Thursday, May 14, 2015 that what its called.

This has been my third year doing this Cycle against Suicide around Ireland 14 day 1400km cycle to help break the cycle of Suicide in Ireland. I have coined myself as a 'triple lifer'. That term came from year one when I suggested to the other guys we be known then as the 'Lifers" I thought it had a nice ring to it. Then it became the Double Lifers a smaller number and now it the Triple Lifers, very few of us left.
But between a Lifer and a Triple Lifer, in those 2 short years over 1600 people have taken their own lives.
Thats near twice the number of people who were on this cycle into Dublin on Sunday.
We were shoulder to shoulder coming down the quays and we stretched from O Connell bridge to Capel Street and beyond. Imagine that from O Connell Bridge to near Heuston Station. All those people now GONE!
And the people left behind wondering, why?, might stretch to Johnstown Bridge or Mizen Head and out into mid Atlantic. Who will ever know.
This started for me as another challenge. 1400km over 14 day without a break. Great! I can do this. Year 2? still that and Year 3? still that.
But each time I listen to more people with stories about their lose.
My friend asked me ... this is your third year at this. Do you see a difference? Is the message getting through? I said I didnt know and he said well whats the point? I couldnt answer him, whats the point.
But i cant do nothing!
If this is the way to break the cycle of suicide in Ireland Ill try it. If not then, I dont know how you do it!
See you next year. Shoulder to Shoulder!

Day 14 Last Day Mullingar to Dublin 98km

Day 14 . Final day
Mullingar to Dublin 98km

Good morning on this 14th day of the Cycle Against Suicide. 
Mullingar to Dublin 98km
We had such an awesome greeting coming into Mullingar last evening, in the rain (it just couldn't stay away). The whole town must have been out. 
Our number has swollen to over 800 on the road, making the marshaling role much more difficult.  
We were stretched along the road for over a kilometer. Riders were in great form, the buzz was great, with everyone chatting and joking and laughing. The pace was good too and it was great cycling.
It's been a trip of many parts. Highs and lows!
The highs were many. Highest being when I got to cycle into Cork with my son Gavin. Our first cycle on the road. Shoulder to Shoulder.
The lows were many too. The weather was not our friend and the ride from Clonmel to Thurles was a worry. Not least for the young students who suffered the freezing wind and rain. When we had to abandon in Thurles for the day. But the token ride by 25 of us into Portlaoise, escorted by Garda cars, CAS lead car, flanked by 10 motorcycle outsiders and followed by the CAS bus was a real buzz.
But the people I met and the stories I listened to, both on the road and in the homestays, were all stories of loss and pain and sadness for lost people. Lost sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, husbands, wives. Pain and sadness that will not go away. Pent up pain.
People looking to the future and wondering why it had to be this way. If only!
But it's been a journey for me too and I think I'm a better man for it all.
But here we go!
Better get up and get on for the final spin into Dublin.
We are promised a good day, weather wise ( I don't know who promised it but I'll take that).
Numbers should be even bigger today and I hope we get into there safe tonight.
Remind me to tell you the story of Porridge sometime!
See you in Dublin

Leaving Mullingar with over 1000 riders was both exhilarating and worrying. Lots of students and other inexperienced riders who will together with the prima donna's be angling for photo opportunities maybe at the expense of safety. 
Anyway! nothing to be done but enjoy the trip and do the best we can at keeping everyone safe. Out of Mullingar I recall the times we used to come here to Lakeside Wheelers sportive, Tour of the Lakes. That was a nice spin. This time we are down the duel carriageway for some miles before we get onto quieter roads. Stretching for miles 2 x 2. A sight to see. marshalling is great cause I get the opportunity to stretch my legs by kicking it on up, if I feel like it.
Johnstown Bridge is our lunch stop where the local people have mountains of food. Goodie bags of sandwiches, water, a cake and a bar. All delivered with military precision together with tea and coffee to 1000 + in jig time. Magnificent! In beautiful surroundings.
More crew meetings to monitor how we are going and making sure all bases are covered . Its a tribute to the event director.
Moving off then our next port of call is Intel in Leixlip where we are given some fruit and its a time for group photos and making sure you have that pic with your new friends.
Now they are really cranking it up. Superintendant of Dublin traffic is here motor cycle outriders from the Gardai squad cars to lead us through Dublin and a overhead helicopter. Final instructions on M50 interchange, Luas line, we are taking over the North Quays 8 abreast down to O Connell Bridge, Custom House, across the Liffey, Merrion Square , across the canal to the RDS and on to RTE.
We are trying to get there by 10 to 6 so we can be on the news!
Rock on!
It all works like a dream . the reception all the way is great and when we hit the North Quays we are all at fever pitch. whistles are going, sirens are blaring, lights are flashing, cheering and whooping is magic. We have the road  .
At RTE we have arrived a few minutes ahead of time and we are on the 6 o clock news. Hugs a greetings all round, promises of next year and all around. 
Sean has come in to take me home again. It seems ages and a moment ago that he got me here and its great to see him. The adrenaline is flowing and I havent come in to land yet

Johnstown Bridge

. Sean seems to sense that in me and follows me around giving me the freedom to do what ever it is I need to do.
Unload my bags for the last time from the trucks and head for the car with Sean.
A wonderful journey. comes to an end.

Day 13 Portlaoise to Mullingar 96km

Portlaoise to Mullingar Day 13

What a difference a day makes!
Niall has left me back to Portlaoise after a lovely peaceful night and a great breakfast. Travelling in a 151 Mercedes. Things are looking up. Its a beautiful morning but cold but that doesnt matter. We are on the final legs everyone is spirits up and looking ahead.
Time for a bit of loud music and leaping and dancing to get the blood up. There is a great presentation to the students this morning and the last few days are behind us now
Left Portlaoise this morning in bitter cold wind and bright sky. Now it's bright sky and beautiful warm sunshine. The road is rolling and the pace is up and everyone is really enjoying the cycling and the banter along the road.
Its not long before we stop for a lunch stop in Tullamore food is scarce but all I can hear is laughter and enjoyment all around. We are all fed and watered and now 500 strong heading off in the sunshine to Mullingar. Rocking!
Mental note to take our cycling group on this route . The roads are lovely and the cycling easy.
Nothing could have prepared us for the welcome into Mullingar. The whole town must have been out. the main street was a throng. Cars honking, whistle blowing and cheering and hand slapping. we have a massive peleton and it completely blocks the main street. So much so that we have to get down and walk. Thats a first! A band is waiting for us and we are all in great form and glad to be here.
Then we have to turn right around and go down the main street again. And again to tumultuous greeting, heading for the local college for food and craic.
Im tired and hungry now and I wish I could just get whisked off to food and a shower. Kim just met me going in and he tells me he has found my homestay couple and he takes me right there. Im so pleased I dont have to wait.
Aidan and Jacqueline are waiting for us. Peter Denehey comes over and he is short of a bed and they agree to take him too. Wonderful people!
So its heading to the homestay for well deserved dinner and relaxation.
Big bedroom, shower and down for a lovely dinner and wine.
Bed by midnight and blog will have to wait.
Night night!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Day 12 Clonmel to Portloise 107 km

Good morning.
Today we are heading to Portlaoise, getting close to home.
Finally got a text this morning detailing my Homestay. Portlaoise has been a problem from the start. But I think is a computer glitch more than anything else. But I'm glad to be sorted now. Lying her looking out the window at 6am, the weather looks to be not good again. But we will see.
Up and at 'em by 7
All the family are mustering, breakfast is on the go and Jimmy has them all rollin. I bring one of my shoes to shoes to show little Bill the cleat. Its a wow for him. Think Ive just sowed a seed in a potential Tour de France winner of the future;-D
The Guys
Porridge for starters, You want milk in your porridge John? thats weird! The old porridge debate continues.:-D
Big fry and then it all in the wagons for school and the start.
Jimmy says its going to be rain on rain today and I have a feeling he is not wrong. By the time we leave its starting and its a steady downpour as we arrive at the school.

What a day!!!
Down to the start line. The parents had supplied the most wonderful spread. Tea coffee sausage rolls, yogurts, cakes, energy bars, jellies the works. All donated free from local shops. Most wonderful generosity. Steady rain. I left my day bag under cover and when I returned it was in an inch of water. Mood was happy and looking forward to the send off. We knew it was going to be huge. Heading out we had a big cohort of students who were coming to Thurles with us. Rain was now heavy. Wind was headwind. Blowing hard. Got into a nice rhythm, chatting , marshaling, riding. We are used to the rainy now. Easy peezy!
Then it turned cold. Wind got up just a fraction more. Suddenly we were struggling!
We stopped at a garage for respite and sos beag. Mistake! Emergency foil blankets were handed out. Buses were offered to anyone who wanted to stop. Those who continued on were brave. Headed out again in the rain. Now cold had got into all of us. Students were falling back, riders were passing them out. what the f#‪#‎k‬ !!!
Individually we started picking them up. Tucking them in behind us or pushing them. They were suffering and so were we. When we mustered a grop we got them among us and shepherded them into Thurles, singing and shouting and keeping ourselves going. The guys were great. Shoulder to shoulder! We got ourselves home to a tumultuous welcome from 100's of students and townspeople with noise and balloons and cheering. All waiting in the rain.

After the lunch a decision was made to abandon the cycle for the day and we hurriedly and efficiently organised buses and 2/ 40ft trucks to transport everyone and bikes on to Portlaoise. A wise decision in the circumstances. About 25 of us decided to stay behind, load the bikes and bus to outside Portlaoise and cycle into the finish just to say 'we did it'. Cold wet weary and tired. But buoyed, we cycled into portlaoise.

What a day! We were lucky!
Homestay! Shower! Hot meal! Few beers with Niall and Edwina

Bring on tomorrow. A new day!

Day 11 Cork to Clonmel via Michelstown 92 km

Left Gavin and Maggie's this morning in great sunshine. A very promising day. Had a lovely night and morning with the kids. Maggie took me to the start to collect my bike and dump my bags.
Heading out through Cork City it was cold but bright. Looking forward to the day.
Anyone who says CAS is slow should have come with us last few days. Real pacey!
keep asking! Are you ok?
By bike it really creaking now. It's like a hammock swinging in the evening. Putting me to sleep. Getting all sorts of cracks and creaks from what appears to be bottom bracket to knee replacement et al! getting all the jokes on the road "is that your bike or your knees" kinda thing. I've heard them all by now now and it's getting tedious. Doing some self diagnosis myself as I go, I'm trying to illiminate  things it could be.
Michelstown is our lunch stop and I need to get this noise sorted. Food and the reception here is again fantastic.
Its a shame to eat these!
City cycles are our support vehicle. They agree to look at it for me and I have them flummoxed. It's the bottom bracket, it's the frame, bring bike back! I think it's the back wheel! Finally with 3 mechanics on the job we find it. Loose spokes on back wheel. They have no key to tighten them so I have to put up with it till we find a bike shop in Clonmel. Up on the bike, riding out ! Noise gone! Happy Days! Rocking up the hills now!"
Brilliant spin into Clonmel, going to be leg weary tonight.
Great reception again into Clonmel from all the townspeople out to see us in . Then at the school all the pupils out along the drive into the hall.
The Looby's. Great family.
My Homestay for the night is Jimmy and Mary and their 4 kids. I'm getting royally treated. Beautiful meal and craic with the kids around the table. Little Bill, their youngest, wants to know all about bikes, and shoes and stuff. Full of questions. Jimmy offers to take me to the pub and he will come with me, even though he is teetotal, and lives about 10km from town. What a family, all can't do enough for me. But I'm tired and decline and get to bed exhausted by 10
Night, night.
Chat tomorrow. Zzzzzzz!

Day 10 Skibereen to Cork City 94km

Day 10 skibereen to Cork 94km

Today is a poignant day . It was day 10 last year when Brenawn lost his life outside Donegal town. All the crew are wearing orange armbands in rememberance of him.

New arrival on Aidans farm
Before going to the start line,  Aidan is taking me to the Famine graveyard where 100's of people were buried in a mass grave during the famine in the 1850's. Very sad to see the unmarked plot and the memorials erected in memory of those who died.
Now we are living through another tragedy. The tragedy of so many who are dying every day from suicide. Remember them all. Its a sobering thought, walking around here remembering all those who suffered. Skibbereen was one of the worst affected areas of the country during the famine and the last time i felt this way was in Dachau.

We are given a huge farewell from the people of Skibb . They turn out in huge numbers to see us off.
Aidan and Mary have come down to see me off too.
The day begins to look promising. We have a delicious tailwind that will push us all the way to Cork and before we know it we are turning into the GAA center in Clonakilty
Gavin is meeting me here to ride into Cork with me. I'm really looking forward to seeing him and enjoying his company.
It's a short hop to Clonakilty and when we stop for lunch at the local sports complex, its not long before he arrives. Looking fit, with a nice new bike. Very impressive. It's his first trip on a road bike cause he normally rides a mountain bike.
We rode together  through lovely countryside and we are both having the craic. I have taken off the marshall bib so we can ride at our leisure.
Sun is hot , tail wind is assisting too. We have a huge number out today too and the big orange peloton is very impressive as it threads away into the hills.
It's over 60 km to Cork city and the time passed very quickly. It seemed no time till be arrived into Cork city.
Then it's a quick cuppa, chat with the lads about the day, as Gavin goes off to tie up with Maggie, collect the kids and get home to Garryvoe. It's Emily's birthday and she is all excited as there are presents tonight cause Grandad is here. Have a lovely big bowl of chilli for dinner and a beer then early to bed.
ready to rock!
Cycling with Gavin
I'm feeling really tired is evening . I think the energy levels are starting to run into deficit. Developed a pain in my knee which I hope dissipates after a nights rest. Bike is starting to creak now too, I think it a problem with the back wheel or the bottom bracket. Maybe it just need some tlc, it hasn't had a lot of that since I left last Monday week

What you want!!

Monday, May 4, 2015

Day 9 Bantry to Skibereen 97km

Had a good sleep and looking forward to breakfast . Porridge made the 'Rob way' and fresh farm eggs from Robs chickens. I am with Oisin, the lad who is responsible for all the video of this event on utube and other media. and Kim one of our very intrepid photographers. Your liable to see Kim lying on the middle of the road as you come round a corner, trying to get 'the shot'!
At breakfast I happened to make a comment about how simple breakfast dish Porridge is! And before we knew it we were, all 6 of us extolling the variety and versatility of porridge as a cereal. One milk,2 water ,all milk, all water , salt, sugar, berries, eaten on its own or with milk, cream, yoghurt. Steeped overnight, cooked overnight, big oats, small oats, over gas or microwave. Gotta get out more!!!
Looks to be another dull morning :-(

Delicious.breakfast After lovely food and chat around the table we got ourselves ready to head down to the start in Bantry, just as the skies opened and a burst of torrential rain happened. Stair rods!
Can't stop now. This must be done
The start line was quiet cause we were there too early. Kim and Oisin had to be down early to make their preparations for the day ahead. Gave me lots of time to get organised and chat with the guys.
Heading out from Bantry looked ominous in the sky and sure enough before long we hit a torrential shower of hailstones that would cut the face of you. There is no stopping this pelaton so we have to battle into it. Its blinding! Thankfully it didnt last too long and we continued like this all the way to Mizen Head.
As we moved closed to Mizen i could see the sky was clearing out to sea. Hopefully we would head in to meet it and it moved inland. The sky was clearing, the spirits were lifting and as we stopped momentarily in Goleen to gather, all looked good.
I had never been to Mizen head and was expecting a rocky outcrop delineating the southernmost tip of Ireland. Bu definitely no!
By the time we got there, through some amazing scenery, the sun was out and our spirits were lifting.
What beautiful scenery it was to the head. Truly glad we went up there. A most wonderful place with a great cove beach , hills all around. If you want tranquility, look no farther. Stretching out into the wild atlantic, next stop Cuba and Jamaica I would say.
Unfortunately we were not given the opportunity to stop, cause the numbers would be too hard to manage and people would not want to leave. So a quick turn around in the car park and back to Goleen. It always amazes me that the same road, going in the opposite direction gives a completely varied and different vista. And so it was here.
Returning from there and rolling on to Schull in positively summer sunshine, we picked up a tailwind that blew us all the way to Schull were we had a lovely lunch at the yacht club.
Jumping the short leg into Skibereen was good. Easy cycling and time to chat.
My homestay in Skibereen was Mary and Aidan who work a farm and opened their house to me.
After a beautiful chicken dinner we retire to the room over a few beers and watch tv and chat

Skibereen to Cork tomorrow