White Water Cycling
Submitted by: Alan Tees
White Water Cycling
Here is a new sport to add to the Colmcille Climbers’ repertoire, to add to sea stacking, cornice diving, ledge huddling, bone fracturing etc. (What would the mountain rescue do without us?)
Conditions were exceptionally promising for the inaugural event, torrential rain on saturated ground, and Finbarr was optimistic that we would have a memorable day.
Malin Head was the venue, and the rain hammered down on us, as we cycled along the flooded road from Mullins shop Gr436561, East towards Glengad, before turning left at Gr451548 ,climbing gradually, and leaving the tarmac behind us at a gate. A further turn left opposite a sheep pen took us onto a Grade 1 white water track, and, as it started to flow downwards towards the sea, we turned left again up the hill, into a cascade of Grade 111 white water( and Gr 1 Aggregate) leading upwards to the top of Crockalough.
This track/watercourse bypasses the air traffic control dome, descends into Lough Crocka ( the Lake Titicaca of Inishowen), re emerging, to drop steeply down the other side of the hill. This is where I discovered that both sets of brakes had ceased to function, not even slowing me down! As I shot past Finbarr, hanging on for dear life, I made him aware of my predicament, and he suggested stopping at the next bend to fix them. That wasn’t an option! Getting off wasn’t an option either, as the gravitational pull of a couple of quarts of recycled Atlantic had relocated the crotch of my Troll bottoms to just below knee level, and I couldn’t get my leg over the bar.
About 3 miles further down, I re-entered warp factor 2 (having overshot the next turning by about a mile) and finally stopped. The brakes being fixed, we retraced our steps, turned left at Gr448566, climbed back over a col, kept right, then left, then left again, descending to enter the lower reaches of the Nile at Gr450577. Not the White Nile you understand, nor indeed the Blue Nile, this was the brown Nile, the water being a mixture of bog “Run-Off” and pig slurry washed out of the pig farm just above the road. Finbarr watched with interest then some hilarity, as I slalomed down through the current, knees pumping up an unhealthy foam, re emerging triumphant into shallower water, just before the front wheel went into a hole, the bike stopped, and I aquaplaned inelegantly down the roadway on my Paramo buoyancy aid. Nothing broken, we continued coasting along the flooded roads to Bamba’s Crown Gr398597, from where a Grade 1V waterfall descent took us down to the coastal footpath, and along the clifftop, past Skildren Mor, and down to the track leading back from the Devil’s Bridge Gr383590.
Rejoining the roadway at Gr396592, we continued around the Malin Loop to the Crossroads Inn, turning right at Gr421575 into the Keenagh River, which had happily diverted along the roadway to the sea. Higher ground was eventually gained, and we followed the road to Gr434554 where we turned left, and back up the hill to Finbarrs van. Bambas Loop 3.5 hours!
20 Nov 2009
Not prepared to wait for me to prepare a 'Donegal Cycling Guide' were you?