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canoeing, kayaking and other adventures

canoeing and kayaking adventures born in the Southeastern U.S. and now centered in Scotland...

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Drumlanrig Castle Escape - 22/7/2008

Yes, a Tuesday adventure. Under orders to take some time off, I skipped out on work on Tuesday, kidnapped Neil and forced him to go to Drumlanrig Castle against his will. My initial plan was Carron Valley since I had to pick up some dirt in Bishopbriggs, which is reasonably close, but Neil persuaded me that Drumlanrig was worth some extra time in the car. He was right -- Drumlanrig Castle rocks! Well, I know nothing of the castle except that it is made of rocks. The mountain bike trails around it are awesome and I can't wait to go back.

We rode most of the black and red loops through the forest, which doubles back on itself too much to call it a loop as in singular. It's exciting enough that you end up going hey that looks like nice singletrack... oh yeah, I've ridden that already... as you disappear down yet another singletrack trail. I walked some of the black bits but rode many others. All are best described as that bit with the tree and the roots and the rocks and the turn. Trailkeeper Rik's secret to trail maintenance is to not build wide trails. The trails don't really show wear and some look like they have hardly been touched at all, let alone ridden.

Some combination of my back getting tired and the rest of me getting tired forced an end to the ride, maybe 3/4 or more through the complete set of loops. We got back to the trailhead and the bike shop early enough to see the bike museum and get a shot at the penny farthing. Ricky says it's cheating because it had pneumatic tyres and hand brakes, but it still took some balance and determination to get started. Not enough momentum and you can fall off before getting on. Too much momentum and you might fling yourself past the pedals. The oracle of wikipedia says that it's quite easy to take a header from a penny farthing and I don't doubt it.

As my new favourite bike playground, Drumlanrig Castle needs a revisit. Soon. It reminds me a lot of mountain biking in Tennessee, probably a cross between Montgomery Bell and the advanced loop at Hamilton Creek for the Tennesseans out there. There were no epic climbs or epic descents, just lots of tight, twisty single track. One longish descent felt epic only because there wasn't anything else like it. Can't wait to go back.

Neil's photos are here.

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