Thorne-Edinburgh 400

Martin Malins writes…

A first (and last) perm 400. The “event” was Thorne-Edinburgh 12-13.5.06, started 1835 finished 2018 the
next day.

The idea for this ride came about from my desire to do London-Edinburgh
without having to ride back, and MSeries’ wish to see the best bits of
the Borders in daylight having ridden them in the dark on LEL.. So we planned
to ride the Thorne-Edinburgh section as a DIY perm; using the AUK route sheet
and using receipt controls wherever possible.

Met Simon at Kings X for the Mallard (aka IC225) up to
Doncaster. On arrival the traffic was fairly chocca so we went to a
petrol station to find a quieter route to Thorne; where a driver gave
us very good directions.
Waited at Thorne North station for MSeries and Blonde for over an hour
despite being assured by ‘phone he was 10km away. A couple of ambulances
sped by and we began to worry. Eventually MSeries rang to say Blonde
had crashed; when we asked how she was he said he didn’t know; very
worrying. But eventually they both arrived, Blonde having slipped and
fell on her elbow which was just like Simon’s last year after his HGV
induced prang.
We found a nice cafe for some food then stocked up with water food and
till receipts from Co-op before setting off.

The first 100km was , how
shall I put it? almost but not quite entirely flat. All too soon it was
up the Howarden hills past the obelisks, my jumbo Caradice kitchen sink
making itself known by this time. The Hovingham control proved easy, we
simply asked the very obliging hotel owner for a stamp. Can’t remember
too much about the next few hours apart from falling asleep 3 times on
a wall; the side of the road while Simon examined a bust spoke and
finally an auto-massage chair at Scotch Corner services. Having met up
with MSeries’ LEL ride mate Nigel at the last place we all set of just
as it was beginning to get light. And rain.
I sensibly put my overshoes on just in time; as the long climb up to
High Force was very damp indeed. Blonde fell off again. The general
mood was low. Simon and Nigel went ahead up to Yad Moss. It stopped
raining at some point in the ascent, but the rain was followed by a
very cold NE front. This had the effect of reducing my wet gloves to an
effective cool box on the very long descent to Alston.

On arrival I
spotted Simon and Nigel’s bikes outside a newsagents and about 0750,
they both looked as bad as I felt. The mood was even lower; especially
as we found out that the cafe did not open until 1000. The newsagents
did however sell fleece gloves which is probably the best 2.99 I’ve
ever spent; even though I had to get Simon to pay as there was no way
they were coming off again if they fitted. We decided to go down to the
YH to see if they did breakfast;
they didn’t, but we did blag a cup of tea, a control stamp and a mooch
in their drying room. Soon Mseries’ rang to say they were in the cafe,
having apparently hammered at the door to get them to open; We avoided
the worst of the cobbles by using a less salubrious council estate to
go back up to Alston; where we found MSeries and Blond trying to hold a
knife and fork without using fingers. Another two pairs of those nice
fleece gloves please.

After that it got much better. The descent to Brampton was flattish,
dry and comparatively warm. Then across to Longtown for more Co-oppery
and receipts.
The A7 to Langholm was pretty horrible; bad surface and busy. And
lumpy. We stopped in Langholm for quite a while, trying to build up the
enthusiasm for the next bit, the B709 through Innerleithen. This was
without a doubt the hardest bit by far; but the scenery and weather was
quite simply superb. Virtually the whole section consisted of following
steadily climbing river valleys until they eventually disappeared up
into the side of the mountain much like the road, to then find another
valley back down. We waited at the Buddhist shrine where sleep almost
took over again. Eventually MSeries and Blonde arrived and announced
that they were not going to complete; and as they planned to ride back
again today and tomorrow I can’t say I blamed them. I just hope they
found somewhere to stay, there wasn’t a great deal available.

Eventually the last grind up and a marvellous 9k down to Innerliethen
where the downhill centre is (which I assume is where the ski lifts
MSeries referred to are). And then another 23k, following the very
distant specks which were the yellow and red tops of Nigel and Simon,
up the valley past all the golf links and up, and up. I had this idea
that it was all downhill from here; I was wrong. One last punishing
climb and there we were; overlooking the Forth, Arthur’s seat, the
castle. Glorious.

One last cash machine slip in Dalkeith 12km later and that was it; we
had taken 25.45 for the 410km. Now just the 12km into the city centre
and find the YH.
And find the YH……
We had a vague idea it was at the West end of Princes St but it took
several phone calls and asking pub-outside-smokers and bouncers before
we arrived. We didn’t celebrate; other than with a shower and then
straight under the duvet (which my sheet sleeping bag did not protect
from me). Rudely awoken at 0630 (having vaguely remembered hearing
presumably Hearts revellers until about an hour before) Simon and I
said our goodbyes to Nigel and sped off towards the airport. But not
speedy enough for me; I was unable to pack my frame to EasyJet’s
demanding standards in time so missed the Gatwick flight and had to
wait 4 hrs (and an extra £35) for a Stansted one.
Bit of a bummer finish to a great ride. Without a doubt my hardest
ever 400; in the words of Sir Steve Redgrave “if you ever see me with
an LEL entry form you have my permission to shoot me”

Thanks again MSeries for all the planning and hope you back OK