Plan Z

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Plan A was simple, start at Newcasleton in Scotland, ride gravel/CX bikes off road to the Dirty Reiver 200km loop with a goal to bivi out at the bothy called Green and finish the route today.

With the temperatures dropping to minus 7 overnight, a cheap B&B was found, slept, fed, loaded up and we were riding at 8am

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Up hill towards the sun rise with a scenery stops and a nice gentle pace were the order of the warm up

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The sun didn’t hit every valley until later on in the morning

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One of the 7 Stanes, strange why it has the words to Jerusalem (an English anthem) carved into a Scottish art work, or am I missing something?

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Still cold even as the sun finally made it over the horizon

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90 minutes in and we crossed into England

Leaving Scotland

The highest point of our ride before a long downhill to the West and the North Eastern loop that we were riding

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At the bottom of the long fire road descent we headed south but that’s when my troubles started, the frost had gone, it was around 3 or 4 degree’s and the main grey coloured frosted fire roads had turned from hard trails to all gloopy and gritty. Jeff was running 2 x 10 while my bike has a 1 x 11 drive train. I started to have a terrible time of my gears slipping and chain kept coming off, after much faffing and many stop messing with the gears we realised that the fine grit was actually clogging my finer chain while the grit was falling straight through the holes in Jeff’s 10 speed chain.

Plan B, the gloopy trails and my chain issues means it was hard and slow going, getting to the bothy with our original plan was going to be tough, by the time we got down to Kielder Water Jeff’s rear brake was down to the metal and he didn’t have a spare set with him.

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With only 1 hour of daylight left, we had another chose. Do we cut out part of the trail to get to our planned pub meal before heading onto the bothy arriving really late at night, making it a very long tough day with gear troubles and no brakes?

Plan F or was it Plan G? Do we chose to extend today’s route around the reservoir the very long way or cut it short and hit the pub early before heading off into the hills into the dark? We chose to loop the lake the long way around and bivi down near the pub.

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It was tough going with lots of undulations and Jeff having a puncture en route but at least the weather was above freezing in places and no wind at all, we arrived at the pub with 70 laidened, heavy going miles ridden. We didn’t want to ride any further today, i walked into the pub and after a bit of a chat with the owner both Jeff and I pitched up our tents on the grass right in front of his pub.

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Once up, we went into the pub to fin the bar full, but the restaurant completely empty, the owner suggested we use the restaurant and spread our stuff out, which we did, and once we found the fire and got in beer and food we were in hogs heaven and the bothy and the southern loop were soon forgotten about.

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I got about 8 hours sleep last night, it was loverly

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With continuing gear and brake woes we plotted Plan Z and a route back to Newcastleton and off we went.

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We made it back to Scotland without any issues once we’d left the gritty trails of Kielder reservoir, then it was a climb up to and into the Newcastleton Stanes trail

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Then it was the long downhill back to the van but going steady as I was warning Jeff about anything where he would have troubles without brakes. including frozen trails like this.

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The bike was awesome, comfortable and perfect for the trails. But the 1 x 11 drive trail was shocking with the fine grit clogging it up on any of the grey coloured fire roads.

Ride stats from Strava

Saturday, riding from before sunrise to well after sunset 70 miles and 6246 ft of climbing.

Sunday, the escape, 20 miles and 1391 ft of climbing.

Plus a complete set of brake pads

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And my gear system needs some serious TLC

EDIT – ADDITION

The gear issues were down to a poor chain line after my crank arm became loose about 3o miles and I miss tightened it….. or something like that.

Anyway it’s back from Thatto’s Cycles now and as good as new, but a few hard test rides will be needed to ensure it doesn’t come loose again. If it does it could be a bit spendy.

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