When is The Best Time of Day to Go Mountain Biking?
As much as I love mountain biking not everyone shares my interest and unfortunatly thare is a small group of people who realy dont like mountainbikers. While most of the hikers, horse riders and walkers I come across on the trails are more than friendly. Sometimes when im out on my bike I just want to get away from people and an empty trail to me is always better than one packed full of walkers and the ocasional waggy finger from a grumpy old man.
Luckily I live in Scotland which has some of the best laws in the world in terms of land access with the Right to Roam (Land Reform Scotland act 2003) for anyone that wants to verbaly shoot down the next grump armed with a waggy finger and a yappy wee dog.
The Right to Roam gives access accross Scotland to people looking to enjoy the out doors provided they do it in a resposible manner and take resposibility for their own actions. It's allway good to know the code before you go. You can check out more about the Scotish outdoor acess code at www.outdooraccess-scotland.scot
The problem is, some really great mountain biking just so happenes to be on some really great hiking trails and it can be hard to "act in a responsible manner" and "take responsibility for your own actions" if you are mowing down tourists and knee caping pensioners at 30 miles per hour on a burly down hill or enduro rig.
For longer distance trail riding and XC stuff like the West Highland Way walkers are often so spaces out (not that kind of spaced out) that it isn't such a problem.
To sum up, if you want to ride down something like the Cobbler or Ben Lomond which recives about 30,000 visitors per year and im going to assume about 29,000 of them visit in the summer you are gonna have to beat the crowds. If you ride and hike your bike up to the summit too early in the morning you'll just be meeting all the walkers on their way up when you ride down. If you set off for the summit in the afternoon you will likely be swerving round walkers on their way back down.
Luckily there is a goldie locks zone. For example Ben Lomond takes 4-5 hours for the average hiker to summit and another couple to get back down.
So lets say it is mid August and sun set is about 8.30pm. No hiker in their right mind is going to start off anytime after 3pm and most walkers wont want to get caught short on a hillside anywhere near dark for obvious reasons. So even the slowest walkers are likely to be clear of the route by about 6 pm or so.
That means about 2 and a half hours of play time if you can get to the top for then and lets be honest it's not taking us 2 and a half hours to get down. For getting up, unlike the munro baggers I have two 27.5 inch nobbly tyres, 12 gears and my hike-a-bike to help me up the climb and rocket me back down the descent. Meaning it literaly takes me less than half the time even if i do have to hike a bike on a good chunk of the climbs.
Simply put, you can beat the crowds and get an almost clear run up and back down some of the most popular spots in Scotland simply by going after the hikers have been and gone.