Ride: Derry, Northern Ireland to Omagh, Northern Ireland
Distance: 51.8 km to the Ulster American Folk Museum, which is only 3 kilometres away from Omagh city centre.
Terrain: Pretty flat at first as the road follows the course of the river, but once you turn inland, it's drumlin time once again. These ones didn't feel so bad to us, but maybe that's because we're getting stronger. All in all, a short and gentle ride.
Leaving Derry was pleasant enough, as all we had to do was go down the hill that we had struggled up two days prior. From there, we were on the main A5 road for several relatively flat kilometres, and were already moving along nicely. It had rained during the night, and everything was covered in a beautiful foggy mist, which made the scenery around us look like something out of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. Unfortunately, the pastoral tranquility was somewhat ruined by the innumerable trucks rolling past us, and we were relieved when we spotted the bike path onto the B48, a back road that would lead us to our teatime pit stop in Strabane.
Everything was so lush and green. With the loud highway finally behind us, we were able to settle in for the long haul and breathe in deeply as the rolling hills passed us by. It was a stunning view from where we pedalled. The air was crisp, still, and dreamy.
And then, inevitably, it started to rain. At first, it was nothing more than a mizzle, spraying us every so often depending on the direction we were going. But minutes later, it lashed down angrily, as if to taunt us for being stupid enough to cycle through this country. Our clothes were soaked through by the time we got to Strabane, and the owner of the greasy spoon we holed ourselves in came to our rescue with buns* and mugs of hot tea. Neil changed clothes completely, hoping that getting out of the wet gear would mean he didn't down with the dreaded lurgy which had struck Jess.
Half an hour outside Strabane, the rain subsided and pretty much stayed that way until Omagh. We took back roads the whole time and followed the 92 route for most of it. Surprisingly, the climbing wasn't terrible, which is usually an indication that we've finally found our rhythm and are getting stronger. With the exception of cows bellowing every so often, we were completely alone in the countryside, and the whirring of our pedals allowed us to fall into a meditative state. After a few tough stretches over the last few days, we were really enjoying this session, and were just a little bit sad that the ride ended so soon.
It was about 2 PM when we reached the Ulster American Folk Park, just north of Omagh town, and a short ride from our bed and breakfast for the evening. As Ulster-American folk ourselves, we couldn't pass up the chance to visit here. We had plenty of time to look around, so we pulled up in the near-empty car park and changed into our civvies. That was this day's ride done.
*Buns - also known as muffins in the rest of the world.