Today’s guest picture comes from our neighbour Gavin and shows his granddaughter Hannah, from Newcastle-on-Tyne, testing out the new bench with Mrs Tootlepedal. It seems to be perfect for all ages.
I have a simple plan for the next few years and that is to have a cycle outing at least once each year in which the number of miles is equal to or greater than my age in years (currently 76). Today seemed to be a really good day to put the plan into action as it was very calm, pleasantly warm but not sunny and with no chance of rain according to the forecast.
I am not sleeping very comfortably at the moment so even with the twin lures of the new bike and perfect conditions, it took me an hour after breakfast to actually get going. I took any excuse to put off the start…
…and wandered round the garden to check on new arrivals.
I couldn’t put it off for ever though and set out with a view to going to Caerlaverock Castle which is about 35 miles away and has a cafe.
I stopped every ten miles to have a drink and some small snack and take a photo or two if the opportunity arose. My first stop on the Gair road provided me with many wild flower opportunities (which I took) and here are just a few of them.
My second stop was at Hollee where I concentrated on grasses.
I had a lot to choose from.
My third stop was at a bridge on the road to Clarencefield. There were no interesting wild flowers nearby so I was looking at lichen when I spotted one of many ants crawling along the parapet.
Luckily the ants had not been on the part of the parapet where I sat and had my snack. Nothing is less conducive to happy pedalling than having ants in your pants.
I made a non decimal stop at Bankend just to take a picture of the Isle Tower on the banks of the Lochar Water….
…which looks in need of some TLC.
On my way to Caerlaverock Castle from Bankend, it was hard not to notice the abundant broom in bloom beside the road.
It is interesting that gorse looks really bright until the broom comes out but once the broom is in full blossom, the gorse looks very dowdy in comparison.
When I got to the castle, my legs were in such good order that I merely peered at the castle over the hedge….
…and headed down to the banks of the Nith Estuary.
It was a curious sort of day with quite a bit of blue sky if you looked straight up but a lot of mist if you looked straight ahead. When I got to the Nith, I could hardly see, Criffel, only a few miles away on the opposite bank.
In search of a cup of coffee, I headed up stream until I came to Glencaple, a very small village with a huge cafe where I purchased a mandarin sorbet (surprisingly good) and a latte (just what you might expect) and ate and drank them while talking to a fisherman and his wife from Eastriggs. They had kindly kept an eye on my bike while I was in the cafe.
The fisherman was trying to catch flounders, a bottom feeding fish. He pulled his line in as a boat came steaming down river past us….
…but like a bad rower, he found that he had caught a crab…
…which he returned to the river.
I had taken almost exactly three hours of cycling time to do the 40 miles out and I was hoping to get what help was available from the very light wind to help me do the 40 miles back at the same speed.
I stopped every ten miles or so on the way back and noticed how many fine grasses there were in the hedge at the Brow Well (a good place to stop as it has a handy bench for aged cyclists).
I had a final stop about eight miles from Langholm and noticed a prominent patch of silverweed, a plant that seems to like to grow right on the edge of bust main roads.
Perhaps it likes the salt from the winter gritting.
Nearby, there was an unusually coloured rhododendron in a driveway.
It had the air of an enormous allium.
I got home in good order with the second 40 miles covered in more or less bang on 3 hours so I was happy about that. If I had got going a bit earlier, it would have been a good day for 100 miles but that will have to wait for another good day to come along.
It had been a pretty warm day for the time of year as can be seen from the top quality helmet hair that resulted…
…but I had been well supplied with water bottles and hadn’t lost weight on the ride, always a good sign of sensible hydration and nutrition. (Two of Johnny’s filled rolls, two bananas and the sorbet from Glencaple. Scientific sports nutrition at its best.)
Although I did the cycling in just over six hours, the whole 82 miles actually took me seven and a half hours so the ten mile stops added up. I tried to make them about 5 minutes each to give me a chance to relax and stretch a bit but the stop at Glencaple must have been quite a bit longer.
Mrs Tootlepedal was away visiting Matilda in Edinburgh while I was out so I was very pleased that everything went smoothly and that there was no call for the MTRS which wouldn’t have been available. I am waiting for her to return as I write this post.
I did catch a flying bird of the day when I got home. It is an angry siskin.
Those interested can find further details of the ride by clicking on the map below. It was very flat as you can see.