Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Day 3 Derry to Enniskillen 98km

I had a great evening with Richard and Ann and got to bed at a reasonable time , suitably and happily exhausted.
After a full nights sleep I was up early for a breakfast fit for a king prepared by Richard.
He brought in his new bike for me to have a good look at . A super Kalkoff electric bike which he has just taken delivery of. A beautiful machine. (NOTE TO SELF! GET AN ELECTRIC BIKE SOMEDAY). It's a lovely machine that does about 125miles to a full charge on a particular Eco setting. He is very proud of it and rightly so.
He transported myself and my bags to the start line and we said our goodbyes. Hope we will keep in touch. in fact I know we will.

The morning at the start was cool and sunny but had a lot of heavy showers in the vicinity. Stood in during the showers waiting for our start time which should have been 9.30 but moved out to 10.30.
Standing around give us all a chance to meet and catch up on all ther craic from last night.
Riding out of Derry today and heading for Enniskillen via Omagh. 98km
We are about 300 strong and riding two by two we stretched for a long way. The PSNI (Police) were brilliant. They escorted us all the way and were there in all the towns and villages along the way. The roads were narrow and we were causing huge tailbacks but the motorists were very patient. When we pulled over the tailback took about 20 minutes to pass. I feel comfortable in the group, even though there are some inexperienced cyclists in the group. The marshalls are good and seem under strict instruction to keep things under control.
The weather is still very changeable. Sporadic locally very heavy showers . We caught about half of them. But somehow it wasn't as bad a yesterday. The temperature was slightly up and there wasn't that icy wind that froze us to the core. And when the sun did make some short appearances it was warm. Everyone's mood is changing with the weather and we are told to expect dry days for tomorrow and Friday . BRING IT ON I SAY.
Rolling in to the college in Omagh we were greeted by a huge crowd of pupils and parents all lining the roadway at the approaches to the school. I never get used to that experience. Lunch was pasta and tea and coffee. Most welcome.
I have to be extra careful with my bike and where I leave it. Cause it's not unusual to find five or six bikes leaning against mine when I come out. Im proud of Lullabelle and I want her to take me all the way around so i need to be kind to her.
With the slight improvement in the temperature there is a bit more craic on the road and it's getting more fun.
Arriving (in the rain once again) into Enniskillen we are all tired and hungry. It's 7.30 in the evening and most want to get to their digs, get showered and hopefully, fed.
We were given tubs of ice cream by the students of the school and tea and coffee before being united

with our home stay hosts.
 Estelle and Arthur and Joseph and Joe fellow travellers

I'm staying with Estelle and Arthur along with two other cyclists, Joseph and Joe. Arthur has made roast beef and roasties.....delicious . Followed by apple crumble and custard and cream. I had seconds of both.....I'm a growing boy ;-))
After a lovely evening with a few beers I'm happy to turn in.

Some of the guys on the trip
 Ray and Joe and me (eating something)

Dave, Gavin, Dermot, Niall, Richie and Steve

Kathleen (super gran) has done this 3 times!

I'm loving this trip now. Looking forward to the rest of the trip. Things can only get better.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Day 2. Coleraine to Derry via Inishowen peninsula and Malin head.

Tuesday 28th April 2015
Coleraine to Derry via Inishowen and Malen Head

Stayed in a hostel in Carrick A Rede on the north Antrim coast last night. It was good, as hostels go. But we were given wonderful reception and shown to nice warm comfortable rooms. We had the usual bunk beds. I bagged a bottom bunk and got settled in. Some went for beers to the local pub but I was wrecked so decided to make a comfortable bed and got the head down.
Woke at 5.30 am with the wind howling off the sea and heavy rain. Stuck my head under the covers and waited for the sun to rise. Breakfast was at 6 cause we were being picked up at 7 for the bus run back to the start in Coleraine. Amazing breakfast of sausages tea toast , cereal and juice. Set up now for the day!
Went out to see the sky and was greeted with SNOW!!! It's nearly May for gods sake!!!
Bitterly cold as we boarded the bus . Got to the college in Coleraine met up with the other guys and got ready for the off.
Myself with Richie, Paul and Steve and their homestay hosts.

Liam has decided to leave us today to return for appointment in Dublin. Sorry to see him go. 
Just as we were leaving the sky's opened and we got pelted with a rain and hail shower and that seemed to be going to be the order of the day.

However, as the day progressed the weather got a bit better. Rain stopped sun came out and the wind wasn't as cold. Cruising along the beautiful Antrim Coast passed some beautiful beaches and resorts to Magiligan and to the ferry to take us to Inishowen peninsula in beautiful Donegal.
Wind was getting up again as we made the 20 minute crossing in an open boat meant for only cars.
Hugh Durnin met us on the other side, to ride with us to at least the lunch stop in Carndonagh. Good to see him. 
The trip to Carndonagh was nice with a bit of sun and calmer conditions, so we decided we were going to head for Malin. But organizers decided that cause of the uncertain weather conditions we should just go to Malin town and retrace our steps from there to Moville.
Stopping in quigleys Point for a break the skies just opened , with the return of the wintery conditions. We got a further soaking with bitterly cold headwind to boot!
I was beginning to feel there is no fun in this and I decided to settle in for the haul.
Cause of lack of charging facilities last night in the hostel, my phone has run out, my Garmin has run out and my camera is about to calve!
My home stay contact is on my phone. So, I'm going to have to get my phone charger out of my night bag which is in a truck somewhere, charge it up to get the name and number of my host for tonight.
As it happens , arriving in Foyle College  in Derry, my host is there and looking for me.
Richard and Ann are a lovely couple and greet me warmly.

After showing me my rooms and shower I'm soon settled in , warm and refreshed , to a beautiful and bountiful meal.
we have a great chat over the meal and Richard tells me how he has cycled all over the place for many years and he loves his cycling. He proudly shows me his new bike acquisition. A beautiful, battery assisted tourer which he has brought in from Germany. Im very impressed.

Life just gets better and better.
Chat tomorrow, heading to the scratcher and get ready for the trip to Enniskillen tomorrow.

Day 1 Belfast to Coleraine 96km

Monday 27th April 2015
Day one over. Belfast to Coleraine 96km
I was put up in Belfast last night by my sister Eileen. Its always great to stay with my sisters cause they look after me like my mother used to. I was treated royaly with a few beers and dinner and a good breakfast after a good nights sleep

Cycled to the start at the bottom of the Ormeau for sign on.
Great to see some of the guys from last year and renew old friendships. Met up with Richie and Liam from the club who are on the trip too.
There was a great buzz around the place with the anticipation of what was ahead. Got signed on, got my number , 1123. Bought a long sleeve CAS jersey and a rain jacket and ready to go. Said goodbyes to Mary and Eileen and headed out from Belfast city, in lovely sunshine, albeit quite cold this morning. Out the Shore Road and climbed up to Glengormly and headed out towards Ballymena. Pace was quite leisurely as we headed out from the city. Even though Im from here, the city has changed so much that im unfamiliar with some of the areas.
Hit a hail shower in Antrim and skirted some heavy rain showers without actually getting rained on. No sos beag cause I gathered the lead car took some wrong turns and left us having to do some unnecessary kilometers.
Lunch was at the rugby club in Ballymena and consisted of tea coffee and sandwiches. Was good to get it. I was hungry. The presentation was unusual from a rugby ground cause we were mostly used to schools. However it was abit of fun.
Heading out from Ballymena the sky was darkening again and starting to look angry. Just as we were pulling in for another break, an hour later, the rain and hail came on.   Nothing for it but to ride it out cause we were going to get wet whatever happens.
Arriving into Coleraine we were, by then, soaked through and chilled to the bone.
We were given a very generous evening meal in the Clyde Inn in Coleraine before boarding a bus to take us to our first homestay.
Our home stay was a hostel way up the Antrim coast at Carrick a Rede and it was a late arrival to the bed.
The hostel gave us a good welcome and offered us tea on our arrival and shown to our dormitaries.
I grabbed a bottom bunk and set about settling down for the night
Tomorrow is an early start, bus leaving at 7 am for start back in Coleraine.
Woke early in the hostel and they were providing a great spread of cereal,tea, coffee and some hot food too. Plenty of it.
Before the bus came to collect us to take us to the start, it started to snow. WHAT HAVE WE LET OURSELVES IN FOR!!

Happy for Day 2

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Two more days before the start

In keeping with my training regime....HA!!! I said I would go out for a spin this morning with the Failte Group. Nothing too strenuous. But when I got up this morning it was teeming rain and I was having second thoughts . But cause I was sort of committed, I decided to brave the elements.
Not a good decision! I was wet through even before we started. Gloves were sapling! Fingers were freezing cold and I was thoroughly miserable. 
With weather forecast from Monday on being not too promising either it's certainly taken away some of the excitement of Monday start.
Last few weeks have been summer like and I got used to shedding layers and enjoying those nice early summer days. But now getting home frozen to the core and soaking wet is bringing it all back.
Think they are even forecasting snow flurries on Monday.
Buy hey!! I'm made of strong stuff I'll manage. ;-D
My son Sean is driving me to Belfast on Sunday so that will take some of the pressure off.
So gotta get on with final preparations now. 
Home stays are proving problematic in 5 towns and I'm afraid I might be singing for my bed .
Bantry, skibereen, colonel , birr and portlaoise have yet to come good for me. But there is still time 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Into the last week before the start in Belfast.

Got through the Sunday club ride up to Sally Gap and Glencree. 85km with over 1000 meters of climbing. So the legs are feeling good.
The weather is pretty good and should get some short spins during the rest of the week.
Bought a new Garmin bike camera this week and like with all these techie gadgets I am spending an inordinate amount of time trying to figure it out. How to download the video and get it onto this blog.
No success yet but hopefully will have it up and running by the weekend.
Spent the day going over 'to take' lists and laying stuff out on the bed . I'm not usually this organized. But I have a feeling I will end up with the kitchen sink and a broken back carrying it around for the next three weeks.
Then have to split it into a day bag and a night bag. I'm sure to get it  arseways!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

One week to go!

Today Sunday 19th April 2015. With only one week to go before the start of the Cycle Against Suicide all seems good. I have been getting in the training and feeling good except for a niggling Achilles' tendon in my left leg. Seems to be worse in the morning when I wake.. Must be twisting it in the night. It's not really bothering my cycling too much . Just hope it doesn't flair up. But, can't be worried about that now.
Last Sunday was the day of our club tour, Tour de Foothills. The weather was horrendous with constant rain and bitterly cold. Luckily I had agreed to do lead car for it, so a load of us decided to do the 110km route on the Saturday before... That was a good decision cause the weather was almost ideal and we had great fun.
It's important for me to get in the miles before the CAS.
The previous weekend I managed 265km over the couple of days Friday, Saturday and Sunday and this weekend, so far, managed 120km with today's 85km bringing my climbing meters to over 2000 this weekend. Also doing the club time trials on Wednesday evenings. And even though it is a 20km route, it really pulls it out of my legs.
This week I have to sort out clothing and kit I'll be taking with me. I'm not good at that sort of planning and am sure to pack stuff I don't need and forget some essential items.
Logistics too.! Got to get to Belfast for the start on the Monday morning. Think I'll drive up , leave the car for the 2 weeks and go up again for it when the trip is done.

The road beckons. Une bel di.