Sunday, 24 April 2016

Capital Trail ITT 23rd April 2016

I decided to  do the 150 mile Capital Trail route by Markus Stitz round Edinburgh as a training route for the Cairngorm Loop, which itself is a training route for the Highland Trail Race! I did the 148 miles in 22 hrs 48 mins, with 3 hours of stopped time (I was taking it somewhat easy). 5270 meters (17291 feet) of ascent, avg heart rate was 109!

Ride Notes

I got to sleep 1am and woke 3am. Set off at 4am. More sleep would have been an improvement, but I was preparing the seaming endless amount of things needed to do a ride like this. The early start was good, and sunrise was only about 1 1/2 hours into ride, and meant I was at Peebles for supper time. I got back about 3am.

* It is easy to get lost in Carberry woods!

* Lauder and Galashiels are lovely! There was some kind of event on in Lauder when I passed through, and half the town were out lining the pavements. I felt like they were there to cheer me on my solo ride! Just outside of Lauder, on the quiet country road in the sunshine, a green SWB Landrover bumbled along. You couldn't get any more 'British summer stereotypes' if you tried! It was very pleasant, like I was in an episode of All Creatures Great And Small.

* The route seems to climb forever from Galashiels to Minch Moor, but good riding.

* Birkscairn Hill / Kirkhope Law have a lot of pushing unless you are a very strong rider. This is the hardest part of the route, and will drain your energy easily, especially due to where it is in the ride.

* Make sure you know the route through Glentress. It is obvious if you know the place, basically Janet's Brae, up to Spooky Wood Climb, Spooky Wood, Super G, up to the Blue then all blue till last section of Red and done. If you set off very early and / or are very fast, you could catch the cafe, but don't plan on it.

* The old drove road from Peebles to West Linton is lovely, old bedded in track, soft short grass. Overall route from Peebles to end is 'only' 45 miles but don't underestimate it. Monks Rig is a long push unless you are very strong and up to it at that stage in proceedings.

* Final route through Edinburgh near Holyrood Park has climbing and some quirky sections across grass (no trail) and through cheeky trails in woods. Pay attention to your GPS!

The 1 day version of this ride is the furthest I have ever cycled in 24 hours so far. It is quite tough, but doable if you have trained / are experienced enough to do long mileages.

A 2 day ride would IMHO best split would be at Peebles prior to Glentress section. A "gentleman's ride" would be early start to get to Glentress hotel for a shower, evening meal, and refreshments at the bar! Tweed riding jacket optional.

A 3 day ride split into 3 x approx 8 hour days would also be most civilized.

There are a lot of gates en route. Figure out your quickest way through / over them.


Being Scotland, I had various combinations of cold clear frost, rolling mist, sharp northerly wind, warm settled sunshine, overcast cloud, light snow / hail, and a sprinkle of rain! All in all though a good days weather, with nothing being a barrier to the ride, and mostly dry and fine. The weather had been quite dry the preceding week, so the going was good.


Given the forecast predicted most of the above, with both freezing wind chill and full sunshine, I decided to go far a versatile combination tending toward ventilated warmth.

Boots were my new Lake MXZ303 with Wollie Bollie socks, very comfortable although I did get sore spots under the cleats after about 80 miles. I have Sorbathane insoles in them at the moment, I may look to changing them or carving out some relief above the cleat.

Fleece legwarmers, Gore lycra shorts with Goretex shorts over them, all held up with elastic suspenders with plastic fittings.

Long sleeved Rapha merino baselayer with a Gore windstopper soft shell jacket with removable sleeves.

Gloves were a pair of Gore winter gloves (need replaced!) and a pair of thin Northwave MTB gloves.

Headwear was a merino Buff.

This was all a good combination. I needed the winter gloves for the morning and evening sections, and changed to the thinner gloves for daytime, well worth it IMO. The jacket sleeves also came off, and the base layer sleeves rolled up as needed. The buff was also doubled up / singled / removed as needed.

I think regulating temperature is important, and didn't want to freeze, but also didn't want to break a sweat - sweating makes you need more fluids, which means you have to carry more.


Santa Cruz carbon Highball, bunch of light carbon bits, rims etc. Rigid Salsa Firestarter forks. 1 x 10 speed. Continental X-Kings 2.4 protection tyres.

I took sleep kit, although I was planning not to use it. Wildcat handlebar sling and bag, and seat harness. Tarptent Moment DW with solid inner, Thermarest Neo mat, custom Nunatak quilt.

The bike is 8 kilos on its own. Loaded with sleep kit, handle bar, and saddle harness it is 11.1 kilos.

Everything worked fine. My jury is still out on whether the rigid fork is worth the 1kg weight saving, but the bike does feel sharp, responsive, and light! At a certain (albeit rare) point with the rigid fork, when things get rough, it is hold on for dear life as your eyeballs get rattled about in your skull, or slow the heck down!

Food I took and ate

1 piece baguette with brie
1 cheese + tomato roll
1 marmalade roll

1/3 bag Sainsburrys mixed nuts

3 Cadburys fudge fingers
1 small Twix

1.2 litres Lucozade sport blackcurrant

Food I bought en route and ate

1 Cadburys chocolate covered ice cream (Abbey Mill Tearoom, Melrose)
1 500ml bottle coke (Abbey Mill Tearoom, Melrose)

1 portion chips (Peebles Chippie)
1 portion onion rings (Peebles Chippie)

1/3 500ml bottle Lucozade orig (Peebles Petrol Station)

1 cafe late (Peebles Petrol Station Costa machine)

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