Sunday, May 04, 2008

Day 2 of The Ulster Way

Across the Mournes to Rostrevor (26 miles), up the main road to Newry, round Ring of Gullion (36 miles), up the Newry Canal path to Scarva, then onto our night stop at Tandragee.

14.5 hours in the saddle, 84 miles, over 2800 metres of vertical climbing - we did not for a minute imagine that Day 2 would be as hard on us as Day 1, but so it turned out, as much of the terrain was simply woeful. We were carrying or dragging our bikes for probably half of our total time, and it was energy-sapping.

We decided to forgo our original 7am start time, and instead aimed for 8, as Day 1 had killed us. We were again joined by Mickey and Declan, who are now part of the furniture, and Joni McGlade, fresh from the hospital meat-slab.

We headed up into the Mournes in strong wind and heavy rain, and the going was slow and draining, much of it unrideable. Picked up the infamous Rowan McMahon in Tollymore, and staggered on as best we could in the terrible weather. Joni headed for home after the descent off Butter Mountain. The next section round Hen Mountain was appalling, totally unrideable and frankly depressing.

Reached Rostrevor after 5.5 hours, utterly spent, and took a break for an hour to eat the cafe out of stock. The weather then turned fantastic, and stayed so for the rest of the day, with unbroken sunshine. James Keown joined us on the road bike for a spell, but had to head back to Newry when the off-road got REALLY offroad in Ravensdale.

The run up to Newry was great, with the wind on our tails. The Ring of Gullion was much tougher than we had anticipated, with long and punishing climbs aplenty, but some fantastic descents to boot. The highlight was soup, sandwiches and coffee supplied by Davy (the other Davy) and son in Forkhill, where just previously a bull had prevented us from taking our intended route across a field - the monster was just daring us to climb that gate!

Declan and Mickey had to leave us for home at Slieve Gullion car park, so that they could prepare to meet us again tomorrow, by which time it was getting dark.

The push on to Tandragee from Newry was a slog, but we were delighted to have Dale join us just outside Newry to guide us home. Big chinese on the table when we arrived at 10:45pm - sweet!

Looking forward to Day 3, Scarva to Belcoo, County Fermanagh.

Thanks to everyone for your messages of support and humour - much appreciated!!

(T, 2 days down! Half-pints at the ready!)


Anonymous said...

Nothing could be tougher. I'm amazed that you have stuck to your crazy schedule so far. No matter what happens from here on - it's been a great effort, can't even start to imagine what you guys must feel like right now.
Easy(?)morning now on minor roads to Aughnacloy but a hell of a struggle over Slieve Beagh Way awaits in the afternoon.
Keep pushing.
Big T.

Herngutter said...

Unreal guys.
Don't know where you found the energy to keep going for another 5hours.
Great effort, hope its all down-hill from here.

monrobot said...

I think we need to be told the name of the big Chinese fella, and what he was doing on your table!