Peaking

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.

Ruapehu Round the Mountain partial tramp Sept 2014 - 11My 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.

Garmin 20 Sept 14The 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.

Scott at MosspaulSadly, the Mosspaul Hotel, once a cycling hotel, is shut again.  It seems like a hard place to generate customers these days.

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.

Slitrig BurnOur first hill had been just a taster of what was to come….

Garmin 20 Sept 14 elevation…and we needed a bit of fuel before following the Slitrig Burn….

Slitrig Burn…up to the Whitrope summit at 1214ft.

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.

Scott at WhitropeThe road from the top of Whitrope down into Newcastleton is a joy, 10 miles and 800 more or less uninterrupted feet of descent.

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…..

Langholm Moor……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.

sedum
Two types of sedum are flourishing.
cotoneaster and Virginia creeper
Cotoneaster and Virginia creeper make a colourful show. The Virginia Creeper has lasted far better this year than last.
honeysuckle and Fuchsia
Honeysuckle and Fuchsia berries.
poppies
And almost perfect pink poppies

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.

bird feederLate in the afternoon,the light got a bit better and this gave me the chance to look for an insect or two.  They were not hard to find.

poppy
Some did try to hide.
poppy and insect
Some were small but perfectly formed.
red admiral butterfly
A red admiral shares the sedum with the inevitable bee.

Finally the sun actually came out and that made life easier for me.

Astrantia with bee
The astrantia is very popular with bees.

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.

flying chaffinch

Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

30 thoughts on “Peaking

  1. I’m assuming the graph was the horizontal trek, not vertical. Yeah, that’s what I was afraid of. Makes me tired! But bravo to you. Also, I hear you guys are staying in the UK. Is that a congratulations? 🙂

  2. I don’t know about Garmin or Strava, but my DeLorme GPS unit has to be calibrated for elevation every time that it’s turned on. It also gives me the option of having it track elevation changes by the unit calculating the changes from the GPS signal, or by using known elevation points from the topographic maps. Tracking elevation by the maps seems more accurate

    Anyway, the scenery was great, the flowers even better, and the insects best of all.

    1. The Garmin will give me markedly different readings for the same ride on different days. The website which takes the data says that elevation corrections are enabled. I am baffled.

  3. A magnificent ride by the sound and sight of it, congratulations to you and Scott for all that climbing. The long spell of downhill must be a real treat.
    Fine insect pictures.

  4. Great shot of the bee on the astrantia. With reference to the reverend, it’s a good feeling to know you’ve at least partially facilitated someone’s interest and participation in a enjoyable and healthful activity like cycling

  5. Theological note: one is as near God in Langholm as when one is 800 feet higher at Mosspaul.

  6. I’m envious that Bain and Cunningham are regular visitors – I’ve never had a chance to see either of them play. The insect on flower pictures are beautiful.

  7. There seems to be a general consensus that Strava gives higher altitude numbers than Garmin. What people cannot agree on is why this occurs. Garmin uses changes in barometric pressure to calculate altitude – a decidedly poor technique that has the advantage of being relatively easy. Nobody is quite sure what Strava does. Some say they grab the elevation data off the GPS device (then why the difference?) and other refer to complicated algorithms. I think this is one of life’s great mysteries, like how one can be as close to God at Langholm as at Mosspaul.

    1. I checked my Garmin altitude numbers with reality for this morning’s run and they don’t seem to be too far from the truth so maybe the barometric pressure was friendly today. Certainly the figures on my actual Garmin device when you check them at the end of a ride are far higher than they are when you upload them and look at them on the website so Garmin obviously does some post hoc corrections.

      It is well known that God is a Langholm man which is why Langholm so closely resembles the Garden of Eden (at least to those who live there).

  8. I hate to break it to you, TP, but Strava on mobile phones is notoriously wonky when it comes to elevation. Your Garmin is probably telling the truth. Looks like a lovely ride, btw.

  9. Lovely photos of views, flowers and insects. I am so envious – I would love to see/hear Phil Cunningham and Aly Bain live. I have seen them on TV and heard them on the radio and adore their music.

    1. They are a slightly acquired taste live as they talk for just about as long as they play but the music is gorgeous and the talk entertaining so I don’t mind.

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