Borders 350....... a completion.

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Borders 350....... a completion.

Postby Ray Young » Sat May 07, 2016 9:46 pm

OM effing G, that is the hardest thing I have ever done.

357 miles, 5 days, 6 hours, 52 minutes.

Avg moving speed 6.4 mph.
Overall speed 3.2 mph.

Yes, that's right, half the time I was out there was spent not moving. I am not a fast rider so this should give some idea to the ultra racers out there as to what may be possible.

Various things did slow me down but I will tell you about that when I post a write up.

I have previously had three failed attempts at this route so I am chuffed to bits at a completion because as the author of the route I feel it is only right that I post the first finish.

Currently I am a very broken man and am also suffering with tendonitus of the left Achiles heel which may give you a clue as to why I think I could have been faster.
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Re: Borders 350....... a completion.

Postby mje25 » Sat May 07, 2016 10:10 pm

Well done Ray, I really enjoyed the bit round to Kirk yetholm I rode last August. It is a tough route though so good effort, I look forward to hearing the full story!
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Re: Borders 350....... a completion.

Postby Zippy » Sat May 07, 2016 10:42 pm

Nice work Ray, looking forward to the write up. :-bd
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Re: Borders 350....... a completion.

Postby Dave Barter » Sat May 07, 2016 10:47 pm

Good man Ray! I'm planning this later in 2016
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Re: Borders 350....... a completion.

Postby whitestone » Sat May 07, 2016 10:50 pm

Well done Ray.
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Re: Borders 350....... a completion.

Postby Blair512 » Sun May 08, 2016 1:38 am

Good work ray, I've mostly been drinking whisky since my bitter defeat on the whw!
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Re: Borders 350....... a completion.

Postby ianfitz » Sun May 08, 2016 8:39 am

Great stuff Ray. Glad it's had a completion and that you got to post the first time.

Would also like to read the details too :-bd
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Re: Borders 350....... a completion.

Postby Ian » Sun May 08, 2016 9:21 pm

ianfitz wrote:Great stuff Ray. Glad it's had a completion and that you got to post the first time.

Would also like to read the details too :-bd

What Ian said. The "First Ascent" of a route is a thing to be treasured :-bd
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Re: Borders 350....... a completion.

Postby ianfitz » Sun May 08, 2016 10:00 pm

Ian wrote:
ianfitz wrote:Great stuff Ray. Glad it's had a completion and that you got to post the first time.

Would also like to read the details too :-bd

What Ian said. The "First Ascent" of a route is a thing to be treasured :-bd


And the the ride I had on it to Wooler was the hardest 2 1/2 days on a bike I've had. The full route must be a beast!

Really looking forwards to the write up Ray. I remember when Mark and I were driving south after being comprehensively beaten by the route last year we really enjoyed reading your report of the group start. Possibly because we were a bit cross with you at the time and it was a fantastic description of your suffering! :-bd
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Re: Borders 350....... a completion.

Postby jamesatthelodge » Mon May 09, 2016 12:05 am

well done sounds really tough. does anyone have a gpx of route please
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Re: Borders 350....... a completion.

Postby Ray Young » Mon May 09, 2016 6:11 am

jamesatthelodge wrote:well done sounds really tough. does anyone have a gpx of route please


Hi James, email me at borders350ittATgmailDOTcom and tell me if you want just the gpx or want to be in the group start first weekend of July.
The route has changed slightly from last year so I am working on the update and will send it out then. I am 99.9% happy with the route now. Funnily enough the bit I am not happy with was OK last year but since then a way marked horse trail has been laid down and what was a wide grassy path through woodland is now horribly cut up. There is a forest road to the west of it I may be able to use so I will have to investigate it.
Facebook Group link below.
https://www.facebook.com/groups/517013845127454/
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Re: Borders 350....... a completion.

Postby Ray Young » Mon May 09, 2016 10:30 am

I didn't take many photo's as you can see.

Near the top of the routes highest point "Dollar Law" having climbed from the water you can see.
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This little fella attached itself to me and followed me for 50 meters until I stopped for a gate then it just stood there and let me pet it and take a photo until mum came to retrieve her wayward child.
Image163 by youngray50, on Flickr

On the Southern Upland Way between Moffat and Over Pawhope bothy.
Image164 by youngray50, on Flickr

My breakfast view from Kielder "Bird Hide Bothy". Not really a bothy but definately a bird hide and yes , I did sleep there.
Image165 by youngray50, on Flickr

Langlee Crags after Wooler.
Image166 by youngray50, on Flickr

I'm really liking my new bike set up, the fork bags work really well and I find packing the bike so much easier now as everything has a place.
Bars - 8 litre drybag with down sleeping bag and silk liner and waterproof jacket tucked under the straps. Two stem cells, 750 ml water bottle in one, 3 medium size apples or bananas in the other.
Forks - Two B Twin frame bags, tarp and 4 pegs in one, bivi bag, exped pump and 4 pegs in the other. These free up space in the frame bag so I can carry food more easily.
Frame bag - Poles, Stu 22g stove, bottle of meths, 1st aid kit, loo roll, baby wipes, spoon, spare reading glasses, 2 lighters, head torch, food and any other little things that are awkward to find a home for.
B Twin gas tank - 2 batteries for night riding light, muesli bars, chocolate biscuits (I have rediscovered Penguin biscuits, yummy) painkillers and water treatment tablets.
Seat tube - Exped down mat lite in a drybag. I always had trouble finding a good place to put this but this works great.
Down tube - B Twin tool bottle with tools, puncture kit and spare tube.
Seat Pack - In a dry bag, warm socks and thermal leggings for sleeping in if required. Cookset and also space for food or cycling clothes not currently being worn in my layering system.
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Re: Borders 350....... a completion.

Postby htrider » Mon May 09, 2016 6:50 pm

Brilliant Ray, Glad you bagged the first completion. I may now make the group ride if its at the beginning of July, depending on how I get on the weekend before at the YD 300 and hoping my back is sorted by then. If not I'm definitely looking to do it later in the year.
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Re: Borders 350....... a completion.

Postby pushbikemike » Mon May 09, 2016 7:39 pm

Nice one Ray. :-bd
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Re: Borders 350....... a completion.

Postby Chew » Mon May 09, 2016 7:56 pm

I'm contemplating touring the route in early August if anyones interested?

5-7 day region
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Re: Borders 350....... a completion.

Postby Ray Young » Mon May 09, 2016 11:56 pm

Monday 1st May.
I had set and had to cancel three departure dates to attempt this again this year before the group start in July so knowing it was going to be pretty wet in places after the snow we had recently which had of course just finished melting the day before I left wasn't going to stop me. I had wanted to start at 8 am but it was 10 by the time I eventually set off along the old railway line from Peebles. It took me until 2.00 ish to reach Tibie Shiels and the riding had been fine, a bit wet but nothing I couldn't handle. The weather was pretty dire though, initially chucking it down with strong winds then taking turns to be hot and sunny with no wind to being windy and freezing which caused me some grief on the clothes front until i settled on a base layer top with a waterproof over that. Not ideal for either conditions but one that coped ok without me having to constantly stop to change clothing. The problem that had caused the delay in the morning had also caused me to skimp on my breakfast so I happily tucked into sausage, egg and chips at the roadside cafe at Tibie Shiels. The climb up the landrover track which takes you almost to the top of a Dollar Law also went well but on leaving that I encountered the worst conditions I have ever had up here. It's often wet but rideable up here but the snowmelt had turned the path into a bog so I got on with pushing. I have now mapped the best route over this bit which doesn't follow the OS maps dashed lines exactly. The new descent to Drumelzier is ace and cuts out a lot of the Thief's Road which I gather wasn't too popular last year. The Broughton loop was mostly ridden but again a push uphill because of the saturated ground. I arrived at Broughton at 7.15 PM so the shop was long shut and I was glad I'd eaten at the café. I carried on along the new route rather than having to slog all the way back up Dollar Law but was now starting to feel the effects of the days efforts in bad weather conditions so by 8.15 had found a bivi spot, cooked up some pasta and was in my bag by 9.30. Only 50 miles done but the weather and wet ground had been against me so I was happy with my days efforts. After three previous failures at this route I wanted a completion badly so had taken on the mindset of fast touring it rather than racing it, if I didn't do the miles i'd hoped for then so what. Another aspect of this mindset was to carry more food than previously and a cooker and actually stop to eat rather than eat on the go. I had changed the things I was carrying to eat too. Sandwiches, fruit and good quality oat bars seem to agree with me and with one dried pasta meal and one cafe or take away meal a day I seemed to have hit on a strategy that worked for me. After my last tale of woe on this route someone said that negative thoughts often occur with low carb levels in the body so I wasn't going to risk that happening again.

To be continued :wink: .
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Re: Borders 350....... a completion.

Postby RobMac » Tue May 10, 2016 12:15 am

Ray Young wrote:
To be continued :wink: .


WHAT! You swine :lol:
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Re: Borders 350....... a completion.

Postby pushbikemike » Tue May 10, 2016 9:36 am

Bloody tease. :wink:
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Re: Borders 350....... a completion.

Postby Ray Young » Wed May 11, 2016 10:04 pm

Tuesday 2nd May.
I was awoken at 4 am by the rain on my face. The wind had reversed direction and picked up strength so was blowing the falling rain into the higher front end of the tarp. I made like the wind and did a 180 on my mat so now my feet where getting rained on instead of my head. At 7 am I was awoken by the sound of a furiously flapping tarp, one of the front corner pegs had pulled out by the strongly gusting wind. This forced me out of my bag and I packed everything except stuff for breakfast then moved to the shelter in the trees from the wind. At least it had stopped raining. I had the big bikehike section up and round The Devil's Beeftub to come so got stuck into porridge, sandwiches and oaty bars all washed down with coffee. Not sure at what time I set off but I arrived at Moffat around 2. The bikehike hadn't been too bad but the weather was similar to the previous day. I headed straight to Jack and Rachel's cafe which is on the left as you enter the square for one of the best all day breakfasts you can get, a big platefull and a pot of tea for £7.50, I recommend it. I stocked up on food at the coop before joining the Southern Upland Way which would take me to Overpawhope bothy. I arrived at six and stopped to brew some coffee with the intention of heading on to Greensykes bothy after that but a very comfy sofa and an unfinished bottle of Glenlivet plus various beers on offer soon persuaded me otherwise. I cleaned out the fireplace and chopped some wood to make the night even more cosy. It seemed to take ages to get the fire burning properly but I got there in the end then ate some of the free food on offer before imbibing in the Glenlivet which was lovely followed by a couple of bottles of ales. I turned in at 10 feeling very mellow and sank into a very deep sleep on the sofa. I had covered 55 miles.
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Re: Borders 350....... a completion.

Postby Blair512 » Wed May 11, 2016 10:16 pm

That sounds like my kind of night Ray! :-bd
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Re: Borders 350....... a completion.

Postby pushbikemike » Thu May 12, 2016 9:04 am

I'm enjoying this Ray. Whisky and beer and a snooze on the sofa after a bike ride sounds spot on. Looking forward to trying this route later in the year.
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Re: Borders 350....... a completion.

Postby Ray Young » Thu May 12, 2016 6:36 pm

Wed 3 May.
I'd set my alarm for 6 but on waking found it was blowing a hoolie out there so snuggled back down. Just before my next alarm at 7 went off I thought I heard someone trying the front door, then I definitely heard someone come in. Whoever it was stayed in the entrance area and didn't look into the main room where I was. I heard some rummaging then a gas stove being lit. Odd I thought. The MBA had been working here the last two weeks putting new roof on (hence the alcohol that had been left), maybe it was one of them come to finish off some jobs. I got up to investigate. It was a walker fixing breakfast, he'd seen me on the sofa through the window so hadn't wanted to disturb me. As I was now up he said he'd come through when he'd finished cooking. He was called Mark, came from Germany and had lived in Leicester for 20 years. He was walking some of The Southern Upland Way over 7 days. The reason for his early appearance was the howling wind outside. He'd camped out high but the wind had switched direction through the night so it was impossible for him to cook in the porch of his tent. He came across as being a very gentle man and I took to likeing him. He was planning on staying near Tibie Shiels so I told him of the lovely bivi spot just past it. He also planned on staying at Minch Moor bothy so I had to tell him of its demise for which he was grateful.
I had a good breakfast as the next supply point was Newcastleton, a long way off over forest roads with two big climbs and two medium climbs plus various minor ones.
As soon as I started pedaling I felt the pain in my left Achiles tendon, not a debilitating pain but an annoying pain that occurred with every pedal stroke. The wind had died down a bit but was still strong and sometimes it aided me and at other times hindered me. I nearly got stopped in my tracks by forestry work on the way through Craik forest. I'd passed some signs informing me that work was going on but none that said no entry. I came across a guy who stopped me and said I couldn't go through and that I shouldn't be in the area at all. I told him of the signs I'd seen and pleaded ignorance so he told me to "get through quick while the tree felling machine was not operating", I thanked him and shot off down the track. I think his kindness may have earned him a bollocking though, as I past the huge machine the operator spotted me and his face took on a look of absolute horror. I later passed more signs of the same type so stopped to read the smaller writing below the general warning. Obey all signs and instructions it read, nothing at all about no entry. Anyway, the climb up the Roman road was easier than expected with a fast and fun descent to follow. As the miles past the tendonitis got worse despite having taken some co codamol. Steeper climbs were now being pushed as sustained hard pedaling was causing me grief. I also noticed something else, some play in the bottom bracket. I couldn't do anything about that so put it out of my mind and carried on. The climb/push up to Jocks Hope went OK as did the next climb. The road climb that leads to Newcastleton was cycled but slowly and in pain. The view from the top is great, a vast panorama that takes in the Solway Forth and the Lake District beyond that, on a clear day it is stunning. The descent from here is a joy even if it is on road.
At Newcastleton I restocked on food and overdosed on carbs by eating lasagna, chips and garlic bread in one of the pubs. I must have smelt something rotten as although the waitress was very chatty I noticed she kept her distance when she could. I checked the bb again, a little more play. A previous attempt at the route had been abandoned due to a bb that destroyed itself within 25 miles of me noticing the first bit of play, so far this one had done more than that with only a little increase in play. I wanted to get to Spithope bothy that night, 15 miles past Kielder but I knew Kielder had a bike shop so I wrestled with what to do about the bb. Carry on and hope for the best or stop at Kielder in the hope of a repair. This would of course delay me, 15 miles less done and a later start than I wanted. It would be at least 9 or 10 before the shop opened the next morning then time to effect the repair, if they could fix it that is. I set off after taking some Ibuprofen I'd just bought and after it kicked in it definitely helped with the pain from the tendonitis. On the easy climb up alongside Kershope burn I struggled with what to do but on arrival at the top common sense had won out, I would stop Kielder and hope for a repair. Yes it meant lost time but the worse case scenario was yet another failure of the route. It was 10 PM as I arrived on the path around Kielder reservoir so started looking for a bivi spot. 2 likely places were dismissed then a huge pathside sign appeared, " Bird Hide" . I quickly followed it's direction and in a minute came upon it. The door had a keyhole but it wasn't locked. It was a wooden shed 15 feet by 8 feet, perfect. A quick sweep of the floor using one of the handy rspb leaflets soon had a space cleared of debris that had been trampled in by birdwatchers. It was straight into the bag with an alarm set for 7, surely no twitchers would arrive before then. I fell asleep to the occasional hoot of an owl or even more occasional noises made by waterfowl. Bliss.
About 75 miles today I think.
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Re: Borders 350....... a completion.

Postby ianfitz » Thu May 12, 2016 7:03 pm

Enjoying this Ray, keep them coming :-bd


I remember thinking about those birds hides at Kielder when I was riding through, had seen them on a family trip there ages ago! Worth noting the toilets at the start of the forest road over to byreness are left unlocked. I stopped to get water and I understand that another rider slept there (or maybe it as the ones at byrness which are also open!)

I decided to keep on to Spithope bothy and arrived at about midnight, I could hear much merriment from the main track and so carried on to the emergency shelter at Lamb Hill which took another 90 minutes. It was a lovely clear night with a bright moon and was very atmospheric through the roman camp. Funnily enough the shelter was empty!
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Re: Borders 350....... a completion.

Postby Ray Young » Fri May 13, 2016 10:24 am

Thurs 4 May.
I actually got up at 7 when my alarm went off, I was worried an irate twitcher might set about me with his binoculars for having violated the sanctity of the hide. That's not true actually, I was worried a ranger might pop his head round the door and chuck me out before I'd cooked breakfast. First thing I did was open one of the hides observation hatches to reveal a glorious sunny morning. The low sun was glinting off the slightly rippling surface off the water on which at first sight revealed no birds but I then picked out an egret sitting on a log and cormorant drying it's wings on a small island. As I cooked a breakfast of pasta N sauce I saw various other birds come and go, ducks, Canadian geese, coots and others I didn't recognise. I was in no hurry as I had to wait until at least 9 before the bike shop would be open so had a leisurely breakfast with several coffees and just took in the tranquil view. I read the information boards, turns out this is Bakethin Reservoir, much smaller and separated from Kielder Reservoir it acts as a silt trap to it's much larger sibling. It is also now totally given over as a wildlife reserve. I read the hide log, someone had seen an osprey, there is a pair that nests near one of the Kielder bothies which gets shut down during nesting season. Others had seen even more exotic creatures, a bald eagle, Smaug the dragon and one unlucky fella claims to have seen Donald Trump.
Just before 9 I made my way to the shop to discover I had another half hour to wait. I used the nearby toilets to have a good all over wash then had second breakfast. The guy who opened the shop was very friendly but couldn't help, they only sold and hired bikes. Don't you service your hire bikes I asked, yes but the boss does that and he's away for the week and the workshop is locked. We discussed other bike shop locations but I'd already been through them in my mind and dismissed them as being too far off route. Next one on route was Jedburgh but that was about 150 miles away. I would just have to carry on and hope for the best.
The tendonitis was worse again today so I was pushing uphill more than yesterday but it was a great day for cycling, not too hot, not too cold and hardly any wind to speak of. Kielder forest drive was despatched with ease as was the climb past Spithope bothy up to the start of the Cheviot Hills ridgeline. I love it up here. The first couple of times I came I was a bit underwhelmed but the more I came the more it grew on me. You hardly see anyone up here but today was an exception and I saw at least ten walkers. Near Yearning Saddle refuge hut I was closing fast on a guy walking slowly with an odd gait. At one point he stopped to look round and he appeared to be in a bit of a daze. My first thought was hypothermia but it wasn't really the right conditions for that. I stopped when I caught him and yes he was fine, recovering from a hip replacement 7 weeks ago, this was his second walk of ten miles in that time. We were both stopping at the hut for lunch. On arrival I found some unopened instant noodles and a pasta mug shot, I heated some water and ate them both. We didn't exchanged names but he was a lovely chap, 72 years old and a lifelong walker with 3 Himalayan trips and countless Munro's under his belt. 18 months previous he'd been mis diagnosed with bone cancer in the hip and the severe pain had put a stop to his walking. Eventually the correct diagnoses was made of arthritis and the hip replacement followed. Being outdoors was the world to him and he couldn't wait to fully recover. He was intrigued by what I was doing and on departing wished me well.
The Cheviot Hills ridgeline doesn't look far on a map but due to its nature it will always take twice as long as you think it should regardless of your level of fitness. Wetter than usual and with the tendonitis I was off and pushing regularly but eventually I dropped off the ridge into Scotland only to have to climb back up before the final descent to Kirk Yetholm. 10 miles of road then a few miles off road which is mostly uphill until Wooler. After riding it iv'e decided to ditch this off road bit and take the road all the way to Wooler in the final version of the route, the routes hard enough as it is. I restocked in the coop and ordered a 12 inch pizza from a new pizza and coffee shop opposite the chippy. A very nice pizza indeed and well worth the money. It was 9.40 PM and I was exhausted, all the walking was starting to take its toll. I made for Wooler Common and bedded down for the night. The skies were clear so I didn't bother with the tarp, within minutes I was asleep.
The bb play hadn't got any worse which was a relief, maybe all the walking was a help!
Distance today, I have no idea, I did check it but I can't recall what it was. Three and a half days out and things are starting to get a little hazy, everything running into each other. I reckoned I was over half way round though.
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Re: Borders 350....... a completion.

Postby ianfitz » Fri May 13, 2016 2:51 pm

I really liked that off-road section before worker!
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