Today’s guest picture was taken by my brother recently when walking part way along the Ruapehu round-the-mountain trail in NZ. They are obliviously very keen on board walks there.
My day today, like all Gaul in the time of Julius Caesar, was divided into three parts. The morning was spent cycling, the afternoon, recovering from cycling and the evening at a concert. More or less the perfect day.
The cycling was a real treat and just what the doctor ordered to take my mind off the referendum. Scott, the minister, was back on his bike after a short illness and was anxious for a decent pedal so I suggested a 50 mile circuit with three steady climbs and he agreed. We met after breakfast and set out to the north into a noticeable wind.
The route took us up the A7 which was quiet enough on a Saturday morning to making pedalling a pleasure. Scott is fitter than I am and was good enough to do the bulk of the leading into the wind so I was able to tag along behind his not insignificant frame, well sheltered from the breeze.
In this way, we got up to the top of the first of our three major hills at a good speed. We stopped there so that I could take a portrait on the minister being just that little bit closer to God.
About 800 feet closer in fact.
Once over the top at Mosspaul, we had a gently downhill run to Hawick where we stopped for a banana where the Slitrig Burn disappears into a tunnel.
This is a beautiful bit of country and the views make the climb a pleasure, helped on this occasion by a following wind. The gradient is very even when you get to the final climb so it is a matter of finding the right gear or the right pace and just going steadily.
There was not much view at the summit as we almost had our heads in the clouds.
We stopped at Newcastleton for a cup of coffee with a squashed fly cake (Scott) and a toasted tea cake (me) as once again we needed a little fuel for our last challenge, the ten mile road across the moor to Langholm.
This involves climbing 800 feet back up to a 1112 ft summit in 4 miles…..
……and then promptly losing 500 feet and having to climb a last 200 feet before plunging giddily down the side of Whita and back into Langholm. With the aid of strong hearts, good legs and a following wind, we achieved all this at just under 12 miles an hour, by far the quickest that I have ever done this section of road in recent times.
It was a treat to do this journey with Scott, as with his help on the upwind section and his speed down the long hills, he kept me going quite a bit faster than I would have gone if I had been by myself.
As a side note, I recorded the ride on a Garmin device and Scott used Strava on his phone. The Garmin website says that I did 2700 ft of climbing. When I look at the same ride on my Strava account it says that I did 3015 ft of climbing and Strava then claims that Scott did 3500 ft. I shall obviously have to use Strava! The elevation read outs from these GPS devices are not very reliable.
When I got home, I found that Mrs Tootlepedal had also put the morning to good use and had been working hard in the garden. Sometimes the frequently wet weather gets to gardeners round here and they get a bit low but two warm and dry summers have set Mrs Tootlepedal’s enthusiasm for improvements alight and given some decent weather next year, the results should be a delight to see.
There is quite a lot of good stuff in the garden at present thanks to the present good spell.
Our autumn raspberries are fruiting so well that I am being forced to eat plates of raspberries and cream every night but I am bearing up very well in spite of this.
The birds were as cheerful and polite as ever.
Finally the sun actually came out and that made life easier for me.
In the evening, Mrs Tootlepedal and I went along to the Buccleuch Centre to listen to Phil Cunningham and Aly Bain, two of the most accomplished and charming musicians and raconteurs you could hope to meet. They play accordion and fiddle in a traditional but very sophisticated style and interweave the music with well polished humorous routines. They have the huge added bonus of having a sound engineer who is not deaf and so they are not over amplified, a rare thing these days.
They come to Langholm fairly regularly and many of the tunes and quite a few of the anecdotes and jokes are old friends but they come over as fresh as a daisy so no one complains.
In between the pedalling, the resting and being entertained, I did catch a flying chaffinch of the day.