Perhaps ominously, I didn’t hear rain last night, but the weather that I had been eluding all week finally caught up with me today. I had a stonking breakfast of fresh fruit, porridge and scrambled egg with salmon to prepare me, and was on the road by 9.15. I had my wet weather gear on from the start, and was very glad of the rain jacket, which previously I had spurned for being uncomfortable.
There was no view to see, so I just put my head down and ate the miles up as quickly as I could. 25 wet miles saw me in Letterkenny, by which time even Kevin was beginning to admit that the weather could be described as moist. Talking of whom, I feel that he, too has been on a journey this week, a journey to that of a true soigneur, or carer. This was apparent when he pulled up as I was sheltering at a petrol station on the outskirts of Letterkenny, and produced a tubigrip bandage, which he had bought for my right achilles tendon, which had been swollen since Wednesday. Later on, he could not disguise the concern in his voice as he asked me whether I was getting cold or not. The transformation has begun. He can now only blossom further…
I got a lift in my spirits when the rain stopped as I left Letterkenny, and they were raised further when I saw my first sign to Malin Head, 73 km away. The pause in the rain was short-lived, however, and 10 miles further on I was treated to the heaviest downpour of the day. On the plus side, I didn’t need to get my water bottle to drink as the water was running down my face, and my hayfever wasn’t bothering me at all.
In Buncrana, I said to Kevin that I felt like pressing on to Carndonagh for lunch, but when I got there, after a great fast section over bogland, it was not actually raining, so I decided to take advantage of the dry spell and press on. The dry spell lasted to the outskirts of the town, and then the rain began again.
With so short a distance left to complete the trip, it wasn’t worth stopping in Malin, so I pressed on to my destination. Not far outside the town it felt as though I was cycling through treacle. The wind, which had been so kind through the rest of the trip, now buffeted my as it turned to blow from the west, sapping my strength. The road signs, too, seemed to have been put up in a random order, with 14km to go appearing on at least three signs spaced apart by far more than a kilometre. My energy levels plummeted, and I had to stop for an energy gel, which thankfully kicked in half way up a steep hill.
For most of today I had been wondering whether or not I would be able to see Malin Head, or whether the journey would end as it began, in mist. As each shower came and went, I would change my mind. After a final push over the headland, I saw the met office station, turned the corner, and there it was, Malin Head, visible!
I would like to say that I breezed over the finish line, but it would be closer to say that I wheezed over it! There are a couple of short steep final sections of road to the tower on Banba’s Crown, and I was in my lowest gear getting up them. I did manage a final ‘sprint’ over the line, raising my arms as I crossed at 2.15, and completed the first half of my Making Ends Meet challenge, covering 76 miles in just under four and a half hours of cycling.
Statistics for day 4
Distance: 75.9 miles
No. of dry miles: < 20
Feet climbed: 1995
SPF of cream applied: 20
SPF of cream needed: 0