Trail Blazers: Ruari Watt & Andy Wardman
At our destinations across Scotland, mountain biking is one of the most enduringly popular outdoor activities. Nothing beats the thrill of an adrenaline-charged downhill dash!
Scottish mountain bikers and overseas visitors have a range of different challenges, terrains and organised races to choose from, right in their backyard, from Laggan Wolftraxx near Aviemore and Moray Monster Trails in the North, to the 7stanes Mountain Biking centres dotted throughout the south. Providing a base for the country’s world-renowned MTB culture, the network of trails is constantly maintained, upgraded and developed. Supervising this process are trail grader Ruari Watt, and mountain bike ranger Andy Wardman.
Ruari and Andy and their colleagues post regular updates and videos on their activities over on the 7stanes Facebook page, which offers a fascinating insight into the hard work, resources and volunteer hours that go into this vital trail maintenance. Both advanced trail riders, they offered to give us a few tips and tricks - and a run-down of the races and events coming up at our destinations over the next few months.
What is an Enduro race?
Ruari: An Enduro race takes all the good bits of mountain biking – going for a social ride with friends, exploring new trails, going fast downhill – and rolls them into one event. You ride between several timed sections, have a wee break then race the fun bits of trail.
The good thing about Enduro is you don’t necessarily need to train for it just to take part – it’s just like a day out trail riding with friends. There are enduro events for different levels of rider. Relative beginners and kids can get involved in shorter, less challenging events, while some enduro events have sections not far off full on downhill courses.
What are your three top tips for riding the 7stanes trails?
Andy: Whatever your level, a skills lesson is one of the best upgrades you can get for your riding! Improve your skills, confidence and have more fun!
Ruari: Feeling fast isn’t always going fast – riding smooth is easier on your bike, body and the trail. Watch other riders of all abilities to get ideas on technique and line choice. Third, and most importantly – have fun!
If people are just starting their MTB journey, which course should they try first?
Ruari: Laggan Wolftrax, although it’s further north and not part of the 7stanes network, is a pretty good destination for newer riders – it’s quite low key so not intimidating, and never too busy. The green trail is really good for kids and beginners, while still feeling like proper mountain biking. The orange trail has big berms and safe jumps to build confidence, the red trails have rough rocky sections mixed with flowy singletrack. The black has a tricky rocky climb, followed by a long, rough, rocky, very challenging downhill – definitely not for beginners, but one to work towards!
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