170817-And I Have Touched The Sky

I woke to a brilliant sunny day, and a new plan. Instead of climbing the mountains fully-loaded, I would use here as a base camp and loop around one side of the island. While I intended clockwise, my neighbor recommended the reverse. So be it. At about 20 km per leg, I’d never be too terribly far from retreating back to camp if the weather turned.

Cycling unloaded still meant gear: toolkit, first aid kit, rain jacket, camera, and enough food for the day. 10 km of up followed by 10 km of down and I would be in Peel on the other side of the island.

The TT is a week-long annual motorcycle race on the Isle of Man. I cycled along part of the raceway on the way to Peel. The TT begins this weekend, and the preparations are intense. All of the telephone and light poles are encased in padded barriers. The quaint historic walls that line the roadways are now covered with padded barriers. Sections of barbed wire fencing are covered with bales of hay. I’m glad I’m on my way out as things kick off this upcoming weekend.

Peel Castle is one of the Heritage sites for the Isle of Man, and a wonderful place to visit. They now sell audio guides as small disposable devices (including headsets) for about $3, less than the usual larger rechargeable ones.

Afterwards I wandered about the coastline and town, before packing up and heading to Castletown (a promising name). That lead to 10 km of UP. While more likely to be an inaccurate sign, I climbed a 17% grade today. Still, cycling along the coastline, gaining elevation.

As I reached the apex of my journey I could see mist blowing across the road ahead, only to realize I’d climbed 300 m and the mist was clouds.

From there a rapid 10 km of down took me to Castletown and Rushen Castle, presented as one of the best preserved castles in the UK.

I found an open Wi-Fi access point in Castletown, and managed to reserve the ferry for Saturday, and two nights in an (expensive) Liverpool hostel, in preparation for the incoming hurricane. From there I’ll head south along the English coast.

Completing my loop, I headed back towards Douglas and my campsite. I had failed to consider that I would be headed back about 5 pm, on a highway connecting two of the largest cities on the Isle of Man, and the traffic was intense. Despite the delays caused by the more irregular surface, for  most of the ride back I stayed on the sidewalk!

As I approached the campground I thought I had almost made it back before the rain, but realized that the cloud cover had descended, and I was again climbing into the clouds.


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