Saturday, June 12, 2010

This is what it's all about...

I’ve been trying lately to include some new routes in my training. To see new sights and to take the bike to places I’m fond of but have never cycled. Around two years ago shortly after I decided to get back on the bike I was challenged to do a route round Strangford and south down for charity. It scared me silly and so I offered my excuses and chickened out of it. Having worked in the area for many years I knew the terrain and in my ignorance thought I would never see the day when I was fit enough to cycle through it. Yesterday I decided to put that right.


I threw my road bike into the car and drove to Downpatrick, parking at the Quoile Basin. I did my stretches and off I set. Now I did 26 miles on my mountain bike on Wednesday and I went at it hard, I thought my legs had recovered but at this point it was obvious they hadn’t. It was like cycling through treacle; don’t ask me to explain this but going down hill felt slower than going up. Thankfully three or four miles into it my legs freed themselves up a bit and their performance returned to normal. As I approached my first target Strangford I hit a large decent. It seemed to go on forever and the fear started to grow as I thought about having to go back up it. As I dropped into the village the sight of the sea was very welcome.


A warm and fussy hit as the sense of achievement struck me. To be honest I never thought I’d see the day when I had the courage to cycle round these parts and I certainly never thought it would be on such a class act as my beautiful blue Trek Madone. I stood on the harbour for a while soaking in the sun, solitude and tranquillity.


Not wanting my legs to re-seize I jumped on the bike and started to head for my next target town of Ardglass. Dreading the hill in front of me I was delighted to see a sign post off to the left for Ardglass and even better it was before I started to climb and it would be on the coastline. A no brainer I decided to take it. The scenery was absolutely gorgeous! This is what it’s all about, beautiful scenery, no cars and none of the demands being made of everyday life. I was enjoying myself when the road forked. There was a sign for Ballyhornan at 3 miles which continued down the coast and a sign for Ardglass at 6 miles through the countryside. My heart said Ballyhornan but my head thought it better to be safe than sorry. My lower back was starting to ache and I thought it better not to risk a detour that may add an unknown quantity of extra miles. On I went down the road for Ardglass, nice enough but I missed the coastal scenery which had been keeping me company for the past few miles. My back was really starting to hurt as I clocked mile 17 and so I was delighted to see the outline of Ardglass on the horizon.


As I cycled through the town on route for the marina all I could smell was chips. I was sooo tempted as all the reasons of the day why I should partake in some hit me. Thankfully I declined the temptation and focused on taking some fluids on board. It was at this point I thought I would take the opportunity to tighten up my rear brake. Up to this point it was weak but still useful, however after I had finished it was totally useless. Embarrassed by my lack of ability to get even a simple mechanical task right I jumped back on my bike to return to Downpatrick where I had left the car. The wind was starting to get up and the sun was starting to blaze.


There was another 7 or 8 mile in front of me on what I remembered was a relatively flat road. It was until the last 3 miles. What a hill greeted me as I approached the Down Hospital. My back was now screaming blue murder in similar way to the Orange Lamborghini which had just accelerated hard past me. I’m glad to say I made it but what goes up must come down and with no back brake it was going to be interesting. As I negotiated the back streets of Downpatrick I said a silent prayer for journeying mercies, a prayer request I have often heard old men ask for but rarely used myself. Somehow it seemed appropriate as a headphone wearing road repair man walked in front of me. I just managed to avoid him and we exchanged relief filled smiles.


As I cycled back up Quoile I was delighted to see my car still there patiently waiting for me. I ate the banana; plum and apple I had left in the car, did my stretches and drove home with one of the biggest smiles I’ve had on my face for a long time. I had taken on a route that had intimidated me for some time and won. A happy day and another 26 miles notched up making a total of 62 for the week!


Christie said...

Well done for conquering that route - the acheivement must feel great. Very inspiring. I'm starting to think of going on a bike ride meself soon!

Those photos are fantastic, and it's lovely to see your part of the world. I confess I know nothing about it at all - more please!

Peter Martin said...

Yoooooo another convert to the bike - just watch its seriously addictive. Brak yourself into easily as hitting it too hard can be soul destroying!

Thanks for the nice comments on the photos I'm pleased to say they are my own. I've another wee trip planned for this week so it may not be too long before your hear more about Norn Iron as us locals call it ;-)

welshcyclist said...

I love that part of the world, my wife is from Belfast, and I've visited there many times. But I've never cycled around Strangford yet, I hope to put that right as soon as I can. I know exactly what you mean about mechanical inadequacy, when I adjust things they stay adjusted, either immovable or completely useless.