The next while was pretty uneventful, I had to take it pretty easy on the descents to make sure I didn't make any wrong turns and even had to consult a map on a few occasions. The rain was getting worse but it didn't bother me much as I was warm and pretty concentrated on getting around the course.
At one point I was riding up a tiny road that was more like a mucky fireroad when I hit an unmarked turn. It was basically at a derelict farmyard. I stopped, took out the map and started to figure out where to go. At this point, I heard a rumble behind me to find Mel driving up the road – I couldn't quite believe it. We chatted, took out the colour map and figured that the left was the right choice (I was pretty paranoid throughout about making a mistake).
I left Mel and headed down the hill towards my next turn – a river crossing which was pretty cool and I started out on a long traverse around Garryhoe and Collafunshogue hills. I remember looking at the OS map beforehand and felt that I would be 'bombing' along on this section. If you had to pin point an exact location where this long ride became a real challenge for me, this was it. As part of my training for racing I do a lot of climbing, I like climbing, and in hindsight, I would have much preferred climbing up and down Glendalough 3 more times than the 'flat' course that remained. The thing about it was that the traverse was on a grassy track – the type of thing that during the summer (or I should say, after a long period of dry weather) you would ride along quickly at 20kph. Fun, fast and maybe even flowy. Not today though – the ground was completely saturated and keeping myself moving on the bike was very difficult – I ended up having to walk lots of it. That was what got me down – physically I was pretty tired but okay – just having to walk, in the rain, in the mist on super slompy ground, it started to play with my mind. Anyway, I trudged on and after about 10 gates to jump over and some nice short descents I got back to the road. Unfortunately for me, the road didn't last very long – fortunately for me though Mel was right at the corner before the next off road section pointing me in the correct direction. I remember saying, “this sucks!” as I passed by...
If the last section was the part that it started to get really difficult, this next part was the bit that practically broke me... For the next 3 kilometers I was basically riding on a boggy path that a hundred cows had milled over. Again, lots of bike pushing. I mean, it's one thing to push a bike up a hill – but this was pretty flat. It was raining hard, everything was misty, I was tired and walking through a swamp that was going half way up my calves – this really does SUCK. After what seemed an hour I reached the road again – but this time I was a broken man. I don't think I have been in this state before – I was not physically exhausted – but I was mentally 'cooked' – I had had enough and wanted to stop. If I was in a racing situation, mentally it would be very different. You have people to race against, or a known course, or a difficult time to beat. This ride had none of these things to mentally keep me going.
So why didn't I stop, well, there were a few things that kept me going from this point on.
- I REALLY don't want to do this again so I better do it now, I have already invested a lot of time.
- Mel has been a star helping me all day – I can't not finish
- Both Mel and I took days off work to do this, it's costing me money!
- I announced on all the forums that I was going to do this – I thought that I would be a wuss if I didn't finish.
With all that in mind, I rode on. Thankfully, much of the final 30 kilometers was on roads and fireroad (although all the fireroads where either muddy or had freshly placed stone that rode like treacle). Apparently, it was supposed to be mostly 'flat'. That it was not, I still remember climbing a lot. After my final meetup with Mel I turned up a road climb that looked like a wall. I have to admit that not only did I drop the gears into the granny ring, I actually contemplated walking! and it was tarmac! I thought better (it would be even more energy walking up it) and continued on the bike.
Me at the last stop - incidently, that Assos ClimaJet jacket is amzing!With darkness starting to fall, and my brain functions slowing down, the final 20 kilometers were a bit of a blur. It was easier than that final super boggy section but I really had enough of it all and wanted to be done.
Krish was exactly what I wanted. Never is my life easy as by the time we got back to Dundrum we had to quickly pack as we were off to the London Cycle Show early the next morning.
Stats from my Garmin Edge 305.
Moving Time: 8:09:46
Average HR: 149
Max HR: 180
Drink: 4 liters of various flavours of TorQ Energy
Gels: 6 TorQ gels
Bars: 6 TorQ bars, a flap jack, a muesli bar
Calories used: 7709 (taken from Ascent Software)
Lots of records for me.
Longest bike ride time wise, longest off road ride, biggest day of climbing (just about), most calories burned in one day, most TorQ bars eaten in one day and lowest mental point I have had on a bike. Probably more too...