My first Century, a bit o' Cyclocross and Shopping…
Its all in a day for us multi taskers I suppose!
My friend Tina joined me today, to ride 150km for Audax UK (using the GPS system). Except this time, we were adding a bit more to see if we could both cycle 100 miles. My usual route for this ride is 98 miles. Today, I managed to make that important Century and succeeded in cycling 104! WAY GO! Big pat on back and slab of cake!
Bank holiday weekend on the Isle of Man was windy and wet. But when I set off, it was just windy and the sun was fully out and about. The island can be a funny place weather wise, it has its own micro climate, and the ridge of mountains North Barrule, Snaefell, and South Barrule create a backbone of rocky height which messes up the weather here. So it can and often is, brilliant sunshine in the north of the island, while Douglas just 14 miles south is gloomy with rain and mist. As it was today.
I set off North, and battled the force 7 headwinds across the Mountain Road. Today, was also still practice week for the Manx Grand Prix which starts on Monday 30th August. So we were on a mission, as part of this 150km route was on the TT course, so we had to be off it by 6pm when the roads were due to shut for the evening motor cycle practices for the Grand Prix.
Here is the route we cycled today:
As I cycled down Tholt-y-Will, I was graciously welcomed into the valley by Manannan Mac Lir himself, towering higher than the tallest tree, he is a fantastic carving by a local Manx girl. Manannan Mac Lir is the Manx God of Weather who protected the islands from feuding Scotsmen and others creating what is called as 'Manannan's Mist' otherwise known as fog to you and I. Anyway, he is rather striking is he not?
I saw him as an omen for the day ahead.
Tina I met, while cycling with the Manx Mountain Bike Club, like myself she joined to meet other cyclists interested in mountain biking, but like myself, she is more powerfully drawn to road riding than off road. She has some time off the bike, then contacted me to see if I fancied doing some road riding.... I didnt need to be asked twice!
Tina is slowly increasing her fitness, and is doing very well indeed, she is far fitter over a much shorter time scale than ever I was having been off the bike for a good few months. Cycling is much more fun with some one to chat and yak to. Although today was a long ride and a hilly one, we had ages to complete it in. 15 hours in total. Maybe a long time scale is a good thing, maybe it makes you take too much time on your breaks, but we had a fabulous time.
We cycled to Tynwald and here there is an exclusive shopping centre and tea room. Hot soup, crusty bread rolls followed by shopping by two sweaty cyclists! Folk did stare and avoid us... no queuing! LOL
The rain you see, kept on coming, in fits and starts, one moment we were hot and warm, the next the heavens opened. Tina was without wet weather gear. I had not brought by wet weather leggings or overshoes, but I had brought my trusty Paramo which is a fab sweater when you get cold and even better if its raining too. I was prepared for wet legs and feet as it wasn't cold, but poor Tina was getting cold, so the shopping trip was essential to be honest even though it was funny from the reactions we were getting from the BIG car people.
As it happened it turned out for the best for another reason too.
The ride out of St Johns and Tynwald hill, took us up to 'Snuff the Wind'. I had a control to cycle through at the cross road at the highest part of the Round Table road on South Barrule. From the bottom of 'Snuff the Wind' I could see blue flashing lights and a co motion of sorts, as we neared it was clear there had been a road traffic accident confirmed by the police car parked next to the roads closed signs who was diverting traffic back down towards St Johns. Sadly there had been a fatal accident between a motor cycle and a land rover where the motorcyclist had died. Horrible horrible... I had no other details but when you know so many motor cyclists you do think of everyone involved. Had we not ourselves spent an hour longer in Tynwald mills than expected, it might of involved ourselves as well, as we to be on that exact piece of road. Made our blood run cold.
We turned back, but my mountain cyclist know how knew of a track known locally as the 'pipline'. Its stoney, rocky, filthy with deep mud and ruts, but leads out further along SOuth Barrule just short of there the control point would be. So cyclecross it became. The first part of the track was tarmacced and not bad to cycle on. Then we rounded the corner for the really meaty part of this bit of our ride. WOW, the difference between a hardtail and a road bike was enormous! Poor wee Hetchins was not a happy gal, but she bravely ploughed on through mud so deep, it furred up her brakes and blocked her mudguards. Eventually the route became too difficult to cycle on anymore as the tyres were simply turning and not gripping, so the bikes were pushed, carried and hauled manually the last part of the off road track.
Meeting tarmac again was a very pleasant experience. I used all my water up, washing the mud from the brakes and from beneath the mudguards and wiping the worst off the tyres. The rest of the murk was simply spun off as the cycles sped downwards towards Peel.
Peel was seven miles from Orrisdale or thereabouts. We had just 45 minutes to get there, or we would be stuck until 9pm when the roads were to re-open. Tina had no lights, but more to the point, neither of us relished the thought of spending hours waiting for the roads to open, there was no other throughway, without adding another 25 or so miles to our journey. So we upped the pace a good bit, and spun our pedals towards Kirk Michael. So long as we got there, should the roads get closed, we could cycle to the old railway line, and ride to Orrisdale that way – not ideal, as its another off road path, but better than waiting until 9pm.
As it happened our cycling like possessed women paid off, and we were at the Orrisdale turn off with 10 minutes spare.
The final ride back to Ramsey resumed its nice touring pace, and the yak and chat returned.
Tina had initially cycled to meet me earlier in the day, by the time we were back in Ramsey, she was just 8 miles off her Century, I still had a way to go, but I also had my 12 miles back to my home to do as well. TIna cycled home and rode round the block until her 100 miles clocked up.
The diversion we had had to do amounted to a further 6 miles being added to my 158km ride, this pushed the ride total to 166 km and I got home having cycled 102 miles! My first Century. It was sad that it was marred by the accident on South Barrule.
But, I shall always remember this as one of my firsts! First Audax run with a friend, and my first Century.
Tina it seems has the Audax Bug too!