Saturday 4th July – Cork Airport: Our rendezvous point and the first time we got to find out who we would be spending the next week with. The bikes were already there on the van, having been picked up by Martyn from all over England earlier in the week and brought over on the ferry on Friday. We had a 2-hour mini-bus ride from the airport to Schull where we would spend the night before starting the cycle the next day, so had some time to get to know each other.
So…who do we have?
Ian: The “Elder Statesman” of the group, former teacher and Deputy Head from Northampton. A keen Brompton enthusiast, he is regularly to be found doing Brompton World Championship rides in a kilt on his fold-up cycle, but he also has a LEJOG (Land’s End to John O’Groats) under his belt and has been up Mont Ventoux (albeit on a Bianchi, not a Brompton!)
Kate: Trained chef, keen sailor and mother of 4, Kate has done one LEJOG and is due to cycle up Mont Ventoux in September – this is just going to be a gentle warm-up…
Colin: A wine merchant based in London, Colin is bringing down the average age of the group by several decades as he is accompanying his mum, Kate (above) on the ride this week.
Janet: Primary school teacher from Putney, South West London and a veteran of one LEJOG and one St Malo-Paris ride last summer. Janet was delighted to hear that the van will be able to supply the riders with regular cups of tea throughout the ride as she is slightly addicted and needs several cups to get started in the morning and to keep going throughout the day.
Peter & Richard: Mates from Ilminster in Somerset, who have known each other for years and cycle regularly together – they have done LEJOG twice. These two were able to regale us about the skill required to pour the perfect Guinness (although apparently it should be Murphy’s in this part of the world, as it brewed in Cork.)
John & Anne: Couple from Suffolk who are going to do the whole ride together on their tandem. We hope that they continue their intimate friendship until at the end of the ride…
Roger: IT Consultant from the City and keen cyclist, with LEJOG, St Malo-Nice and Workington to Tynemouth Coast to Coast rides under his belt. Roger formerly raced motorbikes but has transferred his enthusiasm to the human-powered version of 2-wheel transport about 10 years ago.
And of course, the ACT Team from Bury St Edmunds:
Kim: Our tour leader and guide, complete with stylish hair, dangly ear-rings and bright blue sparkly nails! With a ready laugh and a warm heart, she is going to get us from Mizen Head to Malin Head over the course of the next week.
Davy: Kim’s husband, a Northern Irishman who knows this part of the world very well and who has come along to be Kim’s wing-man and offer practical support as well as joining us every day on the ride.
Shaun: Shaun will be driving the van, carrying all our luggage, a spare bike, tools and various kit, as well as being there at all our pit-stops to provide tea and food!
We all had dinner together in the Bunratty Inn where much Guinness/Murphy’s was consumed (for its iron content, of course) and we were able to carb-load with the massive portions they provided. Some of us also set off to find some live music and succeeded in the hotel down the road with a local version of Ed Sheeran.
Walking home afterwards, we were amazed at how light it is until really late – at 10.20pm it was still broad daylight. This is presumably because of how far West we are at the moment – practically half way to America…