It was a good day, and a not so good day

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As dit pap reen, moet jy skep

That’s an Afrikaans saying that means when something unusually generous comes your way, you must make use of the opportunity. Literally, it’s: “When it rains porridge, you must scoop it up.” And there should be an umlaut (I forget what the English word for it is, but that’s the German for it. In Afrikaans it’s called a deelteken) on the second e of the word ‘reen’.

I thought of this saying today when I headed toward Portadown along the Newry Canal Towpath. The wind was at my back, so I enjoyed the easy pedalling as much as I could, knowing I’d have to cycle right into that wind later, on the return journey.

I’d set out this morning having decided to just bite the bullet and do a 100km outing. It was a psychological thing I needed so as to really know I was back in my cycling routine, all the disturbance of this last year behind me. However, I didn’t want to overdo it and possibly injure myself, so I chose the exceptionally flat towpath to give me that mental thing I craved, without breaking my body.

Half of Ireland is under water at the moment, but here in Dundalk we have had no problems, in spite of the unusually heavy rain. However, cycling along the towpath I saw the effects of the higher rainfall clearly. The kind of ridge you see in the water, around the middle of the photo below, is the normal riverbank.

On this photo, the green ridge running parallel to the path is the normal riverbank.

Like I’ve mentioned, the wind was at my back, and I took full advantage of nature’s help to cover about 45km. I then stopped for lunch at Scarva, and decided to turn around there. The reason I didn’t do the whole 56km to Portadown was because I felt so good, and so fit, that I thought it might be nicer to head back and trail through the mountains a bit instead of following the nice but almost over-familiar route I’d first set out to do.

It’s hard to describe how eerie it was to cycle this part of the path. The fields on both sides were flooded, so you basically cycled along this elevated path with water on both sides. The photo doesn’t communicate quite how weird it looked.

Once I got back to Newry, I’d only covered about 65km. Going straight back home would be 25km, more or less, so I definitely needed to add some distance there to reach my goal for the day. I wanted to head back across the Windy Gap pass at first, but it’s a seriously hilly route for an unfit body. Then I thought perhaps I should just go for Flagstaff pass, which is shorter, but in all honesty it’s even steeper. I was worried about overexertion. Instead I opted to go around via O’Meath and Carlingford back to Dundalk. It would be about the right distance, and it’s a very flat route, so I could take it really easy and avoid injury, I thought.

I was about half way to O’Meath when I started becoming aware of the tendon in my upper right leg. That means it didn’t hurt, but it officially notified me that it was about to start hurting. I pedalled as easily and gently as I could, and I almost got away with it. Almost. By the time I got to Carlingford, it was nearly dark, and the tendon had not got any worse, as far as I could tell.

The last bit home was reasonably flat, so I just took it as easy as I could. In spite of that, I think I will need to go on anti-inflammatory drugs again, as it was hard to convince myself as I came into Dundalk that the tendon was still not quite hurting. Hopefully, because I will not have left it as long this time as I did last time the same bloody tendon gave me hassles, I won’t have to skip cycling next week.

And maybe even if I do have to rest, I can still go for a little run. It is, after all, a different kind of exercise, I’m sure it won’t affect the tendon if it’s hurt enough to put cycling off the menu for a week or two.

But yes, I will ask the doctor first, and I will be obedient if he says not to.

Bugger. Should have stuck to the original plan and just cycled to Portadown and back.

Distance: 109.2 km
Time (pedalling only, excludes stops): 6 hours 22 minutes
Time including stops: About 9 hours
Average speed: 17.1 km/h
Maximum speed: 54 km/h (down Newry hill)
Odometer: 5113.9 km


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