Travellers' Tales: Scottish Borders

Andy Bebington recalls a stormy Cyclists' Touring Club tour in the Scottish Borders

“I can't be accelerating – I’m freewheeling uphill!” Michelle said. But she was. It was September 2011 and we were on the CTC Holidays and Tours Scottish Borders trip, based at Bonchester Bridge and led by Tony Gore. Hurricane Katia had crossed the Atlantic and was scheduled to hit us midweek with very strong south-westerly winds. Some of the party decided against riding, but I led a group south on the B6357, into the wind and rain, to a lunch stop in Newcastleton.

Heading south, the hill protected us from the worst effect of the howling wind; it was only when we crossed the ridge that it hit us in all its fury. One lady was reduced to tears, struggling to pedal at all at 3mph downhill, until one of the gents got in front of her and acted as a windbreak.

Nine or ten of us rode that day, and I had to apologise to the ladies running the Newcastleton café as we were cascading water from our clothes, our helmets, and our bags. I mopped the floor for them, by way of reparation.

The whole object of the exercise, the reason for plotting that route, was to join the B6399 just after lunch. This led us to ride a four-mile minor road on the way back to the hotel – a SW-NE road throughout its length. It crossed a burn after  perhaps 500 metres, so I was able to point out to Michelle that if she looked back, she could see the hill that she was being blown up.

A short ride and a vigorous one – but very definitely a memorable one!