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Ride to the Sun (Edinburgh / Carlisle)

posted 19 Jun 2017, 01:41 by Simon Li   [ updated 20 Jun 2017, 05:18 by Allan McCulloch ]
17-18th June 2017 

I can't remember how this started, I know I signed up on the 11th of November and Simon was involved in planting the seed; in fact Simon was the one who made me aware of it. I believe it went along the lines of "So you've done relentless and you're giving up MTB for a bit, how about this, it's a bit like the Dunwich Dynamo but in Scotland so it won't actually get dark"

I don't exactly need much convincing of a challenge, and as much as riding from Carlisle to Edinburgh overnight sounds like a challenge, the route was only 162Km and there's a bit of a logistical problem there too!

Parking the motorhome up at Cramond beach car park early on Saturday morning I planned to get a bit of a snooze before meeting up with another fife rider who had given me a route down, unfortunately he needed to bail at the last minute so instead I set off early; spinning through Edinburgh as Saturday business kicked off for the day the weight of my touring bike showing it's hand on the climb up to the bypass; I had intended to use my road bike but a failed gear cable and bottom bracket has seen it consigned to my LBS for repairs and not being happy with the bike I borrowed off a mate for the distance I stuck with the bike I knew.

I rolled on at a comfortable pace reaching a busy Peebles earlier than expected I wasn't impressed with the choice of Costa or Greggs, so I pressed on hoping for food at Cardrona or Traquair; mistake!

Thankfully I didn't need to press on in the heat to Moffat unsatiated as I rolled down Mountbenger the George Arms was busy selling lunches and gave respite before the climb over the watershed and county march to take me past the Grey Mare's tail and into Moffat

From Moffat my route duplicated the ride North down beside the A74(M) a rather boring ride along the B7076 which is the old A74 giving some spots such as abandoned petrol stations and repurposed little chefs along with a terrible surface.

Hungry again and aware the Start of RttS was far from food shops in Carlisle I paused again to raid the fridge of a petrol station in Longtown, this was also handily the start of near constant down hill to the meeting point!

The rather more sensible Simon was sitting waiting for me and after short discussion we decided to set off slightly early like many I had passed on the way in due to our expected low speed. By now the sun was beginning to lower in the sky, shining brightly directly into our eyes as we climbed towards Lockerbie where the road swings North.

Arriving in Moffat at Sunset we got stuck in to a plate of chips and an extended rest (the queue put the Ainster Fish bar to shame); as we queued groups arrived and departed and a bowser full of water was disgorged into bidons ready for the highlight of the ride.

Setting off in the darkness under the still sky blue sky it was clear we were gaining height, house lights pierced the darkness of the valley below and a string of blinking tail lights rose toward the sky. The Devil's Beeftub is not a difficult climb, it is neither steep nor technical but its 10Km at a 3% gradient in the dark was fantastic.

As too was the descent off the otherside down to Tweedsmuir where at just before 1am the darkest part of the night, the Crook Inn although closed was playing host to a CycloRave with Bananaman handing out Bananas to the sleep deprived and possibly hallucinating riders.

Leadburn was the next mental target, from there it's almost all downhill, through Penicuik at 3am we were on target to arrive at Cramond before Sunrise the sky was lightening over the Pentlands, but my mind was tiring and I called to Simon to go straight on to Bilston rather than slip right up to Damhead; in daylight a critical failure as it takes you into the madness that is Ikea traffic, it meant descending into Edinburgh to the wrong end of the New Town; the sky now very light behind Arthur's Seat.

Correcting the error by crossing the Meadows we found our way onto the Queensferry road and picking up speed rolled into the finish crowd Cramond Foreshore at 0420 moments before the Sun started to rise over Fife.

Of course there was still the matter of needing to sleep before heading home, as I rolled into the overcab bed Simon told me he was heading out! A few hours later having been woken by a backthrottling Pratt and Whitney or possibly Rolls Royce I was aware Simon hadn't yet returned; over 3 hours later. Wandering back down to the now near deserted esplanade, Simon and a couple of other hardy soles were sleeping out in the open air. Looks like I need to Rule #5.

Niall Stats:
Distance: 335.6Km
Moving Time: 15hrs 45min 45sec
Moving Average: 21.3Kmh
Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/1042751044

- Report by Niall
- Who was there: Me, Simon and around 600 other nutters