It's been all quiet on the Moulineers front for a fortnight. That's not to say we've not been busy. Phil continues to fight the lurgy. Chris is demolishing things. Gareth is being nursed back to mobility after an Alps corner swiped at his front wheel, taking his collar bone with it.
Martin and myself decided we needed a plain vanilla mountain bike ride. The forecast for the west was best, so we hit the road and steered towards Innerleithan for a reverse Merida route ride. Starting with the big climb on the Inner's xc loop is always a shock to the system. Pumping the meat up the steppy rocky climb only highlighted what we already new. Hard efforts from the gate hurt, no matter how fit you are and also, the majority of riders tend to go around obstacles rather than over.
If you have ridden at Innerleithan, you know the xc loop has the hallmarks of the builder we shall call Pete. He likes riding til blood seeps from his pores, the harder more technical and faster the better. No easy peasy fire road climbs to swooping berms here. Nope. Rock steps, sharp switchbacks, singletrack *climbs* i tells ya. Only once you have sweated and gurned over the climbs does the reward of the decent come. The sting in the tail is the black rated rock garden section. As marty says: riding where you actually have to think where you are going to put your wheels is ace. As long as you don't pinch your oversize front tyre and then spend 20 minutes pumping the monstrosity up with a micropump that is!
From their we climbed fire road trail back up into the hills and eventually gained the southern upland way. At this point we had been going some hours, so decided to diverge. I was keen to bite off another few hours in order to keep my tapering for shenandoah respectable. Marty was keen to head back up over and take in the fine challenges of the Innerleithan side again.
I headed out towards selkirk, but peeled off after the 3 brethren and headed down the southern upland way. I quick diversion to some tasty singletrack morsels with a dainty river splash and then back to business with the spin to Elibank and Traquair forest. On a short road section i bumped into an ex-Maryhill wheeler roady. He must have been 70 and once i worked out the huge creek emanating from the bike was his bb not his legs, i stuck with him and chewed the fat. Unfortunately, i discovered a rear slow and so bade him farewell and changed another tube.
Climbing back again to the southern upland way on a trail i have only ever ridden down before took me high again, before my spidey singletrack sense started twitching and, on pushing some long grass aside, i found a gnarly steep and very unfinished trail that dropped endlessly through the trees, out on to the river tweed side road and from there a quick spin back to the car park.
Not quite vanilla, but definitely sweet.