After my motivational crash and mental reset in the middle of the month my reduction in activity had a very detrimental impact on my cycling. After a strong February (568km) and March (558km) April has been quite poor. Up until yesterday I only had 133km across 5 rides. In addition I hadn’t sat in the saddle for 2 weeks! True to form I was also leaving my 100km to the very last possible day seeing as I’m working the last two days of the month.
Time was a precious commodity yesterday. Our normal car pool arrangement fell apart this week as the neighbours’ girl was off sick. This meant I had to collect the boys from school and of course it’s a half day finish at 1:20. My normal preferred mid morning start (10ish) was out the window meaning no lie in and no dawdling on route.
A 7:15 alarm was set with the aim of hitting the road by 8:30. I was eventually out the door at 8:45 and almost cancelled due to a bit of an upset stomach. Not sure if it was the larger than normal breakfast or anxiety. I was definitely feeling nervous, whether it was stress due to the time pressure, performance anxiety worrying if I was fit enough, anxiety about being so far from home for the first time in 8 months or a combination of all of that.
The route was Derry via Lifford and Carrigans, through the city and back home via Bridgend, Letterkenny and Ballybofey. The wind was from the Northeast which made the 45km to Derry a bit of a slog and also pretty chilly straight into the cold 18km/h breeze. However, leaving Derry I had the benefit of a tailwind most of the way back as far as Stranorlar at 95km.
Coming into Derry I had the only rain of the day. A short 15min shower just heavy enough to justify stopping to put on my waterproof gillet. As it’s also HiViz I kept it on through the city to help make me a bit more visible to both cars and pedestrians. I managed to avoid the majority of the traffic by jumping on to the cycle path that runs along the Foyle all the way to the bottom of the Buncrana Road. This is partly shared use but a lot of it is segregated for walkers and cyclists. A lot of pedestrians are clueless about this though as there is no physical separation, just a change of surface colour and signage so it’s slower and requires constant vigilance. It’s still a lot safer than playing in the traffic though.
I had chosen this route partly because I was able to stop at 52km and enjoy a welcome cup of tea and a bun at my brother’s coffee van (#curiouscoffeecompany). I was also able to top up my water bottle removing the need for 2 today.
Business was good and the clock was ticking so I wasn’t able to hang around for much more than a short chat. However, refuelled on sugar and partly rested I made great time to Letterkenny and the only real climb of the day. Good route planning meant that I also had some wind assistance most of the way to the top.
The heat of the climb, loss of windchill with a tailwind and the re-emergence of the sun meant I was able to remove the leg warmers and enjoy air on my legs for the first time this year – I decided to spare you any photos!
Shortly after this I had my worst bad pass for a while. I was on a very slight descent and nipping along at 45km/h in the hard shoulder. A Nissan Micra passed me and straight away indicated to take the left turn less than 100m ahead. We drive on the left in Ireland meaning he was about to cut across in front of me. I slammed on the brakes with no hope of stopping without crashing but he stopped dead in the left lane. I figured he either didn’t see me when passing or totally underestimated my speed and somehow had the presence of mind not to turn left allowing me to pass on the inside. I gave him a good bollocking through his open window as I went by, followed a few seconds later by a long honk on the horn responded to by the most universal of hand signals🖕
Arriving in Stranorlar at 95km I was flagging. I was tired, the sugar had worn off and I was getting hungry again. I was also turning back into the wind for the final 10km. A quick stop to eat a cereal bar helped but the next 15min were not much fun! Arriving into Killygordon there’s a short, sharp climb to the traffic lights. I decided to stand up to power up it and my left leg just said no! The muscle in the back of my leg felt like water resulting in a quick rethink and a very quick downshift to keep my momentum going.
Exiting the other side of the village I ticked over the 100km mark at 3hrs 41min which I was very pleased with considering my mileage this month. I finished up the last climb to home (no standing attempted here) with the wind fully behind me again and rolled in home with 105km in 3hrs 54min at 1:10. A quick change, a handful of nuts and I was picking the boys up just 10min later than normal. Of course in moody teenager world this was a terribly unfair amount of time to be waiting, despite a warning that morning that it could be up to half an hour 😆
Dead pleased to get that done, I really thought I was going to miss this month! Not a bad time for me either.
Header image © Strava. 100KM Gran Fondo April.