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"Conquering the Highland Trail 550: Dirt Divas take on a challenge of a lifetime"

Long days in the saddle, riding in remote Scottish landscapes, challenging singletrack climbs, sketchy river crossings, and no-one to help fix your snapped chain, or share the weight of your pack... "sounds fun, let's do it" thought six of our team as they sign up to take on this year's HT550 race in May...

So what is this monster of a challenge? The Highland Trail 550 (HT550) is a self supported bike-packing route, 550 miles in length, with over 16000 metres of climbing. The route, which starts and finishes in Tyndrum, features some of Scotland's best scenery and infamous sections of remote singletrack. This is an adventure that will challenge even the most accomplished mountain biker.

Every year in May, approximately 70 riders line up in Tyndrum to take on this challenging route in one mass start. Those at the pointy end of the race will finish in around 3 days, with others taking 8 or more days to complete the epic adventure. No matter how long it takes to complete - we're always inspired by these incredible humans, pushing themselves to complete something so challenging.

Riders are unable to accept support from one another, any provisions must be either carried with them, or purchased along the way from somewhere open to the public. No favours, or moral support from friends and family along the way. Riding bikes isn't the only challenge the participants will face. Typical Scottish weather, coupled with jaggy rocky trails, and many miles between civilisation (and therefore food) means the riders really have to think hard about the logistics of their race.

This year is a little bit different for us, as we see six of our very own Dirt Divas sign up to the race for the first time ever! So we thought we'd ask one of them just what on earth she was thinking...

One of our most experienced coaches, Emily joined the Dirt Divas team last year. Her role at Comrie Croft Bikes, creating and leading bespoke adventures in rural Scotland, and coaching all ages and abilities of mountain bikers, will surely stand her in good stead for this epic adventure?

Why the HT550 Emily?

"I have been following the HT550 for years. However, to enter has always felt very selfish. I have a family and work full time, when would I fit in the training and prep and the actual event around normal life? I always thought it would be something I did when the kids left home. However, this year I was given the green light, and there is no stopping me!

I feel like completing the HT550 is a bit like a right of passage. Although it isn’t something I think I should do, it is something I want to do and I have a deep yearning to complete it. I thrive on challenges and over the years they have just got bigger and bigger.

For many reasons I haven’t really had anything to aim for since Strathpuffer as a solo in 2020, it feels really good to the HT550 this year!"

What are you most looking forward to?

"Getting started. After all the months of obsession, training and preparation, it is always such a relief to just start. I am also really looking forward to Fisherfield."

What do you think will be the biggest challenge?

"Keeping myself properly fed and watered, and avoiding saddle sores.

My aim is to reach the end in a good state."

Good luck to Emily and the rest of the the DD team! We'll be sharing stories about how the team are getting on. 

You can get involved too by following our team and the rest of the riders from the comfort of your own home by taking-part in "dot-watching" - following the riders GPS dots online as they make their way around the north of Scotland. We will also be creating an "Invisible Peloton" which we want everyone to sign up to and match the teams miles on your local trails!

You can follow the rest of the DD HT550 riders here...

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