When I tell people that I organise bike events for a living, the general reaction is “what a great job, doing the thing you love”. Now I’m not complaining, but it’s not all about riding about in the countryside on my bike, about 95% is admin and sitting on the sofa answering emails! Add to this my increasing old age and I have been feeling a little unfit recently. So with our new Langholm event approaching, I thought it would be a great excuse to get my legs out and reccie the routes……
Just over the English border, about 15miles from Carlisle, is the pretty Scottish town of Langholm and the start for both days riding. The residents are a really friendly bunch and organise a walking festival every year, but for 2013 wanted to step this up to a full adventure festival. They approached us to run the biking section whilst they took care of the cross country half marathon and 10K run ( along with many other events for the family) So on Thursday morning, after a 7 hour drive up, I set off to ride the 26 mile MTB course. Now, for those of you that don’t know, Scotland has a “right to roam” policy so there are no Bridleways on the map or to follow on the ground. This is where local knowledge has come in useful in the form of local riders who have planned the route for us and the reason I was out checking the course. Using local tracks the day started with a steep climb from base and continues onto a stretch of tarmac by the McDairmid memorial.
The long ride heads off here to do a further loop, but returns to this point as it’s the start for or timed section. Yep, that’s right, a timed section complete with prizes! Gore Bikewear will be giving away 2 £140 tops for the fastest male/female, second places get an Osprey rucksack and there are other prizes for other categories/places. The section is a hard packed fire road on a slight climb that is 900mtrs long, so dig in and think of the glory Even if you don’t get a prize, you still get a reward of a fantastic view.
Now I haven’t mentioned the weather yet as it was sunny but incredibly windy up until this point. As I headed down the next section of trail, which was a long diagonal descent above Langholm, the rain came in. Hard. I put on my Gore waterproof, gritted my teeth and turned into the downpour. It’s about this point where I realised that I loved being outdoors and shouting into the gale I pushed on with a huge smile on my face and squinty eyes. 5minutes later the rain was spent and the sun came out again for the rest of the day.
It’s a hard ride, we make no excuses, there are plenty of climbs and descents but as the course consists of loops around Langholm there are plenty of points to have a rest or come back to the event centre. If you like your Mountain Biking off the beaten track and in bueatifull surroundings, then this is for you.
Friday was my day for checking the Sportive course. Having had a bit of a lie-in there was only time to check out the short 30mile route on the bike, so in shorts, T-shirt and warm sunshine I set out from Langholm. The scenery is stunning. You don’t event realise that the first 10miles are a gentle uphill……..
Soon though you find a ribbon of tarmac heading off in front of you in a little valley that although not closed to traffic, might as well be.
20miles brings you to Waterbeck and the drink station before heading back to Langholm and the final 10mile stretch. A little tip here – from lots of places around the area you can see the memorial monument on Whita hill, this gives you some idea where abouts the finish is! The Medium and Long loops head off after Waterbeck and ride through Kershope Forest before riding the local favourite road from Newcastleton to Langholm.
Some information on the weekend.
Part of the “Muckletoon festival”
Other events available, Xcountry half marathon, 10k trail run, guided walks, children’s activities.
Saturday night talk by round the world cyclist, Marl Beaumont.
Come along and make a weekend of it!!