I have always wanted to cycle the full length of this beautiful island but I was put off by the logistics and the organisation that goes into this type of a challenge. But when asked if I’d take part to raise money for the Irish Wheelchair rugby team, with all elements being organised including the lure of B&Bs and not having to camp and the chance to join with a group of about 20 riders, I happily accepted.
Training was a very relaxed affair, I aimed to get a long cycle most weekends building it up until I reached around 70 miles .I also used my short cycle to work which built up the miles well too.
The route can be varied but generally it’s close to a 400mile slog and with any luck as we would be going bottom to top we could prevail of the usual south westerly wind.
The route we were to travel would take us through Ireland’s finest scenery and had a varied and interesting itinerary
Day 1 – Mizen Head to Adare. 116 miles, 5173ft of climbing and passing through Dunmanaway and Dromcolliher.
Day 2 – Adare to Ballyhaunis. 107 miles, 3150ft of climbing, passing through Ennis and Tuam.
Day 3 – Ballyhaunis to Donegal Town. 83 miles, 2934ft of climbing and passing through Sligo and Bundoran.
Day 4 – Donegal Town to Malin head. 82 miles, 3340ft of climbing and passing through Ballybofey and Derry.
|The before picture looking very relaxed.|
I know I’m a boker if it’s hot, i accept that now. I realise if I’m out on the bike for over 3 hours and working hard I’d put money on boking after it. I’ve tried everything, but just resinged myself to it now. Anyone with any sense would stop putting their body through the trauma but not me.
I was determined to stay hydrated, keep my salt levels up and eat small amounts every 30 minutes on the bike. When we stopped I’d aim for a savoury snack and keep water and coke ( the legal one) on my bike. Even if I was sick I knew I’d be taking enough in to keep my systems ticking over.
We were enjoying an unseasonably hot end of May which resulted in Day one being fierce with the heat and sun
County Cork is beautiful with green fields and country roads, everyone waves and the pace of life is relaxed. I was feeling good and managing to eat with no retching so far.
It was a long day with my Strava clocking up a 7hr 40mins moving time. All looked great and I even managed a pint of Murphys in Adare. Then like a huge wave of the Atlantic sea I had the familiar nauseous feeling.
I forced some chicken pasta in at dinner and had a dyorolyte, an hour later I was picking the pasta out of the sink! Breakfast the next morning at the B&B was also a retching fight and then watching the others tucking into their scrambled eggs added to my bad place. I hate being sick in toilets and prefer to go to my hands and knees on grass to avoid splashback or in a sink.
|Selfie on day 1|
|Never shave your bikini line the day before cycling 388miles. Luckily I had the magic
sudo great with me.
I spoke to Dr Lynn who was able to give me an anti sickness tablet which meant I was able to eat again. I was feeling good so on day 3 moved back up to the fast group where I was able to get a 17mph average speed up. We considered stopping for a pint in Bundoran but moved on quickly and got caught in a massive rain storm that had most cars pulling in, not us, on we ploughed through the rain to the Abbey hotel and a hot port. The rain was a welcome relief and summer rain in Ireland always tastes nice.
|We visited lots of pubs at the end of the day’s cycle|
|Uná in the square at Ballyhaunis ready for day3|
I did myself proud and wore the same top and shorts all four days, I did have clean underwear and socks. The lads were all a great bunch and came from all over Ireland. They thought it funny I referred to Limerick as stab city and they all called me a Nordy.
|A typical snack.|
|The Foyle bridge is quare windy!|
The drivers on our brief visit to the North were noticeably less patient and didn’t give us the double toot on their horns to say hello which happened most of the time in the South. On the last day I was going great, then I hit the wind going over the Foyle bridge, the heat was a killer too.
Muff was a nauseous blur at Quigleys point I had to give myself a brief at the back of the minibus to wise up, get myself sorted and move on. I headed on up a long hill knowing the lads would catch me up. I was struggling in the sun but cycled on & passed about 50 tractors who all waved and smiled. I even managed a selfie with one.
|The driver was smiling.
I believe in a strong mind leads to a strong body. Keep the head right and the body will follow. It might put up a fight with sickness and soreness but it will do what you tell it.
Ireland, you are a truly beautiful place. Thankyou for allowing me to experience it with a great group of people and together we raised €12000 to help the players travel to Australia for the World championships.
|A pint in malin before the short cycle to malin head and the finish.|
Once we cycled to Malin Head I heard a howl from Cash my Beagle who obviously missed me. I had a great time and as a first long multi day cycle I think I did ok. Next up……who knows. Maybe i’ll do it from my house round Ireland and back up again.
|Dr Lynn who said it’d be great craic and
gave me the magic tablets.
|My team for most of the time except for day 2.|
|The Euphoric Mizen to Malin group.|
|Who can’t love that wee beagle face.|