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Riding on the edge

Riding on the edge

Sgùrr Dearg on the Isle of Skye is known as the Inaccessible Pinnacle, but that wasn’t enough to put off one daring cyclist

Sgùrr Dearg on the Isle of Skye is known as the Inaccessible Pinnacle, but that wasn’t enough to put off one daring cyclist

August/September 2019

The Black Cuillins, a range of mini-alps in the centre of the Isle of Skye off the north-west coast of Scotland, loomed over my childhood. I used to look up at them from the bus on the way to school and dream about climbing them. I had no idea that I would one day ride along the top and take my bike up to the second-highest summit, known as the Inaccessible Pinnacle, or Sgùrr Dearg in Gaellic.

It’s one of the most extreme places I’ve been on my bicycle. The ride along the ridge to get to the pinnacle was incredible. There’s very little vegetation: it’s mainly bare, black rock. Parts of it are very narrow, with sheer drops on either side. I had to jump over cracks and down loose rocks. But there is no space for fear. I just concentrated on the route ahead.

We camped near the base of the pinnacle and got up early. Miraculously for the Scottish Highlands, it was a clear day. I planned to climb using ropes, with the bike strapped to my back. That morning, though, with the sun shining, I felt so good that I went freestyle. I’m pretty sure-footed, but the vertical rocks made it a tricky climb, especially carrying the bike. I focused on finding the hand and footholds, and keeping my balance.

And then I was there on this amazing morning, 986 metres up, standing on the top with no ropes, taking in a view of my home island that I’d never seen before. It was one of the highlights of my riding career – probably of my life.

I lowered the bike down with a rope, then scrambled after it and carried on riding along Collie’s Ledge, with a 100-metre cliff dropping down on one side, following the spine of my home isle.

Danny MacAskill was talking to Samantha Weinberg