May 22, 2017


More rain to start our day. So it goes.

Sheep on the road, in the rain, near Buncrana, Ireland
We shared the road with a few sheep (and a lamb); they kindly kept to the left side of the road.

This was day seven of our trip, and despite our recent rest day, my legs did not want to climb. Did. Not. Want. To.

Being way off the back again, I was feeling like I should call it a day at lunchtime. The prospect of biking 48 miles was daunting.

Approaching Mamore Gap near Owenerk, Ireland
We were headed for another steep climb, up Mamore Gap. Photos never do justice to the slope—we're headed for the V-shaped notch, and around the bend the road goes more or less straight up. I recorded a grade approaching 19%, though this report suggests it maxes out at 22%. In other words, I was doomed. I took a deep breath and pedaled until I couldn't; then, I walked the steepest 4/10 of a mile. Only one rider, and our guide, pedaled the whole way up.

View of the North Atlantic and twisty descent from Mamore Gap, Ireland
The descent was technical, and wet, so I took it easy. If you look carefully, you will find a tiny dot of a cyclist (above the big rock) descending a twisty, steep bit. Looking back when we reached the fields below, the skies grew darker and darker: we were lucky to get through the Gap before the downpour.

Looking back up the road to Mamore Gap from the north, Ireland
Somehow, I didn't get the memo about where we would have our tea break, and the van was not visible from the road. I assumed that everyone was ahead of me; I did catch another rider at an intersection, where we decided to pause. Our guide appeared (somewhat breathless), to reel us back in. We backtracked to find the van at a parking lot for the Glenevin Waterfall. We didn't have time for a hike to see it, so we just enjoyed our tea and sweets.

Inside a McGrory's Pub, Culdaff, Ireland
The rain found us when we stopped at a pub for lunch (cycling—it's all about the food). Have I mentioned that our guides also wipe our saddles dry when we're ready to get back on the bikes? [Yes, they do that.] They talked me out of abandoning into the van at this stage; the drive would be long, and they assured me that the climbs ahead were gentle.

Clouds looming over Greencastle, Ireland
We rolled into Greencastle, where we would meet up with the boat that would take us across the edge of the North Atlantic to our fourth country, Northern Ireland. There was enough time to warm up with our favorite libations, each to his or her own: hot chocolate, tea, Guinness ... I was amused to find USB ports installed under the bar top, for patrons to charge their phones.

Bikes lashed to the back of the boat for crossing to Northern Ireland
Bikes and people were loaded onto the boat, lifejackets were donned, and tales were told by the captain: How the British army used to play rugby on the sand bar we were skirting, at low tide. How the Royal Portrush Golf Club (visible along the shore) will host a championship in 2019.

Home to Portrush boat for the 2017 Atlantic Challenge, Portrush, Northern Ireland
There was an unusual boat in the harbor at Portrush; our captain didn't think much of their maritime skills and gave them a wide berth. It was the vessel that the four-man team “Home to Portrush” plans to row in the 2017 Atlantic Challenge. [Yes, they plan to row 3,000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean.]

Cyclnig along the coast, Portrush, Northern Ireland
Having biked some 41 miles, what's another seven? [Sigh.] Not much climbing, I was promised.

It was worth it, from the coastal promenade, to the ruins of Dunluce Castle.

Remains of Dunluce Castle near Portballintrae, Northern Ireland
It's a personal foible, to imagine I'm capable of less when I really can do more. Today, for example: 48 miles, 2,940 feet of climbing.

No comments:

Post a Comment