A beguiling combination of a country and a county that roll out the rocky welcome mat to vertically challenged mountain bikers everywhere. I had every intention of weaving the five strands of riding days into a cosy rug of photographs, lies and tales of extensive manliness.
But a few pages of serial narrative can be easily summarised into get up, check weather, grumpily select galoshes, consume huge breakfast as a buffer to imminent dampness, fettle bikes, dig deep for any dry kit, force wrinkled feet into damp socks, wait for weather break and then go ride.
Splash, smile, dismount in comedic fashion, mudspit(tm), slither about like a snake on alcopops, and retire to any establishment that has a roof and a huge cake portion policy. Abuse washing machines of B&B before heading out for any evening meal that promised not to poison you. A certain establishment in Castle Douglas promised just this, but poisoned us anyway.
Actually we never got wet from the sky down while we were out riding. But there was sufficient H20 from the ground up, that mud raining on your head wasn’t an infrequent experience.
The riding was fantastic and varied from the big views, huge climbs and monster rocks of the south lakes to the groomed singletrack of the trail centres mixed with a big ride over General Wade’s military road, and a blast over the laugh-out-loud rocky funbags of Laggan Wolftrax.
When we weren’t riding or trying to find Australians to bait*, sometime was admittedly spent trying to find agreeable beer in pubs where no-one was fighting. This proved to be a bit of a challenge which saw my birthday drinks squibbing out damply about 11pm. But as a man to whom 40 has been and gone, my reward was a nice cup of hot tea and a stroke of some new slippers.
Heading north was a superb experience – I have never crossed any latitude so close to a pole, except at 38,000 feet with a G&T in my hand. The scenery became wilder, the riding more epic and the burgers both cow sized and staggeringly cheap.
And apart from not seeing the sun for the best part of a week and two never ending climbs competing for the “I’m the biggest bastard” award, there were few downsides, which considering great friends, plentiful beer and pretending to be accomplished on expensive springy appendages, how could that not be the case?
Next year though, maybe some other country deserves out patronage. Possibly somewhere with more than four days of sunlight per annum.
* Nigel and I agreed that if Team GB came 68th in the medal table we wouldn’t care. As long as Australia were 69th.