Ballycastle Sportive

Wakening up to a stormy Morning with a heavy Sky we knew the forecast of rain and strong winds gusting to over 40mph was going to be uncannily accurate. As we sat around to Kitchen table fuelling up on Porridge clothing choice was the main concern, the temperatures were still holding up for late September so I gave the thermal gear a miss and opted for the normal short sleeve base layer and a short sleeve jersey with arm warmers and popped a rain jacket in my jersey pocket along with some gels and energy bars.

Registration was in the Sheshburn Centre and gave us the opportunity to top up the carbs and water levels with tea and biscuits before the 10am rollout.

The route took us along the Glenshesk road to Armoy along rolling terrain through Magherahoney, Loughguille and in to Clough village. From Clough it was on to Martinstown and Cargan and then the long steady climb up to Glenariff. One of our group riding with a prosthetic leg had a mechanical disaster when the crank arm and pedal that his good leg was clipped in to came away from the crank and we all wondered would he be able to safely get off his bike given his false leg was still attached to the other side of his Bicycle.

But there was no drama he took it all in his stride and we phoned back to the recovery van that transported him a few miles further on to Cushendall where emergency repairs got him rolling again. The rest of us enjoyed the high speed descent from Glenariff to Cushendall. Despite the stormy winds and wet roads I kept the pace up topping out at 50mph and averaging 38mph for the four mile descent down to the water stop. I knew I was descending well judging by the amount of other cyclists I was catching and passing, and when I looked at the post ride data I was pleasantly surprised to see I had clocked the 22nd fastest time ever for that Strava segment. Not bad for a coach potato riding a heavy Winter bike with full mudguards.

Not long after the Water stop we were at Glendun Viaduct and the long climb up to the vanishing lake at Loughareema. I had climbed this before back in July in very poor visibility. There were no such foggy issues today however the strong winds produced their own hazards. By now the rain had stopped and the group stopped to take off the rain jackets, I had never put my rain jacket on as I did not want to overheat. Me being a very slow climber I never stopped knowing well that they would catch me up again at or before the summit so I continued on my way hoping to set a new personal best time for the climb which I managed taking 34 seconds off my previous time.

We waited at the top for a couple of our group to finish their climb and then we were off again on the descent down to Ballyvoy and on to the finish back in Ballycastle. One of the girls who loves a fast descent took off like a rocket and myself and two others gave chase, we quickly caught her and then the four of us kept the pace high rotating continuously for the four mile drop down to Ballyvoy averaging almost 33 miles per hour before slacking the pace again for the final couple of miles back to Ballycastle.

No sooner were we back in the Sheshkburn Centre tucking in to Sandwiches and hot Soup than the heavens opened in a big downpour, we couldn’t help feel sorry for the remaining cyclists still out on the road in horrible conditions.

It was still raining heavy as we made a quick sprint dash back to our house for a warm shower and a freshen up before going in to town for the evening meal.

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