Tempocyclist suggested in a comment that I should ride that loop as a “keep it local” 100km. It was already at the back of my mind but a couple of things were putting me off:
- My motivation took a nosedive at the weekend. After two weeks the confinement was finally getting to me.
- I was supposed to be back at work on Monday and the lack of social contact and money concerns sent me into a bit of a funk.
- I was concerned that I would be in breach of the spirit of the restrictions by doing way more than “brief exercise, no more than 2km from your home”
Monday evening I read on the Audax Ireland WhatsApp group where one of the members was stopped by the Gardai while doing local loops, was challenged for being out cycling and given the all clear when he explained where he lived and what he was doing. I thought fuck it and fuck feeling sorry for myself. I lubed up my chain, charged my Garmin, filled my water bottle and left my kit ready for the morning.
I set an alarm for Tuesday to give me a kick start. I figured if I lay on I’d get lazy and talk myself out of it again. A hearty breakfast and a shower to waken me and I was on the road by 10am (I know, it hardly qualifies as early!). I rode a slightly modified version of Saturday’s loop. It involved riding shorter 5km mini loops with a more gradual 60m elevation increase in the middle of the larger loop. I didn’t fancy riding that big hill 9 times in the one day.
Even with this modification it was tough! It was almost 1300m total elevation which is probably the most climbing I’ve done on that distance. The roads are partly secondary R roads but mostly rural L roads with poor surfaces, almost constant bumps and rattles and two short sections with large portholes and gravel on lots of corners.
With all the physical challenges this was also a big mental challenge. The reason I cycle is at least partly to enjoy the scenery and I love riding new routes and roads. This was the complete opposite, riding a remarkably uninteresting and difficult route over and over with no opportunity to relax concentration and being close enough to home to throw the head and pack it all in at any time.
The one advantage of riding so close to home is the ability to ride “light“. No rain gear, no extra clothes, no food, no tools, spare tubes, CO2 or pump and only one water bottle. Everything was <2km away if the weather changed or I got a puncture and the plan was to break about halfway at home for food and a water refill.
In the end I didn’t break until just over 72km. My breakfast carried me farther than I thought and I became concerned that stopping too early would make it difficult to restart. I was aiming for 75km as that would bring out my stubborn streak to finish and would involve only one final climb of the big hill.
I had no problem restarting after a short break but the last 28km was really hard. I was tired, my lower back was starting to spasm, my ass and shoulders were feeling the near constant road vibration and I was finding concentration difficult to maintain. I made two mistakes on the spin, one almost going into the ditch when I looked away from the road to check my speed on a fast narrow descent at about 60km and the second in the last 15km when I went wide to take a corner without checking over my shoulder when an unexpected van was overtaking me. Both were lack of concentration due to tiredness.
I eventually finished after 4.5hrs with 1287m in 101km and an average speed of 22.6km/h. I would love to say I finished with a sense of achievement but it was more like relief. I don’t think I enjoyed a single minute of the full ride and I really hope I have another option when it comes to April. I am glad I did it though and managed to keep my metric streak running.