Fermanagh Audax Sat 12 May 2018
It was a simple idea really – grab our bikes, throw them in the van, travel far enough away to stay over, cycle some big miles, sink a few pints and a meal, then home again! With this goal in mind we chose the Fermanagh Audax on Sat 12 May. It was long enough – 200km or 120 miles in old money and not too hilly, or so we thought! The date was set as Sat 12 May and a Manor House cottage booked. The only unknown was the weather.
Having arrived on the Friday, Davy, Ronnie, Richie, Ivan, Tim and Kevin rocked up to the starting point in Ballinamallard for 8am sharp, having decided to cycle over and only getting lost the once! First 35 miles were easy peasy with stupendous views of Lower Lough Erne and only a little climbing. Belleeks was dispensed with and then it was on to Belcoo. The 3 mile climb into Belcoo at the end of the next 35 miles was a little more challenging, not helped by Kevin trying one of Ivan’s energy gums just as the hills were hit. Mental note – don’t eat n climb.
We all had a great lunch and rest in Belcoo! Cathy, Keith and Marcus joined us for the next stage and now we had a proper peleton. Although into the wind, this was a quick 35 miles, aided by pancake flat roads with no traffic. Richie led the field, with Ronnie, Davy and Tim taking turns. Ivan as usual, sprinted for the 30 roundals. Keith, craggy and experienced, was a big help to us all, imparting advice and encouragement in equal measure. Lisnaskea greeted us with a well earned stop 90 miles in, where upon Keith produced enough sandwiches and bannas from his pannier to feed us all and Davy spoiled himself with an ice cream.
The last 35 miles were tough. More climbing than we expected through magical mountainous scenery and perfectly surfaced ebony roads. Not a car or lorry in sight. Finally, in the last 10 miles another long series of climbs conspired to break our tired muscles and minds. However, they were always going to be conquered, now we were so close to the end. Enventually we arrived in Ballinamallard, tired but victorious, having endured the longest ride many of us had ever undertaken. Including the ride back to base, we covered 141 miles in around 10 hours – some faster – some slower, but all finished with not even a puncture betwen us. Best of all it was bone dry and sunny enough for bib shorts! Biggest issue was flat Garmin batteries – easily cured next time by power packs.
Back at the Manor House, dinner and pints were consumed in celebration of a great day, fine weather, super scenery, fab roads, zip traffic, friendly locals and most of all, great teamwork which got us all to the end safely.
Who’s up for next year?