trails to enjoy too.

Headspace is good for you
I took myself off to Scotland on my own. I know some people might find that a bit odd. I was able to switch off from work and keep everything else in my life at arms length for a week. The break did me good and made me realise how much I needed the break to relieve my stress from work. I was anxious about going but thats more of a personality trait I can deal with by just making myself do it and then it goes. I came back empty of stress and full of great memories. It’s something I want to do next year too. Headspace should be prescribed for everyone.

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