After the mad rush to get the bike fixed the day could only get better and it did. I was late getting to the start by about ten minutes just to see the second or third way of riders leaving with Ian Tosh and Ian Navin in the group. They shouted over to me so I just joined on the back and worked my way up through the group as Ian Tosh tapped out a brisk 18-19mph on the front. I’d planned a route to Derry so done or later my route and the group would part company and that happened sooner than expected at the unpronouncable town of Ratoath where my Komoot route thought it best to take me into town and through three sets of lights while the others fired along at 18mph.
Probably a good thing to let me ride my own pace so I was soon on some nice small lanes instead of the fat straight road we’d started on. After a while I rolled down to some lights to find both the Ians waiting for the lights. We rode together for an hour or so before Ian Tosh pulled away with me in the middle.
The town names came and went, the sun was shining and it was hot. I was getting through lots of water and stopped for a few ice creams. I felt I’d earned them.
After less time than I thought I got to Omagh and stopped for a sandwich in Subway to be greeted by prices in Sterling again. This was the border country. I few signs alluded to the problems that a soft or hard border will bring. No wonder they don’t want Brexit here.
After Omagh came Strabane where I had to leave the faster flatter roads and head upwards over some hills to avoid the A roads that we were forbidden to use. Straight away was a steep hill and cramp in my thighs. No wonder in this heat, I’d been sweating buckets so this was lack of water . I stopped mid hill, dismounted, glugged some water and it subsided. I gingerly got to the top and threaded down some farm tracks towards the first control at Derry.
On the middle of the Peace bridge. It was now about 8pm and I was in the top 20 riders which was a surprise.
After getting my Brevet card stamped I got a rather unpleasant chicken kebab smothered in mayo with soggy chips. No, I don’t know why I opted for this either!
Half eaten I put on warmer gear and swapped my short sleeve Jersey for a green long sleeve Wheelers club jersey and bright green ‘Kermit the frog’ leg warmers. This would allow me to ride on into the night without stopping. Out of Derry the first town was the start of he Wild Atlantic Way at Muff. I starting to feel like stopping and could see distant hill fog on high ground that I knew we had to go over. I planned to try and find a buggy just below this, where it should be dry-ish and not too cold. The climb over the hills want too bad but with 170 miles in my legs I was glad to get over the top and find a sort of large layby/ turning area that looked clean and set back from the road, far enough from houses and secluded. I laid the bike down, put my midge net over my head and laid out my bedding. I went to a light sleep to the sound of cyclists freewheeling down the hill as they opted to take advantage of being able to gain miles riding though the night.
Day one complete