Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Border reivers nocturnal border raid

Sun just upBorder 3
Last Saturday Five riders set off under bruising skies to begin the club's first nocturnal ride to Berwick upon Tweed. Kerstin, Tobias, Matt, Melwin and Andy had panniers packed with warm clothes and mid-night snacks to keep them going all the way to England.
The raiders were sent on their way by cheering Clarionistas at the Black Bitch pub in Linlithgow at around 10.30pm and headed off towards Kirkliston following Tobias's route.
Disaster almost struck near Crammond Bridge when Melwin gave Tobias a rear end shunt which summersaulted Herr Bauer spectacularly into a 3 foot ditch. Luckily neither of them were injured and after a few fixes to Tobias's land cruiser the group got going again.
Our next stop was a quick snifter in Leith for last orders, after which we headed into the East Lothians. The roads were deserted and apart from a few hollars from drunks on their way home, we saw very few people. The coastal road and path to Longniddry had street lights which meant we were only in full darkness for a couple of hours later on in the night. We stopped for a picknick at about 1.00am and scoffed cakes, pies, sandwiches and coffee lit by torches in the pitch black.
Between Longniddry and Haddington Tobias took us along an offroad path which criss-crossed fields and we saw baby foxes playing and other assorted night time wildlife.
Riding through deserted towns at 3.00am was a thrill, we had the streets to ourselves but every now and again we'd get a waft of fresh coffee or toast being made but mainly the air smelled fresh and clean with the daytime pollution filtered out.
Dawn finally broke at 4.00am, by which time we had reached the village of Spott south of Dunbar. For me this was the highlight of the ride, we watched the sun come up and then disappear behind low cloud over the North Sea, it was a wonderful moment.
The coastal roads had been left behind and Tobias's route now started to take in meandering lanes and climbs that seemed to gradually get steeper the closer we got to Berwick Upon Tweed.
At Cockburnspath we dropped down the the sea again and back up a long, steep and winding climb which split the group for the first time. After a quick snack at the top the rain started and we wore our waterproofs for the next couple of hours.
It was now 5.00am and I was struggling to stay awake, east of Eyemouth I almost came a cropper. I lost concentration and suddenly found myself bumping along the edge of the road as we descended a long shallow climb. It was, ehm, a wake up call but a few Proplus and a coke seemed to do the trick and I managed to make my way to Berwick without further incident.
The undulating lanes around Berwick were the best of the trip, at the top of every rise we'd catch a glimpse of the North Sea.
We finally arrived at about 9.30am, much later than expected but we hadn't been rushing, pub stops, map reading and picknicks meant we were never going to break any records on this adventure. We decided to give Lindisfarne a miss and spent the morning relaxing in a couple of cafes and sightseeing before making our way home by train.

The highlights for me were the great banter and sense of camaraderie we had all night; seeing the dawn come up south of Dunbar; not seeing a car for 6 hours; the strangeness of riding through deserted towns; night time picknicks; the beautiful country side around Berwick and the world smelling lovely and fresh at dawn!

Andy and Melwin put in a great ride, you wouldn't have thought either hadn't ridden any major distance before the start of the year. Kerstin frequently beat Tobias up the hills, although Herr Bauer did have a 3rd wheel contraption attached to the back of his bike.

Andy said "It really was something special, I am sure the overnight aspect of it had something to do with that. Cycling through the dark, all of us at some point I am sure went through some kind of 'zone'. Mine was on some of the climbs, particularly coming out of Pease bay and again out of Ayton. Matt's may have been on the gentle decent that had him momentarily nod off, Melwin's may well have been in the rain without full waterproofs, Tobias and Kerstin will have had their moments too. Perhaps like me it was whilst spinning up one of the many hills. I know for all of the 'in the zone' moments there were many moments that would wake me in an instant . Deer jumping across the road a few feet away, riding through the fords, seeing the young foxes, the sound of waves breaking against an unseen shore, lighthouses flashing in the distance, the scale of the powerstations in the middle of nowhere, the sudden rain and of course the sunrise that we accidentally had a great view of. The feeling of having acheived something that I probably won't do very often as we coasted into Berwick is some thing else that will stay with me for a long time. Above all though It's the people that took part that made it what it was and that's not something that's lost on me and I thank you all for that. I cannot forget all those that saw us off, both online and in the Black Bitch. I know you all wanted to come along too!
So here is to next time, It will never be the same but without doubt it will be just as special"

Pictures on flickr here
And we didn't do this! (thanks Dave)


grantus said...

Sounds the biz.

Will the gentleman's race involve an overnight stage?

Matthew Ball said...

It was! The idea with the gentleman's race is to stay the night in the hotel we found in lockerbie and come back the next day. Which'll give us enough time for a bit of bounderising...

Anonymous said...

3 foot ditch??? It was a 3 metre deep ditch.

3 foot indeed.

grantus said...

What is bounderising, exactly?

Sounds a bit 'jolly hockey sticks' and 'Famous Five' if you ask me!

Matthew Ball said...

'The Bounder' was the pen-name of one of the founder-journalists of the Clarion, Edward Fay. He was very large both in stature and appetites. Hence 'Bounderise' ('verb irregular – very – meaning to imbibe liquors of various degrees of strength, to assimilate resuscitating comestibles, to walk on one's heels, and to generally spread one's self') From the report of the Clarion Cycle Club Easter tour in 1894