Bordering on insanity?

When Mood Music
2014-08-10 20:29:00 content Incidental music from ‘Dawson’s Creek’

Well, we’ve done it – 56 miles of hills through the Borders. This so makes up for last year, and I’m very relieved that we didn’t have another joint did-not-finish. And I only had four hour’s sleep! (Perhaps it was the spinach and lentil curry at the Prince of India – but I needed carbohydrates to keep me fueled and rocket-powered.)

I don’t recall much ascending about the first hill (‘Mountbenger’, aka ‘Paddy Slacks’), just the descent to the first feed station at the Gordon Arms (where the B709 crosses Yarrow Water). I was wearing a thin base layer and my Lifescycle jersey, so the relatively fast descent was a tad chilly.

The second hill, ‘Berry Bush’ (aka ‘Top Swire’) was a just a long upward slope – shallower than Lothian Road or Bruntsfield, I think but much, much longer – and far more exposed to the elements. The sign saying I’d reached the highest point of the course was very welcome. Then a cattle-grid and what should have been a very fast descent but Lev felt restrained. Still chilly, though. The 50 km to go sign was quite welcome.

The final hill, ‘Witchy Knowe’ (aka ‘Bottom Swire’) was a bugger. I could see the top, way above me, and many cyclists grinding their way up ahead of me. It was here that Caroline passed me, but with a friendly ‘keep pushing’. But she was on a road bike and using her gears – I have a point of pride about staying in the big ring, no matter how much it saps my speed and momentum. I was very close to dropping towards grannydom though. (Having said that if I had changed down when I wanted to, I’d probably have lost momentum doing so and fallen over. Moral: change just before you absolutely need to. Going down was scary – I had both brakes on all the time, while others passed me at quite a lick. I might have let myself go a little faster but I was behind a couple riding abreast – they were going just fast enough that overtaking safely (there were lots of bends) would have required an uncomfortable speed.

After that, the route basically undulated – what felt like only a few upward slopes but lots of fast descent. Despite having basically drained my legs on the ascents, I kept up a reasonable 15 mph. This was despite a few miles being on the sort of road surface that looks smooth but saps momentum and replaces it with arse-pain. Thank goodness for two layers of padding, relatively new shorts and any anaesthetic that was smuggled into my arse-cream.

As the route passed Selkirk, I began to realise I could complete 50 miles in under four hours. (I’d thought I’d take nearly 6 hours for the whole event.) In fact, the 50 miles came at 3:48:35. The actual end, however, took quite a while to arrive. But turning into the Traquair estate was indeed welcome. JPhone may not have recorded it properly – cyclemeter says I took 4 hours 19 minutes, while my official time was 4 hours 23 minutes. Here’s the map, and here’s a screenshot of it:


As we reached Peebles town centre, the rain and wind came on. We stashed the bikes on Bug (Elly’s car) and meandered back into the town centre in search of sustenance. Fortunately the County Inn provided both beer (which didn’t touch the sides) and – after a noticeable delay – large portions of smokey bean chilli, salad with roquito pepper drops and potato wedges. Thereafter, a soggy drive back to Edinburgh, to collapse in front of the TV.

This was an enjoyable and worthwhile ride – I want to do it again! I know I had more miles in me, and Elly’s just pointed out we did over a Munro‘s worth (3615 feet) of ascent. So next year – either I aim for under 4 hours on the same hefty touring bike or I do the 77-mile version. Yeehah!


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