FAQs – with thanks to the Exmouth Exodus, whose FAQs we have cribbed.
What is Ride to the Sun?
It's a free to enter, semi-organised road ride from Carlisle to Cramond, at night. Pretty much a ‘turn up and ride’ sort of event, but just let us know via the website if you are coming as we need to let the chippy in Moffat and Fresh Start know if you are stopping and buying some food. We think people will probably leave between 8 and 10pm according to fitness, to arrive at Cramond just before sunrise at 4.30am. It's just over 100 miles, generally flat, but with one long and steady climb in the middle. There is no support or back up, once you start you are independent and having to look after yourself.
So it's like the Dunwich Dynamo and Exmouth Exodus then?
It's very much inspired by the DD and EE - riding through the night to the seaside, unsupported, and free. But the DD has sometimes got over 2500 people as its well established and it starts in London. The EE gets 200 people. Last year we have 250 riders and we expect more this year, the more the merrier. Regular cyclists have an appetite for something a bit different (and free!) if they have been ticking off the normal sportives for a few years, and the fact that Ride to the Sun is near the solstice definitely appeals.
We live in Cramond, about half a mile from the sea front! It was always going to finish at Cramond! And the sea front is a stunning location to finish.
The start had to be within a couple hours of Edinburgh by car and a single train journey, and the route had to be point to point and not a loop. We did look at other options. Alnmouth in Northumberland was option, and we looked at somewhere up the A9 like Pitlochry or Dalwhinnie. However, we thought Carlisle was readily accessible from Edinburgh, Glasgow, the Newcastle area and the north-west. It’s just over the magic 100 miles. It’s an easy to follow and enjoyable route, and I’d always fancied cycling the climb out of Moffat.
Who are the organisers?
Fraser Maxwell and Gary Cameron. Keen cyclists whose enthusiasm outweighs their talent. We aren’t even decent club cyclists but just the sort that have done the Tour de Lauder and Etape Caledonia on a regular basis, the Fred Whitton Challenge route, went out and did the Paris Roubaix sportive last year etc. Gary helps to organise the Tour de Lauder.
When is it?
18th June 2016, on the Saturday. The aim is to run it on the Saturday night closest to the summer solstice and before the summer hols. If it’s a nice night it won’t get fully dark at that time of year, and it’d be cracking if the weather was good and people can just sit and chill on the beach in Cramond as the sun comes up.
Who can do it?
Anyone that wants to. There'll be a wide range of different abilities, but anyone with a properly functioning bike, some decent lights and a decent level of fitness should be able to make it to the end. The climb out of Moffat is long, but it’s not steep. If you’ve done the Etape Caledonia, the Audax Tour of East Lothian, or the Tour de Lauder (or anything of that ilk), then you’ll be fine.
How long will it take?
We have done the route in about 6hrs 30mins riding time, not including our grub stop, and we might be considered middle of the road standard-wise. Some will take longer, others will be significantly quicker. That is the beauty of it, and something that everyone loved last year, it's not a race it's a social event with the spirit of adventure. If you are going to sign up then we’d imagine that from previous experience you’d have an idea already of the time it will take you to tick off the distance.
Where does it leave from?
We start from the car park between Carlisle Castle and Bitts Park, just on the outskirts of the city centre and five minutes bike from the station. We think folk will leave between 8pm and 10pm, but we'll be there from 7pm onwards. It will be a rolling and informal start, so however many people we get, it won’t be crowded.
Can I leave my car / van at Bitts Park overnight?We know that some people did in 2015. However, with regards to overnight parking, Carlisle City Council have stated that they’d be happy accommodate overnight stays in nearby Devonshire Walk Car Park which is only a few minutes walk from Bitts Park, down Dacre Road and Mayor’s Drive. All day parking is available in this Car Park for £2.50 and stays of up to 7 days may be purchased from the onsite pay and display machines. The post code for Devonshire Walk Car Park is CA3 8UL, please click HERE for further information.
Where does it end?
The ride will finish on the promenade at Cramond, by the grassy knoll overlooking the tidal causeway to Cramond Island. There is plenty of room for bikes and for people to chill out on the grass, its next to the public toilets.
What's the route like?
It's mostly B roads and minor roads, and after you are across the M6 and through Longtown you are onto very quiet roads. One 7 mile but steady climb to do along the way, but otherwise pretty flat. We’ll provide a route card at the start with the directions, especially for navigating through Edinburgh, and taxi numbers for various towns along the route if you have to bail out.
What if I break down or my bike does?
The ride is unsupported and it's a condition of participation that you accept responsibility for your own safety and recovery should you be unable to complete the ride. This isn't a race or sportive, it's a ‘turn-up-and-go’ group ride on public roads - think of it as a ride with your mates. There's no broom wagon to pick you up, and it's essential to carry a basic toolkit and familiarise yourself with simple repairs such as mending a puncture. If you break down, you should expect help from fellow riders. If you spot someone in trouble, we expect you to help them if you can. We have provided a list of phone numbers for taxi companies along the route. We’d also recommend cycling with a pal or in a group so that someone is always watching out for you. If your legs really have given up the most obvious bail-out points are Lockerbie, Moffat, dropping down to Peebles, or Penicuik.
What kind of bike should I ride?
Any well-maintained bike should be okay. Road or cyclo-cross bikes would be ideal, but mountain bikes would be a pain for that distance. The road surfaces are generally pretty good (or normal for the UK), and there are no bits of the route on gravel tracks, paths etc.
What kind of lights should I have?
At the very least, you should have a front light capable of lighting your way, and some kind of rear light. Take spare batteries – or carefully manage your light settings accordingly so that they’ll last the distance. Have a practice run sometime so you know you have enough light output and that you’ve sussed burn times. The Exmouth Exodus folk say that groups normally form around the riders with the best lights!
Do I have to wear a helmet?
It's your head. Do what you like. This isn’t a formal event, it’s free, so there are no rules. We’ll be wearing helmets, like we always do.
Are there food stops on the way?
The only confirmed grub stop is just before half way at the Moffat Best Pizza and Kebab House, on the right at the top of the High Street.
Will there be food at the finish?
Yes, Fresh Start will be selling (for charity) bacon sarnies and hot drinks. This is right next to a few residential properties so please be careful with noise levels. Save the noise and banter for out by the grassy knoll!
How do I get home?
Arrange a lift from a loved one, or get the train from Edinburgh. You could always ride back – some folk that do the Dunwich Dynamo have a kip on the beach then get back on the bike and cycle home! Travel arrangements have to be made by the riders.
What do I do if I have to cancel or pull out?
Please let us know a week in advance of the event if you can. It won’t affect the event or us, it’s just that we’ll need to let Lynda and Keith know at the Moffat Best Pizza and Kebab House, and the Cramond Gallery Bistro.
Do you know that some of the photos on the website are of sunsets and not a sunrise?
Yes, we do thanks. Please check out www.realedinburgh.co.uk for more amazing images of Edinburgh.
Is this the only organised cycling event in the world, where you can refuel with a chicken kebab mid-ride, long after midnight?
We are pretty confident to say yes it is, and you are actively encouraged to do so!