On Saturday 17 June a team from David Allen embarked on the almighty challenge of ‘Ride to the Sun’, a cycling route which saw us cycle 100 miles through the night to raise money for our Charity of the Year, the Great North Air Ambulance Service.
Early on the Saturday evening our team, consisting of Alison Allen, Rachel Park, Natasha Ayre, Chris Martin and I gathered together at Bitts Park, fully kitted out in our lycra and with supplies of jelly babies, ready for the long journey ahead.
Following lovely quiet roads from England across the border to Scotland, we followed in the footsteps of the Roman Legions who trudged the long road from Luguvalium (Carlisle) to the old garrison camp of Caer Amon (Cramond).
Before even leaving Carlisle we had a couple of minor problems to overcome, Natasha lost a light off her bike and my bike chain came off! Thankfully our bike expert Chris helped us out and soon became known as out ‘Knight in Shining Armour’.
Friends and family came out to cheer us on through Gretna and Kirkpatrick Fleming. Thank you to Nathan and Christine for the refreshments at Kirkpatrick Fleming. We then needed a little stop for some food and Rachel offered out her yoghurt coated dried banana. No one seemed keen on dried banana despite being offered some all night!! After we had refuelled we carried on to Moffat.
45 miles into our journey we were all relieved to reach Moffat for another refreshment break. We all had some chips from the local chip shop which was great and thank you to them for being so patient with hundreds of cyclists turning up! It was a bitter sweet rest stop as none of us were looking forward to the seven mile climb up ‘Devil’s Beef Tub’ that laid ahead. The realisation of the challenge we were undertaking was never more real than at that moment, but on reaching the top, while drained of all energy, team spirits were high and we were enthusiastic for the remaining 50 miles, although it was starting to get dark so we all had to get our lights on.
The downhill ride which followed was refreshing and gave the legs a little rest. Then in the distance we saw some disco lights and heard the music. We reached The Crook Inn to find water, bananas and glow sticks being handed out by ‘Banana Man’ while dancing away to the music!!
Sol Invictus was the Roman God of the unconquered sun and was the Roman legionnaires guide through war and battle and it is with that spirit that we rode through the night. The next few miles seemed to take forever in the darkness with nothing to see, but we kept on going and knew we would soon see the bright lights of Edinburgh.
Chris led the way throughout the night and got us all safely into Edinburgh. As we passed through the centre of Edinburgh and up Princes Street we all started to feel the relief of knowing we were nearly at the finish line. We passed lots of people heading home after a night out who seemed unphased by the number of cyclists riding through Edinburgh at 3.30am in the morning!
To say that the ride was punishing would be an understatement, blood, sweat and tears were all shed but thankfully we all made it to Cramond in one piece.
Cramond is a beautiful place with an amazing beach, situated five miles from Edinburgh. Arriving in time to see the stunning sunrise over the Firth of Forth at 4.30 am it truly was a magical sight and made the gruelling 100 mile journey worthwhile.
The atmosphere during the ride was electric as more than 700 riders took part in the event. Huge thanks have to go out to the organisers, they were truly amazing. Also thanks to Robert Nordon, Amy Pagan and Jordan Ross who drove up to meet us and brought us all back home.
There are few words that can describe the way we felt, when we crossed the finish line. What a feeling… what an achievement! We were all smiling and laughing (and crying), and had some aches and pains but we had done it – we had cycled 100 miles through the night across our beautiful country.
Thank you to everyone who has sponsored us, this will make a real difference to the Great North Air Ambulance Service.