A damp adventure

Today’s picture shows the daughter of my younger son’s oldest friend on a visit to Langholm from her native USA.  Ellie was very cheerful in spite of the persistent rain.


I did mind the rain because it made photography difficult and getting about tedious.  I wanted to take some pictures of the mountain bike event which was taking place this morning but by the time I had discovered where the route was going, many riders had already set off.  I walked down the hill towards the rugby ground where the events of the weekend are based…

Rugby Club

…and came across a group of riders tackling the first climb of the day.

First hill mtb

The bloke in the bottom right frame who had started walking at this early stage was in for a long day.

I was told that the first riders should be crossing over the Jubilee bridge by about half past nine so I walked down to the Castleholm and waited by the bridge.  I caught a glimpse or two of the nuthatches while I was waiting but it was too gloomy to try to take a picture.  The wet weather had obviously made the going tough because I had to wait quite a long time before the first rider eventually appeared.  Considering that he had already climbed three hills, he look to be in good condition.


He shot over the bridge and…

first rider

… with a squeal of brakes, zipped round the corner and made off down the new path.

He had quite a lead over the second man.

second rider

I decided to go to the bottom of Castle Hill,  the fourth and last hill which the riders had to climb.  I was in a spot where I could see the course that the cyclists were taking on Warbla and Meikleholm Hills.  On a good day, I would have been able to take pictures on all sides but sadly the cloud was so low and the rain so persistent, that I could only just see the top of the hill right in front of me.  The approach to the hill was OK but the hill itself was a struggle too far.

climbing Castle Hill
Shouldering the burden
climbing Castle Hill
It was a case of walking right to the top.  The rider is still pushing as he goes over the skyline.

Hard work

I admire these cyclists but I couldn’t help feeling that it many cases they could have gone round the course quicker if they had left the bike at home and run.  But as one of them said to me, it’s the fun of doing it that counts.

Amazingly, this pair of riders was carrying on an animated conversation as they pedalled up a slope that would have left me breathless.


There was a feeding station at the Lodge Walk gates and most riders stopped off for a drink or a rest there.

Feeding station

The marshals kept surprisingly cheery considering the conditions.


That picture was most unfair to Owen who kept smiling in the rain except for the one moment when I had the camera on him.  He does sum up the weather quite well though.

I walked up a steep and muddy bank behind the Episcopalian Church to look at a section which the enthusiasts call ‘technical’ and I call ‘terrifying madness’

recovering from a spill
Recovering from a spill
safely down
Safely down

When I first saw the muddy slope with a right angled bend at the bottom, I thought it would be impossible but the experts made it look easy.  It is definitely not my idea of fun at all though I might have been tempted if these bikes had been available when I was young and foolish.  I don’t think so though because it just doesn’t look like a good way to use bicycles to me.

While waiting for the cyclists to come through, I admired a bank of bluebells beside the track.


By twelve o’clock, the rain had become so heavy and the times of the riders so slow, that it was decided to close off the last loop of the long course and send people to the finish by the short course route.  Understandably, not many of the soaked and tired riders were too unhappy about this.  The 15 miles of the short course was quite a long way in the slippery, muddy, clinging conditions.  The 25 miles of the long course was a real test.

I walked back to the Kilngreen and watched a few cyclists passing on the other side of the river.


Mrs Tootlepedal came and gave me a lift home and after a quick sandwich, I popped out on my bike to catch the afternoon runners going up the High Street.  Mercifully, the rain had stopped at last and a reasonable number of townsfolk were out to cheer the runners on.


I was hoping to catch a street full of runners but by the time they had run down from the rugby club, the field was already beginning to stretch out.


Some of the runners were facing a 13 mile half marathon over muddy tracks and up and down hills.  They looked quite happy about this as they passed us.  Mysteriously, one runner broke out of the pack and withdrew some money from a cash machine before rejoining the race.  There was considerable discussion among the spectators about this but no convincing reason was produced.

After the runners has gone, I went home thoroughly tired by just watching all this exercise.  Later in the afternoon we were visited by two of the mountain bikers and their son.  One of them had lived in our house as a ten year old girl before we bought it and was very interested to see it now.  In spite of the weather, they had thoroughly enjoyed their bike event in the morning and we might hope to see them down here again.

We had B&B guests in the evening and Mrs Tootlepedal was a bit worried in case they would want a late breakfast and stop her getting to the start of her event tomorrow in time. Fortunately, it turned out that they were road bikers and would be taking part in the same event as me tomorrow.  They called for an early breakfast with plenty of toast and everyone was happy.

A gloomy siskin reflects the gloomy day.









Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

14 thoughts on “A damp adventure

  1. Well, I do admire people who take such violent exercise in such awful weather. I do hope you do better tomorrow as far as the weather goes. I look forward with interest to tomorrow’s blog!

  2. You certainly are a healthy bunch of people. I took the mountain bike I bought recently down a trail through the woods the other day and couldn’t find much of anything fun about it. Between the roots, rocks and soft sand I had all I could do just to stay upright.

    1. My own experience exactly. It almost seems a crime to take a machine that works so smoothly on tarmac and then treat it so roughly. But with an expert on board they are jaw-droppingly exciting to watch.

  3. I must be getting old. I have learned my limitations, I’m happy living within those limitations, and no longer feel any need to prove myself. But, it was interesting, I think you’re right, they really shouldn’t have burdened themselves with the bikes.

  4. I had wondered if there was much mountain biking going on in your hilly countryside, and I now see that there are a number few dedicated enthusiasts. It looks like a great event. Too bad about the weather (although it does give bragging rights to the participants).

    It really is amazing the amount of abuse that mountain bikes are designed to take.

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