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 most people will probably leave between 7 and 8.30pm 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 (Devil’s Beef Tub just after Moffat). 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?
Yes, it's very much inspired by the DD and EE - riding through the night to the seaside, unsupported, and free. But the DD has been running for years and sometimes got over 2500 people as its well established and it starts in London. The EE gets 200 people. We had ~1500 riders in 2019 and expect more this year, and the more the merrier.
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. 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 we’d always fancied cycling the climb up the Devil’s Beef Tub out of Moffat, and it’s even better in the dark.
Who are the organisers?
Fraser Maxwell and Gary Cameron. Keen cyclists whose enthusiasm outweighs their talent on a bike. 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 and North Coast 500 routes, and try and have a wee foreign trip each year. Gary helps to organise the Tour de Lauder.
When is it?
25th June 2022, on the Saturday night / Sunday morning. The aim is always to run it on the Saturday night closest to the summer solstice. If it’s a nice night it won’t get fully dark at that time of year, and if it’s warm enough folk 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 can make it to the end. The climb out of Moffat is long (7 miles), but it’s not steep (less than 3 degrees the whole way), so don’t let that put you off. If you’ve done the Etape Caledonia or the Tour de Lauder (or anything of that ilk), then you’ll be fine. We’ve had three 12 year olds do it, and there’s quite a number that have done this as their first century ride. Devil’s Beef Tub aside its rolling terrain and as easy 100 miles as you’ll get up north.
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 loves, it's not a race it's a social event with a 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.
Can you help me get down to Carlisle from Edinburgh?
We’re afraid not, but in 2018 the Cramond Scout group organised transport for people and bikes from Cramond, down to Carlisle on the Saturday afternoon, including luggage. We’ll email entrants nearer the time with arrangements for 2022 if they offer this again.
Can you transport my bag from Carlisle to Cramond?
We’re afraid not, we can’t get into the logistics of helping out ~1000 folks and their bags, but we’ll let folk know if the Scouts can help again in 2022 with baggage transfers between Carlisle and Cramond. Alternatively we suggest you travel light, or use some of the great bikepacking bags from the likes of Wildcat Gear or Alpkit.
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 most folk will leave between 7pm and 8.30pm, but we'll be there from 5.00pm onwards. It will be a rolling and informal start, so however many people we get, it won’t be crowded, and just head off when you fancy.
Can I leave my car / van at Bitts Park overnight?
We know that some people do. However, Carlisle City Council have stated that they’d be happy to 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 and may be purchased from the onsite pay and display machines. The post code for Devonshire Walk car park is CA3 8UL.
Where does it end?
The ride will finish on the promenade at Cramond, by the grassy knoll with the flagpole, overlooking the tidal causeway to Cramond Island. There is plenty of room for bikes and for people to chill out on the grass, and it’s next to the public toilets. The Cramond kirk hall is back up the road about 400m. Folk often leave their cars in the car park behind the Cramond Inn pub.
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 (until you hit central Edinburgh as the clubs come out!). One 7 mile but steady climb to do along the way, but otherwise pretty flat or rolling. Print a route card from the website or download the gpx file for directions. The route card has 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 –hence why we say to ride with a pal. 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 on the directions. 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 (gravel, allroad – whatever is on trend!) 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 tyres do I need?
Any normal road tyres 25-30mm would be ideal, we wouldn’t suggest you need to buy anything new or different.
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 (check out our partners https://seesense.cc/ we use their rear lights). 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?
There is Linda and her crew at the Moffat Best Pizza and Kebab House, on the right at the top of the High Street, after 43 miles. We provide water and bananas at the Crook Inn (61 miles), and then FreshStart charity volunteers provide hot drinks, rolls and chocolate bars at the Cramond kirk hall just 400m from the finish. 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 at the sea front!
Can you help me get down to Carlisle from Edinburgh?
We’re afraid not. But we do put up a pinned post on our Facebook page for folk to share lifts in vans, cars, swap tickets for bikes on the trains etc. So if you can help out other folk, please try and do so, as we know that bike spaces are limited on the trains.
How do I get home?
Arrange a lift from a loved one, leave a car at Cramond beforehand (in the car park behind the Cramond Inn) or get the train back from Edinburgh. You could always ride back – plenty of folk do, or cycle to Carlisle for the start. Travel arrangements have to be made by the riders.
Can you transport my bag from Carlisle to Cramond?
We’re afraid not, we can’t get into the logistics of helping out 700 folks and their bags. So we suggest you travel light, or use a small rucksack, or some of the great bikepacking bags from the likes of Wildcat Gear (www.wildcatgear.co.uk/) or Alpkit (www.alpkit.com/bike-luggage).
What do I do if I have to cancel or pull out?
Don’t worry, we know a fair number don’t make the start, no need to drop us an email. It won’t affect the event or us, the sign up is just to give us a rough indication to let Linda know numbers at the Moffat Best Pizza and Kebab House, and the FreshStart volunteers at Cramond kirk hall.
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 Cramond and Edinburgh.
Do you know there’s a shorter route to Gretna, to the west of the M6 that cuts out Longtown?
Yes, we do, and it’s nice, and a little bit quieter than the road to Longtown (but that isn’t that busy anyway). But then Ride to the Sun would be a couple of miles shorter and therefore not 100 miles, which we and others like. So take the short cut if it suits you, no problem at all.
What’s a cyclorave?
In 2016 Gary had the idea of organising a surprise rave / disco in the car park of the derelict Crook Inn, at Tweedsmuir in the Tweed Valley. So folk came down the valley in the dark in the middle of the night to be met by flashing lights and great tunes. One of our mates put on his yellow morph suit for a wee dance, and we gave out glow sticks - www.youtube.com/watch?v=meSyC169rus. This went down a storm, so it’s now a regular feature, the local community even come out to watch, and the DJ will accept requests!
Do I need to let you know if I change my mind with what I want from the chippy?
No, it’s fine!
Is this the only organised cycling event in the world, where you can refuel with a chicken kebab mid-ride, long after midnight, then get fed bananas by a fella dressed as Bananaman, while a rave goes on around you?
We are pretty confident to say yes it is!!