Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Cycling for fun-The Mountain Road

Those that know me will know that after family and work, my two main interests are horse-riding and cycling. Winter and Spring are for riding, but Summer and Autumn are almost exclusively devoted to the bike.

I am usually a solitary cyclist. I spend my working day assisting, cajoling, negotiating and advising other people, so I find it therapeutic to get out on the road by myself, with just the tarmac, weather and cycle-computer to deal with. South Tipperary and Waterford are beautiful counties and we are spoiled for choice regarding cycling routes. We have mountains, flats, country roads...any type of terrain for the cyclist to travel and experience the wonderful countryside we have.

I came to cycling late, I rode horses competitively when younger, so that took all my energies. I started cycling about 5 years ago to tackle a growing weight problem and stuck with it for the endorphins!

Fitting cycling in around a young family and a business is sometimes difficult. Daytime is devoted to business, night-time to family. I find that early morning is best for me. At this time of year, I am usually on the road at 6am and back home 7.30-8am.

One of my favourite spins is the Mountain Road, which rises from Clonmel to the top of The Comeraghs. Barry at Worldwide Cycles tells me that the “norm” is to do the climb section, starting at Hillview to the top in 20 minutes. Normal that is if you are 25, with not a care in the world except where your next date is coming from. Being 20 years older, and with plenty of “cares”, I reckon that if I can get to within 10% of that figure I will be fine. My current best is 22 minutes 30 seconds, so nearly there, but hard to crack!

I usually do a 10km loop to warm up and then attack the mountain. 22+ minutes and some pain later, I crest the top. Then onto the drops, tuck in, spin out the gears and drop as fast as gravity will take me through 2 small but scary bends without touching the brakes. Your adrenaline certainly pumps as your speed approaches 70km/h with nothing but ridiculously thin Lycra and questionable bike-handling skills between you and the tarmac. Early in the morning, the road is usually damp and as I approach the hairpin bend over the bridge flat out, I suddenly wish that I had feathered the brakes to ensure they work, not having touched them for the previous 25 minutes! There is a gap in the trees at the bridge, so the surface there has usually dried off, but I have had a few scary moments there. Worth it for the speed-rush though.

The weather can change enormously during the course of a ride, especially in the Comeraghs. Many times I have been fogged in above the Golf Club. A bit scary when you don’t see a car until the last minute, it means they probably don’t see you at all!

I then turn left down Comeragh Drive to Kilsheelan, over the River Suir, back into Co. Tipperary and on to Clonmel.

So there you have it, the Mt Rd spin. For those interested, leaving and returning to my house, it is just over 40kms, I cycle it in around 1hr 20mins and burn 1200-1300cals.
I fully intend to crack 22 minutes this month. Then onwards to 21!

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