Yesterday saw another storm hit Northern Ireland, strong winds and torrential rain lasting hours so no Cycling, but the Weekend Weather forecast promised better so I spent a little while in the Kitchen making some ride snacks to bring with me on todays ride.
This Morning I got up with the intention of going on the Phoenix CC club spin but the more I thought about it the more I wanted a solo bike ride, the freedom to stop where and when I wanted to grab a Photograph won out and a solo ride was exactly what I did and a lumpy one at that.
Off up the Castlereagh hills winding my way across towards Moneyreagh and in to Saintfield then out the Ballynahinch road and in to the quieter Ballylone road bypassing Ballynahinch town center and in to the Spa road. The roads were a mess, all yesterdays rain had washed a lot of crap from the fields on to the roads, the rivers were full to bursting and I knew with the roads in that state there would be a very high chance of punctures.
Up the Spa road through Spa village and out on to the Edentariff road it was a nice calm Morning and either it was milder than I expected or I had judged my Clothing layers to perfection. The rolling hills kept on coming as I cycled onwards through Drumaroad and across to Drumvaraghan along Wood road and in to Old Bridge Road where a Boat would have been a better form of transport such was the mass of Water running out of the fields and down the road.
As always the County Down scenery delivered and there was still plenty of signs of Autumn around, Winter has not completely taken over just yet. All I was lacking was some nice Autumnal sunshine rather than the steady light rain I was cycling in.
Soon I was making a right turn in to the Bannastown road and I made the fatal mistake of looking up, what I saw was a wall of tarmac, a long and steep climb upwards. I am a notoriously poor climber on a Bicycle, no uphill speed at all but wierdly I was strangely looking forward to this test. Having never ridden this road before I deliberately set off easy not knowing how long or short the climb was. In the end I paced it quite nicely and arrived at the summit with more in reserve. On a nicer day this climb and the views at the top would be spectacular, I will just have to return again when conditions are more suitable.
I was now at the furthest point from home on my planned route and somehow I managed to avoid punctures so far, amazing given I ridden over and through some really nasty sharp piles of gravel washed out from the sides of the road on numerous occasions. I weaved my way along past Mount Pleasant and a descent of the Leitrim road to Leitrim village and still the rain fell, my Sportful clothing keeping me dry and comfortable in the conditions.
Along the Backaddery road I Cycled over more and more nastiness washed on to the road and felt sure it was only a matter of time until I punctured a tube. Same again on Wood road and still no punctures maybe I would get lucky and make it back home unscathed?
My luck finally ran out on Ballywillwill road went something penetrated the tyre and burst my inner tube deflating it instantly with a loud hiss. An inspection of the tube revealed nothing not even a puncture hole. Careful inspection of the inside of the tyre finally revealed the tiniest of metal shards in the carcass of the tyre, it was firmly embedded too and very hard to extract, I had to improvise and extract it with my teeth. It took longer to find the cause of the puncture and extract it from the tyre than it did to get repaired and back on the road.
I quickly replaced the tube and a Canister of CO2 had me pressurised in seconds and back on the road. But not before almost freezing the fingers of my one non-gloved hand with the CO2 gas, boy does that stuff rapidly cool down when released from the pressurised Canister!
The Dunmore road was next up, more rolling hills, more slowing right down to navigate through flooded sections of road and soon I was back out on to the Edentariff road through Spa to Ballynahinch back to Saintfield and home. A wet day but managing to remain dry and warm thanks to some excellent technical clothing. Over 4,000 feet of elevation gain in a 60 mile ride the legs had got a good workout (265 TSS) and would need a day or two rest to recover so probably no cycling tomorrow, just a very easy spin across town to Photograph the Cyclocross racing instead.