Thursday, July 16, 2009

Twelve miles on a summer's night: and drinking in reverse

This is the circuit James (offspring, now 18) and I used to ride regularly. He can do it in 55 minutes, counter-clockwise, which entails an immediate climb up the debilitating Clavie. It took me an hour and five minutes tonight, clockwise. That's mostly slow climbs with a few mild descents and two punishing hills to the top of the Clavie, and then a 42 mph swoosh towards home. James rides a Revolution racer with a carbon fork and 14-speed racing gears. My Orbit tourer has better granny gears for old men climbing hills

I did the ride alone, though James would have come with me. I wanted to find out if (a) I would die, or (b) have to stop, embarrassingly exhausted. Neither happened.

The route is: Hillswick, Urafirth, towards Heylor, turning right towards what's called Voe, along the shores of Ronas Voe, Shetland's fjord. You turn right onto the A970, then right again onto the road back to Hillswick. This last section has the two nasty climbs and then the decsent down the Clavie

It was painful, but generally good. And the aftermath, as ever, all cups of tea and the sense of having worked off that over-indulgence in curry, feels great. It's like drinking in reverse. You get the painful hangover first, then the relaxing glow.

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