Our site works best with JavaScript enabled.

Daring Deeds - real stories, expeditions, road trips and adventure

Searching for the Mountain Haggis

By Steve Bate
30, May, 2017

No one takes on a challenge quite like Steve Bate

On June 14th 2011 I was diagnosed with the degenerative eye condition Retinitis Pigmentosa and given a worst case outcome of blindness in five years.

A prognosis like that makes you re-evaluate your life, and I realised that there were a whole lot of things I wanted to see before I couldn't see, including Yosemite Valley from the top of El Capitan. In 2013 I realised this dream, becoming the first visually impaired person to solo climb the 2300 metre face of El Capitan. What do you do when you've achieved your dream? You find a new one. I then turned my attention to para-cycling at the suggestion of a friend. Now I'm not one to do things by halves, and always keen to prove that ordinary people could do extraordinary things, I set myself the goal of competing in the 2016 Rio paralymics - a tall order for someone who had never raced a road bike, rode a tandem, or cycled in a velodrome before. However, not one to back down from a challenge, I returned from Rio with two gold medals, one bronze, and one world record.

For all the adrenaline and joy that competitive cycling at elite level can bring, it can become somewhat disconected from the isolated beauty found if you take yourself away for a few days and what ultimately keeps me sane. So in March, together with my friend and best man Ibrahim, I embarked on a five day bike-packing voyage through some of the wild places most precious to me. The stars aligned, high pressure was forecast, and my brand new Sonder Vir Fortis fat bike was ready to go. Leaving Contin just north of Inverness, we travelled off-road via farm tracks, forestry roads and mountainous footpaths. Thanks to the Scottish Access Code of 2003, people can travel all wild paths and land, as long as they do so in a responsible manner. A forward-thinking government bill and one that mountain bikers relish.

After the first day’s riding, we had seen three people in six hours, and this theme continued throughout the journey. We enjoyed clear blue skies and no wind, leaving the lochs like giant mirrors reflecting mountainous skylines. We rolled into small Scottish towns like Ullapool and Loch Carron to resupply. Friendly locals were overwhelmed by the size of our tyres and our plans to ride over distant mountains. 

On day three we were joined by friends, old and new, and we chased each other down rocky single tracks, crossed knee-deep freezing rivers, swam naked in icy lochs, and shouldered our bikes up relentless mountain paths. When the load became a burden we stopped to take in breathtaking views. Our fat bikes monstered though the rough terrain, big tyres soaking up whatever the land threw at us. This was the most fun I’d ever had on two wheels. The evenings were spent in bivi bags or remote bothies.

The weather held for the first four days, before we woke high in Glen Affric. The visibility was down to twenty metres. We were back on the stoney single track before long, which then turned into Land Rover tracks, then forestry tracks. A sign our adventure was coming to an end as we headed back to civilisation. I’ve walked many of the hills and glens that we rode through, but to link them all as we did would take at least twice the time. This is likely to be my last big adventure of the summer as my focus turns back to racing and my search for a rainbow jersey, elusive like the famous mountain haggis. 

 

  • Google+

In pictures

2 Comments

Share your thoughts about this article.


silver darling
Sounds great, looks amazing, where is it?

Fantastic and excellent photos. Where were the photos taken? Would be great to know, you could maybe use captions on the pics.

That would avoid a finger wagging -

It's ironic that on a web page written by someone with visual impairment, text descriptions of the photos are missing. They help people using screen readers to get an idea of photo content as well as those who get grumpy cos they can't figure where they were taken. Ask your web bod, they can sort it. As it is, it breaks the Disability Discrimination Act and gives Tim Berners-Lee a twitch.

- drops finger

Dave
Fantastic effort

Fantastic effort and would a go on a fat bike

Related Deeds

Project Grandmas
Cycling to grandmas
In Daring Deeds
The Iceland National Trail: Part 2
Ben Turner recounts a day on the Iceland National Trail
In Daring Deeds
Teuchters on Tour
Lessons learned cycle-touring Norway
In Daring Deeds
Double vision
winning double gold in paralympics and worlds
In Daring Deeds
Athlete Adventures: Iceland National Trail
Ben Turner links the first Iceland National Trail
In Daring Deeds

News

Ireland To Asia: A Year On My Bike
Tales from Sean Hoban's journey to Asia
In News
Alpkit Adventure Weekender
Join us in store for an adventure filled weekend
In News
Teuchters on Tour
Fundraising cycle trip
In News
Silk Road Mountain Race
An unsupported bikepacking race in the mountains of Kyrgyzstan
In News
What’s in store bank holiday weekend?
Make the most of this Bank Holiday
In News

Develop

Bags more packs in our range
New packs for you to put your kit in
In Develop
Gripping Developments In Gloves
A whole new glove range: the inside story
In Develop
New UK Made Bikepacking Bag Range
UK-made bike luggage shifts up a cog
In Develop
Sonder Evol: Q&A with Bike Guru Neil
Sonder's new 140mm trail bike
In Develop
The low-down on Polygiene™
Wear more, wash less: you can't get simpler than that!
In Develop

Spotlight

Supporting the Silk Road Race
Watching dots on the Silk Road
In Spotlight
The Who’s Who of Alpkit Backpacks
Navigating our new range of packs
In Spotlight
A Lake District Guide to Hike-A-Biking
How and why to hike-a-bike
In Spotlight
Handy Glove Guide
Need a hand finding your way around our new glove range?
In Spotlight
Wild Camping Tips and Kit List
The guide to getting it right when camping out
In Spotlight

Kudos