Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Isle of Man

After killing Jayne on the Sunday, I killed myself on Monday.  Ian asked if I fancied a spin, he wasn’t feeling too good and didn’t want to do any big hills.  I decided to take my recently rebuilt Ribble.  I’m glad I did – 52 miles in three hours, big ring all the way out to Café de Lune, Scorton and back.  I was knackered.

Our 2nd annual trip to the Isle of Man was planned for Friday and Nic and Elizabeth had expressed a desire to ride out with Jayne and I earlier than the rest, to meet them at or on the way to Conder Green.  I rang Nic Thursday morning to confirm details and he said he was off in the afternoon did we fancy a ride. After a bit of humming and hawing, Jayne said yes and we headed of for a windy 25 miles out to St Anne’s, via the deli for some chorizo that they were cooking Friday night, and on to the Villa for a quick pint.

Friday morning we set out later than planned, Jayne and I on the tandem, Nic carrying most of Elizabeth’s gear and Elizabeth on her ancient but reliable Austrian MTB.

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We were caught up by the rest at Little Eccleston and headed out into the increasingly strong wind to the cafe.  Unfortunately it was closed til 12 for the Royal Wedding.  Then the proprietor came out and said she’d be open in 10 mins, so we waited.  And waited. IOM2011 007

Eventually we decided we should press on to the ferry just in case.  We stopped in Lancaster to grab comestibles then on to Heysham.  Once again first passengers on.  It was interesting and amusing to watch the ferry crew loading new cars destined for Isle of Man garages.  They flew on, not sure if I would ever buy a car over there after watching them.

The ferry crossing was the usual 4 hours of beer, food and boredom.IOM2011 008

Eventually, we got to the house on the island at about 7 and Nic and Elizabeth cooked up a fantastic Spanish dish of peppers tomatoes chorizo and poached eggs.  Washed down with plenty of wine, we were setup for day two of our trip.

Saturday dawned with clear blue skies, warm sun and 40mph winds.  It set the tone for the weekend.  We headed of on a circuitous route to Peel.  On the first steep climb, Jemima was dropped.  When she finally got to the top it was to heap abuse on her husband.  She couldn’t change into her small chainring.  After some joint faffing, we realised that the extra bottle cage Graham had fitted for the trip was stopping the front mech from moving far enough.  Removing it, we discovered another botch of Graham’s.  While fitting the bottle cage, he had cross threaded the bolt, breaking the boss and making it turn freely in the seat tube.  His only recourse had been to saw off the bolt head and secure the cage with glue!

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After that, we had a fairly easy drop down into Peel.  This is a small picturesque town with a large castle guarding the harbour.IOM2011 015

It was exceptionally windy, the tandem was blown over.  Some of us had fish and chips, others had locally caught and smoked mackerel sandwiches.  We also met up with a couple from Frodsham on Hewitt’s like Karl’s.  They recommended that we go to Niarbyl as it was quite pretty. 

They weren’t wrong.  It was at the end of a very steep hill though.

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You could just make out the coast of Ireland.  honest its in this picture.

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It was a slog back up to the main road.  And straight into the wind.  On the map there looked like a short cut, but it was not marked as a proper road and we weren’t sure we’d get through.  At the start of the road it was marked as a dead end, but there was a parking and picnic sign as well.  We gave it a try.  At first it was a narrow road into a steep sided valley, then it became a path, then singletrack and we started to worry.  However, after a mile or so it turned back to a narrow, roughly tarmacked road through the trees.  It was very pretty and sheltered from the wind.

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Soon though, it climbed back out if the head of the valley and into the full strength of the wind.  It was very hard work to get to the old lead mines at the top.

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From here we retraced our steps from the morning, only to be confronted by a closed road.  There was a junior cycle race on and the detour would take us miles out of our way.  We waited.  Ian began to fret over cooking the evenings meal, a moussaka.  Eventually the road was opened and we headed home.  It was a gruelling battle into the wind all the way.  Hills that seemed inconsequential that morning had us in the granny ring.  The faster guys headed off to get tea ready and we limped in behind.

Our reward for 40 miles of slog was buck fizz!

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Then lashings of wine and moussaka.  Followed by apple pie.

Sunday was once again sunny and windy.  The previous days effort were telling and Jamima decided not to ride, as did Nic and Elizabeth.  The ride out on Friday had been Elizabeth’s longest ride since childhood and she was concerned about getting home on the Monday.  Jayne and I also decided not to go with the main group, who decided to head out to the Calf of Man.  We thought a smaller trip round to Laxey and back might be a better bet.  On the map there looked to be a route from near the back of the house to a reservoir and then on to the Laxey road via a public byway.  When we got to the reservoir then route was a footpath.  We decided to give it a go anyway as it was only a mile to the byway.  We pushed some but road most of the way to the end of the path, only to be face with this on the byway.

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Not rideable at all.  I pushed for a further mile or so to the road, which fortunately had been relayed recently and was super smooth.

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The lumpy stuff in the distance isn’t all sea, some of it is the Lake District.

A fast drop took us to the edge of Laxey and an exceptionally steep descent into the town.  We only just managed to keep upright and brake had enough.  At the Laxey wheel we saw that as National Trust members we could get in for free.  Unfortunately our membership cards had expired the day before and we didn’t have our new ones.  So we headed down into town to look at the remains of the lead ore processing plant.

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It had its own wheel, all the mine workings and associated industry had been water powered as there was no natural coal on the island and few trees.  It was quite a pretty place for a former heavy industrial landscape.

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From there we headed down to Laxey Harbour where we met Nic and Elizabeth, who had come out by train.  They were heading up Snaefel on the railway, but stopped long enough for a pint and something to eat.

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Then it was home again on the rolling main road.  We had to walk the last steep bit.  Once back to the house we realised there was no wine or beer, so I borrowed Jemima’s bike and went down the steep hill into town.  Coming back up with 6 bottles of wine and 12 bottles of beer was hard work.

The others had been out to the Calf, but realising the time and the strength of the wind, got the steam train back to Douglas and stopped for a well earned pint.

By special request Jemima had made vegetarian chilli and a sort of Eaton mess, which was wolfed down with little ceremony.  We had to pack that night as we had an early start for the 8:45 ferry the next day.

Monday came too soon and at 6:45 we were dressed and breakfasting.  After tidying up, Karl and a few others headed into town to get us booked on the ferry.  we stayed and tried to stuff all the wine bottles into the recycling bin.  Eventually we all headed out to regroup at the ferry.  The uneventful crossing was punctuated by endless rolling news reports from Pakistan. 

We got back to England and finally got some benefit from the wind, getting tailwinds from Lancaster pretty much all the way home.  we tried several times to stop for ice cream but everywhere was really busy.  we had to press on as several people had long drives and train journeys to get home in time for work on Tuesday.

In all another great weekend of cycling and friendship.  Hopefully we can do it again next year.



Miles for week – 220

Total – 1835

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