Today’s guest picture comes from Tom in South Africa and shows a fine collection of porcupine quills which he found when walking his dogs. He was pleased that the original owner of the quills was not about as eager dogs and porcupines don’t mix well.
Once again, with light winds and a pleasing but not excessive warmth, it was a good day for a pedal, and this time I took advantage of the conditions and went for a ride. I didn’t get out quite as quickly as I would have liked as my tendency to faff about when faced with a cycle ride kicked in again. One of the benefits of the time wasting was a call to the hospital that resulted in me getting a physio appointment for my feet in two weeks time.
As a result, I was in a very cheerful mood when I did finally set off, only two and a half hours after Mrs Tootlepedal had roused me from my bed. That’s quite quick for me.
I had resolved to make the most of the day by going for a long ride if my legs were in a helpful mood and I started by going down the main roads to Gretna Green, where a piper reminded visitors that they were in Scotland.
The ride to Gretna is downhill and the wind was helping so I did the first fifteen miles of my ride in an hour and manged to keep this speed up for the second fifteen miles too, though I did stop of a couple more pictures.
It is good to see one of the old towers being incorporated into a modern residence…
….and I looked out over the farming country back towards Langholm.
As I approached Lockerbie, I was impressed by the lake of rosebay willowherb beside the road.
After having completed my first 30 miles at a crisp pace, things slowed down a bit as I continued the long but gentle climb towards Beattock. Here I found that an enterprising lady had opened a fast food joint at a garage just north of the village, so I stopped for a bacon roll and a cup of coffee before embarking on the final six mils of my outward journey up the valley towards Beattock summit.
I didn’t go right to the top of the summit, thanks to my late start, and turned round at the bridge leading to the wonderfully named Greenhillstairs.
I was now faced with 50 miles to get back home. It is generally down hill for the 35 miles to Gretna, which is on the sea shore, and the assistance of gravity offset the hindrance of the light wind that I was now cycling into.
I stopped at Beattock to admire the church there, perhaps the church I like best of the ones that I have seen on my rides.
I was cycling down Annandale, a broad valley full of cows.
A large truck stop has been created north of Lockerbie and it has a shop and a cafe mostly for the benefit of the truck drives but open to passing cyclists as well, so I stopped there for coffee and cake to fuel me up for the final 35 miles home. I ate outside under the eagle eye of this artwork…
…which made me wonder whether the artist had been paid by how many motifs he/she could cram into one carving. It was very busy.
A few miles further on, I paused to take a picture of the mainline railway bridge over the Dryfe Water. Mrs Tootlepedal and I sweep over this bridge in the train when we got to see Matilda.
I needed to stop fairly frequently over the last miles of my trip to take on more water as it was still quite a warm day and to stretch my limbs which were beginning to ask me when we would stop pedalling.
Some knapweed caught my eye on one of these stops…
…and a couple getting a grand lift to their wedding at Gretna at the next one.
My last stop, about five miles from home, was to admire the fine show that the big daisies are making on the Canonbie by-pass
In the end, my legs decided to stop moaning and keep working so I arrived home in very good order after 102 miles. The route was rather uninspired scenically but it avoided any steep hills and let me keep pedalling steadily all the way so I enjoyed myself a lot.
I had hoped to complete the ride in seven and a half hours and I managed that almost to the second. The stops for the bacon roll and the coffee and cake, not to mention other immobile moments for eating the two egg rolls that I had bought from John’s shop before I left Langholm, and the stretching and hydrating breaks too, all added up to another hour and a quarter so the whole outing took 8¾ hours.
This was very convenient as it got me home in perfect time to sit down to a nourishing meal prepared by Mrs Tootlepedal, then have a shower and finally be ready to welcome Mike and Alison for their regular Friday evening visit. Alison and I played a good selection of pieces while Mrs Tootlepedal and Mike caught up on the news.
Considering that I had had quite a busy day, I played a very satisfactory number of right notes in the right places and it rounded off a good day very well.
The flying bird of the day is a zinnia.
Those interested can click on the map for more details of the ride.