Thats Mabie baby!
neil posted in bikes, Neil on January 9th, 2007
By the time that Scotlands slacking sun had got its ass out of bed a convoy was racing for Dumfries. After three people with degrees (and one with a doctorate) mistook the word “farm” for “forest” we arrived at the deserted Mabie forest trailhead. It was looking like a top notch day.
The first thing we did was screw up. We decided to do the blue route in the morning and the reknowned Pheonix trail red after lunch. The blue at Mabie is obviously unfinished. It starts on some promising singletrack, then turns into a forest road for the rest of the trail. Just don’t bother with the loop, session the blue singletrack to get your corners down (as Kathryn did). There is no reward whatsoever for actually riding the entire trail.
The red however is a different beast entirely. It curls intestinally around Mabie forest and manages to fit a decently long trail in a pretty small space. The riding is very different to the Glentress red. Glentress’s run suddenly seems like a BMX track. Mabie seems much more like it was always there and the trail “grew” rather than was built. This means that some challenging rocky features have been included in the trail. Rocky chutes, drops (rollable) and rough roots appear with only a little warning. I take my hat off to whoever built the trail, the obstacles are precisely pitched at the improving mountainbiker. None are titanic or intimidating but there is plenty of challenge for those who seek it. The berms are good but take a little getting used to as they are made from loose rock. Robbie highsided one and rode away with scrapes to his palms. Boggy areas are traversed with north shore style boardwalks, the only one of these is an intimidatingly narrow bridge over a rock stream. A sudden panic attack caused me to stall out on the bridge and fortunately I rotated off it backwards rather than falling into the rocky stream some distance below. There are some crazy log-ride options for the daring, but we passed them by. For out and out nutters there is also the nearby Kona Dark Side and some progressive north shore not shown on the map. I counted two deliberate water splashes on the red route. The biggest has a wee step but can be ridden at speed. The only thing the Pheonix trail lacks is air. There is air, but I miss the tabletops of Glentress.
Robbie ran out of puff. Fraser tore his chain apart again and again until he completed the latter sections with no chain at all. George acompanied him out of the forest to meet Kathryn. This whittled us down to myself and Christine. We hit the final section in failing light. Its a good section and well worth doing. I only have a vague idea of what it looks like, but it was great fun. The final drop can be traversed either by a nice slope or one of three chutes. Fraser and I had sessioned two of them before lunch. The one that goes near vertical over a rock is thrilling, but less scary than you might imagine. I was taken aback when a family went past and youngest girl declared she was going to do a ramp. Fortunately she meant the escape slope and did’nt try her single footed technique on the chutes. This meant I could leave with a sense of achievement rather than being out-ridden by a ten year old.
If you are a red-router then Mabie will be good for you. It is probably not the course to choose to graduate from blue runs however as the obstacles are a cut above. That said a good front wheel hop and calm nerves will suffice for 90% of the trail. There is a cycle shop and cafe at the trailhead who will rent bikes but they did’nt carry a chain for Frasers bike. They will however provide a burger based lunch and a warm place to munch sandwiches. Nearby Dumfries provides a good evening meal if you can find somewhere safe to stash cars loaded with bikes. The drive from Edinburgh is about an hour and a half.
Mabie’s website can be found here.
Christine has photos and writings here
Georges photos are here.