A sunny Bank Holiday weekend….what better way to spend Sunday than getting my legs around TweedLove’s Cycle Law Scotland ‘Skinny Tweed’ route.  I really need to buck my training up, and the 45 miles of this route encompass enough hills and distance to measure how my training is going. It was a lovely day, the first since the cold snap, and I was raring to go.

Five minutes from Peebles you get this. Not bad really!

The first part of the route takes in one of my favourite roads to ride, the Cademuir valley towards Manor. I love how you feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere, only five minutes out of town. I’m always warmed up by the time I  pass the start to the John  Buchan way, and it seems to be when my rhythm starts to get going – even in the inevitable headwind!  From there, I crossed the iconic Manor Brig, up the rude awakening of the short but steep pull up to the main road, and then left onto a short stretch of the A72.   I’m not at all keen on riding on main roads, but it’s literally three minutes before the turn off to Lyne, a cluster of lovely houses next to an ancient bridge, then a birl along the Stobo Straight (which was a Roman road I’m told) to the turn off for the Dreva climb.  I love the Stobo straight, it’s a fast road that get the legs turning and I always imagine I’m looking totally professional zooming along (disappointing to see how I really look in these pics!).

Lovely bridge at Lyne Station.

What did the Romans ever do for us? This road apparently.

However, the Dreva climb is something very different.  In terms of surroundings, it’s easily the most beautiful part of the ride.  The single track road is flanked by gorse bushes that release the most delicious scent of vanilla and coconut, and the fields are full of lambs.  The road seems to lift you above the Tweed Valley like a magic tarmac carpet, and the expanding views of the river winding its way through the valley are quite sublime. The skies are so big looking west, you can see the weather coming towards you.  But it is slightly steep!  The road climbs up past a farm, then levels out again before coming to a hill that goes on and on and just as you think you are at the top, goes on a bit more.  But once at the summit, the view opens up for miles and miles and there’s a coursing, swooping run straight into Broughton as a reward.

Over the top fun at Dreva – big sky country.

Leaving Broughton, there’s a right turn towards Kilbucho and Biggar through rolling, very fertile looking farmland…it’s fairly flat terrain, but if I’m being honest, it’s probably my least favourite part of the ride – it feels quite exposed and featureless (apart from a mad scarecrow). I know others disagree and enjoy the open views looking into Lanarkshire, but I must be a Borders girl in my soul!

Straight line to Kilbucho, Lanarkshire ahead.

Into Biggar, and it’s hard to resist stopping for a coffee and fried egg roll (the food of gods when I’m on my bike), but time is marching on, and I need to keep going.  The ride from Biggar to Broughton starts with a climb, then the country opens right up before a lovely descent back into the Scottish Borders. You can zip along at quite a speed here, and by now the prevailing westerly can start to give you a welcome push on the back.

 

Biggar – but no coffee stop here today.

Cross a stream and you’re back in the lovely Borders. Bonus tailwind to boot.

Looking right, the open expanse of the Kilbucho road on the way out looks far more picturesque – a real pastoral picture postcard. Then whizz down to Broughton and I couldn’t resist a quick coffee in the Laurel Bank cafe.  On the day of the event, the food stop is just across the road at the Broughton Village Hall, where the food will be every bit as welcome. The cakes at the feed station are legendary and made by a cycling bakery in Glasgow called Big Bear – they know what we need!

I love this bike! Coffee was spot on too.

Come on legs! – almost back up Dreva.

From the summit it’s downhill all the way. Almost.

Then it’s time for the Dreva climb again, but this time from the other side, which involves a much shorter (but steeper) hill but with the same wonderful scenery, and then a reversal of the whole route. There are two fabulous things about the way back from here. First, and almost imperceptibly to begin with, you just seem to be riding faster on the way back. Then you notice the Tweed flowing beside you on your right and realise it’s downhill all the way home – Yay! Then the westerly tailwind joins the fun and boom, you’re flying back to Peebles. The new bike was loving it.

45 beautiful miles and hardly saw a car all day. Nae bad like!

I had a totally brilliant day out on the bike.  I wasn’t very fast (I forgot to turn on Strava , which I’m quite glad about!), and I felt totally knackered by the end, but oh my, I’d forgotten how much fun it is and how good it makes me feel afterwards.  The Borders is truly gorgeous, so green and fresh, with such clean air and varied terrain, and my new bike clearly loved having a really good run.  I felt like I’d deserved a big glass of Bank Holiday wine, and I slept like a queen.  Praise be to the gods of biking, I feel so glad to be alive!  Roll on 10th June, when 500+ friendly riders (and me) will do it all again.

More info at tweedlove.com

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