Borris Viaduct

Borris Viaduct
Borris ViaDuct

Monday, 22 April 2013

The Great Descent - A Touring Adventure with JJ Digby Party II

So, the plan was to go for a pannier-less cycle on the Monday with JJ. I had fixed my tube and bike was ready for some more cycling - I'm not exactly sure I was! My legs were pretty worn out from the big cycle . I didn't really think about it when I was just trying to get through the distance, but I had cycled 60km on a tire that was at max 50% pressure. Crazy!!

JJ met me at mine in the morning - for a change we had no idea of route, just started with the plan that it would be nice to cycle to Jerpoint Abbey, an impressive monastic ruin just outside 10km away. It was something I'd only ever passed by in car, and as was always curious to drop in and have a look!

The bike felt great without the weight of pannier bags, and with restored pressure in the back tire. The backroads were pretty pleasant to Thomastown, and while it was nice to have a walk around Jerpoint Abbey, I think we both just wanted to get back on the bikes again. After stopping for some lunch by the river in Thomastown, we decided, instead of returning on ourselves we would go on to Graiguenamanagh, and then proceed home from there, along the same route we had finished our journey 2 days previously.

The road out of Thomastown was fine - a bit draggy and slowly winding uphill. Probably wouldn't have been entirely enjoyable lugging our panniers along on this stretch, but it was fine for just rolling along and chatting. This continued for about 5 - 10km, just cycling for the sake of cycling, until we reached our final approach to Graig.

As we came over the crest of the hill, a spectacular view to Graig in the Barrow valley opened up in front of us, with the Leinster Mountains a prominent backdrop. We were rolling into it now and starting to pick up speed. This road was fantastic - it was narrow enough to get an impression of speed, but wide enough to feel safe. The descent was not too severe so we were always in control, but were comfortably bombing it down at about 60km/h without much effort, and all the while taking in the dramatic views on the way. There were some bends in the road too, but the visibility was such that we know we could really go for it, with no real surprises along the way. What was really great was that normally, these kind of descents are just brief experiences followed by a hill. The road just kept going for about 8- 10km, which made for about 10 minutes of pure exhilaration. It's probably one of my favourite descents that I'd cycled to date - I've only cycled it once, but looking forward to doing it again soon!

After stopping briefly at a garage for some refreshments and recounting our experience of that great stretch, we went about returning home along the familiar route we had only be along 2 days previously/

Although it was still obvious that this road went on and on uphill for quite some time, the experience today was SO different. With pressure in the tires and no weight on the bike (apart from my fat arse), it was actually quite enjoyable, and in the right gear it was very manageable altogether. After stopping briefly to take in the view of St. Mullins, we headed over the little hill to JJ's, racing down the other side. We parted company and I took the nice descent back to Inistioge - invigorated, even the intense climb back up to my house was no problem really. I checked the computer on the bike. 50km done, not a bother on us.

We would decide later in the evening whether we would cycle back to Dublin the following day. For all my enjoyment of today, I was still concerned about this. I didn't think my legs were fully recovered from the cycle down, and I knew the cycle back was going be predominantly uphill, plus we would have our panniers again. Either way we were going to be in for a few surprises....