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Bikepacking in Scotland – Highland Trail Videos and Gear

This summer, we took a month away from making bags to go on our own bikepacking adventure in Scotland. After being inspired by Annie Le (who lives in the Scottish Highlands) when she visited Arizona last fall, we decided to sign up for the Highland Trail 550 bikepacking race and make the trip across the pond. 

With our sights set on racing the Highland Trail 550, we flew over a few weeks early so we had time to tour ahead of the race, to experience everything at a slower pace and in daylight. We ended up touring the middle portion of the Highland Trail as well as the northern section of the Cairngorms Loop. We had some rain during our tour, but for Scottish standards, it wasn’t much at all. 

Touring Video

The days leading up to the race, we rested at Annie and Huw’s house (thanks, friends!!!), studying the route and tinkering with gear. Here’s a little information about the bags we carried and what we put in them.

Packing breakdown

Frame bag: food, pump, repair kit

Top tube bag: snacks 

Handlebar Roll: We made our own quilts for this trip. We decided to go with synthetic insulation for this trip so we wouldn’t have to worry as much about getting it wet. (Down is useless when it’s wet, but synthetic insulation stays warm). During our tour, we carried a tent. For racing we each carried a water-resistant breathable bivy and a small tarp, both made by us. The front roll also has a handy external pocket that was perfect for holding potato chips, or “crisps” as they call them in the UK!

Seat bag: Extra clothing layers, small first aid kit  

Hip pack: Rain gear, wallet, toiletries during the race. During our tour, Andrew used the hip pack camera insert to carry our camera.  

Stem bags: Katadyn BeFree filter in one and snacks in the other

Katie also used a rear top tube bag for a little extra snack capacity. 

When it was time to race, Annie gave us a ride to Tyndrum- she was racing too! It was a stacked field with lots of fast racers. Not only were the riders quick, the conditions were also abnormally dry and fast. There was no rain at all during the race and there was even a wildfire near the route. Our Highland Trail experience was much different than we were expecting- After all the preparation we put into making sure our rain gear was exactly what we wanted, it wasn’t needed at all! 

If you’re interested in our first-person accounts from each of our races, you can watch the videos below. 

Race Videos

Here’s a video from Katie’s race: 

Here’s a video from Andrew’s race:

If you’re interested in reading or listening to Katie’s reflections on her race, you can find her write up (audio also available) here: https://thetownbicycle.com/redefining-self-worth-on-the-highland-trail/

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