A day in Cork
So, everyone eventually arrived into Cork. Some early birds managed to have a good look around, while others had to be whisked away as soon as they landed. Skibbereen in County Cork, just 30 kms from Mizen Head is our resting place tonight. A good meal was had at “Annie Mays’ on the high street, but an early bed beckoned, ready for the first day of cycling tomorrow. Pin Head Ted was nearly fired from a canon (pictures to follow), but other than that a fairly uneventful day as people gather together to form the complete team by the end of the day. Food bought, last minute items purchased, and a final pint of Murphy’s to help us sleep! We’ve had a glorious day, with often the sun shining through. Tomorrow threatens to be a little different. Rain is in the forecast.
Shaun, Jen and Martyn with 11 bikes left Bury early Friday morning. Good journey over to Fishguard, where we met the Stena Europe. We were then alerted to a stowaway in the back of the van. Pin Head Ted was dragged out by his neck and interrogated. It turns out that Fiona had sent him, while she had the luxury of flying ! He soon started enjoying his ferry journey though, and wanted pictures of himself all over the ship. So Pin Head Ted has offered to be our mascot for the week, and help us raise funds. Be aware, that unless we raise the amounts we are looking for, PHT is likely to be thrown off Malin Head at the end of the ride ! So please be generous. Not only help the children in Africa, but save PHT’s life ! Sponsor St, Monicahs Sponsor Re-Wired
NOT LONG NOW!
Two days before the cycling begins! Ten riders, plus Shaun our driver, are all wondering what the Irish weather is going to do for us this coming week ! Is that Atlantic wind going to blow us up the country, or off our bikes ! Its just over 450 miles, 6 days cycling. Jen, Kim, Fi, Trevor, Keith, Roger, Jon, Craig, Kevin and Martyn, all raising funds for The Doxa Project which supports St Monicahs School in Nakuru, or Re-Wired, which equips African schools with computers, changing Nations, one school at a time ! If you can help by sponsoring us, please do click on the links below, which will take you to the fundraising pages :- St. Monicahs School Re-Wired
Monday, 2 June 2014
Killarney to Limerick (What a day !!!!!)
Day two started with a tentative pulling back of the bedroom curtains to evaluate the number of wet layer clothing we could have to don……… fortunately, although the sky was blanketed with a layer grey cloud it was dry……..for the time being. After a hearty full Irish breakfast (for those of you not familiar with a full Irish breakfast it is very similar to a full English breakfast just pronounced differently) we were ready to hit the road again, there were a few mechanical issues to take care of, Roger’s cleats and John’s gears but after the expert attention of Martyn and Trevor we were good to go.
We had layered up as, although dry, the temperature was a little chilly but barely 4 miles in we were stopping to remove layers. Pin Head Ted has his own bespoke rain poncho which, to the untrained eye, looked like an old duty free carrier bag but for those in the know was an avaunt guard little creation……….little did we know what laid ahead………. 6 miles in all was well, or so we thought, unfortunately Jen and Kim decided to kiss wheels leading to a rather dramatic and unscheduled 45 minute stop. The ambulance and A&E department of the local hospital at Tralee and was home to both of them for the next 5 hours but we are happy to say they both live to tell the tale (with significant scars to boot) With the support of Shaun and supplies gone (re-routed to A&E) the team stocked up on as much food as they could carry (or Craig could carry) and pushed on with the challenge.
We rode through County Limerick which, to quote Mr Ryan, had no significant hills but rather a lot of midges and some undiscovered bogs…..well they were undiscovered until Fiona discovered them and developed bog foot (we have quarantined her trainers !!) The midges proved challenging but the team were not going to let them spoil a wonderful ride with rolling scenery and even the hint of a blue sky in places.
Keith and Fiona managed to overtake a tractor (although he was slowing down to turn off the main road), Craig almost overtook said tractor but unfortunately the farmer had already turned off the main road before he could claim victory. 3 O’clock in the afternoon, supplies had been consumed and all the shops were shut as it was a Bank Holiday in Ireland……driven to desperation the team could only find solace in a local hostelry which didn’t sell food but sold Guinness, crisps, tea and peanuts…….vitality was restored and the army, once again, marched on their stomach.
The delay of two punctures was not going to stop the team from heading home to the walking wounded in the Boutique Hotel in the lovely Limerick (they actually wanted to make sure that the fuss Kim had made was genuine …….. jury still out on that!) Tired and weary but very elated, the team arrived at our home for the night greeted by Kim waving one of her two crutches (ever the drama queen) and was rewarded with a wonderful Chinese banquet and plenty of banter on events of the day. Being in Limerick we thought we should mark our stay with the following effort There once was a lady called Kim Who had a big gash on her shin She cried out like a cow Get that ambulance now So we covered her body with tin (well it was a foil blanket but that didn’t rhythm )
Tuesday, 3 June 2014
Day 3 – Limerick to Galway
Starting in the Unique Boutique hotel in Limerick, there was blue sky on opening the curtains so some of us foolishly applied sun cream which made it smell like holiday.
Once Kevin was installed on Kim’s bike and she had taken breakfast orders we were off, crossing the Shannon River in Limerick and whizzing passed the Castle to the first and only significant hill. It was on the ascent that the rain started. The down pour lasted for the whole of the descent the other side ! PHT was safely in his poncho but managed to get his trouser legs wet. Then the sun came out. And very soon the request miles had been down and after a slight wrong turn we found the van, pulled up outside Treaderry House, (Martin is claiming it as his ancesteral home.) Sean and Kim had set up the Gazebo and got the bacon sandwiches going – yummy scrummy. After some drying or changing of socks we were off again, we did see the Lord of the Manor- nice jogging bottoms!
We then dropped down through the Burren National Park, a Karsk landscape – a big area of rocky terrain with goats and amazing views.
We also saw Father Teds House, allegedly, No Mrs Doyle making us tea though.
We were quickly through Kinvarra and dropped down to the side of an estuary – very picturesque. The van was a welcome sight, the picnic blanket and picnic of sandwiches, humus, carrot sticks and scones, jam and cream was soon devoured.
In short order we were heading into Galway, going passed several nice big houses, not so many Dogs running loose or trying to bite us. The Bay was a bit smelly and the rush hour traffic made finding the Hostel interesting. Then we were off to a restaurant for “the best meal we have had in Ireland” well we got a free Guinness and the Waiter was dishy!
Long day tomorrow, but with no significant hills, so it is off to bed early, although we are all a little apprehensive of the Bunk beds.
Star Date – 0+3 A great day by the troops. It seemed everyone ‘got into the Groove’ today. Rode well as a group. No punctures. Warp speed not attained, but a good steady rate meant that even though a late start we arrived in Galway at a decent time. Well done to everyone.
Wednesday, 4 June 2014
Day 4 – Galway to Swinford
Hi PHT here, everyone is soooo tired from their mammoth 90 mile ride that they have asked me to start it off. I have actually been working on a Limerick and I know that was a couple of days ago but I do not really have enough stuffing in my head!! Also it is all about me. There is a bear called Pin Head Ted And from the front of the Tour, has easily led He looks a cool honcho In his home made Poncho And is suprisingly well read! Get off the key board Pinny…
We started from the Galway Hostel in sunshine and took the N59, quite a busy road, mind that Bus. But it was a way to get a quick 30 ish miles out the way, the highlight was turning out of the head wind (not) to rendevous with Shaun and Kims Cafe.
Jen who returned to the Tour yesterday won the ladies sprint to the van.
Then we off again, going around the Mountain where possible, we then started to climb, sheep became a possible obstacle to avoid as well. At the top the views were spectacular and there were several photo stops. We began to drop down and were cycling along the edge of Mask Loch, the second stop came round very quickly with cheese and ham baguette and scones, cream and jam. As we were going so far today we were to have a third stop so we set off again towards Ballintubber. Some where near Clogher they were resurfacing the road, (insert your own Irish Tramaccing joke here)and the route we were going to take was closed. After a couple of turning rounds, we asked for directions and found ourselves in a Peat Bog. We retraced our steps and eventually found Kiltamagh. Shaun and Kim were set up just outside the village and we were treated to SJ s Banana bread with Irish topping- Tayto and Apricot and nut bread with no Apricots! very welcome. It set us up for the last push to Swinford, which finished in the rain. However we soon arrived into welcoming arms of Cloonlara lodge.. Beautiful dinner, thank you so much, Catherine and Eamonn.
A brilliant day.Through the mountains we just stopped again and again for so many mouth watering views. Kims absence from the bike has been our blessing at stops. Sausages, cream teas etc. etc. Shaun says ….. don’t expect them on every trip !!! This has to be one of the most spectacular days I’ve ever cycled through. I wondered as we trekked up the busy N59, was this the right decision, but once we turned off this road, we were not disappointed. It was wonderful. SO beautiful, and the weather on the whole has been good. Already 4 days gone. It seems to be speeding by. Whats so amazing is how everyone is thinking of tomorrow as an easy day, only 77 miles ! (Approx. assuming no diversions)
Thursday, 5 June 2014
Day 5 – Swinford to Donegal
After a fabulous breakfast and the first potato cake of the trip the intrepid 9 where ready for their penultimate ride. The first 25 miles was all down hill…….apparently, although some were beginning to doubt the definition of downhill. Through one village we did witness the Irish hedge trimming team at work, how many Irish men does it take to trim a hedge…..5 apparently, to be fair there was two tractors but the other 3 deemed it necessary to wave flags, perhaps this was for encouragement.
Soon, we were pulling into Shaun and Kim’s grotto cafe with the smell of bacon and tea coming as a welcomed greeting. It appeared that Kim had had far too much spare time on her hands whilst waiting for our arrival and had fashioned a very unique Washing Up bowl stand and a lovely mug tree (quite literally a mug tree)………Bear Grylls would have been proud!
After a short refuel we were off again and destined for Sligo……..WB Yeates country. The one way system in the town centre seems very proficient, that’s about as much as we can say about Sligo. We then headed out to the Dartry Mountain range. This took us past the gravestone of Yeates, unfortunately we didn’t have time to stop but, if we had we would have read the following inscription on his tombstone Cast a cold eye On life, on death. Horseman, pass by! ………. Its not only Horseman that have to pass by, its cyclists too!
We were fortunate enough to then travel around Benbulben, we were all very relived that there was no requirement to cycle over it. We took advantage of a photo opportunity, see attached, and then carried on to our next stop. Locating the tuck was slightly more challenging than usual but we eventually arrived and was greeted by a lovely cream tea spread complete with flowers (did we mention that Kim had far too much time on her hands!)
It was then a short dash of 12 miles to our third scheduled stop, this stop generated a great deal of excitement from the team as the planned stop was at the world famous Smugglers Creek Inn. The views of Rossnowlagh beach was breathtaking and the glass of Guinness just topped things off. Just when we thought things couldn’t get any better homemade chocolate and banana cake and oaty flapjack was produced, lovingly supplied by SJ (with us in spirit alas not in person). Finally we were on the last leg, a short 12 mile dash to our home for the night, the Ardlenagh View. Martyn had failed to alert us to the significant drive to the B&B which would probably ranked as a one of the steepest climbs of the day although he maintained that is was not significant. After a quick wash and brush up we headed for Donegal town for a wonderful nosebag as the highly recommended Harbour Restaurant (thanks Davy), a wonderful dinner and a great end to the penultimate day.
Another great day. Mostly sunshine, with the odd drop of rain. No dramatic scenery, but just a very green, beautiful land, full of bogs, sedge fields, quiet country roads and friendly people. So many wild irishes and fuchias in the fields and hedgerows. Ireland is lovely, and the guinness is delightful !!
Saturday, 7 June 2014
Final Day – Donegal to Malin Head !
The last day!! And it was sunny.
After a fabulous breakfast with Eileen at Ardelagh view, rather than killing ourselves on the drive we walked down to the main road.
We were whizzing along until Craig had a mechanical disaster and the some of the frame had sheared off and it was unrideable. Shaun and Kim, the fourth emergency service were called back and soon returned. Craig was then installed on Martyn’s spare bike.
We were soon on the N15. There was a beautiful if uphill section, so we spilt into 3 teams to get ourselves up the hill, it was hard work but worth it. Team Sky – Trevor, Craig and Fiona were first up, inspired by Wiggo. We dropped down into …. and after whizzing through the town, the van and gazebo were soon in sight. Kim had nearly sold our sausage sandwiches to a nearby lorry driver. Luckily she had not. We were soon off again and going through Raphone, we were very nearly distracted by a Horse but made it through to Saint Johnstone.
There was a few couple of miles where we were all in cycling zen speeding along. The second stop was a lovely spread of sandwiches and scones with jam and cream. There was one section across … was extremely hard going with a strong head wind and very up and down. Mallin Head was soon on the signs. The third stop was a bar in Mallin, the locals said the route to the Head was all down hill, but am not sure they were not jesting. The route to Mallin Head, started to climb. The weather seemed to close in a little. Soon we could see the end was in view. Shaun and Kim were there waving and hollering. However the last hill was a shocker. However they had a finishing line, medals and a big bottle of bubbly. Kevin led us in but went off at such a lick we had to rein him back. Then we were done. – Apart from cycling to the B&B.
Dinner was at the Seaview Tavern, a lovely meal with amazing awards Pin Head Ted won the Ian Botham award for his leadership and motivational skills.
A brilliant ride. Well done to everyone. VERY well done. All crew weary and tired, but all having been changed by their personal journey. We’ve all had a great time, but don’t lets forget the reason for doing it. Please do sponsor us, and show your support for the excellent effort everyone has made, and the very worthwhile causes we’ve been riding for. Please use the links below to help us raise funds. St Monicahs Re-Wired