Day 7 – The day of Hurricane Hector. To Clifden.
On waking, it was peeing down with rain. Not unexpectedly. Hurricane Hector was on his way but no big deal I thought – little did I know.
I started cycling 2 years ago, pretty overweight and very unfit, by initially challenging myself to ride every day of January. 10km every single day to raise awareness about the pangolin, the most trafficked mammal in the world. Look pangolins up – amazing creatures! So it was a bit of a baptism of fire anyway, cycling in the frosts and snow of winter from the outset. Good training for storms on endurance races though eh.
After brekkie with Keith I headed out. I got away a little before Keith but knew he would most likely pass me during the day as he is slightly faster than me usually, unless he’s having himself knocked off his bike! It was wet, no doubt about that, but the thing was I think it actually helped! It was a case off pushing on through the bad weather. I could focus on not letting a bit of bad weather defeat me rather than the demons in my own head. Weirdly, it really helped. The weather got progressively worse. Eventually I realised I was climbing up the Sky Road. It was blowing a hooley up there. When I got off my bike at the ‘viewpoint’ I couldn’t see a thing and my bike almost blew over the wall so I decided it was safer for me to stay sitting on it and then roll my way down to lower ground!
Blowing a hooley on the Sky Road!
Descending was going to be tricky so I took it steady at first then as the wind reduced I could go a little faster. It was fun in it’s own way. I was soaked to the bone and after 3 or 4 hours riding since breakfast I wondered if I would ever reach a town or village where I could get a hot drink and dry out a little. The adversity of the weather makes you really appreciate your surroundings and how you are only a tiny blip in the grand scheme of things. I quite liked the rain and found it quite funny at the time. Perhaps it was just the ridiculousness of the situation when compared to what I would usually be doing in ‘normal life’ as a violin teacher. Tucked away in my little teaching room encouraging a 5 year old to play ‘cheesy cheesy pizza’ on the E string. If you’ve ever heard a child learning to play the violin then you’ll understand why I have lost more than a few marbles over the years :-). Anyway, it was just a case of not letting the rain and wind stop me riding, so I just had to pedal on.
I popped my head over a wall when I saw a family preparing for what looked like a lovely day out in their car and asked them if there was a village or town nearby. To my delight I was approaching the fairly large town of Clifden. I rolled down the hill and found all manner of pubs and coffee shops….which one would be the lucky one that I would choose to drip inside!? I selected the one serving scampi and chips and, sadly, the only one that seemed to have no heaters at all. I ordered at the bar and made my way to the bathroom where I proceeded to dry all my clothes (none of which, i only now realised, were waterproof) with the tiniest hand drier ever. Some success so all was not lost. The scampi would definitely help too.
Soggy inside, bike getting soaked outside!
I recharged all my appliances and checked the route. I was going to have a breezy ride along the coastal path to Galway. At that point, now sat inside, the thought of being battered by Hector for the whole afternoon and into the evening seemed really, really insane but I vowed to carry on. I headed out after an hour eating and resting.
Still soaking, I pedalled out but after 2 or 3 miles of horrendous headwinds and crosswinds I just thought, what am I doing?! And why?! I had gotten quite far behind with my ride (I had a rough idea of where I thought I needed to be) and didn’t think I was going to manage the whole route on the coast anyway, yet here I was pedalling through the storm when I thought it might be kind of dangerous and a little fool-hardy. I had been beating myself up mentally for a few days and honestly just didn’t want to ride my bike in that frame of mind any more. Perhaps I was just looking for a reason to stop riding, and that really isn’t like me. It worried me, a lot. Looking back, I think I was just exhausted and the mental pressures I was dealing with from different parts of life at the time had taken their toll too perhaps.
Maybe the hurricane had just given me the excuse I needed to stop beating myself up this time?! Sometimes you do need to listen to your mind and body I guess. I’m still gutted now, 2 months on, that I didn’t manage to turn it around but there we are. I’ve got to find a way of letting that go and moving on to new adventures and challenges I think. Or to come to terms with various things before cracking on perhaps.
Sooooooo, decision made and the mission to get to the party was on. I ran around town in the rain, to EVERY shop in Clifden, trying to source the very cheapest t shirt / shorts and pants! All my stuff was soaking and my dry clothes were in the finish town of Kinsale….still a long way away! I found a tourist T-shirt (with my new found love of Guinness on it) it was perfect and only a fiver. The shorts were a fiver from the sports shop and, after rummaging through a massive box of pants (the lady in charge of pants was out to lunch) I even found a pair that nearly fitted!
So soaked but finding dry clothes!
I hung out at the Bed and Breakfast I had found in town and popped to Lidl to get myself a few snacks, watched a really crap film and fell asleep pretty early.