Lashing rain, friends and a new bike
On Saturday, I had planned a ride out to meet friends in Ramsey. I live on the Isle of Man, and in May this year, I joined our Mountain Bike club, the ladies division. But on Saturday, we were not carving out tyre tracks on muddy moorland or lugging our faithful machines over gates and fording streams in full torrent. Instead, we were riding on the roads. Now, this is not that new for me, I have been a member of Audax UK for a full year now, and this year so far (I still have one more to do) I have ridden in 4x100km rides – I am still a beginner to this long distance stuff. But, it is a new concept for Fiona and Gina. Gina is still using her MTB, although she did swop the wheels for slicks.
Fiona on the other hand, was on board her brand new magnificent Trek 1.5 WSD.... Im sorry but that is an awful name for such a beautiful bike – sounds too much like it should have an engine or summat, but it really is a thing of beauty, much better in the flesh and from the picture on the Trek site as well. Fiona has only had it a short time, and we had already put off its first go out. So we were not going to cancel this trip. Manannan Mac Lir could try his best, we were not to be put off! (Manannan Mac Lir is the Celtic God of weather)
As I approached our meeting point in town, the first rain started to drip down. Wet weather keks were put on. Well, I wore mine....... Manx Mountain Bike ladies are a tough breed you know cos neither Gina or Fiona wore waterproofed anything and think of this too... NO MUDGUARDS between either of 'em.... (shakes head in disbelief)
We cycled the Northern Plain, this route takes the merry cyclist round the coastal road of the Isle of Man, passing though Bride and Jurby. Unfortunately the Bride tea shop, which is up there with the best of them were on their well deserved annual holiday, so we sped past. Gina was a powerful cyclist and as usual I had trouble keeping up with her on my 38 pound touring bike! (I had my shopping bags aboard, as I was off to the health food shop before going home, so I reckon all that wind resistance was creating so much drag...... ahem).
Fiona was settling down well to the new riding position ie using drop bars instead of her more usual straight bars on her MTB. And getting used to the lightness and responsiveness of what could be compared to a thoroughbred, all on its toes, sparky and ready to GOOOOoo.
It was amazing to see how effortless she found powering her new bike along the road. Granted she was taking it very easy, the bike has an aluminium frame and was so light I could hold it over my head with one hand – and I am a real weakling in the bike carrying department. The wind was causing some minor difficulty, but luckily the A10 is a road with plenty of high dykes so we were very sheltered from the worst of the weather. A few turns on the pedals and she was away at the front, with me panting and puffing behind spinning my legs hard and not really making much headway....
It was lashing in torrents when we got to Ballaugh for our mug of hot tea and chocolate stop, we were cycling along rivers not roads. We took the Ballaugh Curragh road back towards Ramsey to ensure we were doing a complete loop and to avoid the much busier TT course. It is a particularly beautiful aspect of the north of the island. In spring, it is a haven for wild orchids – which happen to grow pretty much anywhere on every damp bit on the island if you are prepared to look, but they have meadows full of them in the protected Curraghs. They are accessed a very narrow (single tracked) lane that criss crosses an area of reclaimed fen land. I was surprised how un-flooded the area was considering the heavy weather but I suppose thats what wetlands do... they soak it all up.
We then followed the Curragh path into Sulby village and then on to Ramsey. The girls were a pleasure to cycle with, no short cuts, or bailing out. They insisted on taking the 'long way' back to ensure we got a couple more miles under their belts. The Northern Plain ride is 26miles in distance, not bad for a first cycle out on a brand new bike (brand new saddle – ouch) and in such conditions – told you these MTB gals were tough!
In Ramsey, we left small pools of water beneath our chairs in the local Pool Cafe – mopped up by a provided cloth. Blissful at least not to be muddy, road bikes are kindly in that way, they are not intent on starting off new patches of turf and mould when you are in a local tearoom, unlike our MTbikes.
We truly had a fantastic days riding. There really is nothing to beat a really great cycle ride out and about with friends in the lashing rain, and howling gales! I still had to get home past Laxey, so said my leave and departed for a long 13 mile ride home complete with head winds and stinging rain. But it was one of my most memorable rides this year.