Sunday, 1 February 2009

A proper day out.

All this cycling to and fro between Dunfermline and Alloa is all very well, but a man can see too much of Oakley and Bogside.

Time to get out in the hills.

Despite heavy legs and a pathological dislike of getting up when it's still dark, I get out of the house before 8 and pick up Chris before heading to Peebles to meet up with the DCC guys. The plan is a loop which goes south on the Southern Upland Way before returning over the Kailzie Hill ridge and the superb descent into the Gypsy Glen.

After a warm-up along the road to Traquiar, it's straight into climbing. Paul ("I've not been on the bike for 6 months") leads the way. It's not a day for hanging around as the wind quickly robs us of any heat built up on the climbs. We get to the fast descent to Blackhouse and it's a bit dicey in places leading to a few "shiiiiiite!" moments.

Chris and Craig have been this way before, so they know what comes next. What comes next is a tricky, wet section of singletrack and an unrideable fire break which seems to go on and on. "Unrideable" we agree. "Dave Winton's ridden it", protests a lone voice of dissent. There are mumbles of grudging respect...

A snow-bound heather bash ends before anyone spits the dummy and the trail becomes rideable again, though it's steep and when it isn't steep it's snowbound. Again. The far off cairn on the distant hill is soon gained and then it's time to go downhill for a bit. Stewie looks relieved. The first part is snowbound and icy too. There are a lot of comedy falls as front wheels dig in and catapult riders over the bars.

It doesn't take long to get to the last climb. It's dry and firm and I'm feeling good - no sore legs now. A quick re-group and we're off down from Kailzie Hill on perfect trails to the Gypsy Glen. It's fast and flowing. Everyone is happy. I stop for photos and then nearly blow it on a steep rocky bit as the others look on, only just managing the corner at the bottom. The last bit is muddy and we slide around a lot and laugh like schoolchildren, but not in a sneering way, like schoolchildren often laugh.

A top day out which serves to remind me why I put in all these hours cycling as fast as I can past Oakley and Bogside.

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