Pedalling to go Downhill!
According to Wikiedia, "a valkyrie (from Old Norse valkyrja "chooser of the slain") is one of a host of female figures who choose those who may die in battle and those who may live". Given the weather forecast of strong winds and driving rain, the 40-odd riders gathered at the start of the Ride of the Valkyries could have done with the Norse Gods on their side.
Heading west from Galasheils, the route followed the River Tweed for 20 km before turning south into the wind. The gradual climb to the top of Kirkhouse Forest was made doubly hard by the strong headwind. Cresting the top, I was almost blown off my bike! The way down was almost as hard as the way up as I had to keep pedalling just to keep moving forward. Just after the 40 km mark, I found myself being welcomed by the organiser Lucy McTaggart into the first cafe stop at the Gordon Arms Hotel. I sat down with a couple of other rain soaked Audaxers to eat some delicious brownies made expressly for the riders.
I set off from the Gordon Arms Hotel hoping for a strong tailwind during the second, northbound half of the ride. After another gradual climb into strong wind and rain, I turned a corner and was pleasantly surprised to find myself going 10 kmph faster. The next 40 km were a pleasure to ride as the strong tailwind and beautiful autumn colours more than compensated for the continued rain. I got to the second cafe stop at the Jammy Choo cafe in Lillisleaf before closing time and settled down for a much needed sandwich followed by chocolate cake and hot coffee.
The rain had eased off and it was getting dark when I set off for the last 20-odd km back to Galasheils. It was just after 5 pm when I reached the arrivee and found Lucy and her husband Dick waiting paitiently for the last few riders. After confirming that I had achieved my goal of not being the lantern rouge! I set off for home, content and happy after a great day out in the Scottish Borders.