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    Night riding along the Tay

    It’s a feeling you get on certain trails, when you’re reacting like you and your machine are just one thing. It’s the feel of physical exertion and speed and technique all wrapped into one” – Ned Overend

    The westerly is blowing flakes of snow, strong enough that they sting our faces. A group of us stand astride our hard-tail and “full sus” mountain bikes. Tonight is one of the last rides of the season; a season neatly bracketed by the changing of the clocks. All over Tayside groups of riders meet on these winter evenings, with LED and halogen lights strapped to helmets, all set for the thrill of night-time mountain bike riding.

    For the first two years of owning my mountain bike I could count on one hand the times I had ridden in daylight; such was the thrill of night riding I couldn’t really see the point of riding my mountain bike at any other time. Now older and wiser I have seen the error of my ways, but still the draw of riding on the edge with your sense of sight diminished is a strong pull.

    A favourite section that we often combine with a network of trails is the north and south side of the River Tay, betweenJubileeBridgeand Dunkeld. This loop has everything you could want as you ride aided only by the circular white beam in front of you. With this, your awareness is heightened as your ride depends on quick reactions. Trails that in daylight are simply winding, in the dark become twisting demons that at every turn throw a new obstacle in your way. At the edge of our vision, for a second, our lights catch the eyes of creatures lurking at the trail side, then we are gone turning quickly to keep the bike on the trail.

    Back at the car park we are soaked, caked in mud and freezing cold, but what better way to spend a Wednesday evening. Roll on next winter.


    Scot Tares

    Copyright DC Thompson: Originally Published 17.3.12


    The Route: Jubilee Bridge Loop

    Grade: Moderate – off-road route – some technical sections
    Details:5 miles/ 8km.
    MapsOS 1:50,000 Map 53
    Start/ Finish:Dunkeld  North Car Park NO 026426
    Details:Starting in the North Car park in Dunkeld ride around the back of the Cathedral towards and beyond the Hilton Hotel towards theJubileeBridgethat crosses the A9. Go under the bridge and then ride along the path at its side to cross the river, before turning right onto the B898 (Dalguise road). Approximately 20 metres down the B898 turn right on the trail which takes you under the railway line and the A9 and back to Dunkeld.