Not About the Bike 4

Yesterday we covered 43 miles. It was horrendous. To be fair my cycling companions adopted a very encouraging attitude as we trundled along the highways and byways of Loyalist East Antrim. I felt a little abandoned and isolated if I didn’t see a Union flag every mile or two but in fairness the locals invariably obliged.

In small settlements every lamppost is well and truly marked and there isn’t much doubt whose ‘territory’ you are cycling through. What some of the brethren would think of the merry band of GAA enthusiasts cycling through their district makes me LOL.

My sister in law Schira must have been a mountain goat in a previous life. She led us up a succession of climbs, some gradual, some insidious, some just pure bastards. The road from Moss Side to the main Bushmills to Ballycastle line was a route of pain for me. All my considerable weight was pressing down on the base of my spine and for whatever reason this caused more discomfort than ever.

When we finally made it across to White Park Bay, Schira led us up to the Viewing Point. ‘It’s only half a mile up the road’ she cheerily explained. ‘Up’ was the operative word in that explanation. I cursed her every pedal of the way and when we got to the ‘Viewing Point’ I was quite the sight lolling about panting on a raised ditch. Sweat flying, backside in bits. At one stage I almost rolled of the bank down the slope onto White Park Bay. Had I done so I would have gladly dragged my sorry ass across the sand to dip it in the tempting blue seawater.

Having crossed the twenty three mile point at this stage, we pointed our tyres for the Port. The way of fewest hills our request to our leader. I don’t think I’ve ever tucked into Bushmills – either the drink or the village- the way I did on the downhill descent. One and a half miles of freewheelin. I actually felt like jumping off, just for the craic. Schira remarked that I could fair get the speed up on the down hills, but the opposite applies in that I can fair slow the speed down on the ascents. It’s a like a metaphor for life, what goes down must go up and vice versa. So for the exhilaration of tearing into Bushmills, I soon realised that all roads out lead up the hill. Long slow and painful.

At this stage less than ten from home my fellow travellers gradually disappeared over the hill. Even Martin who had covered the distance on his wife’s shopping bike complete with the shopping carrier on the back. He looked like something out of an Adam Sandler film perched on the curious women’s bike with a pair of cycling bib shorted. However, no matter what he looked like, he still bate me home. I limped in, totally and utterly fucked. No other word for it.

When I arrived back to the house, I keeled over on to the sofa an immediately fell asleep for half an hour. When I got up a bath followed by a shower restored a semblence of life, as did some beans on toast and four Jaffa cakes. The only redemption in the day was offered by Lar Corbett and his henchmen followed by a decent run out for the girls on Sunday night.

Arse in flames, spirits in the doldrums. 43 miles I think it was. Well out of my comfort zone. Big time. Soon be time to get back on the bike… and I’m dreading it.

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