Hetchins, Scones and Audaxing…
Finally spring is getting under way here on the Isle of Man. The sun had his hat on for the Saturday Scone run. So long as Jack Frost stayed in bed, I was bringing out the Hetchins for her first ride of 2011. She was purchased last April (Her birthday is 10th April 2010) and she was made for me by David Miller in Preston.
Here she is stretching in the morning sunshine. (The water bottle had a leak in it, dont worry, no doggies had got near her!)
The weekend was looking very promising indeed during the early part of the week, and as I have been planning out a 200km ride for the IoM as a Perm, I thought perhaps that on Sunday, I would cycle half the route (by GPS for the AAA points) and set about marking it up in hard copy. This isn't complicated, but it is very time consuming, as you need to measure in km the distances between each Xrd or T Junction as well as the total distance travelled etc. I have 2 x 100km Perm rides for Audax UK already on the island, but this was to be my first introduction into planning a 200km one.
Then the troubles began.
Mostly due to the island geography and shape, you see the Isle of Man is only 35 miles long from end to end and just 15 miles at its widest point, this causes massive headaches when planning a route for Audaxing with. When planning for an Audax ride, the route must always be the shortest possible distance between info controls (these are controls where a brief question is asked in the Brevet card to prove passage) or between main controls (ATM or shop receipts dated with the correct time on it). I did get a 200km nicely fitted into the islands space, but it was a heavily twisting turning route, that created a figure 8 to ensure as many hills as possible were accounted for (AAA points of course).
I asked Steve Snook (the AAA Man) about the recommended number of info controls that were allowed, as my route was dishing out rather a lot (more than 10), only to be told that for a 200km or more, only main controls (ATM's etc) were allowed. This sort of has skuppered my big plan for a 200km Perm – well a hard copy one at least. But not to be out done, it will be getting entered as a GPS route instead, and although these are not advertised as such on the Audax website, I intend to write up a report once the ride is finally done by myself using GPS (hope my battery will last!) for Arrivee magazine so other cyclists can easily load it up for their own GPS if necessary.
At least I have saved myself a lot of planning work, as the route is now safely stored on my SATMAP just awaiting to be ridden.
Saturday, as the weather was superb I took out the Hetchins as previously stated and we rode out to the North of the island to the Cronk at Ballaugh to wait for the peloton of cyclists from Kirk Michael. Tina was cycling out with the Scone group but from the start at Kirk Michael, as she wanted to ride from the start. It was a tad early for me to set off if I wanted to miss the frost, and so I met them at the Cronk instead.
The group was so vast (35+) cyclists that the group was sub divided into 3. We set off guided by Brian, and without wind to slow us all down the pace was cracking. Infact it was a tiny weeny bit outside my comfort zone, but the Hetchins wanted to stretch out her wheels and we kept pace with the group (albeit at the back of the ride).
THere are no pictures of our Saturday Scone jaunt, it was way to fast to be able to find the time and effort needed to use a camera. I had ridden 18 miles to the Cronk, we cycled a further 21 at an average of 17mph (phew...) and then after our fabulous scones and tea I set off in teh opposite direction to St Johns for a bit of shopping... Well, I might just make good use of what little space my Carridace bag had left in her and I needed some detergent for my Paramo jacket. In all I managed a healthy 65 miles that Saturday.
The forecast had been fabulous for the Sunday too, so what better day to start my 200 half ride to test it out. My half ride literally was 100km, then the final 29km to home. The route officially ending at the Mines, but I had to get home, so that was included in the GPS ride that day.
Cept the weather was wrong, oh so wrong...
I had already entered as a GPS run, so felt I had to do the ride. A 40mph gale errupted over night, it settled to a force 6 gusting to a 7. Eyes to ceiling, as I comforted myself by saying its good practice to ride in the wind (and by now it was raining too) and the rain. It is going to be like this one day when I am cycling in the UK. Tina and I are cycling to Bridlington in April – so best be prepared.
I wrapped up warm and snug in my Paramo summer jacket, a light base beneath. Assos (shorts) and my paramo water proof trousers over these, with waterproof socks and overshoes. Nothing was going to stop me. Hetchins slept the day off in the shed, today was an Enigma day – she loves the rain!
Here is the Garmin of the GPS route for the Sunday ride out.
I ate a hearty breakfast (favourite of soft boiled eggs – 2 followed by home made marmalade and rice cakes). The day was horrible. A strong head wind. In the rain... joy... fab...
One thing at least, I was dry and managed to stay that way all day long! Shoes became soaked through, but the water proofed socks did the trick and for the first time in a long while I had warm toes out cycling. The island is a funny place and I have mentioned its micro climate before. The North of the island was bathed in warm mild sunshine (still a howling gale though). I battled on. My timing for the ride was dreadful, one of the worst yet. I finally arrived at Ballaugh, and stopped. Usually for a 100km ride, I dont tend to eat very much. But felt the need for a sandwich and a large chocolate bar downed with tea. The next phase of the ride was going to be hilly, as this was where the work was to be.
I tacked Sulby Glen, and upwards towards the Mountain Road.
As I cycled along the Sulby Glen road, the low fog was beckoning to me, almost daring me to give it a go..... The Mountain road is NOT my favourite route to cycle on. There is no speed limit up there, and the cars go hell for leather and take left handed corners very tight to the inside ditches. There is no where safe for your bike if trouble arises, and to do this in heavy thick fog, was not really very bright of me. Rear lights on, front light flashing... I took my life in my hands and ploughed onwards and upwards...
At this hair pin, you would be forgiven to thinking the entire island was bathed in glorious sunshine. Well, it stopped about a quarter of a mile further on, and Manannan's thick dark (and damp of course) cloak enveloped me until I turned tail and took the decent back into Ballaugh, ready to tackle the route towards Peel.
The Mountain Road, perhaps because of the thick fog, was almost empty of traffic – what a relief that was. When its a pea souper and a gale too, its very difficult to see cars, and almost impossible to really listen for them either. I was very careful indeed taking the right turn onto the Mountain road, and taking another right turn off it again a mile further along it. Once I had turned tail back towards Ballaugh, the mists became gossamer thin, until the veil lifted and again the warm spring day dried the moisture from my clothing.
Why is it, that cattle grids have to be so LARGE, are our sheep bigger than those elsewhere??? There are at least 2 cattle grids like this one, and I have not the courage to tackle them, and have to get off the bike to cross them especially in the wet, when they get very slippery.
The ride started to get a bit boring from Ballaugh to Peel, Its not my favourite part of the island, and the signs telling you its only 5 miles to Peel, seem to go on forever, its always the longest 5 miles of cycling I ever do.
Once I reached Peel, I was starting to feel unwell.
Not sure why, but I was starting to 'bonk'.
The climb out of Peel took me though Glen Maye and one of the steepest roads on the Island. Its a very short sharp climb, but the contour lines are almost one one another. I have never managed to keep on the bike for this hill, and so got off early and started to push the bike.
THe world started to spin. Waves of nausea took hold, and spots appeared before myeyes and the next thing, everything sounded a long way away... I had to stop. I had to sit in the road in fact.
Looked at my distance and I was 98km into the 129 km ride. I knew as well that Ard Jekyl (excellent and one of the BEST cafe's on the Island) was just about 8km away. Just past the mines in fact. And best of all, mostly downhill.
I took hold of Bikie and pushed some more. A few more paces and the same thing happened again.
Crikey... should I call Chas and bail out? I was feeling very poor by now. Weak and hot and cold. I sat on the road this time for a good 10 minutes to think what to do. He was in a motorbike trial today – best try to carry on.
I did mange to push Bikie to the hill top. Got back on board and allowed gravity to take me to the cafe. I could hardly stand up without the feeling of faintness returning. I ordered a big slab of cake and a pot of tea. I stayed at the cafe for an hour. I must of just been out of leg juice, because I did start to feel better. Thankfully according to SATMAP the profile back to Douglas was either downhill or flattish, and the route to home was much the same. The final 15kms went past much easier than I expected. I felt the energy returning and managed to stagger home. My speed much reduced on previous Audax runs, but I got there in the end. How on earth I think I will ever manage a hilly 200km I will never know......
Fingers crossed its just a hic cup. Not 100% sure if Mr thyroid is part of the problem again, I have not felt well all day today, and the last time I 'bonked' that was the problem then as well, and this was a very similar thing, a sort of de ja vu.
Chas reckons I've done too much...... I have cycled over 200miles this week, but its not abnormal for me to ride these distances, so I certainly don't believe I've 'over done it'. If I have, I'm gonna have to get over it smartish like, cos Im planning to do a whole lot of 'over-doing it' Anyone who doesn't usually ride a bicycle will say 'You've just over done it' anyway, because their idea of a cycle ride is often not to bother at all!