Kerrane sets new longest ride on Red Line, Red Lane audax
Red Lane/Line 600 – Day 2 Sunday July 27, 2014.
I woke at 7:30am to the sound of voices discussing yesterday’s triumphs and trials. As I lay on the bathroom floor (for the first time since my student days) I willed my eyes to open. Two and half hours sleep is all I’d got since I last climbed off the bike.
I rolled out of the sleeping bag and took stock, my legs felt fine, my sunburn was matching the red sleeves of my club jersey and there was no mirror to see my face which was probably a good thing. Washed and dressed I went into the main room for breakfast of tea and toast, stepping carefully around sleeping bodies on the floor.
If you ever want to replicate the feeling of a hangover without drinking, I can recommend riding a multi-day audax event. I couldn’t stomach much food for breakfast so I repacked my rack bag and checked my bike. Not everyone had arrived back in the control and some were already packing it in, either through tiredness or mechanical issues. I watched a rider try and fit another’s saddle to his bike with no success which meant a DNF for him.
Restocked with food I headed out at 9:10am to complete the 180km of the 600km. The first climb of the day was the Red Lane that I had descended some five hours previously. I met some other riders walking up it but I managed to get to the top without my legs screaming at me to stop.
The first control was at Roundwood after some narrow, rutted country lanes. I made it with an hour to spare, something that would happen for the rest of the day, leaving me with little extra time if I got a puncture or mechanical. In Roundwood the man behind the counter, where I bought a tea and some cake, looked at me quizzically and I explained that I was completing a 600km ride, yes I needed a receipt and no I wasn’t doing it for charity, just for fun!
The descent to Ashford was a relief but the drag out of Wicklow town on the way to Brittas took its toll. By now it was hot and the shorts I was wearing were chafing, despite copious amounts of chamois cream. I changed them because feeling like a half-shaved badger is not conducive to doing a long ride. This is why audaxers look like snails with their homes on their backs because we bring spares of everything.
My navigational skills failed me on the way to Arklow and I had to re-climb a hill I had descended to rejoin the route. Arklow was at 60km and I reached it at 1:00pm. At my present rate of progress I had nine hours to complete 120km and it was looking tight as fatigue bore down on me.
“It was taking me ages to get round. I still had 100km to go and it was 2:00pm.
I struggled back on to the bike and rode on”
The rolling, steep, potholed hills on the way to Hollyfort via Coolgreany are the closest I’ve found to the Belgian Ardennes. I was nearly crying as I inched my way up the final climb to the control at the crossroads in Hollyfort. The sound of GAA commentary at full volume greeted me from the open door of the shop/pub. Wexford were playing Limerick and a partisan crowd were roaring their team on.
I entered the shop and the publican dashed out to serve me and check I wasn’t robbing the place, I selected an icecream (loop-the-loop) and he rushed back to the telly to see the next point scored. He scuttled back out to take my money and returned to the darkened interior of the bar to watch the game.
I sat outside in the sunshine and collected myself and phoned my ever supportive husband who was back in Dublin supervising the buying of Lego with our daughter. I had a good whinge about how hard the ride was and that it was taking me ages to get round. I still had 100km to go and it was 2:00pm. I struggled back onto the bike and rode on to the next control at Carnew where I had another icecream, a Feast, the poor man’s Magnum.
After Carnew the road seemed strangely familiar, I eventually realised that I’d ridden it in the opposite direction and I was now descending what I would usually climb on the Ardattin 200. The day was still hot but clouding over and I could see rain over the Wicklow Gap. The route circumnavigates Croghan mountain and you know that you will be climbing again soon.
The final information control was in Ballycoog where another audaxer caught up with me and I had company for the first time that day. We descended at speed into Arklow and I finally began to think that I might get back earlier to the finish, this thought spurred me on and I finally found some speed in my legs.
The thought that I only had 40km to go pushed me up the coast road through Newcastle and Greystones. Even the Windgates climb out of Greystones couldn’t stop me now. Descending Bray Head was a relief and I rolled into the club house at 8:10pm to be met by the organiser with a camera! I had completed the longest ride ever in my life and I actually felt ok.
It was tough, hot, plenty of climbing and I rode most of the second day solo. I have often thought that after a big ride that if I had to go out the next day and ride again I could and now I know I can.