And two rings!* Last night the weather forecast was predicting a temporary lull in hostilities between two bouts of stormy weather which has become the norm for the most of February and kept the majority of local cyclists badly curtailed and restricted mainly to Zwift. As I’m not a fan of Zwift this has meant I’ve been less active than hoped and any activity I have managed has been pretty much just walking. Determined to make the most of the chance, I got my bike ready yesterday evening and laid out all my gear to reduce the morning objections.
After a longer than planned lie in the absence of a wind howling around the house, a lack of hail or rain bouncing off the roof and the actual sun shining in the velux windows I decided I’d only regret it if I lay around the house all morning and got my ass in the saddle at 10:30am.
It was a cool but sunny morning and although there were some blustery side gusts heading down the hill from home I ignored the threat for later as I turned East to head down the Finn Valley towards Castlefinn and Strabane with the wind at my back and the sun shining.
Cutting across before the Asda roundabout and heading out the Bypass in Strabane I got a warning of what was in store for the middle of the spin with flags whipping and a strong, blustery sidewind making the bridge crossing interesting. Turning up the Urney Road into the teeth of the headwind I knew it was going to be tough all the way to Ballybofey.
The shelter of the high hedges was welcome all the way to Clady and protected me from the worst of the wind but once across the border there was nowhere to hide and it was a slog all the way up the Main Road to Castlefinn, Liscooley and finally Killygordon.
Having had quiet roads and considerate drivers all morning it seemed that all the idiots decided to come at once on this section of the road with a number of close passes and one very dangerous pass from an idiot in a small box van that I still don’t know how he didn’t clip me. Definitely one of the top 3 worst near misses I’ve experienced so far. It was that bad the guy coming behind in the small white van gave me a toot and a wave and went right over to the other lane to pass me. This, however, may have been influenced by my swearing and shouting at the box van!
Finally reaching Killygordon I got a brief respite as I crossed the Finn to take the back road to Ballybofey where the real slog began. This portion of road is undulating and pretty rough and as the wind picked up even more it was a struggle to keep above 20km/hr for most of it and a fight to maintain 15km/h at times. I honestly didn’t think I had the legs to reach Ballybofey and was delighted to finally turn across Dreenan Bridge with the wind half pushing me into the turn!
2min later it was like a different world. I went from fighting for 20km/h to cruising along at almost 40km/h eating and drinking and hardly breaking a sweat! All the hard slog was soon forgotten and I even had the opportunity to take some photos inspired by reading tempocyclist’s blog this morning**
I finished with just over 50km and feeling like I’d done a lot more but in the spirit of the Audax Ireland motto I finished with a smile.
* 15km easy in the big ring, followed by 25km struggling in the small ring, begging for a Granny ring and finishing with 10km back cruising in the big ring.
** although I’m far from pro level I also enjoy a good selfie. I have a sneaking suspicion though that I’m beginning to qualify as the “beardy-old-man” as I have the beard, wouldn’t go anywhere without my saddle bag and had legs like an old man this afternoon!