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.