Inaugural Dublin Galway Coast to Coast Leisure Cycle
Having previously participated in the Maracycle, The Wicklow 200 and The Tour De France stage around Wicklow, I decided to enter this cycle for a new challenge. It of course would be a good way to try and keep a reasonable level of fitness with the winter approaching and the annual battle to keep the spare tyre away. As is so often the case, well meaning training intentions go by the wayside. Four weeks beforehand I completed approx 85 miles with a view to getting in a least one 100 mile spin after that. An untimely chest infection resulted in a 2 week layoff from the bike. Hence plenty of rest before the cycle was the chosen preparation. Knowing that the course would be fairly flat also was a consideration.
So to the big day, on the Saturday morning of the 7th of September around 7.30.a.m. I along with approx 70/80 others arrived at Westmanstown. It was fairly dull out but dry. We set off in around 4 different groups. We used mainly back roads and yours truly was cycling alongside Phil Cassidy for the first 10 miles or so at the front of the group alarmingly noticing how high his pulse was. I was to pay for this effort later on. I decided after a regrouping that I would sit at my usual position near or at the back of the group.
We all had our first stop at Rhode for Tea, Coffee, Lucozade Sport and scones etc. Off again in our various groups chatting away as we clocked up the miles. There were cyclists men and women from all around the country represented with some of the Blazing saddles group also there. They had 2 tandems with of course the blind person on the back of each of them. You can only but admire the great courage shown by them. In fact so fit was the blind guy on the back of one of the tandems that on the return journey he was listening to a walkman for most of the day humming and singing away oblivious to the sore bodies around him. Our next stop was at Ballycumber a little before halfway where I myself was already dehydrated and starting to get a few twitch’s of cramp. This stop also had soup, sandwiches and bars along with the Tea, Coffee etc. We had a good 20 mins.or so rest here. Two of the groups merged here when we set off for the third section of the spin. It was after this that the threatened rain finally came with a vengeance along which with cycling into a strong headwind really began to make things difficult for me. I spent some time off the back of the group in behind the following jeep and got back on courtesy of Anita Cassidy’s excellent pacing.
Our final stop was at Kilconnell a few miles under the 100 mile mark. Again more refreshments did the trick before we set off for the final leg of our journey. Not paying enough attention I missed the group and was chasing at 100 yards for miles and eventually got back up behind the jeep but could not bridge the gap to the group. I cycled the last section mainly by myself but at my own pace and after getting the pulseometer to work again I found that at this stage of the cycle going at my own pace to be to my advantage. I felt okay at the finish in UCG with no sign of the earlier cramps.
While at UCG I had to organise a taxi to bring my bags to my hotel less than a mile away and also follow it there as this was my first time to Galway city that I can remember. A steaming hot bath for the old war wounds and creaking joints was next on the agenda followed by a return journey to UCG via Taxi of course for the dinner that was layed on for all of the participants. It was also organised that we meet up in the Skeffington Arms that night which some of us did. I decided to keep to mineral water giving previous experiences of having to jump out of the bed with cramp. I eventually got back to my hotel a short while after midnight and organised with the porter an early breakfast at 7.00.a.m. Given the usual Saturday night revelry in cities I only got a few hours sleep but not unusual either.
So to the Sunday morning and over at UCG around 8.00.a.m. it was lashing rain. The organisers (Eamonn Duffy and Elsa Connaughton who with their helpers all did a great job given the very bad weather along with the task of trying to ensure that everybody was accounted for on each day and reach their final destination especially as some had still 60 miles to go while others had reached Galway on the first day) waited for a break in the weather. About 50 of us were cycling back and we were escorted around the outskirts of Galway city by the motorbikes who did the whole journey with us on both days.
On the return journey we had the wind mainly on our backs. We more or less all stayed together back to Dublin. It took us a little under 8 hours to get back and it had taken me a little under 9 hours to get to Galway on the first day. I think that it would be fairly safe to say that there were a lot of sore and tired bodies afterwards. Cycling in wet gear for a long time can also be uncomfortable.
Remembering back to the 2 days I can remember how my experience and very good use of my pulseometer through constant monitoring got me though the 2 days along with the group, not forgetting the little bit of pacing. Also a few of the cyclists around me noticed the clattering sound of the bearings from my yet to be identified front wheel completely washed out on the return spin. Some were wondering was it my bottom bracket, I tried to reassure them that I just needed my dentures to be regreased. With all the rain we had my speedometer on my bike gave up each day shortly after the 90 mile mark (Out of approx 133 miles). It was about 3 days after the spins before the soreness left both of my thighs,.another 2 or so before the soreness went from my right knee, a few more days after that my back was okay again and finally after about 2 weeks my neck was okay again . As a leisure cycle I would recommend this to most cyclists to complete at some stage. We were mainly on back roads and only cycled through 3 main towns. Already looking forward to competing in this event again and with some sunshine hopefully the next time.