Ride: Omagh, Northern Ireland to Enniskillen, Northern Ireland
Distance: 50.1 km
Terrain: This ride wasn't long by any stretch, but annoying nonetheless, as it was stacked end-to-end with drumlins which we had just about had enough of. There were also parts of the "road" that Google Maps claimed were bike paths, but turned out to be nothing more than dirt tracks for farmers. We stopped and started so many times, sometimes because we ran out of road, others out of sheer frustration. The scenery was nothing to get excited about, either. All in all we were glad to get it done.
We were up bright and early, making sure to leave enough time to enjoy our full Ulster fry, which by this point had become a mandatory start to the day. Compared to yesterday's iffy weather, this was looking pretty good – the sun was shining, the sky was clear, and we were delighted at the prospect of a cloudless day's ride. Toasting to our good fortune, we clinked our tea cups and tucked into our potato farls.
After packing our bags and saying our goodbyes, we hit the road. We'd barely pushed off the B&B property when Jess started to feel the back wheel wobble as if it was coming loose. Then, she heard the scraping of the tire against the asphalt and knew what had befallen us.
"I think we've got a flat."
We got off and rolled the bike back onto the driveway. The owner's husband came out and asked if we needed assistance, but this was an easy fix, save for the faffing we had to do around the rear cassette and derailleur. Unfortunately, in our haste to get on the road, we ended up carelessly ripping our oft-patched inner tube beyond repair. So we had to spend a bit more time digging through our bags to find our spares.
A man in a Land Rover stopped at the end of the driveway and honked his horn. Out here in the countryside, you never seem to be too far away from a helping hand, and despite our waving him off and saying we were fine, he insisted on pulling in and making sure we were indeed all right. Turns out he was the neighbourhood handyman and a keen cyclist himself, so he had a proper track pump in his garage three doors down. Thanks to his help, we were on our way in no time.
They say that when you get a flat tire, your next one isn't too far away. And so it proved. We had barely scratched the surface of our 50-kilometre day when the back wheel went flat again. This time, it happened during a slight descent on a busy road, which made coming to a safe stop rather hairier. We were lucky enough to find a safe place to stop in front of one of Northern Ireland's innumerable churches. It was also at that exact moment that it started to rain.
With no help, this time it was a lot fiddlier and took longer. We succeeded eventually, but were left with no more viable inner tubes, as both our remaining spares were in need of patches. Tempers were flaring somewhat as we set off for the third time that morning.
It hadn't been the best start, and as the day went on, we found that it only got worse. This was supposed to be one of our "easier" days, meaning relatively few climbs, short distances, and a downhill at the end all the way into Enniskillen.
But it seemed as if the drumlins just wouldn't let up, and we were so sick and tired of the endless cycle of dismounting, pushing up a hill, remounting, descending. The immortal words "Whose idea was this anyway?" were uttered as we crested a hill, only to be greeted with another for the thousandth time. Why didn't we just go to the beach for our holidays like everyone else?
Our mid-point lunchtime stop was the one-horse, two-supermarket town of Trillick, where we enjoyed sandwiches and a cold Scotch egg and sat out the downpour as it trickled down to a mizzle. We were only one hour away from our destination of Enniskillen, and finally, it was downhill all the way.