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Digital Subscriptions > Singletrack > 117 > BORDER BLASTING

BORDER BLASTING

Tom Fenton treads the fine line between England and Scotland, black ice and bog, all the while attempting condiment-based puns.

Strange things happen in the early light of dawn, and sleepdeprived conversations are strangest of all.

It’s still dark when a couple of hours up the A1 from a 5am start, we stop for coffee. Or rather, Andy and Richie stop for coffee. I hate the stuff. They suggest mustard as a substitute. A spoonful? On the rocks? Boiled in a mug?

This goes on for quite some time. Luckily, mustard isn’t yet available at service stations on the A1, so we can’t test the theory. They then bet me that I can’t fit at least two references to mustard into this article. I promise not to lay it on too thick.

This conversation took place on the way to Northumberland – specifically, the Cheviots. We’re on our way to check out a somewhat unusual trail that runs right along the border between Scotland and England.

If you’ve not been, the Cheviots are a pretty special place. A clump of huge rolling hills plonked in the middle of nowhere, looming out of the surrounding land in a big grassy lump. Steep-sided and covered with grass and heather, they’re formed by a series of blunt spurs rising to a central ridge, interspersed with deep valleys and streams. They feel utterly deserted, especially outside summer. Once you’re up on the tops there aren’t even any trees, just open moorland. It feels like a fitting place for a border between two countries.

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About Singletrack

We’ve got our usual dose of adventure for you, with three UK based rides to inspire you to hit the trails. Path of a Prince – Pete Scullion takes us on another historical Coffin Road tour, this time in the wilds of Scotland, in the footsteps of Bonnie Prince Charlie. Trail Hunter – Border Blasting – Tom Fenton heads to the northern fringes of England in search of more of the best trails the UK has to offer, this time skirting the Scottish/English border on a frigid day. Classic Ride – Duddon Valley – Tom Hutton takes us on a tour on the Western side of the Lake District – away from the big tourist crowds, but still big on scenery. Quit Your Job – We look at people who have made the leap from ‘normal’ jobs to working in the bike industry. Could you quit the rat race and turn your hobby into a job? Bamboozled – Wil takes on a build-your-own bamboo bike kit. Will he glue himself to the frame? Will he be attacked by a panda? Will he build himself a bike, or a bike shaped object? Wil tells us the tale through his epoxy-induced high. Bike Test – Unsprung Heroes – Chipps checks out fully rigid bikes from Kona, Pinnacle and Surly and discovers that no suspension doesn’t mean no fun. It just needs a re-evaluation of your outlook. Group Test – Platform Clip Ins – Wil checks out eight pairs of pedals with platforms for support as well as cleats for security. Full reviews of the best four will be published in this issue, along with summaries of the runners up. Room 101 Charlie The Bikemonger sets all judicial process to one side and passes his decrees on what will or will not be banished from the cycling world for ever. Column: Jason Miles Our award winning columnist is settling in to his new life in Scotland – by going on a ski holiday, where he learns that being a beginner again can be refreshing. And finding a whole new avenue of kit to need.