A long and winding road

Today’s picture was sent to me by Joyce, a Langholm exile in Canada, and shows a field of trilliums (trillia?),  their answer to the bluebell.


Never was the state of the morning weather more anxiously awaited than this morning when Mrs Tootlepedal and I and our B&B guest and his son were all getting ready to ride our Adventure Weekend Sportive.  It was misty and there was even the slightest hint of rain in the air but this didn’t bother us in the least as the most important factor was the more or less complete absence of any wind.  Combined with a temperature that was neither to hot nor too cold, conditions were perfect, the only thing lacking being the opportunity for visiting riders to enjoy the wonderful views as we rode.

There were three choices, 90 miles, 60 miles and 30 miles and I had chosen the 60 mile option while Mrs Tootlepedal had opted for the thirty miles.  I left first as she was still looking after our guests who wanted a later start.   The registration was quick and painless and I was soon in a pen of cheerful riders at the start getting instructions for the journey.  We had had a computer chip for the timing stuck on our helmets so we had to walk through the start in single file.

Start pen

The organiser told us that the routes would be comprehensively signposted and this turned out out to be true.  They also gave us a back up map in case we felt unsure at any point.   On top of this, we were well looked after with three feeding stations en route.

This was the first of them at Waterbeck at the twenty mile mark.

feeding station

It may not look much but there was enough food for everyone.  I had a honey and oatmeal slice and a chunk of cake as well as filling up my water bottle with some fiendish sports drink which was on offer.   The sports drink was curious.  If I took a swig while pedalling, all the energy immediately went out of my legs and they felt very tired.  This effect was only momentary though and considering how well I felt through the ride, the drink must have been very effective.

I had taken my camera with me in case I felt so tired that a pause for a photo would be required but in the event, my legs were in very good order and I felt no need to stop except at the feeding stations.  This was the final one, being overseen in relaxed manner in Newcastleton with just ten miles still to go.

feeding station Copshaw

The reason for having one so near the finish was that the road out of Newcastleton to Langholm starts with a five mile climb to 100o ft.  I took some fuel on for the climb.

The ride started with 35 miles of easy going round Bailliehill and Paddockhole and the trick for me was not to zoom along too fast, using all my energy.  I managed quite well, resisting the temptation to speed up when I was passed and I arrived at the 35 mile feeding station bang on schedule at 14 mph.  This was the end of the easy going and my target was to do the rest of the course at 10 mph and finish within five hours.

We climbed out of the Esk valley and dropped down to the Liddel Water and crossed into England.  We then faced a four mile climb out of the valley which was followed by a descent back to the Liddel again  in Newcastleton.   I don’t mind a climb up a hill and then down the other side but a climb up a hill and then a descent down the same side felt a bit gratuitous.  Still it did let me pedal along a road I had never followed before so that was a bonus.

The descent was interrupted by a stiff climb as we crossed the Kershope burn and arrived back in Scotland.

I wasn’t looking forward to riding across the moor to Langholm but either the food and drink that I had taken on or the many tours round the morning run with Dropscone had left me with plenty of juice in my legs and I actually enjoyed cruising up the two hills before the final drop into the finish.  I was passed at the top of the hill by our B&B guests, first by the son and then by the father.  They were going well too.

At the finish, I was greeted by Mrs Tootlepedal who was in very good form having exceeded her  expectations by going round the 30 miles course in just under three hours.  When I discovered that I had managed my trip in an elapsed time of just over four and a half hours, we congratulated ourselves with a big hug.  We will have to wait a day or two to find out the full results.

The whole weekend has been very well organised and there were children’s sports going on in the field in front of a good crowd when we got back.  We didn’t stop though and after I had had a sustaining plate of haggis, neeps and potato and Mrs Tootlepedal had scoffed a chocolate brownie which we purchased from a man in a van, we pedalled happily home where we enjoyed a restorative short(ish) snooze.  Roll on next year’s event.  Credit to the local organisers who provided marshals and Evans Cycle who organised the sportive.

With all this activity I have been neglecting the birds and the garden so I made up for this as best as I could.

I was pleased to see a great tit nibbling on a fat ball.

great tit

The reason we haven’t seen more of them is probably that the sunflowers seeds are too big for them to eat.  The tit tried one but had to put it between its feet and eat it that way.  It wasn’t put off by a goldfinch trying to put the influence on it.

great tit and goldfinch

The siskins were as argumentative as ever.


The blackbirds in the nest were looking for food.


I hid behind the fence and waited to see what would happen.


Father arrived.  Although I waited twice, I didn’t see mother at all, just three visits from father.  I hope mother is all right.  I sat down beside the dam while I watched the nest and was surprised when a mallard squeezed out from under a neighbouring fence.


He was soon joined by two more and they flopped into the dam and had their tea.


The cherry blossom is just coming out on one of our neighbours’ tree.

cherry blossom
Spring looks to be unstoppable now.

In the garden the tulips are generally still going strong….


…although some are feeling the strain of the strong winds.

tulip over

There has been a lot of daffodil dead heading but some are looking as good as when the came out weeks ago.


The garden has a lot of green to offset the colour of the tulips.

Philadelphus and Euphorbia

I enjoyed these flowers on the little willow by the bird feeder.  They seem to be clambering up the twig like green Koalas.


The blossoms are starting to get to full flower on one of the espalier apples so I got out my soft brush and pretended to be a bee.  There are certainly not enough bees about to be able to rely on them.

The were plenty of perching birds which Mrs Tootlepedal and my sister Susan prefer to the flying birds.


siskinI caught the flying bird of the day while the skies were still gloomy.


Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

27 thoughts on “A long and winding road

  1. Sweden has just won the Ice hockey World Championship and you and Mrs T have carried out an impressive biking race today, so congratulations to all glorious sportsmen (and women)! 🙂

  2. Congratulations on your bike run. Seems to me this could not have happened but a short time ago.

    The baby birds are fun to see. They seem so big now, especially compared to the litlte hummers I’m watching.

    1. It was lucky that it was such a favourable day. With careful management, I should be able to try to cycle 100 miles later in the year if I can get another windless day.

  3. Congratulations both on your cycling [both you and Mrs T] and achieving yet another excellent blog! All power to whatever part of you that needs it

  4. Those are great times. My GPS tells me that I’m averaging about 7.5 miles per hour, but I’m not in a race and am in no real hurry. I’m hoping it’s fast enough to melt off the extra pounds.
    The story about the sports drink sapping the strength from your legs was hilarious and had me laughing out loud.

  5. Well done on the bike race. Sounds like a good time was had by all. We seem to be a little lacking in bees here to, although I’ve seen a few. I wonder how much of this is down to the weather?

    1. Same here in Germany. Bees have been suffering by a prolonged winter and above that Varroa destructor and pesticides have done a devastating job. Have already heard, that bee hives have been an interesting target for theft lately.

      1. I hadn’t heard about the theft. One reason for our lack is that there is no one in the town keeping honey bees any more so we have to rely on bumble bees.

  6. Very well done indeed Mr and mrs T.- a most impressive result. And congratulations to the organizers for excellent planning.

    1. Thank you. Mrs T in particular deserves praise as she admitted that at times she was actually trying to get her average up, not something she usually bothers about.

  7. Excellent event and excellent result for team Tootlepedal. It’s so good to see the town nice and busy and people enjoying the wonderful surroundings.

    1. It was just a pity that the sun didn’t shine but the whole weekend was a good advert for the town. Team Tootlepedal are quietly pleased with themselves.

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