The Moray Trails Twenty 20 by Jim Sutherland

The Moray Trails Twenty 20 by Jim Sutherland

Earlier this month I organized the fourth edition of The Moray Trails Twenty 20.


This grassroots, low key, charity bikepacking event came about in the depths of the COVID - 19 pandemic after one of the first overnighters that will forever be known as ‘BewareFarmFolk’.  The format is simple.  I ask a wide range of friends and family early on in the year, casting a wide net.  By the time May comes around the number of riders is usually down to less than ten due to changes in folks schedules etc.  Everybody doesn’t usually know everyone else when we set off but I do!  So in a very organic way riders get to meet others and form new friendships, learning other points of view on many, many aspects of life.

‘BewareFarmFolk’ takes its name from an imaginary What3Words location and my inability to remember the word ‘farmer’ after too many whiskies at camp.  The ride was the first government-sanctioned overnighter that myself, Kyle, Dunc, and Al took during the Pandemic.  We chose a modest route, enjoyed making new friends, and of course had a lot of laughs whilst bikepacking.  When we got back home here to Grantown on Spey everyone thought that it would be cool to do something similar again.  I agreed and also wanted to try to mix in some of the great spirit and kindness shown here during those long, difficult days.  So The Moray Trails Twenty 20 was born.


The first edition was in May 2021.  Starting on a Sunday so that key local workers, viz. Eoghain, Al & Sarah were not hard at work in KJ’s Bothy Bakery.  A fellow biker, Laura from nearby Aviemore joined us and my journalist friend, John from Inverness came over to make a group of six.  The weather conditions were pretty good on the first day allowing us to make excellent progress on the 60 miles to the holiday camp at Lossiemouth.  Our route back on Monday was just as varied as the first day with singletrack, forest roads, quiet back roads and disused railway lines.  There was even the chance for some to have a swim.


The same 100 mile route was followed in 2022.  With the same loose plan to take only twenty photos in a PechaKucha style over the two days and to donate £20 to a charity of our choice.  For the second ride we were joined by Ro from the Lake District, Pete a local Grantown man of many talents.  Eoghain, my son, represented the Bothy Bakery.  With Barry our local butcher playing a crucial logistical role in our Team!  We had slightly tougher conditions this year but still had fun, rode great trails and formed more new friendships.  At the end of the trip Ro pointed out that I might want to consider a different route for future editions if I wanted The Moray Trails Twenty 20 to be even more inclusive.


So for 2023 I created a more adventurous but shorter route from Grantown on Spey to a well set up campsite by the River Findhorn near Logie.  Riders this year included a return appearance by Sarah, my keen walker and cyclist Sheena and my friend Kyle who teaches at the local school and is now living in Forres.  The twenty miles each day meant that there was more time for exploration enroute as well as the opportunity at camp to enjoy cooking together and a yarn at the firepit.


Al Gilmour was the rider who inspired me to start The Moray Trails Twenty 20 and for 2024 he thoughtfully created a series of stickers for each edition.  Look out for them on your travels or on the laptops and garage walls of riders you might know.  These by now coveted 2024 stickers went to Sheena (returning rider), my daughter Edana and her partner Seoras, my brother in law Alasdair and local bike shop owner and friend Ian from Auldearn.


We could not have asked for better conditions this year and were able to take a spectacular higher level route with three different trails taking us to camp at ACE Adventures.  By now we had learned that caching beer on the way and firewood/food/more beer nearby only adds to the enjoyment.  After all this was not The Tour Divide!


I hope that you enjoy the photos from over the years and also enjoy reading about how something as simple as riding bikes and camping in the woods can help us all say ‘Thanks’ to one another for being there.  We can also appreciate what our friends are doing in tough times.


Reading next

Take another step: How to backpack faster, longer, and more enjoyably by Heather Hoechst
Kangchenjunga: Nepal’s Wild East by Dave Stamboulis

Leave a comment

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.