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Ride To The Sun
This blog article will cover my experience of completing Ride To The Sun, a 100-mile road ride from Carlisle Castle to Cramond Beach, what the event is and my top tips for completing the event.
Border crossings, a midnight chip shop food stop, a 7-mile climb up the Devils beef tub to a stunning sunrise finish at Cramond Beach the Ride To The Sun has everything you need for a perfect adventure ride.
I can honestly say that Ride To The Sun is one of the best bike rides I have ever done and every cyclist should try to do it at some point in their life. How to plan a cycling adventure.
What is Ride To The Sun?
Ride to the sun is a 100-mile road cycling ride, taking place on summer solstice in late June or early July. Ride To The Sun is not a race; no one is there to try and ride the route fast or compete for Strava segments.
The ride is focused on promoting the love of adventure cycling and challenging yourself by riding overnight through the darkness of the Scottish lanes.
Ride To The Sun prides itself on being the north homage to Dunwich Dynamo, a famous overnight road cycling adventure from London to Brighton.
The creators of Ride To The Sun, Fraser Maxwell and Gary Cameron, were initially inspired by the Dunwich Dynamo and wanted to create a similar event closer to their home in Scotland. The route consists of 100 miles, starting at Carlisle Castle and finishing at Cramond Beach. Increase your cycling fitness with five training intervals.
My experience of riding the event
Due to the current Covid rules about mass participation events, the number of cyclists at this year’s RTTS was significantly less than it would ordinarily be, with cyclists setting off in small groups several minutes apart.
The ride started just before 8 o’clock; I set off in a small group containing 5 other riders. We worked together, rotating through and off sustaining a steady 20 MPH for the first 10 miles to Lockerbie before the sun started to set.
As the sun went down, we switched our lights on and tried to prepare ourselves for the challenge that was in front of us. Read jacks experience of cycling the south downs.
The first significant hill comes at Ecclefechan but is only a slight sting to the legs compared to what is yet to come in the future along this route.
As you approach the 43 point at Moffat, part of the route is to stop at Moffat Best Pizza and Kebab House that stays open extra late just for the RTTS.
The food and service were astounding, and who doesn’t like chips and pizza at midnight, the perfect way of getting carbs into your body before what is likely to be an hour-long climb up the devils beef tub.
Most people probably haven’t heard of the devils beef tub before, but it is one mighty climb lasting 7-miles on a long straight section of A road that reaches a peak elevation of 1375 ft.
However, this experience of cycling on an A road is utterly different from any other A road that I’ve cycled on before.
The sight of all the other cyclists’ back lights flashing in the summer night sky as you try to make your way up the climb reminds you just how unique the ride is and distracts you from some of the pain that your legs are currently in.
Whilst the hill isn’t partially steep, the long-distance and the fact that it’s all on the same long straight road really starts to play tricks with your mind when your visibility is limited to where your front light is pointed. Check out the ride to the sun website.
In an ordinary year, there are also several bagpipe players towards the top of the hill. That I expect would create an even better atmosphere. I am already looking forward to witnessing this element of the ride in 2022. Nutition tips for long distance cycling.
As we reached the top of the devils beef tub, I quickly pulled over and snapped this photo of the stars in the night sky over the small village of Tweedshaws. long distance cycling tips by Robbi Ferri.
I have completed many long-distance rides in my cycling history, but this challenge was totally different from anything that I had tackled before.
The descent of the devils beef tub is long and fast. During the downhill section, I found myself slightly losing touch with reality as I came flying down the hill, just hoping that no wild animals came running out into my path.
In an ordinary year, the route takes you through the rural Tweed valley at the end of the A701 and to the derelict Crook Inn, where there is a cyclo rave with a banana feed station and live DJ.
However, due to the current covid restrictions, this didn’t happen. Instead, we were forced to go and collect our own bananas from the BP 24 garage on the outskirts of Biggar. After the 1-AM banana stop, we regrouped with another group of cyclists and agreed to cycle to the finish together.
With just 30 miles left to do and most of it being flat fast roads heading back into the city, we knew that we really needed to press on if we wanted to make it to Cramond Beach before sunrise. Common mistakes when cycling long distance.
The road leaving Blyth Bridge is rolling, and as the sky begins to get slightly lighter and the weather gets warmer, I begin to feel a sense of accomplishment.
The final 20 miles are all downhill. I quickly found myself easing off of the power and coasting to take in all the spectacular views that surround you as you cycle into the heart of Edinburgh.
It’s 3-AM and as you pass through the deserted streets of Edinburgh, you are reminded of all of the gruelling long miles you have cycled.
I take a moment to reflect on how I have not only overcome the physical challenge of cycling 100 miles but also the mental challenge of doing it all in the dark.
The ride finishes as everyone regroups at the meeting point at Cramond Beach. We are greeted with a spectacular sunrise over the coast of Cramond beach with views out to Cramond Island.
I really enjoyed this experience and would recommend the ride to any cyclist no matter what your ability is.
There are plenty of groups that ride at different speeds to suit everyone and the experience of riding through the night is something that I think everyone should experience in their life. Bike packing esstentials by Robbi Ferri.
Top tips for completing RTTS
Get powerful front and rear lights
Obviously, the ride is through the night and probably 80% of the ride is spent in complete darkness so you’ll want a front light with over 1000 lumens and an equally sufficient backlight.
Take lots of spares.
Spare clothes, extra food and a portable charger for your lights or phone. Just take everything because at some point you will need it. There is a large 45-mile section of the course where there will be no open shops or external assistance so make sure you take spares of everything that you think you might need.
It’s not a race, so chill out and enjoy it.
Make new friends, stop to take pictures and just let the adventure sink in and remember to thank everyone that helped put the event on.
Be positive and support others
The long climb up the Devils beef tub in the pitch black of the midnight sky can mess with people’s heads and at some point, everyone will want to quit. So provide encouragement to everyone around you and be positive.
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