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The chase started in Tynemouth the moment the sun rose over the North Sea at 04:27 in the morning. Seventeen hours later it would set behind Arran at the finish line on Prestwick Promenade. In between lay 200 miles of cycling. Chase the Sun is a cycling event which attracts hundreds of riders all looking to challenge themselves to cycle the longest distance on the longest day of the year. This year was the first time the newly launched UK-North route was put to use, and Fullarton Wheelers were there in numbers to take part. At this latitude, the east-west cycle route through the Borders via Kielder, Lockerbie and Moniave is travelling at about 600 mph as the earth rotates. The question for riders Loye, Allan, Barron, Todd, Staples, Colquhoun, Murrison and others was whether an average speed of 16mph would be enough to make it before sundown at 22:05. Keeping the pedals turning over this distance is as much a mental as a physical challenge. Rider Joe Boyle was convinced after just 80 miles he couldn’t finish, but making it to the next food stop, then the next, kept him going for the full 200. Likewise for rider Broadfoot. Making it to the next food stop, then the next, while avoiding going on the front of the bunch kept him going for the full distance too. Eric McIntosh looked to be suffering the most with a sun-reddened face drooping despondently over the handlebars. Support vehicle drivers Seenan and Hannah drew no pleasure whatsoever from repeatedly pulling alongside and offering him a lift. On the other hand, rejuvinated rider Gary Arneil didn’t just have a second wind, but a fifth and sixth, complaining of the strange effects endurance efforts like this have with the digestive tract. Fortunately, the wind itself was benign. The great fear at the outset was that the team would face a strong prevailing headwind, but in fact it was so calm the group were unable to outrun a swarm of Kamikaze mosquitoes as they passed through Keilder Forest. And still the pedals kept turning. By Lockerbie ride captain Alastair McFarlane had been sacked, experienced roadman Alan McCall had got lost, and rider Gerrie had detatched from the group and was making progress at his own pace. Well over 150 miles into the ride the ascent of Largs Hill just outside the village of Straiton was a severe challenge, particularly for the clutch of the following support vehicle, but by now there was no question of not finishing. Fullarton were back on their patch on familiar roads and one final effort, including a sprint into Doonfoot won by Sean Barron, saw them eventually swing onto Prestwick Promenade at six o’clock in the evening with hours to spare before sunset. An amazing adventure and an amazing achievement.
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I've got six gears and I'm not afraid to use them...!