It IS possible to function on just 4 hours of solid sleep. The volunteers at Brampton had constructed a good system for allocating (air)beds and for waking riders at allotted times. We, perhaps 200 of us, shared the school hall. There were comings and goings at all times of the night but The Wattmeister drifted off into the deepest slumber and remained there until it was time to be woken
Having arrived at Brampton at around 11. p.m the previous evening, it was necessary to allow an hour to shower, change kit, eat and drink sufficiently and take care of any other business before falling asleep.
We allowed ourselves 4 hours of sleep, and, after being woken, another 90 minutes maximum in order to make sense of the world. Various tasks needed to be completed in these precious minutes. Eating, drinking, recharging vital equipment, packing necessary kit according to the weather forecast, and so on
Those 90 minutes passed very quickly and conversely everything that needed to be done happened very slowly. It is called the Randonneurs Law of Reverse Negative Split.
As we departed the haven at Brampton it began to rain….cold, wet rain which ran down the back of your neck and through your ears and God knows where else. It pissed down from Gretna Green to Johnstonebridge. The road surface shook the fillings out of our teeth, Saville Row Alex had a bad patch….perhaps his only weak moments on the whole ride…it roused paternal instincts in the Wattmeister.
Soonish, we turned left to Moffat. What a gorgeous looking town. The control seems spanking new and shiny clean. We left our wet shoes by the door, signed in and filled up with breakfast. Now, I don’t know what was in the porridge, but it tasted mighty good and seemed to be full of watts.
The glorious climb from Moffat up to the Devil’s Beef Tub, so named because Scottish scallywags used to rustle English cattle and hide it in a marked bowl in the landscape, was taken in the BIG RING. Porridge Power. For the first time in the ride, after 630 kms, The Wattmeister was keeping pace with Alex and Ben on a climb.
The splendid scenery, a glimpse of sunshine, a rattling descent and the thought that the halfway point in Edinburgh was only 60 kms away lit the mental and physical touchpapers and off we bombed via Howgate and Leadburn Crossroads before hooking up with the traffic-free cyclepath at Loanhead….the sweetest, most refreshing approach possible to the control at Edinburgh.
The canteen served a most delicious pescado con queso pasta concoction, and much more besides. We turned around quickly and headed south. Once again we were well served by as quiet a route as possible on our exit from Edinburgh. Unlike the pasta, it contained a few lumps before the first big climb into the Moorfoot Hills.
At the summit, the temperature dropped. We were assaulted by a vicious downpour which cut visibility and turned the road surface into a shimmering silver ribbon stretching far down the valley. Ben had already sauntered up the climb and now TW and Alex set about chasing him down on the wild descent. What triggers such mad defiance? Soaked through and pedalling hard to keep warm, we careered off the mountain to find shelter in the control at Innerleithen.
There was a piano, The Wattmeister played a couple of frozen bars of ‘Life on Mars’ before being seduced by the excellent Scotch Broth.
We had to don our wet clothes…the hardest part of this game..but once again we follow a sweet cycle path from the control to Traquair and the headwind blowdried our kit back to comfortable standards.
Three more climbs and we would be in Eskdalemuir. A couple of Finnish lads took it upon themselves to marshall the group. It included a Dutch guy on a city bike with flat bars and the least aerodynamic clothing in the universe….plus two panniers containing spare heads….He was SO STRONG. Spinning up the climbs, spinning down the descents, catching the wind like the sails of a round the world yacht. What a legend!
Our group arrived safely in Eskdalemuir….3 times more rainfall than Manchester per annum. What a friendly vibe emitted from this control. It was hard to leave, but leave we must to tackle the hills en route to Langholm and then finally to form our own group on the outskirts of Canonbie and drag them back to Brampton.
Where does the energy come from after 800 odd kms? The Wattmeister was flying. A cherished time on these long rides, where pain ceases to exists, and there is only effortless flow. We hammered our way back to Longtown and coasted the last 16 kms in to Brampton.
A great day in magnificent scenery. The route was familiar and the weather had almost repeated its antics of 2009. The Wattmeister applauds the wonderful little stretches of cyclepath which afforded a different aspect to the ride.