Friday, 29 April 2016

Day 6. Donegal to Sligo

Well today started with frozen snow on the car leaving our homestay. It was a bitter morning with snow on the mountains visible around Donegal town.
Seamus brought myself and john in to the start.
Getting out of the car , I opened the boot to take out my bag and as I reached in, the boot lid came down and I head butted the lid! Nearly took my nose of! Pumping blood and seeing stars for a few minutes, I gathered myself to the medics for treatment. Hugh concern among the cyclists when they saw my face.
I had great fun telling them about 'the other guy' and how I lost it with a bike Marshall. Good stuff!
Met Mary again , my host from 2 years ago and her brother and it's like I have a special bond with them. I vow to stay with Mary next time I come. I would like that.
There is a special tribute for Brenan before we leave and it's very moving.
Heading out for Sligo , the sun is shining, we have no sign of rain and we have a tail wind. Cycling doesn't get much better than this.
The roll to bondoran is such a gentle roll, in the sun, the mood is buoyant and positive. So unlike what these last few days have been.
Into Bundoran and lunch is just lovely.
After our presentation we are heading the 50km to Sligo town.
Unbelievable scenery and cycling through and around Ben Bulben is just magnificent. Great cycling country.
We roll into Sligo to a great welcome, given its Friday of a bank holiday weekend. There is a great turnout.
Catherine arrives, my home stayer. And she is lovely.
We are dining in her sister in laws house with 6 other cyclists and the night is sooo wonderful.
Meeting other cyclists with 'their clothes on' is great for the evening.
Chat and wine till late.
Finally got my nails done!

Thursday, 28 April 2016

Day 5 Stranorlar to Donegal town

Woke this morning to heavy rain. Had a lovely breakfast of fresh scrambled eggs, from their own chickens, delicious. Nice chat over breakfast then off to the start in Stranorlar.
Somehow the weather isn't bothering me as its not as cold as it was. A north west wind is still blowing away but we will deal with that later.
There is a real buzz about the college this is is a massive college and there is all sorts of stuff going. I find a quiet spot to sort myself , get all my gear sorted. My focus is riding the bike so everything is geared to that. Making sure I have the right stuff in the right bag. Make sure I can change into dry clothes at the lunch break. Chargers , cables, food , water. All has to be right before I hand over my bags to the drop lorries. Mistakes can be costly. Gotta keep my runners cause the schools don't allow cleats in the assembly hall. They are no good for dancing in anyway. There are so many students here that they have to relay the presentation to a different hall.
Heading to the bikes for the off, it's now threatening rain. I think we will have all sorts today.
We get a magnificent send off with all the students lining the road. And right through the town of Stranorlar and Ballybofey a huge number of locals are out to send us off.
Told by some Donegal cyclists that road to Glenties is flat but road from Glenties to Donegal has a few nasty hills. Liar liar, pants on fire!
Soon into a fierce head wind and it's all like "Sally gap type  "mountain top, open road.
Then we are hit by our first hail shower of the day. Group is together so there is an amount of shelter. But then the road rises and snow comes next. Heavy enough to make it nasty. Group is splitting now . Gail is full on . And suddenly everyone is struggling.
20 km before we get a break at the sos beag. They have laid on tea and coffee and cakes for us. I am so glad to get under cover and recoup the energy. Not looking forward to the rest of the day.
Found out later that they were on the verge of abandoning the trip when suddenly there was an improvement.
Glenties to Donegal was a great trip. We changed direction to south and wind came behind us. Blew us all the way to Donegal.
Arriving in Donegal we heard a teenager had taken his own life in the town only yesterday. And as a mark of respect we were quiet entering the town . No whistles or horns or cheering and we walked the last 100 meters to the college.
This was always going to be a difficult time for us arriving in Donegal cause last time we left here it was under the cloud of Bredan's death.
First person I met was Mary who had hosted me last time. I was sooo glad to see her. She is a granny now. We had a lovely few minutes together.
Found one of my friends who was caught up in the emotion of being here and I sat a while with him.
Hosted now out in Charlestown and glad to get in and showered. After a nice hot dinner, a few glasses of red and a nice chat over the dinner table. It's bed for me.
Heading south tomorrow to Sligo. So if God is good we should have that South Westerly to take us there.
Head down now for sleep time.

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Day 4 Cookstown to Stranorlar

Woke up this morning in Draperstown in the middle of the beautiful Sperrin mountains in South Derry. Last night when I was being driven here by my host family Caroline, it was sleeting quite heavily and very cold. There was a white dusting on the mountains and we were feeling it for the sheep. Had a lovely dinner and after a good chat tiredness got the better of me and I slipped off  to the bed. Sorted today's kit. What to wear is becoming very important. Forecast is not good . Think I'll layer up with everything in the bag.
It's 7 am there is some blue sky out there. So maybe they don't always get it right. Better get up, breakfast awaits. Chat later.

Day 3 Monaghan to Cookstown

There was terrible foreboding for the day ahead. They said we were in for some really bad weather. So it was with an air of foreboding that we left Monaghan town. We had a great presentation in Macartans College and the students loved it and gave us a massive send off from the college.
The sun was shining and if you stayed out of the bitterly cold wind it was quite pleasant. Leaving in lovely sunshine we headed for the border. A nice trip through Glaslough and into Armagh. The good weather was holding as we battled a strong cross wind. I'm no light weight and even I was finding it hard to hold the bike in some of the gusts. Ominous clouds overhead seemed to be moving aside for us and we were clear. Stopping in Armagh for a break we were told we had just missed a snow shower. Lunch was in Portadown and it was still sunny albeit a strong westerly wind. After lunch we were turned straight into it and the next 40 k was battling a viscous headwind. On the lookout for a big behind to tuck in at the back off. Sometimes it was mine they were tucking in behind. Some of the less experienced cyclists were being pushed hard to maintain momentum. Was surely a case of Shoulder to Shoulder.. Cookstown came just in time and even though we were over an hour late getting in, my home stay Caroline was waiting and took myself and another speedily off to her home for a welcome shower and a lovely chicken dinner followed by apple tart and custard, a chat and a warm bed for the night. Generosity abounds.

Day 1 Dublin to Virginia

Day 1 of my blog ended with a complete mess up. Spent ages writing it on my phone only to lose it by not saving it.
I will resurrect it late if I can.
Day started leaving the Aras and on to the papal cross then across Dublin City to the cavan road that would take us, slowly,to Virginia. It was a nice day and a nice trip with sos beags and a lunch stop in Kells. My homestay was at the Rectory in Virginia after some slow progress. It's was very slow on the road with a lot of students on the leg, the lead car hasn't settled into any kind of rhythms yet. Accommodation was a bit Spartan.  In a bunk bed room with 2 other guys. One a snorer and between him and my legs cramping all night, not a good night.
Hearty breakfast next morning made up for it. Onto the Paddy Wagon and back to Virginia for the start of Day 2
Talk later.
I'll sort blog when I get a chance

Saturday, 23 April 2016

Last training day

These are some of the girls from St Mary's with their teachers and others in Failte , on their last training day with us before Roscrea.

Preparation day!

Got to get all the ducks in a row today. No point in remembering next week when I'm spinning around Ulster "oh god! Forgot to put the dog out" !
Spent the last few days putting all but the kitchen sink on the bed and whittling it down to bare essentials.
Dancing shoes ...gone! Tuxedo....gone!
2 sets this, 3 sets that, bum cream, sun cream (ever the optimist) various sticks and tins , spare this and that, some in day bag, some in night bag. Trying to cover all eventuality. From searing heat to snow blizzards! And we could get them all, so trying to pack in 2 little bags ,as you can appreciate , does concentrate the mind.
But I'm nearly ready. Won't close the bags up just yet though. Lot of mind changing to come yet......dancing shoes?........maybe!
Scrolled through the 50 weather channels I have on my phone . Scouring for favorable stuff. There is not much cheer around though. North easterly winds! Which way we headed? Yeah you guessed it.!
Colder in? Yeah you guessed it.... Ulster. Sun? ......noooo! Frost with possibility of winters showers? one!
But that's the Cycle against Suicide. That's what we have come to expect.

Since I wrote att the above I have been up and out for my last club spin. With the Failte Group. We had the girls from St Mary's who are coming to do the leg from Roscrea. Just giving them some experience of group riding and what to expect on the CAS. It was a beautiful day and there was a wish for something similar but unfortunately not to be. Weather set to worsen from tomorrow with all sorts being thrown at us. Onwards and upwards.
Took a fall off the bike at the end of the spin today. Bloody woman stopped on the main road to let someone out of a side road, guy behind her stopped and so did I.......right into the back of him. Got the brakes on but too late. Came down heavy on my shoulder and hip. Bit sore and swollen tonight and hopefully will be ok tomorrow.
All is packed now, gear left out, Lullabel is purring! Oiled and greased. Getting collected at 8am.
All is rockin...

Friday, 22 April 2016

Preparation for the 2016 Cycle against Suicide

Monday, 18 April 2016

One week before the start of the 2016 Cycle Against Suicide.

In a week from today I will be on my way to Cavan and Monaghan on Day 2 of the CAS 2016.
I woke early this morning and started to think about it all.
My enthusiasm has not been up there for it, these last few weeks. Don't know why that is. Been preoccupied with my shoulder and trying to get back fit for the summer cycles to come. And haven't factored in too much the CAS.
But had some good spins last week and the weekend and legs are beginning to seem as like they may be up for a challenge.
Had the girls from St Marys school out on the Failte Group training on Saturday. They are planning a leg themselves and we were pleased to assist. The residue from the reception we got coming into Naas on the opening day of the 2014 CAS is still resonating. Not only in Naas, but in the CAS 'community' where it is still a bench mark for receptions.
Anyway, when I could not sleep this morning, I dug out the old blogs and read a few of the days experiences, looked at a few photos and it wasn't long before I was able to say YES! Lets do this!
So this is a week of getting prepared, getting ready, getting organised, making lists. Preparing for weather that will most likely rain down on us, snow on us and freeze our cleats off. But we have been there before and we are made of strong stuff. We will keep going, like we always have, Shoulder to Shoulder!

 week before the start of the 2016 Cycle Against Suicide.

One week before the start of the 2016 Cycle Against Suicide.