Rigs of the 2022 Highland Trail 550 (HT550)

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Well known for its rocky and twisty singletrack, beautiful scenery, remote wilderness, and fickle Scottish weather, the 550-mile Highland Trail (HT550) kicks off tomorrow in Tyndrum, Scotland, and boasts over 50,000 feet (16,000 meters) of climbing. Find our gallery of almost 50 race rigs here, featuring bag and gear highlights for each…

The Highland Trail 550 (HT550) is one of the most prestigious bikepacking events in the UK, if not the world, attracting some of the best ultra-endurance athletes year after year. The 550-mile route takes some of Scotland’s most rugged, remote, and beautiful backcountry via a stitchwork of rocky and rowdy singletrack, racking up some 50,000 feet of vertical gain along the way. There are currently around 70 riders registered for the grand depart, which takes off from the small village of Tyndrum tomorrow at 9 a.m. There are a handful of familiar names on the roster, including Elizabeth Sampey, Angus Young, Naomi Freireich, Phillipa Battye, route creator Alan Goldsmith, and regular contributor Huw Oliver.

With the help of Alan and the participants, we’ve gathered bike and gear details for nearly 50 folks who are taking on the HT550 this year. Scroll through to get a good look at all the rigs rig and then head over to the 2022 Highland Trail 550 event page to follow along live when they roll out in the morning.

Alan Goldsmith

Age 58 / Wiltshire, England (UK)

2022 Highland Trail 550 Rigs

BIKE: 2018 Trek Top Fuel 9.8 with SRAM Eagle 1x (30 oval x 10/52), XT Brakes, Maxxis Ardent 2.25 tyres. Reverb dropper post.
BAGS: Ortlieb handlebar bag and seatpack. Alpkit top tube bag. Osprey Tallon 22 backpack for more efficient hike-a-bike.
GEAR HIGHLIGHTS: Big Agnes Fly Creek UL1 tent. PHD sleeping bag, Exped synmat. Columbia Outdry jacket. An eTrex 20 for navigation.

Aleksander Pachulski

Age 26 / Sopot, Poland

2022 Highland Trail 550 Rigs

BIKE: I’ll be racing HT550 on my Trek supercaliber 9.8. The drivetrain and brakes are Shimano XT together with some Garbaruk bling. It rolls on VYTYV aviator XC wide wheelset and I’ll add some Vittoria Barzos 29 x 2.25″ tires.
BAGS: All bags are JackPack bikepacking, few prototypes.
GEAR HIGHLIGHTS: My discovery of this year are SQlab 711 R grips, which are a perfect middle ground between flat and round grips. I’ll use Garmin InReach 66 for both navigation and tracking and Wahoo Roam for numbers and as a backup. Modified Convoy S2 lamps (one on my helmet and one on the bike).

Alex Berry

Age 40 / Disley, Peak District (UK)

2022 Highland Trail 550 Rigs

BIKE: I will be riding my 2019 Cannondale F-Si Hi Mod World Cup Team Replica with a carbon lefty Ocho fork (which I have wrapped with 10 meters of frame protection). Everything on the bike is designed to go fast and be light. The only change to the stock configuration is a set of Ergon GP3 grips and a 27.2 Brand X dropper post. I’m running stock ENVE M525 wheels along with a Schwable 2.25 and 2.35 tyre combo and a SRAM XX1 Eagle 12s groupset. It’s a bike designed for short and fast XC races, so it will be interesting to see how it holds up during this event.
BAGS: Wayward Riders dropper post harness with Ortlieb dry bag, and Ortlieb dry bar bag on the bars. Apidura road frame bag modified to fit, Alpkit top tube bag, and an old CamelBak HAWG rucksack.
GEAR HIGHLIGHTS: I have been generously been lent a lightweight tent, mat, midge net, head torch from good friend, James Eldridge. I’m trying to keep the weight down, so the majority of my weight is dehydrated expedition meals that I will be carrying along with a stove in my backpack and a power bank for my Garmin. I’m taking an Exposure 6 pack and Diablo, as I expect that I will be riding in the dark as much as possible. To supplement night riding, I’m also carrying a Patagonia Nano-Air hoody to hopefully keep me warm. I have just bought some Specialized Recon 2 shoes, and I’m very impressed with how easy they are to walk and hike in, which could be a massive saving grace on the hike-a-bike sections.

Andrew Broadway

Age 40 / Edinburgh, Scotland

2022 Highland Trail 550 Rigs

BIKE: Testing out the saying that the best bike is the one you have, I’ll riding by trusted Genesis Vagabond. Made a few changes to the setup from the Dales Divide last month – switched to a 1x drivetrain, so it’s a mix from Shimano GRX 11-42 out back and a 30T Deore up front. My friend Matt kindly built me up a new front wheel, allowing me to push the frame clearance to its limit and run a 2.8″ tyre up front and a 2.6″ tyre out back, both Schwalbe Nobby Nics on 27.5″ DT Swiss rims. Also swapped out the handlebars for some wider drops (Ritchey Venturemax XL) to add a bit more slow-speed stability.
BAGS: Bags all by Alpkit (as is probably 90% of my gear!) – 13L saddle and handlebar bags and 6L frame bag. Also carrying a small runner’s pack with a bladder, as I find this much easier to drink from when off-road.
GEAR HIGHLIGHTS: Outdoor Research Bivvy, selected largely because it’s light and has an integrated midge net. Smidge Head Net and Repellent – think there might be a theme developing here…

Angus Young

Age 26 / Blandford Forum, Dorset (England)

2022 Highland Trail 550 Rigs

BIKE: Mason RAW, built up with Shimano XT, RockShox SID 120mm, and PNW dropper. For wheels, I’ll be rolling on Hunt Trailwides shod with 2.35″ Racing Ralphs and an insert fitted on the rear. Some mini tribars to help with the road sections.
BAGS: Bags are all from Straight Cut Design. Handmade in Edinburgh, the centerpiece is the DCF framebag that holds the majority of my kit, aided by a large top tube bag and a new dropper seatpost bag. I’ll also carry a Salomon running vest.
GEAR HIGHLIGHTS: Clothingwise, I’ll be wearing a mixture of DHB’s Aeron ultra and trail lines. This kit has been tried and tested over several races now and is as comfortable as you can get. Sleep system is the racer’s favourite of an OR Helium bivvy, Klymit inertia mat, and a puffy jacket and trousers. Lights are Exposure, a sixpack up front and a TraceR on the rear. I also have a Petzl headlamp. Navigation from a Garmin Edge 530.

Brian Alder

Age 57 / Takaka, Golden Bay (NZ)

2022 Highland Trail 550

BIKE: I’ll be racing the HT550 on a Santa Cruz Tallboy. The bike features a Pike 130 fork, Maxxis Rekon 2.4″ tyres, a SRAM Eagle drivetrain with 30T chainring, Reserve wheels, and Bike Yoke dropper, plus an SQLab 12º handlebar with bar-ends.
BAGS: As always, a set of Apidura bags favoured for their waterproofness, plus a homemade frame bag. Sleeping kit in the front, clothes in the back, food and bits and bobs in the middle. I’ll also wear an Apidura hydration pack primarily to carry food (and keep the midge net handy).
GEAR HIGHLIGHTS: I’ll be sleeping in a trusty Macpac bivvy and Cumulus bag. The foam pad is on the maybe list. My clothing system is based on NZ merino, including my Ground Effect Knicks. I’m hoping a new set of waterproofs will keep the Scottish mist at bay. Garmin eTrex for navigation, Fenix battery-powered lights.

Bruce Griffiths

Age 30 / Aviemore, Scotland (UK)

2022 Highland Trail 550 Rigs

BIKE: My Specialized GrEpic Evo that I’ve ‘created’ with the help of my local bike shop, Aviemore Bikes. I can’t do mountain bike handlebars for more than 3-4 hours, so I’ve whacked a set of gravel bars on with a tiny stem. It’s mostly GRX doing the braking and shifting with some big, chunky, and possibly wobbly SIDs to smooth things out at the front. No idea what the wheels are but they seem decent, set up tubeless with some Bontrager tyres.
BAGS: A mega Straight Cut Design custom frame bag fills the main triangle, and just as custom but a bit more homebrew is my seatpack. Specialized bar harness and dry bag at the front for my sleep stuff, and top tube bag from them too. Also using a running pack for snacks and water.
GEAR HIGHLIGHTS: Garmin Edge 530 with battery pack, some device compared to what I was previously used to. Also, the Garbaruk GRX cage allowing the bigger cassette.

Campbell Davidson

Age 35 / Glasgow (Scotland)

2022 Highland Trail 550

BIKE: I’ll be riding the HT550 on a 2020 Cannondale Scalpel Si Hi Mod 1. The bike features a carbon Lefty Ocho, XTR brakes, a 1×12 drivetrain, Cannondale Hollowgram Carbon hoops clad with a 2.25″ Schwalbe Racing Ray up front, and will have a 2.20″ Maxxis Ardent Race installed on the rear. Key modifications include a OneUp dropper seat post, Alpkit Confucius bars, and Lifeline ergonomic handlebar grips.
BAGS: Revelate Designs full-suspension frame bag (size 2), small Revelate Designs Sweetroll handlebar bag, Apidura Backcountry dropper seat bag, Decathlon top tube and cockpit bags. I’ll also be wearing a Montane Gecko VP 20+ trail running vest for food and hydration pack.
GEAR HIGHLIGHTS: Cumulus 350 down quilt paired with a Therm-a-Rest Neoair pad for my sleep system, with shelter provided by a TrekkerTent single-pole tent with midge/groundsheet (weighing in at 0.7kg including pole and pegs). Garmin eTrex 30 for navigation, and lighting via 2 x Exposure Diablos. Key items of clothing include Rapha Core cargo bib shorts for extra easily accessible pocket space and a lightweight Endura GV500 waterproof jacket. I’ll carry Tailwind Nutrition Recovery Stickpacks to aid recovery and electrolyte intake.

Carl Hopps

Age 35 / Leeds (UK)

2022 Highland Trail 550 Rigs

BIKE: I’ll be riding my Fairlight Secan 2.5 gravel machine with 2″ Vittoria Saguaro tyres. I have a 36T chainring at the front and an 11-46 Sunrace cassette on the back.
BAGS: Full set of Restrap Adventure Race range kit. Might swap out the small frame bag for the large one!
GEAR HIGHLIGHTS: Sleeping on a Klymit X-frame mat in an OEX bivvy. Love my Albion insulated jacket for when it starts to get nippy, and with it being the HT550, I should get to test out the Albion Zoa rain shell too. Lighting the way with an Exposure Toro and a Led Lenser MH10 head torch.

Cat Magill

Age 42 / Edinburgh, Scotland (UK)

2022 Highland Trail 550 Rigs

BIKE: I’m riding a Titus El Viajero, with a few alterations from what came in the box. I’ve put on my faded sparkly gold handlebars, added some Ergon GP3 grips, and swapped out the Smart Sam 29 x 2.1 front tyre for a Maxxis Ardent Race 29 x 2.35. Drivetrain is SRAM GX Eagle 1×12 with a 32T chainring and 11-50 cassette.
BAGS: I’ve got a hodgepodge of bags up front: old Apidura handlebar pack, Restrap stem bags (an excellent recent addition to my kit, supporting the ability to eat continuously), Alpkit fuel pod, Lomo frame bag. On the rear are the gorgeous Tailfin rack and Tailfin trunk top bag. Options for rear luggage for short people on small frames without braze-ons are not abundant, and after a lot of searching and stressing, I’m very grateful to have found something that works.
GEAR HIGHLIGHTS: I’ll be waffling about exactly what to take up to the last minute, but it’s looking like my sleep setup will be an Alpkit Elan bivvy, lightweight summer sleeping bag with a Sea to Summit thermal liner, and Therm-a-Rest NeoAir sleeping mat. If the forecast looks rainier, I’ll take my Big Agnes tent. Clothing collection will include full waterproofs and some lightweight but warm Rab Xenon mitts, two merino shirts, two pairs of shorts, a Patagonia Nano-Air jacket, and some arm and leg warmers. Top highlight is my new Specialized Mimic saddle, which I hope will keep me comfortable for some very long days on the bike. And finally, a Wahoo Elemnt Bolt to keep me on track.

Chris Simpson

Age 37 / Banyoles, Catalunya (Spain)

2022 Highland Trail 550

BIKE: Almost the exact same setup I took on the 2021 GBDuro. It’s a full-suspension Canyon Lux, 100mm travel front and rear. SRAM AXS on the drivetrain with a 34T Quarq Power Meter up front and a 10-52 out the back. The only real change from GBDuro is the tires – Maxxis Ardent Race on the rear and a Forekaster up front both in 2.35. XTR Pedals and a dropper post to round it off. Might add some mudhuggers depending on the weather.
BAGS: Pretty stock on the bags, classic Revelate Designs front to back.
GEAR HIGHLIGHTS: The kit will depend on the weather forecast but even then on the cautious side. Full set of waterproofs with Patagonia Dirt Roamer Pants and Patagonia M10 Jacket plus Nano Puff jacket and vest. My choice of sleep system will depend on the weather, but most likely Sea To Summit Spark Sleeping bag and ultralight mat plus a Nordisk Lofoten Tent for emergencies if the weather comes in.

Christine Campbell

Age 40 / Aviemore (Scotland)

2022 Highland Trail 550 Rigs

BIKE: 2016 Genesis Longitude, RockShox Reba 80mm, Crossmark (rear) and Ardent Race (front), Deore XT 2×10; 11-36 cassette and 24-38 chainrings, DCR wheels rims with Hope hubs, Hope Tech 3 X2 brakes. Ergon saddle and grips. Mudhuggers.​
BAGS: Mixture of bags for a small frame with little clearance; Wildcat harness, Ortlieb frame bag, Revelate Terrapin 8L, POD and Revelate feed pouches.​
GEAR HIGHLIGHTS: My ‘sleep’ system is NeoAir Xlite (and repair patches), Therm-a-Rest sleeping bag, and Nordisk tent. Navigation by eTrex 30. Taking a Pocket Rocket stove and enough food for hot meals for first half of the trail. Hoping to find space for at least half a pizza and about a kilo of flapjacks. Also Smidge, as the midges aren’t bad (yet!) but ticks are rampant this year. Too soon to say what level of waterproofing will be required.

Daniel Gona

Age 41 / Zurich (Switzerland)

2022 Highland Trail 550

BIKE: I’ll be riding (and hiking) the HT550 on my custom Ibis Ripley 4. The bike features Manitou/Formula suspension, Formula/Galfer brakes, Shimano drivetrain and Ergon/CrankBrothers contact points. I’ll roll on custom Newmen wheels with Schwalbe tires and Rimpact inserts, and I’ll walk in Fizik Shoes.
BAGS: The most colourful part of my bag setup is a Oveja Negra Wack Pack half frame bag, it has seen four bikes and many, many miles. I also use some Apidura, Revelate Designs, and Ortlieb bags.
GEAR HIGHLIGHTS: A drJ0n Strapdeck and Voile straps secure the bags, a Terra Nova Laser gives me shelter, a Rab Mythic keeps me warm. Exposure Lights enable night riding, a Wahoo Roam for navigation, and a Garmin InReach Mini does the tracking.

David Chirnside

Age 52 / Kiwi living in Prague, Czech Republic

2022 Highland Trail 550

BIKE: I’ll be riding my Canyon Exceed Eagle 1×10-50 grip shift with an AB 30T front cog. Brakes are mechanical TRP Spykes as the SRAM hydros have failed three times on this bike. I’ve added a VAP Butterfly 2 to keep the front roll off my wheel as I’m riding a small frame with shocks. Tyres either Mezcal 2.25s or Ikon 2.20s.
BAGS: Oveja Negra seat bag, custom Bob’s Bike Bags frame bag, 2x Topeak toptube bags, 2x Apidura feed bags, front roll is a Sea to Summit event compression bag. Also, either a silnylon backpack or an ultralight runner’s backpack for extra food space as a critical resupply is closed.
GEAR HIGHLIGHTS: eTrex 30x with 520 backup, Fenix lights with an old BT10; Montbell Bivvy with Cumulus down bag. Gore Shakedry jacket as I heard it rains up there sometimes. Montbell waterproof pants, Rab Primaloft insulated jacket, wool layers and arm/leg warmers. Shimano MT7 shoes.

David García

Age 47 / Santa Cruz de Tenerife (Spain)

2022 Highland Trail 550 Rigs

BIKE: Jeónimo Ti custom frame. ZTR Crest rings. Hope front hub and SP dynamo hub. XT double chainring group. Vittoria Barzo 2.25″ and Mezcal 2.25″ tires.
BAGS: Ortlieb.
GEAR HIGHLIGHTS: Garmin eTrex 20. Exposure lights. Alpkit sleeping bag. NeoAir mat.

Dawn Anderson

Age 37 / Cairngorms, Scotland (UK)

2022 Highland Trail 550

BIKE: BH Lynx, 2×11 drivetrain (mixture of SLX, XT, and XTR kit), Vittoria Peyote and Gato tyres, wheel inserts.
BAGS: Mainly Revelate bags (Harness with Sweetroll and Egress Pocket, Shrew, and Jerrycan) and Apidura top tube bag for snacks.
GEAR HIGHLIGHTS: Nordisk Lofoten tent, Sea to Summit Spark III bag, Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Xlite, Exposure light (Toro).

Donnacha Cassidy

Age 33 / Killarney, Ireland (UK)

2022 Highland Trail 550 Rigs

BIKE: 2012 Specialized Stumpjumper 29er frame with a new SRAM GX Eagle 12 speed drivetrain. 32t x 10/50. Stan’s Crest MK3 rims with a SON dynamo hub powering a kLite. I went with a 2.25″ Maxxis Rekon up front and a 2.25″ Rekon Race in the back.
BAGS: The Sea to Summit front roll stores my sleeping kit and some clothing. My Rogue Panda seat bag is for more clothing and food. The Apidura frame pack has all my electronics and tools.
GEAR HIGHLIGHTS: I’ll be wearing an Ultimate Direction running vest to carry a lot of backup food. Shops are few and far between. Also bringing a Katadyn Befree filter.

Elizabeth Sampey

Age 39 / Van Life, Colorado (USA)

2022 Highland Trail 550 Rigs

BIKE: I’ll be riding the HT550 on a 2022 Revel Ranger, 120/115 suspension, rolling on Revel RW30 wheels with Industry Nine Hydra hubs, and Maxxis Aspen 29 x 2.25″ tires.
BAGS: Custom frame bag from Rogue Panda Designs, Alamogordo and Rincon top tube bags, an Oracle down tube bag, and two Bismarck handlebar bags. Rogue Panda harness for my front roll with a drybag lined with a plastic trash bag to protect my sleep system, and perhaps a small bag in the rear. I’ll be carrying an Osprey Sylva 12L backpack that will house my tent.
GEAR HIGHLIGHTS: I’ve never carried a tent in a race before, but on account of the wild and wet Scottish weather and the local midge population, I reckon it’s a smart idea. I’ve got a Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL 1p, which will house my Therm-a-Rest Hyperion 20-degree bag and Uberlite pad (which might double as a packraft if the river crossings are high), a small down puffy, wool socks, and a merino shirt and long underwear that will hopefully remain my dry layer throughout. Lights are a pair of Fenix PD35 tactical flashlights, and I’ll be navigating with my good old eTrex 20.

Gail Brown

Age 31 / Bristol (UK)

2022 Highland Trail 550 Rigs

BIKE: Riding a 2020 Scott Scale 940 frame, which was a very last-minute change due to an unforeseen crack in my 930 frame! The spec is what I had before, Fox 32 Float Rhythm 100mm fork, SRAM Eagle NX 32T chainring with 11-50 cassette. Running 29″ carbon HUNT dynamo wheels with Nobby Nic 2.25″ tyres.
BAGS: I’m really lucky to be on the Research and Design team for Tailfin. They’re developing a range of bikepacking bags and I’m testing a few here. 5L cargo cages and cargo packs on the front fork. Alloy Tailfin rack, Aeropack, and 5L mini panniers on the rear. Top tube bag and frame bag are prototypes.
GEAR HIGHLIGHTS: I’ve gone for comfort/security over weight and am taking a tent (Nordisk ULW 1) as well as lots of room for snacks. I’m also using a SON dynamo hub and Igaro D2 into a battery pack for charging my phone and Garmin. However, I’m concerned I won’t be moving fast enough, so I have a battery-powered Garmin eTrex as a backup!

Huw Oliver

Age 31 / Kingussie, Scotland (UK)

2022 Highland Trail 550 Rigs

BIKE: Salsa Spearfish, Shimano XT 1×12 drivetrain, Hope Tech 3 E4 Brakes, Reynolds wheels, Maxxis Ikon and Rekon Race 29 x 2.35″ tyres.
BAGS: Custom Revelate designs frame bag, Pronghorn harness, Shrew seat bag, and Mag-Tank for all the snacks!
GEAR HIGHLIGHTS: I’m using an Enlightened Equipment synthetic quilt (because Scotland is terminally damp), a lightweight SOL bivvy bag, and a Kylmit sleeping mat that looks more like something from an ‘adult’ shop. Most of the rest of my equipment is snacks.

Ian Ashton

Age 50 / North Yorkshire (UK)

2022 Highland Trail 550 Rigs

BIKE: 2017 Trek Stache. The only thing left from the original bike is the frame, fork, crankset, and rear tyre. As 29 x 3″ tyres have been a problem to get hold of, I either went big and gnarly from my Full Stache or I had to go for the available Bomboloni up front. Running on new 35mm instead of 40mm rims, as this seems to give a little more support and is less prone to pinches, and also a little less finicky about perfect tyre pressures. Dumped the Jones Bars I’ve been riding for three years and fitted Stooge Moto bars with taped bar inboards (can’t be bar ends, can they!?) so a lot like riding on hoods. Early May during a long Lake District test loop, the freshly fitted Eagle drivetrain was causing problems. With such a short rear end, the chain line was too severe and kept dropping the chain. I tried 46 and then reverted to Sunrace 11-42 rear but with a 28 front.
BAGS: Gone for a little more organisation in my bags, and gone for smaller, but specific bags, to prevent digging all the way to the bottom of larger bags for what I want. Podsacs and Alpkit fully waterproof. All of this seems to have given me a much more rideable bike down techy descents, and even the notorious Lake District rocks didn’t damage the downtube bag.
GEAR HIGHLIGHTS: One-season sleeping bag and Alpkit Soloist tent, with clothes for layers. If I’m cold, I just have to have a nap and keep going!

Jade Saskia Field

Age 30 / Leeds, Yorkshire (UK)

2022 Highland Trail 550 Rigs

BIKE: My bike is a 2021 Genesis Fugio 30 in the most rad colourway. I have upgraded to a wide range cassette for the Yorkshire hills and 50mm tyres for chunky trails. I’ve very recently converted to tubeless, so I’m hoping that pays off. I’ve popped at 34T chainring on especially for HT550. I ride flat pedals and I have a SON dynamo with lights for optimum night riding.
BAGS: I’ve gone with a 14L saddle bag from Restrap, a 7L barbag from Apidura, a top tube bag from Apidura, and two stem pouches (one Restrap, one Apidura). Might not look very cohesive, but these are the bags I already owned that are best suited to a week riding MTB trails in the Highlands!
GEAR HIGHLIGHTS: I’ve gone with a tent as it’s going to take me quite a while to get round, and it’ll be better for getting away from the rain and/or the midges. I’ve packed my warmest sleeping bag and I’ve got my merino pajamas as a luxury item. I think my favourite bit of kit will end up being my waterproof trousers and my brand new raincoat! Otherwise, my bags are just filled with snacks!

Jean Rogelet

Age 41 / Amiens (France)

2022 Highland Trail 550

BIKE: I’ll be testing my “Homemade No3” Steel frame from Columbus 29er and Zona Tubes, Fillet Brazed, T47 BBShell. Equipped with a PIKE Ultimate 140, CE Component carbon boost wheelset, XT Brakes, GX/X01 12 speeds, 30T front ring, and a KS LevSi Seatpost.
BAGS: Miss Grape, Apidura, AGU (A-Cross the 5 limited edition!), Blackburn.
GEAR HIGHLIGHTS: A mosquito net + Outdoor research Helium rain jacket as best allies! A simple but reliable Garmin Edge 530 + Anker 10000mAh, and certainly a trailruning kind of backpack to resupply on the way.

Jim Higgins

Age 48 / Inverness, Scotland (UK)

2022 Highland Trail 550 Rigs

BIKE: I’ll be riding my lovely Mason RAW with SRAM Eagle AXS electronic (a necessity for my dodgy hands!). Gearing will be 32T (Absolute Black oval) up front with 10-50T out back.
BAGS: Custom partial frame bag and top tube bags by Straight Cut Design (based here in Scotland and the best in the business), Revelate Design Handlebar Harness with Salty Roll, Apidura dropper saddle pack.
GEAR HIGHLIGHTS: I’ll try to keep things minimal, so it’s a Sea to Summit SP1 sleeping bag with OR Helium bivvy. No stove. This is the Scottish Highlands, so I’ll be packing full waterproofs!

Jordan Matthews

Age 28 / Durham (UK)

2022 Highland Trail 550 Rigs

BIKE: Sonder Frontier, Deore 10-speed, DT Swiss EX511 Wheels with Maxxis Ardent 29 X 2.25 tyres.
BAGS: Alpkit Frame Bag holding chargers, toiletries, and spares. Alpkit Stem Bags holding food, glasses, hydration tablets, sun cream (wishful thinking), and midge spray. Straight Cut Design Handlebar Harness with an Ortlieb dry bag holding tent, sleeping bag, and mat. Ortlieb Saddlebag holding waterproofs, spare clothes, stove, and some food.
GEAR HIGHLIGHTS: Hand-built dynamo wheels, overview map print-out with notes of distances, shop opening times, etc., and three pairs of socks as my feet are always cold! Also taking a tent because midges and rain love me. Gamin eTrex and Wahoo for navigation.

Kasia Breska

Age 42 / Hebden Bridge, England (UK)

2022 Highland Trail 550 Rigs

BIKE: I’ll be riding steel frame Ragley Blue Pig, with 27.5″ Hope wheels. Both bike and the wheels are locally designed and its name comes from our beloved descent. The bike is built by me, has SQ Lab handlebars with 12-degree backsweep, a lot of Hope components, and a 1×11 drivetrain with 30T chainring. Fox 150mm fork is a bit of an overkill for the race but at the same time, it’s so much fun! I choose Vittoria Barzo 2.35″ tyres, tubeless. Short 35mm stem with a slight upward angle gives a comfortable position, and flat pedals offer my feet comfort and flexibility.
BAGS: Apidura and custom made bags by my friend, so again, all more or less locally made, plus a small Montane rucksack for the use of bladder and additional food storage.
GEAR HIGHLIGHTS: Garmin eTrex 32 for navigation, small head torch, and down-free jackets for sustainability. Window insulation foam for a good night sleep, virtually unbreakable.

Lorah Pierre

Age 33 / Brighton (UK)

2022 Highland Trail 550 Rigs

BIKE: Pipedream A.L.I.C.E., custom-built DT Swiss XR391 29″ wheelset with 2.4 Maxiss Rekons, Jones H-Bars.
BAGS: A mix of Apidura and Restrap. No doubt I will streamline before the startline.
GEAR HIGHLIGHTS: My eyeball bell.

Loreto García

Age 47 / Santa Cruz de Tenerife (Spain)

2022 Highland Trail 550 Rigs

BIKE: Ti custom frame. ZTR Crest rings. Hope front hub and SP dynamo hub. XT double chainring group. Vittoria Barzo 2.25 and mezcal 2.25”.
BAGS: Ortlieb Handlebar Bag and Bindle Rack with Terrapin Drybag by Revelate Designs.
GEAR HIGHLIGHTS: Enlightened Equipment quilt and Neo Air mat. Ferrino tent. Garmin eTrex 20.

Lukas Franciszkiewicz

Age 34 / Basel (Switzerland)

2022 Highland Trail 550 Rigs

BIKE: I’ll be taking my Santa Cruz Highball hardtail to Scotland. For the HT550 I’ll run a Vittoria 2.35″ Mezcal rear and Barzo front tyre. Gearing is Shimano 1×12 with a 30T up front.
BAGS: In terms of bag, I will be taking a self made frame wedge, a Wildcat saddle pack and a pair of top tube bags. After a few test rides, I decided to ditch the handlebar harness in the picture and take a light backpack instead. An additional water bottle is mounted to the fork with a Wolf Tooth B-RAD and some cable ties.
GEAR HIGHLIGHTS: Waterproof jacket and trousers from 7Mesh.

Maurice Guy

Age 29 (30 by the end) / Corfe Mullen, Dorset (UK)

2022 Highland Trail 550 Rigs

BIKE: Ghost SLAMR full-suspension trail bike, freshly rebuilt with new rocker arms and bearings that arrived from Germany at the start of the week, Fox fork and shock, Shimano wheels, brakes, and drivetrain.
BAGS: Two custom frame bags (made last weekend) from BIGxTop and a selection of cobbled-together bar rolls and seat bags from Alpkit and Restrap.
GEAR HIGHLIGHTS: Mountain Equipment Firefly and Outdoor Research Bivvy, Alpkit stove and pot, a big pile of Snickers bars, Jelly Babies, spare parts, and optimism.

Marcus Nicolson

Age 31 / Glasgow (UK)

2022 Highland Trail 550 Rigs

BIKE: Shand Shug Hardtail, Barzo front, Mezcal Rear, Shimano 1×11, SQ Labs bar inners, Ergon GA3 grips.
BAGS: Most bags are from Straight Cut Design in Edinburgh. Excited to try out the new dropper compatible seatpack! Hoping it will serve as a mudguard too!
GEAR HIGHLIGHTS: Midge net! Trusty Etrex 20x. I know the dynamo isn’t the best option on this kind of terrain but happy to have a back-up light!

Mike DeBernardo

Age 39 / Milngavie, Scotland (UK)

2022 Highland Trail 550 Rigs

BIKE: Pipedream Sirius single speed, 32×20. 120mm Pike, 200mm dropper. A 2.4″ Aspen rear tyre, 2.6″ Rekon front. Stans Flow rims, Hope hubs. Stooge Junker bars covered in copious amounts of foam and bar tape. TRP brakes.
BAGS: Homemade seat bag, frame bag, and snack/bottle bags on handlebars. Revelate Gas Tank and a modified Straight Cut Harness. Osprey backpack.
GEAR HIGHLIGHTS: Lots of homemade snacks.

Morten Kjærsgaard

Age 60 / Viborg, Denmark

2022 Highland Trail 550 Rigs

BIKE: Scott Spark FS Team Issue 2021. Hunt front wheel, SON Hub dynamo, 2.35″ Maxxis Rekon Race tyres, Wahoo ELEMNT, eTrex 30 backup.
BAGS: Apidura, VAUDE. Camelbak 2L.
GEAR HIGHLIGHTS: Aero bars: Profile Sport.

Naomi Freireich

Age 47 / Edinburgh, Scotland (UK)

2022 Highland Trail 550 Rigs

BIKE: I’m riding a beautiful custom-painted Mason RAW. It’s built with 120mm RockShox SIDS and Shimano SLX for durability. It has an X-Fusion Maniac dropper post, and I’ve fitted ESI Grips and a Selle Italia Diva Lady Gelflow saddle that matches the setup on my other bikes.
BAGS: I’m using Straight Cut Design’s new prototype small frame bag, large top tube bag, and food pouches alongside their production front sling. I’ll also be carrying a backpack. The prototype bags are really going to help me go light and carry weight over the middle of the bike for optimum handling.
GEAR HIGHLIGHTS: After trying to get hold of one for the better part of a year, I finally have an Outdoor Research Helium that I hope will give me the perfect combination of speed, ease, and weight—as well as having a vital midge cover!

Nico Keinath

Age 35 / Berlin (Germany)

2022 Highland Trail 550

BIKE: I’ll be racing the HT550 on a Stanton Sherpa Ti frame with a RockShox SID Ultimate 120mm front suspension. The bike features a Vittoria Mezcal/Barzo 2.35″ tire combination on Beast rims and Chris King hubs, the drivetrain is 1×12 SRAM GX AXS with 32/10-52 gears.
BAGS: A set of Revelate Designs bags: Ranger framebag, Harness/Saltyroll/Egress bar bags, Feedbags, and Mag Tank top tube bags. On the rear, I’ll be using a Tailfin AeroPack with bottle cages on the sides. For additional water, I’ll be wearing an Evoc Hydro Pro 3 Vest.
GEAR HIGHLIGHTS: My sleeping setup consists of an MSR Hubba NX tent, a Sea To Summit Ultralight Insulated Air Mat, and a Nomad Orion700 sleeping bag. For navigation, I’ll be using a Wahoo Roam, and for the nighttime, I’ve got a Lupine Neo light on my helmet.

Paul Coats

Age 54 / Hamilton, Lanarkshire (Scotland)

2022 Highland Trail 550

BIKE: Specialized S-Works Epic hard tail, RockShox Reba RL fork (100mm travel), Hunt trail wide wheelset (Maxxis, Rekon Race 2.25 front (30 psi) and rear (35 psi), Shimano XTR groupset, 1 x 12 (32 x 11-52). Deda blast mini clip-on bars.
BAGS: Mix of bags; Restrap frame bag, Restrap bar bag, Topeak top tube bag and saddle bag.
GEAR HIGHLIGHTS: No dynamo for HT550; Exposure Six Pack with 8.7A Support Cell, Diablo MK12 helmet torch. Power; carrying 2 x 10000mAh and 1 x 20000mAh.

Paul Herron

Age 42 / Durham (UK)

2022 Highland Trail 550 Rigs

BIKE: B’TWIN Carbon Rockrider XC900. Continental Race King tyres. Upgraded Race Day damper in the Reba fork. Only other modifications are the addition of aero bars and inner bar ends.
BAGS: Alpkit Koala seat pack holds the things that will keep me warm (bivvy, sleeping bag, warm jacket, etc.). Up front, there are two Koala Stem Cells and two Apidura food pouches for various items. These will carry food and the additional waterproofs I expect to need in the Scottish weather. There are also Topeak and Bontrager top tube bags.
GEAR HIGHLIGHTS: The lack of amenities en route has convinced me to take a Camelbak, which I don’t normally do, and it may or may not be a good idea. But it does free up some space for a coffee flask to top up with hot drinks whenever the opportunity arises. Simple luxuries.

Pete McNeil

Age 36 / Wirksworth, Derbyshire (UK)

2022 Highland Trail 550 Rigs

BIKE: After two previous successful race completions, this year I’ll be riding (not racing) the HT550 on the brand new 2022 Sonder Broken Road. The bike is set up with a 100mm RockShox SID Ultimate fork, Cane Creek Thudbuster ST seatpost, 1×12 (32(oval)-52) Drivetrain (a mashup of SRAM carbon cranks and Shimano XT shifting), Hunt XC wide 29″ wheels laced with new Goodyear PEAK Ultimate 2.4 tyres and a ‘Rockstop’ tyre insert on the rear. The cockpit is based around the excellent Sonder Confucius bars.
BAGS: I’m using a whole host of Alpkit UK made luggage (with the exception of a trusty Revalate Sweetroll up front). Highlights are a custom Stingray framebag, and the new design Koala seatpack with exorail support.
GEAR HIGHLIGHTS: This year, my aim is to try and document the “voices of the HT550” in an audio project that focuses on rider’s motivations. I’ll be starting a bit ahead of the pack and then trying to catch up with and interview as many riders as possible, from across the whole field, while out on the route (also, hopefully, completing my own ITT under self-supported rules in the process). To do this, I’m taking along a bunch of lightweight recording equipment, including a Zoom H1n sound recorder, Gopro Hero 8 on chesty harness (with a “windslayer” mic cover), Purple Panda lavalier mic, and a MOVO VXR10 directional mic with homemade windscreen (made from an old Sea to Summit folding mug). This project links in with my wife Alice’s PhD – looking at cycle journeys in nature – at Sheffield Hallam University.

Philippa Battye

Age 36 / Wiltshire (UK)

2022 Highland Trail 550 Rigs

BIKE: Mason RAW, steel hardtail. Hunt wheels, Maxxis Ardent 2.4 inch tyres. Shimano 1×12 drivetrain.
BAGS: Apidura bags. Tools and spare on downtube.
GEAR HIGHLIGHTS: OR Helium bivy, down trousers and jacket, and Therm-a-Rest neoair. Albion waterproof. Cut off cheap waterproof trousers.

Pierre-Arnaud Le Magnan

Age 54 / Taipei (Taiwan)

2022 Highland Trail 550

BIKE: I will be riding a prototype for the 2022 edition, and proceed to update it following the debrief after the race and before the production and launch of the bike. The bike will feature a new pair of MAXXIS IKON 2.35, a 1×11 XT drivetrain with a 30T chainring, and a pair of 1.15kg CEC textile spoke W27SLD wheels, and the new 27.2 mm FOX Transfer seat dropper. The handlebar is also part of the test ride for CEC Components, the HOOPFLEX-Ti handlebar, allowing plenty of hand positions, vibration damping, and making the roll bag harness obsolete.
BAGS: A mix of Rockgeist standard top tube bag, saddle bag, and a custom bolted frame bag with the possibility to grab the bike by the top tube for all the hike-a-bike HT550 has to offer. I’ll be using a backpack for carrying extra apparel.
GEAR HIGHLIGHTS: A Ferino bivy will serve as my shelter along with an Enlightened Equipment quilt and a full-length prototype Air Mat. I’ll also be carrying an eTrex 20 for navigation and two different headlights for night riding.

Ramon Diaz Colomer

Age 55 / Tarifa, Cadiz (Spain)

2022 Highland Trail 550

BIKE: Cannondale Scalpel Hi-Mod Carbon model 2018 with Lefty 2 fork. Carbon Rockshox Monarch XX 100mm shock, SRAM XO1 Eagle 12-speed 10-50, Hollowgram Carbon Rims, Vittoria Barzo front and Mezcal rear tires.
BAGS: Apidura Expedition handlebar and accessory pocket, backcountry long top tube and and food pouch, Revelate Designs for the rear Terrapin 14L and Jerry Can.
GEAR HIGHLIGHTS: For sleeping, I will carry a one-person Big Agnes Copper Spur tent and a Sea To Summit Spark dry sack. Navigation comes from a Garmin Edge Plus, and power banks to give power to my phone and GPS.

Ricardo Parreirinha (Aka Rick)

Age 43 / Edinburgh (Scotland)

2022 Highland Trail 550 Rigs

BIKE: Hailing from the backstreets of Leith, I will be riding the HT550 on a 2019 Specialized Epic. The bike has been a trusty race steed over the years and has constantly been evolving. For the HT550, I have gone with a 120mm RockShox SID ultimate up front and the standard 100mm on the rear using the RockShox brain. Wheels wise, I have gone for Schwalbe 2.3″ tires (maybe controversial) on Hunt XC wide rims (with a SON dynamo front hub and Cushcore insert on the rear), SRAM AXS GX 12 speed drivetrain coupled with a Shimano chain and XT cassette and 20mm Renthal riser bars. All the stopping power comes from Shimano XTR brakes and rotors. The dropper post is also SRAM AXS and the most quirky bit on my bike is my Newman stem, which only has two bolts! Fingers crossed.
BAGS: The centrepieces of my bag setup are the custom Straight Cut Design frame, top tube, and bar bags. We are lucky to have Ross local to Edinburgh, and his bags are great! To complement this, I will also be running an Apidura dropper seatbag, downtube bag, an extra top tube bag, and their backpack. It all makes for a pretty balanced and light setup.
GEAR HIGHLIGHTS: Cumulus sleeping bag, Inertia, X light short mat, lightweight Alpkit bivy, and of course my luxury pillow. My PEdALED Odessy gillet and bib will also make sure I remain comfortable. Oh, and the mudguard (although ugly) is a must in Scotland. The SON dynamo will also make sure I never run out of power (especially for the long stretches), but realistically I will probably only use it to charge my Wahoo Roam, which I will use for navigation. Still, better than having range anxiety!

Richard Wilson

Age 55 / Carlisle, Cumbria (UK)

2022 Highland Trail 550 Rigs

BIKE: Santa Cruz Blur. SRAM 12sp GX AXS gearing, Fox Transfer dropper, Jones carbon bar.
BAGS: Luggage courtesy Tailfin – nice and solid, no tail wagging here! Salsa out front cage up front carrying my MSR Hubba NX tent and sleep mat. Salsa cage makes life easy packing the dry bag and keeps it away from cables. Worth the weight penalty.
GEAR HIGHLIGHTS: SON dynamo powering Garmin phones and lighting duties. Fuel pods, stem bag up front for Scooby snacks, and small frame pack for tools, etc. Carrying a cooking setup and lots of food!

Rob Abrey

Age 45 / Belper, Derbyshire (UK)

2022 Highland Trail 550

BIKE: I’ll be riding the HT550 on my Santa Cruz Highball C with Rockshox SID fork and Hope/Sixth Element wheels fitted with Specialized Ground control 2.35 tires for a good mix of grip and rolling. Shimano SLX/XT/XTR drivetrain/brakes and Ergon contact points. RFR 27.2 PRO dropper with a Topeak DP Mount and RockShox enduro collar with custom 3D printed shim to protect the dropper seal.
BAGS: A real mix of tried and tested bags featuring a custom Alpkit Stingray frame bag, Blackburn Outpost seat pack, Lifeline top tube bag, and an Aeroe Spider cradle on the bars with a Sea To Summit big river 13L dry bag.
GEAR HIGHLIGHTS: I like to get good rest, so I’ll be taking a Forclaz MT900 Tent, Oex leviathan EV900 sleeping bag, and Alpkit Cloudbase mat. Navigation via eTrex 22. Hydration will be via a Water to Go Active filter bottle mounted to the downtube and a standard water bottle on a King Cage top cap cage mount.

Robert Bigelow-Rubin

Age 32 / Chicago, IL (USA)

2022 Highland Trail 550

BIKE: I’ll be racing the Highland Trail 550 on my 2019 BMC Teamelite 03 Hardtail with a RockShox Judy 100mm suspension fork. A basic but reliable SRAM NX 1×11 drivetrain with a 28T in the front and an 11-46 in the rear. For rubber, I’m running a Maxxis Rekon 2.6 in front and a Vittoria Mezcal 2.25 in back on a pair of 29er Giant XCR carbon wheels. Finally a SON28 dynamo hub for power and a Synwave Beacon for light and charging.
BAGS: Salsa frame pack, Porcelain Rocket seat pack, Revelate Sweetroll handlebar roll, JPaks top tube bag, and Bedrock Bags/Revelate stem bags.
GEAR HIGHLIGHTS: My sleep setup consists of a Outdoor Research Helium bivy, a Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite sleeping mat and a Sea to Summit Spark II sleeping bag. Lastly, for navigation, I’ll be using a Garmin eTrex30.

Simon Fairfull

Age 45 / Edinburgh (Scotland)

2022 Highland Trail 550 Rigs

BIKE: I’ll be a riding a Salsa Timberjack 29er with a Pike 130mm fork. Tyres are Vittoria Barzo/Mezcal on 30mm DT Swiss rims. Shimano 11-speed XT drivetrain with a 30T chainring and an 11-46 cassette. Brand-X dropper post.
BAGS: Homemade frame bag and bar harness, Apidura top tube bag, and an Apidura dropper-compatible seatpack.
GEAR HIGHLIGHTS: An Outdoor Research Helium bivy bag, Cumulus 250 quilt, and an Exped Synmat. I’ll be using a Garmin Edge 530 for navigation. Full waterproofs, lots of Smidge, and a lot less sun cream.

Taylor Doyle

Age 29 / London (UK)

2022 Highland Trail 550 Rigs

BIKE: This bike was put together in a hot hustle over the last week. I’m riding a Stayer Groadinger OMG mullet build with Stayer Gravalloy wheels (29er up front, 27.5 out back) and Maxxis Forekaster tires. I’ve got a 1x White Industries 34T chainring and crankset paired with an 11-51 cassette, racing brakes from Magura, and a SON28 dynamo hub with a Sinewave Beacon light and charging port. I’m running Thomson bars with Ergon grips and a Specialized Mimic saddle.
BAGS: A Tailfin Aeropack, downtube bag, fork mounts, and bags. Not pictured: I will also be adding some Wizard Works snack pouches to this setup.
GEAR HIGHLIGHTS: I’ll be taking a Nordisk Telemark tent, my Exped UL sleep mat, and my Sea to Summit Spark II sleeping bag. I’ve got my Wahoo ROAM to guide me, with a Garmin eTrex in my back pocket. Also looking forward to trying out these SQlab Innerbarends on my handlebars.

Thomas Burbach

Age 47 / Aachen, North Rhine-Westphalia (Germany)

2022 Highland Trail 550 Rigs

BIKE: I will be riding the 2022 Highland Trail 550 on a Surly Icecream Truck Fatbike. The naked, rusty frame rolls on 27.5 x 4.5″ tires mounted on carbon rims, featuring a SON dynamo hup in front and a Hope hub in the rear. I have a 30T oval chainring and a SRAM XO1 11-speed gear setup. For a comfortable ride, I have a Syntace highflex seatpost, a Soma Clarence bar, and SQ lab 702 grips. The night shall be lit with a SineWave Beacon light, which will also charge my power banks.
BAGS: I have some new Miss Grape bags for saddle, above, and below the top tube. On my handlebar, I mount an Ortlieb Accessory bag and two Bedrock Tapeats bags. A Bedrock Sindbad carries my tools and spare parts.
GEAR HIGHLIGHTS: I carry a Therm-a-Rest inflatable mat and a Mountain Equipment Firelite sleeping bag that I treated with some waterproofing agents to be prepared for the Scottish weather, yet hoping for Bothys to come. I have a Garmin Edge 530 for navigation.

Tom Bruce

Age 35 / Mold, Flintshire (Wales)

2022 Highland Trail 550 Rigs

BIKE: Titanium Titus Fireline Evo 29er. I’m running the bike with a rigid carbon fork this year to save weight and hoping the big front tyre will help with the bumps. Front tyre is a Maxxis Rekon 2.8, rear is a Maxxis Ikon 2.6. I’ve got a 30T oval chainring and a 10-50 Eagle cassette with Shimano SLX gears. I’m running Magura MT6 brakes and a dropper post for comfort. I’ve got a Fabric Cell Elite Saddle, which is super comfortable. I’ve got handbuilt wheels from Just Riding Along. Ergon grips with bar ends paired with an Alpkit Confucius handlebar gives me lots of hand positions.
BAGS: Lots of small Alpkit bags, two on the top tube, one for snacks, one for electrical stuff, and a small frame bag for washbag stuff and first aid. Sleeping kit is in a drybag on a handlebar harness. Two stem cells, one for water and purification tablets and one full of trail mix. A small backpack with jacket/minimal spare clothes and food.
GEAR HIGHLIGHTS: The saddle is fantastic. I have a Gore Shakedry waterproof which is miraculously effective and very light. My Ergon grips are great and comfortable enough to make the rigid fork work and the Alpkit Confucius bar gives extra load capacity up front.

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