Another Weekend and another Cycling Sportive, this time the “Over the Quoile” sportive promoted by La Lanterne Rouge Cycling Club. Looking out the Window after my nights sleep the ground was soaking wet after a lot of Rain overnight, to make things worse there was also a very strong Westerly wind.
I must admit I did contemplate going back to bed, but the weather forecast was for the day to dry up throughout the Morning, though the strong wind would remain.
With the soaking wet roads I initially opted to cycle this sportive on my disc braked winter bike, but shortly before I needed to load up the car to drive over to the meet up location I noticed the strong wind was already starting to dry the roads and I knew by the time I drove over, got signed on and kitted up ready for the roll out, that it would only get drier still… providing there was no more rain. So last minute I loaded the summer bike in to the back of the car and set off for Loughinisland.
A lot of local cyclists were down in County Galway for the Tour de Connemara Sportive and so numbers for the Over the Quoile were reduced but there was still a reasonable turnout. After the riders briefing we were off. Unlike my previous sportive I had not made my way up to the front group for the start and I also had not gone for a short warmup cycle before the start and so my legs were reluctant to just jump straight in to the effort level required and I very quickly lost sight of the real fast guys.
Undeterred I set in to my rythm, pushing a hard tempo, continually swapping places with a fellow member of Phoenix Cycling Club who kept coming around me on the uphill sections (my perenial weakness!) only for me to pass him straight back on the downhill and flatter sections. I was covering ground quickly through Seaforde and Clough then left in to Blackstaff road and Tyrella road where I managed to catch up to a couple of guys that had lost the tow from the fast group. I sat in behind them for a little bit to recover some energy, then came around them, but they were able to then sit on my wheel and run at my pace in the shelter I was providing.
After Minerstown heading towards Killough there is another longer hill and true to form I was unable to climb it at their speed and I was back on my own again.
Leaving Killough and approaching Ardglass, Martina from Dromara Cycling Club had managed to reel me in, again she was stronger than me on the hills, with me being stronger on the flatter sections and together we worked well sheltering each other on our weaker sections. Before long we were pulling in to the water and food stop at Ballyhornan. Except we had all arrived there quicker than the host club had anticipated and so there was not much food or water to go around.
A small group of 4 or 5 cyclists rolled out whilst the rest remained there fuelling up and chatting, I decided to go with the small group and hopefully get a bit of shared workload on the run round the coast to Strangford. Turning left out of Strangford for the climb up to Castleward the strong wind hit us smack in the face making the climb even slower than normal. The small group was long gone but Martina was still working with me giving me some shelter uphill and me then coming around and giving her shelter on the downhill. No freewheeling on the downhill though, the tough headwind meant I had to keep the power on to make forward progress.
We made it down the Strangford road and around to the Quoile Bridge, the Marshals controlling the traffic permitting us a free run through the junction and some temporary respite from the headwind as we cycled out the Killyleagh road.
Scaddy road was next up, a rolling uphill road but only a cross wind here so progress was reasonable and then a left turn towards Crossgar heading back in to the wind again where we were joined by Gerrard from Crossgar CC.
Through Crossgar and Kilmore I looked over my shoulder and I was somehow on my own, I had managed to drop the other two without trying, maybe the town traffic had forced them to stop. Onwards solo for the last 8 or 9 miles back to Loughinisland and a welcome foodstop. This week I did not rush home immediately in an attempt to avoid leg cramps whilst driving, instead I availed of the soup and chicken goujons and a cup of tea then went a short walk to let the leg muscles cool down and relax before driving back home.
Another good sportive and another strong performance by me and no rain until the drive home where I met quite a few cyclists riding the sportive that had not yet finished. Below is a video I created of the Over the Quoile Sportive.