An overcast, chilly day but thankfully the wind was light and the roads were dry as myself and two friends whom I hadn’t seen in a few years left Banbridge in County Down and cycled up the Castlewellan road where the good natured banter was flowing.
Passing the Corbet Lough with Fishermen gearing up for a days fishing it was tempting to stop but today was a day for the Kingdom of Mourne. The beautiful scenery and tough hill climbs lay ahead, so we kept a moderate pace through Katesbridge and up round the Devils elbow before upping the pace as we descended down in to Castlewellan where we stopped for a warm, fresh Scone and a cuppa.
Leaving the warmth and comfort of the Coffee Shop the cold air mixing with the sweat sodden clothing was a shock to the system but I knew that we would very rapidly warm up again as we started to ascend up in to the heart of the Mourne Mountains. A right turn off the main Newcastle road set us off in the direction of Bryansford and so the elevation changed to something less favourable. Coming through Bryansford we were joined by numerous hardy men who were competing in the Wall adventure Duathlon which consists of a 3Km run followed by a 45Km cycle and finishes with another 15Km run!
By now we were up above Tollymore Forest Park and the scenic views were as stunning as ever despite the grey skies, but the climbing was far from over, pedal stroke after pedal stroke ground by and then we turned left in the direction of Fofany where the gradient kicked up again and then we got our reward of a nice fast paced descent from Spelga.
Another left turn and the climbing started again up in to Hilltown then a right turn gave us some short respite as we headed to Rathfriland and a nasty climb up in to Rathfriland’s square where we stopped for a breather and then a pacier spin all the way back to Banbridge to finish the cycle with forty six miles clocked up and a leg burning three thousand four hundred feet of elevation.