Wednesdays are my usual day off and in a change to the usual weather we’ve been experiencing Wednesday’s forecast actually looked good for a change. Cool but dry and sunny resulted in a plan to do 55km in the morning.
Woke up after a bit of a lie in to the sun shining in the window and a complete lack of enthusiasm. Probably the best day of the year so far and I really couldn’t be arsed. I guess the warning signs were there as I hadn’t organised my gear the night before which is usually my best motivator.
Once I dragged my lazy arse out of bed I decided I had to do something productive with the day and we headed to Letterkenny, and eventually Strabane, to sort out a present for Conor’s birthday. Once done the lure of McDonald’s was strong and lunch was had.
I wouldn’t advocate McDonald’s as an athlete’s diet but getting home I was in better form and decided the afternoon was far too good to waste sitting around the house and headed for a 55km planned spin on a slightly different route than one I normally ride.
My last few spins have been affected by the stormy weather and confined to lower ground due to the windy conditions so I decided today would be a good day to add back in some hills……big mistake! 🙈
The route heads across the back roads from The Crossroads to Trusk Lough. From approx the 5km mark it starts steadily climbing on increasingly hilly sections pretty much all the way to the top of Trusk Lough with only short downhill sections to give some relief. Considering the first 1.5km is all downhill from my house I wasn’t at all warmed up before the climbing began and with tired, heavy legs it was no fun. A route that I could do easily a year and a half ago suddenly looked daunting.
Above Trusk I stopped to admire the view and take some photos of the snow still lying on The Bluestacks but mainly to catch my breath. With only 16km on the clock I already had 280m of climbing, almost half of all the climbing for the day.
Dropping back down to the Derg Line I was hoping for a little help from the slight 15km/hr breeze and a chance to recover all the way to Castlederg. It was at this stage that I finally realised that the day’s problems weren’t just tired legs but that months of less than the bare minimum of bike maintenance meant that the bike was actually working against me. The cursory check of my chain that afternoon was wildly over optimistic and my drivetrain was obviously much too dry and dirty and making everything that little bit more difficult. The superficial wipe downs the bike has received in the last 6months has led to a buildup between and behind the front rings and I’m sure my jockey wheels are in a similar state. Add to that rubbing brakes on the rear wheel and my laziness was paying me back in spades.
The road from Trusk to Killeter and along the river to Castlederg is a really nice rolling, fast road and quite picturesque in places but it really was head down, arse up and try to get as much from my legs and bike as possible with the plan to have a rest break in Castlederg.
Falling back on the old reliables I was hoping that a 15min rest, cup of tea and a Kit Kat would be restorative enough to get me the final 15km home. About 7km of that was over one of the more difficult local climbs, a road we call The Steps due to the appearance and elevation profile.
It doesn’t look like much from the average grade of 2% but the effort is partly hidden by the couple of descents that rob you of the hard won elevation you gain on the first couple of short, steep climbs. The main part of the climb is from Garvagh Hall just after a fantastic, fast descent.
According to Strava the average is 3% but there are quite a few tough 8, 9, 10 and 12% sections hidden in there which definitely justify the Category 4 rating. According to my Garmin the full elevation was 175m over 4.5km so it’s possible that the current segment stops before the climbing does.
Getting over that climb seemed impossible on the way back from Castlederg with the breeze back in my face but somehow I made it and even managed to enjoy the already mentioned descent to Garvagh Hall. The following climb wasn’t pretty but I made it to the top in one piece.
The one benefit of this route is that the final 5km is pretty easy, mostly flat and the last 2.5km to home all downhill. This means that I arrive home mostly recovered and not puffing and panting like I usually do.
My next job before my next spin is a strip down of the bike and a deep clean of the chain, rings and cassette as well as a trip to Halfords to get the brakes adjusted and finally replace the bearings in my rear wheel before they give up the ghost entirely!
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