Our Massive Bike Ride - 24-25 August 2002

Some months ago, we decided that we needed a challenge. Katherine used to live in Newcastle, and had rashly promised some rather fitter friends there that we would cycle from Newcastle to Edinburgh with them. We finally got around to choosing a date this year, following which we've been in serious (and not so serious) training for the 'Big Event'.

We set off from a very busy Edinburgh by train on the Friday, meeting up with Anne and Steve in Newcastle that evening. After a spot of last minute carbo-loading, and a brief pint or two, we turned in for the night, wondering just what the weather had in store for us over the weekend...

Up at 7am for an early start, we set off through the Newcastle suburbs on an overcast morning, but with some blue sky in sight. Heading west initially we headed through Ponteland and up to Wark, 30 miles under our belts (tyres?) already. In Falstone, by the Kielder dam, at the 45 mile mark, it was time for some refuelling. The tea shop had one of the most impressive display of cakes we'd seen in a long while.

Pit stop in Falstone

Passing through the Falstone local show, we reached the Kielder reservoir dam. The weather was still holding, though some ominous clouds were gathering above us as you can see in this photo ...

Kielder Reservoir

Past Kielder, it wasn't long before we reached the Border, at which point it was time for Anne's Scottish fudge to make a welcome appearance. Tacky tourist shot shows we've 'been there, done that' (-:

Katherine at the Border

The morning cycling had seen us gain a little height, though with plenty of downs to counter the ups. We now had quite a long descent into Newcastleton - a planned village in the Borders through which the old Waverley line used to run until Beeching's axe fell. Time for some tea as the rain started to fall down. Having survived the mouldy cake (apparently rhubarb goes off very quickly in the hot Scottish summer?) we emerged to shelter in conveniently nearby bus shelter until the rain stopped a few minutes later.

What goes down must come up (Murphy's law of cycling) .. and sure enough, we started climbing as we left Newcastleton behind. This was probably the longest and hardest ascent of the trip, as it just kept on going, with more and more hill appearing round each corner. Perhaps the most surreal sighting of the whole trip was the beagle trialling we encountered at the top of the moor, bookies and all. With thunderclaps echoing around us, we kept going, heading for the lower-level safety of Langholm, 15 miles from our stop for the night.

Long climb out of Newcastleton

We finished our first day just before 6pm, having travelled 151km, with 7 1/2 hours in the saddle. Our beds for the night were at the Samye Ling Buddhist monastery, just outside Eskdalemuir. Steve had visited before, and we received a guided tour from one of his friends who was preparing for a retreat there.

Just visiting ...

Sunday started rather more sedately than Saturday, and we set off just before 9am, on the first ascent of the day. We experienced some Scottish mist at this point - not quite rain, but certainly wet! A long descent followed, then a couple more long ascents and descents saw us to our lunch stop at Traquair House, near Innerleithen.

Lunchtime at Traquair House

The descent following the 7 mile climb out of Innerleithen brought us to a sign advising us that the road ahead was closed due to snow. I know it has snowed in August before, but it really didn't feel that cold!

Severe weather warning!

Choosing to ignore the warning, we climbed our last hill and were rewarded with a rather hazy view out to Edinburgh and the Pentland Hills.

Anne and Steve, with Edinburgh behind ...

Downhill from here to the finish through Midlothian in the afternoon sun until we arrived in Edinburgh a little after 3 o'clock, having travelled 251 km / 156 miles.

They think it's all over ... ... it is now!

Some stats

First, the cycling

Secondly, what have we raised? We haven't come up with an exact total yet, but it looks like we've raised about 800, so we will be able to send both Castlecliff Bicycle Workshop and the Edinburgh Cyrenians a cheque for around 400 each. Thank you very much for all your support.

Written by William Ivory <wivory@iee.org>

Last updated on 1st September 2002