So this year, I made it a goal. I would do a long bike ride and then hopefully be well trained to climb this beast.
I'd been watching the weather forecasts for several days, trying to time it to have the best weather. Of course, the weather forecasts are painfully inaccurate here, so it really was going to be a crap shoot.
I arrived in Buncrana the night before rather later than I'd hoped. I missed an earlier ferry by mere minutes, and had to wait an hour and a half to get the last ferry across. I found a B&B after a few tries and was warned to not waste time if I wanted dinner, since nearby places were about to close. I didn't have to be told twice. I dumped my bag and ran across the street in my cycling gear.
As I looked at maps trying to decide the best way to go, my waitress noticed and said her husband had cycled it a few times. She checked with him on the best way up and gave me directions.
I'd built it up so much that I barely slept. It was like the night before Mt. Washington!
The next morning dawned bright and sunny, but the breeze was coming from the north. Ah a nice headwind!
I headed out to Dunree and took in the sights there before turning onto the tiny steep road out of town. There are actually several ways to approach the climb, all coming together a mile or so from the top.
At some point a car passed me and a few minutes later, I heard a farmer telling the driver to just keep going up and turn left at the end, then to take care on the very steep twisty descent.
Wait what, the descent is twisty. So I'm going up the straight, ski jump side? Of course in all the discussions about the climb, I'd never asked John whether to approach it from the north or south.
I reached the T and turned left, and there is was a very straight, very steep climb up to a narrow opening. I kept my head down and my breathing under control. A few cars pass. The road is narrow and I fear one might come close and cause me to stop. I'm certain I won't be able to restart if that happens, so I just keep hoping that the drivers will be kind and leave me space.
There is it, the top. Except it is still 5 minutes away. Keep breathing. Keep going. Keep on the bike.
And then I'm done
I sent a text off to John and another to a friend who lives nearby. John replies congratulations. My friend says I did it from the wrong side!
I start down and then make my way out to Malin Head. I had an amazing day for it. Clear and sunny and almost calm.
So I did it. Of course now I have to go back and do the other side, but not tomorrow and not on this trip. But I did get here well before I thought I would so now I have to think about where to go next. Stay tuned...