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

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Re: Borders 350....... a completion.

Postby Ray Young » Fri May 13, 2016 7:49 pm

ianfitz wrote:I really liked that off-road section before worker!


I suppose it can stay in then :wink: .
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Re: Borders 350....... a completion.

Postby Ray Young » Sat May 14, 2016 7:17 pm

Fri 5 May.
I woke at 5.30 and tried to go back to sleep but couldn't. My sub conscious must have been working on me through the night because I started thinking, how far along the route actually was I? Last night I thought just over half way but after some sleep a more realistic thought was nearly 2/3 of the way round. Then a crazy thought hit me, if I could get to Jedburgh, about 100 miles away then according to bike hike that would only leave 35 miles left to the finish. Could I do that, could I push on through the night to get a 4 day + hours finish. The crazy thought had cemented itself into my brain, goddamit, I was going to give it a go.
The pizza I had eaten last night had made me thirsty through the night so I had drunk nearly all my water. I knew of a stream in a lovely little valley about 2 miles away along the route so by 6 was packed and heading towards it for breakfast. Whilst porridge in one bag and noodles in another bag rehydrated I set about some bike maintenance. The headset needed tightening and and both bb7 calipers needed the pads adjusting. I don't know if it's just my bb7s but the inboard adjuster is a real pain to turn, sometimes you can turn it with difficulty but at other times not at all. Not long after I got them I stripped them and greased the mechanism but it didn't make much difference. I dug out the torx wrench and set both brakes up from scratch.
I was moving again just after 7. Today looked as though the weather would be good with mostly clear skies and a gentle breeze to cool me. The tendonitis, well that was worse yet again. Now I was pushing up all but the gentlest smoothest climbs. I added co codamol to the ibuprofen which helped a bit. I used to cycle this area a lot when my folks lived in Wooler ( they never felt settled there and moved after a year), so it was nice to be passing this way again. At Langlee Crags is a bit of bikehike that would make Stu proud, total absence of any path - yes, knee deep heather - yes, wannabe pampus grass tussocks - yes, foot swallowing boggy bits - yes. It does have its saving graces though, it doesn't last long, it's downhill and after a short distance you can see the gap in the trees your aiming for.
I arrived at Alwinton at 1.30. Lasts years route by passed it using a rideable zig zag climb up to Clennel Street but there is pub at Alwinton that serves food and given the few supply points on route I've decided to include it. Food served 12 - 2.30 and 6 - 8.30 but the landlord who said he did a bit of mountain biking and was very interested in the route stated that something could probably be done out of those times. I had carbonara with garlic bread, it was very tasty but must have been loaded with salt as it took me two hours of almost constant drinking to slake my thirst afterwards. Two big climbs lay ahead of me, Clennel Street and The Street the latter of which would deposit me on the other side of the Cheviots. After that a mostly downhill Dere Street would take me to Jedburgh. I felt good going up Clennel Street riding strongly despite the tendonitis. I'd upped the dose of Ibuprofen to 600 mg taken 4 times a day (recommended max dose is 400 mg 3 times daily) along with the co codamol and this seemed to keep most of the pain at bay. I was still having to push on a regular basis though on sustained climbs that normally I could have ridden. I was regularly having to check my pace too as the thought of a finish sometime tonight was spurring me on, "slow down, keep your pace, it's a long way yet" became a sort of mantra. It's 20 odd years since I last rode Clennel Street so thoroughly enjoyed re discovering it. After that came Usway Burn and some neat single track, if you can ride this without dabbing then you've got some bottle and skill, afraid I dabbed. Next up, The Street. I wasn't looking forward to this but in the end needn't have been concerned. I ate before starting it and pushed almost all the way to the top without any real bother. I think my apprehension stemmed from my lean, mean, racing machine days 25 years ago when I was 2 stone lighter with not a picking of fat on me. Apart from the start I used to ride the whole way to the top, refusing to give in to the pain so I think my apprehension stemmed from those old memories. The descent off the top along The Street is lovely but not all downhill so some more pushing as involved.
With The Cheviots behind me I was now entering farming country which meant a whole lot less climbing, this would last all the way to Selkirk before hitting the sting in the tail, or should I say stings. Dere Street was fun and each section seems to have its own character, open moorland field gave way to deep rutted track ( rideable with care, pick a rut and hope it doesn't end badly) then leafy country lane and finally leafy woods. I arrived in Jedburgh at 9.15 pm, stocked up on food then got a Chinese take away. Chicken curry and rice with pineapple fritters for desert. I ate all the rice and most of the curry but only managed half the fritters. Time to take stock. I was still feeling good despite about 90 miles ridden in just over 15 hours. I was also beginning to doubt bikehikes 335 total route distance. I got out my phone which has the route on courtesy of viewranger to make an estimation of how far it was to the end of the route, it's far easier to use than the etrex 20 for this purpose. 50 + miles is the conclusion I came to, not the 35 I previously thought I'd have from here. It was 10 pm, I decided to press on. By midnight I was exhausted and had only covered another 10 miles, no way was I going to complete tonight in one go. I decided to stop and sleep. I found a suitable spot almost straight away and by 12.15 was in my bag sans tarp again.
An 18 hour and 45 minute day covering 100 miles over hard terrain, I was exhausted and elated all at once at this achievement. I didn't care now about a 4 day + hours finish, after my accomplishment today I'll be happy with a 5 day + hours finish.
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Re: Borders 350....... a completion.

Postby Ray Young » Sun May 15, 2016 11:03 am

Sat 6 May.
I woke at 5.30 again today. Despite there being no question of me going back to sleep with the prospect of finishing today I lay snuggled in my bag for a further 15 minutes contemplating the prospect of putting on cold damp clothes on this cold, damp, grey, grey morning. The sky was so overcast I couldn't even tell from what direction the sun was rising. I eventually got out of my bag and packed. I ate a packet of sandwiches for breakfast but remained hungry. I still had another packet of sandwiches in my bag but was feeling the cold so decided to press on to Hawick which wasn't too far away for a proper breakfast and real coffee.
As soon as I tried to pedal I was in severe pain from the tendonitis, much, much worse than yesterday. I could also feel my thighs complaining at the work I was asking them to do. The efforts of yesterday had obviously taken their toll. Even after the painkillers had kicked in not only was I unable to ride up any sort of slope but even level ground that didn't have a smooth line was too hard to ride. I had about 40 miles to do and given this state of affairs it was going to take a long while.
Cycling to Hawick was a slow and I arrived just before 9. As soon as I got off the bike I felt weak and dizzy, I really did need to get some food inside me but the prospect made me feel nauseous. I spotted a Gregg's doing a morning deal, a real coffee and bacon roll for £2. Start small and work up I thought. I drank half the coffee before attempting the roll, it went down but slowly and I felt a little better. Next stop the bike shop for some energy gels to get me over the bigger hills I faced at the end of the ride. The owner took one look at me and my filthy bike and said " come far? ". I just laughed and said " yes". He pushed me for more details and was well impressed with what I had done. Three roadies who had pulled up outside the shop on their gleaming lighweight steeds as I was leaving just looked at me like I was some sort of alien. No friendly cyclists hello, no questions, nothing. They just looked at me with utter disbelief, how could I possibly be a kin of the cycling clan they belonged to, impossible. Normally I would have forced an acknowledgement from them but today I couldn't be arsed, f*** em I thought and headed off to Morrison's for more breakfast. I slowly coaxed down a small cooked breakfast followed by a toasted tea cake with orange juice. I bought more sandwiches and started to make my way to my bike when suddenly within the space of ten yards I nearly lost my breakfast to the pavement twice. I stood holding the wall for support whilst my stomach settled. This I said is going to be the hardest day yet. The stomach eventually settled and I set off.
The ride to Selkirk was uneventful, lots of pushing though, even with painkillers I was in constant pain from the tendonitis now.
After Selkirk comes the sting or as I said before, the stings in the tail. Entering proper hill country again I was faced with three climbs until I finished. The climb up to the Three Bretheren was pushed all the way. I have ridden this several times fully laden in the past. Up here low drifting cloud made for cold riding and kept obscuring the view. Next some level riding and even a bit of downhill followed by the push to the top of Brown Knowe which is always a push for me. Then downhill again to Traquir. It was now 2.30, one hill left before the final plunge down Gypsy Glen to finish. The push to the top of Kalzie Hill just seemed to go on forever but the descent was a joy.
I crossed the finish line at 4.52 PM, 357 miles in 5 days, 6 hours and 52 minutes to complete a ride that has been in the planning for almost three years and with 3 previous failures I was elated, absolutely shattered but elated none the less. I sat and made coffee whilst I rang the wife to ask to be picked up.

I didn't set out to create a hard route but it seems that that is what I have done, easier than last year but still hard. I wanted to share the area I ride in most with all the fantastic scenery that goes with it and there's plenty of that. Re supply points are few and far between except for the last 60 miles or so so go prepared if you decide to take the challenge.
I could have done it quicker if this or that hadn't happened but things do and always will happen on a route like this so I'm very happy with my completion time.
I am working on the final route details and will post them up soon.

And the bottom bracket, well, after developing a certain amount of play it never got any worse but will of course need replacing.
Last edited by Ray Young on Mon May 16, 2016 11:30 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Borders 350....... a completion.

Postby pushbikemike » Sun May 15, 2016 3:51 pm

Enjoyed the serialisation of your very hard route. Congratulations on the first completion and an excellent write up.
Hopefully you will be recovering nicely by now and the bike gets some TLC.
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Re: Borders 350....... a completion.

Postby Zippy » Sun May 15, 2016 4:09 pm

Kudos Ray, nice work given the challenges you faced, I'm impressed. Thanks for taking the time to create the route, test it and share the story. This is what makes the community great :-)
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Re: Borders 350....... a completion.

Postby slarge » Sun May 15, 2016 7:23 pm

Well done Ray. Having ridden a tiny bit around Wooler I can only say that this is a ride I have to do at some point. It sounds like you have put a cracker together.
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Re: Borders 350....... a completion.

Postby htrider » Sun May 15, 2016 9:04 pm

Really enjoyed reading that Ray - a proper epic! You did well to keep going with the tendon probs. I was getting tendon issues a couple of years ago and sorted them by jamming the cleats back as far as they would go - there was a thread on here about it I seem to recall.
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Re: Borders 350....... a completion.

Postby ericrobo » Sun May 15, 2016 9:08 pm

Brilliant Ray, especially after your previous attempts.

Enjoyed your write up very much... I did about 4 days of the route from Moffat last September. Very remote indeed especially through all those forests, where you don't want to be stuck too near to bed time, hardly any places to get a tent up.

How's the tendinitis now I wonder ? Hope it all recovers well.
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Re: Borders 350....... a completion.

Postby Ray Young » Sun May 15, 2016 9:17 pm

htrider wrote:Really enjoyed reading that Ray - a proper epic! You did well to keep going with the tendon probs. I was getting tendon issues a couple of years ago and sorted them by jamming the cleats back as far as they would go - there was a thread on here about it I seem to recall.

I reverted back to flats for this ride. I'd bought some walking boots from Trespass for £25 reduced from £80. I don't usually rate Trespass stuff but was impressed with these. Totally waterproof, comfortable on and off the bike and decent grip on the pedals. I was so impressed I went looking to get another pair but every Trespass shop in Edinburgh had sold out.
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Re: Borders 350....... a completion.

Postby Ray Young » Sun May 15, 2016 9:23 pm

ericrobo wrote:How's the tendinitis now I wonder ? Hope it all recovers well.

Much better now thanks but still healing. Not been back on the bike yet though, I'm going to give it at least another week.
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Re: Borders 350....... a completion.

Postby Cheeky Monkey » Mon May 16, 2016 8:35 am

:-bd
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Re: Borders 350....... a completion.

Postby Blair512 » Mon May 16, 2016 3:31 pm

Sounds like an epic trip Ray, I wish I had time for such a challange these days!

Could your stomach problems have been caused by to much ibuprofen? That happened to me after I turned my ankle a few years back,I was scoffing double the recommend amount and it really mucked up my stomach for a bit, I avoid the stuff if I can now.
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Re: Borders 350....... a completion.

Postby Ray Young » Mon May 16, 2016 4:00 pm

Blair512 wrote:Sounds like an epic trip Ray, I wish I had time for such a challange these days!

Could your stomach problems have been caused by to much ibuprofen? That happened to me after I turned my ankle a few years back,I was scoffing double the recommend amount and it really mucked up my stomach for a bit, I avoid the stuff if I can now.


You may have a point there Blair as Ibuprofen is renowned for causing stomach problems. Up until the last day increasing the dose helped a lot to keep the pain at bay though.

As the tendonitis only affected the left Achilles tendon I'm wondering what caused it. Could I have turned my foot at some point and not noticed it or is it possible that always having my left foot forward whilst in " the attack position" ( I hate that phrase) caused it. I did read somewhere that on big rides you should alternate which foot is forward. I have tried and can do it but it does feel odd. As soon as the going becomes technical I'd always revert back to left foot forward as it just feels more natural. Maybe I should practice more.
Last edited by Ray Young on Mon May 16, 2016 6:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Borders 350....... a completion.

Postby whitestone » Mon May 16, 2016 4:08 pm

Ray Young wrote:
Blair512 wrote:Sounds like an epic trip Ray, I wish I had time for such a challange these days!

Could your stomach problems have been caused by to much ibuprofen? That happened to me after I turned my ankle a few years back,I was scoffing double the recommend amount and it really mucked up my stomach for a bit, I avoid the stuff if I can now.


You may have a point there Blair as Ibuprofen is renowned for casing stomach problems. Up until the last day increasing the dose helped a lot to keep the pain at bay though.

As the tendonitis only affected the left Achilles tendon I'm wondering what caused it. Could I have turned my foot at some point and not noticed it or is it possible that always having my left foot forward whilst in " the attack position" ( I hate that phrase) caused it. I did read somewhere that on big rides you should alternate which foot is forward. I have tried and can do it but it does feel odd. As soon as the going becomes technical I'd always revert back to left foot forward as it just feels more natural. Maybe I should practice more.


I have been told (i.e. no evidence to back it up) that you should only take Ibuprofen after eating so that the stomach can cope with the drug. No idea if it's valid or not but experience of others who've taken it on an empty stomach would give some support to it.

Curiously I've currently got an inflamed *right* Achilles tendon and I ride with my right foot forward. Like you I've no idea of what was the original strain that caused it only that I got to the end of the ride (road ride as it happens) and it hurt rather a lot.
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Re: Borders 350....... a completion.

Postby Ray Young » Mon May 16, 2016 4:12 pm

^^^ Your right about only taking Ibuprofen after food. The day I had the problem I had only eaten a couple of sandwiches first thing which maybe wasn't enough given the dose I'd taken.
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Re: Borders 350....... a completion.

Postby RobMac » Tue May 17, 2016 12:17 am

Yeah that would do it Ray.

I'm a recent Ibuprofen Gel convert due to my stomach not liking the tablet form.
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