The route was a simple clockwise loop, starting from Newtownards then following the A-roads (and a couple of wahaay-roads) to Portaferry, Strangford, Balloo, Whiterock, Comber and back. I’d ridden parts of this loop before, but not all of it and not the whole way around, and believe it or not I’d never been on the Portaferry ferry before either, so today promised to be a bit of an adventure for me.
Look, I don’t get out much.
We set out from Newtownards in less than ideal conditions. It was sticky hot, like the start of an eventful night in a bad detective novel, and we faced a respectable headwind too as we made our way down the Portaferry Road along the shore. I was very quickly very dripping with sweat when I stopped to fix an early snakebite puncture. Lovely.
It could have been worse though. We did at least have the rain to provide some cooling.
The run to Portaferry was uneventful, then I got a go on the ferry to Strangford, and after a quick comfort stop we were off again. The wind was behind us now, but the hills out of Strangford and on into Balloo still had bite, and Allan was struggling with shoulder cramps brought on by (we think) an awkward bike setup. Also a squeaky pedal, which was very annoying. Sort that out mate. We stopped a couple of times to try some field adjustments, but our tinkering didn’t do a lot of good.
A 35mph descent from Killinchy into Whiterock, in the rain, with a right-angle left at the end and nothing but rocks and water beyond, livened things up a bit as we left the A-roads and wound our way along the coastal back roads towards Comber. Allan was really struggling with his shoulder by now and had to sit up constantly, and I’d run out of water and was cramping, so this (hilly) section was taken at a verrry leisurely pace.
Eventually we returned to the main roads and took the A21 from Comber back into Newtownards again. Spotting another cyclist in the distance released some untapped energy and we hammered along, until I blew up a mile or so from the finish with a nasty cramp. Ease it on home, big lad, that’ll teach you to run out of drinkies.
One question remains: every other cyclist or group of cyclists we met seemed to be on an anti-clockwise lap as opposed to our clockwise option. Is there something I’m missing?
52.6 miles and 3,200 feet of climbing, completed in 3:27 for an average of 15.4 mph. Happy with that.