“Make Ride to the Sun your next cycling challenge. 100 miles through the night on lovely quiet roads from England across the border to Scotland. Follow in the footsteps of the Roman legions who trudged the long road from Luguvalium (Carlisle) to the old garrison camp of Caer Amon (Cramond). Sol Invictus was the Roman God of the unconquered sun and was the Roman legionnaires guide through war and battle and it is with that spirit that we ride through the night to arrive for sunrise on Cramond beach, tired but unconquered!”
Ride to the Sun … I had seen the above in an Internet search and I found the website easily. A quick once over and I was hooked, in-fact I instantly knew I was doing it. To be honest if you had asked me a few years ago if I fancied 100 miles on a road bike I might have laughed my head off at your perverse question 😀 but the same could have been said once of running and look where I ended up there ! …..But this was good timing and it had captured my imagination. I decided that it would be the perfect way of cycling my first 100 miler..
Road biking has so far this year been the exercise of choice for my old bones and broken body. In the main due to my growing fear of the mountain bike that sits gathering dust in my garage…. Why you ask ? Well the words left ringing in my ears from the last shoulder operation I had were the surgeons stiff warning. He warned me that this was as far as a shoulder repair can go , there was nothing left to make a repair and the next operation would be a shiny new plastic shoulder joint and I was 20 years premature for that ! There would be no sport ever again if it is to happen, so mountain biking is becoming a little too “all or nothing” .. know what I mean ? Now I bought a shiny carbon road bike once before after supporting my friend Kenny Short during the 70 Highland Wild miles event. Somehow he had made it look fun. It took me a fortnight to discover I didn’t find it fun and promptly sold it. However 20 years later, age, injury and common sense has me back on the skinny saddle and I’ll be honest I am enjoying it. Enough even to consider one hundred miles through the night 😀
The usual suspects of Bongo and Deeksy were right up for it as soon as I explained what it was and Super Mick was also along for the ride. We had best properly train for this was the thinking so end of March we got on our bikes and threw a few extra miles in every weekend, gradually building up the distance. Deeksy was having trouble making it out but no worries to his diesel generator of a heart , hes one strong bastard! Some really enjoyable days out ensued. One memorable circuit of St Marys Loch , Moffat and Peebles and Gordon Arms had us set out in a gale force wind , battle a storm all the way to Moffat before cooking ourselves alive in the heat of a blazing sun through Peebles and over Paddy slacks before gorging ourselves on the Gordon Arms amazing grub … Coffee, Cakes and pub grub seems to be part of a cyclists training schedule I thought. So with some nice training days including an 85 miler with 5500 feet of ascent to top off our training we were confident and knew we would enjoy our hundred mile night. I had to leave for Italy the week beforehand to dive the Haven Wreck but I would be back on the Thursday night to get everything sorted by the weekend
Italy was amazing, certainly not a rest physically but I felt ready and as Thursday eventually came round I arrived back in Scotland and got to work organising. Super Kenny kindly gave us a loan of his big van, he is a most generous fellow indeed. The legend that is Mark Wilson our “man in the van” agreed to support us through the night in-case anything went wrong and as it turned out give us life saving shelter from the midges !! Respect to them both for making it all happen on the night. A flooded utility room done its best to curtail the proceeding on the Saturday afternoon but ten towels and a monkey wrench later we were heading for Carlisle with a van full of Bikes ….
We arrived at Carlisle Castle 8 pm sharp and prepared our bikes, it was roasting ! It had been a sunny High 20s during the day and it wasn’t letting go of its heat easy .. We met the organisers, top lads indeed and saddled up soon to be headed out of Carlisle back the way we came. Up the A7 for Longtown , then onto Gretna before cruising the B7076 heading for Moffatt. It was a long cruisey road, very flat compared to our hill ridden training runs around the Borders roads.
We arrived quickly into Moffat , 45 miles under the belt already .. and result, my legs were feeling fresh. The chip shop was heaving !! Hundreds of cyclists fuelling up on fish and chips ! I told you about cyclings coffee and cakes , well there are also fish and chip shop stops!! 😀
I had 2 cheeseburgers at the ready rather than queue for chips , forward thinking had me order them up with Mark “Man in the Van” Wilson as he was heading to MacDonalds stocking up before he left Carlisle 😉
After a 20 minute rest we saddled up again to hit the Devils beef tub , A low gradient 7 mile climb straight out of Moffatt . This was a sight to behold. Hundred of bike lights strung out over the entire length of the beeftub in the dark , spectacular, especially on the kind of clear night we were having ! Deeksy did most of the night with a no top on. Wearing only his cycling leotard he looked like a Russian circus weight lifter pedalling away , he is the man ! we had some great laughs as we passed/were passed by people all through the night. Soon we were at the top and heading finally down hill all the way into Tweedsmuir valley to the Crook Inn cyclo rave !!
Here in the middle of the countryside in an old derelict hotel were decks , projectors and dancers ! Ride to the Sun Cyclorave……It was surreal and spectacular given where we were but we had only a quick 10 minutes due to the midges swarming out here in the forest , sooner we were back on the bikes the better. My old legs were past raving even before I got on the bike 😀 😀 Rave on !! lets go…. Edinburgh or Bust !
Soon we were heading up and over Romano bridge with Edinburgh in our sights ! We had an excited buzz on , our legs were good and we hammered for home . whizzing along in the finally cool air of the night , the Pentlands silhouetted on the horizon then the lights of Edinburgh as we crossed over the bypass and hit the streets at around 3am .. shouts of GIES A BACKY BIGMAN coming from the pavements full of clubbers .. then we were there , dropping steeply down to our final stop ……..
Cramond Beach …….. speeding in towards a quiet beach as we had arrived pretty early. it was a beautiful sight and a great feeling to have made it there and in style , still fit and able , not crawling in as had been my feeling back in April . Mark Wilson was there with the van waiting and we all sat in the grass looking out to sea. We had plenty of time so we changed, grabbed bacon butties and waited for sun up. Cyclists rolled in and soon the beach was a throng of conversation and elation … then the Sun decided to rise …. a huge cheer went up .. everyone on that beach had made it , another microadventure under the belt, keeping life from becoming boring .. Thank you Ride to the sun , here’s to next year ….. maybe 😀