Thursday 30th April 2015
Enniskillen to Longford via Swanlinbar and Ballinamore
They have a room set aside for the cyclists and are providing cereals, juice, croissants, cakes and scones. With gallons of tea and coffee. There are bananas, oranges, bowls of fresh fruit energy bars and pretty much anything you would get in a good hotel. Wonderful spread. Students are there assisting cyclists with directions and any assistance required.
The presentation by the school in the assembly hall was a real slick show . Dancers and musicians. Irish dancing and great entertainment.
By the time we got called to the start line the sun has got up and it's positively warm. So warm that I start shedding layers. Back into cycling shorts today, long sleeve jersey replaced with short sleeve and winter gloves replaced with fingerless.
We rolled out of the college at 10.30 am with a great send off by the pupils and teachers. Lots of razzmatazz and loud music. Love these send offs.
On the road everyone's mood is lifted and there is a great atmosphere of laughter and friendly banter. We have 3 gardai with us, riding police issue mountain bikes. They are acting as bike marshals but just ordinary guys not pulling rank. Lots of whistles and sirens and motorbike outriders. In one of the towns we are joined by about 30 pupils on bikes from the school in Ballinamore. They are riding with us for a good part of the day. It's all so much more fun in the good weather.
Riding along for a while with Lorraine who cycled with me on the last two CAS tours she tells me about the " triangle challenge"!
That is, don't eat anything in the lunch breaks that is in the shape of a triangle! Think about it!
No triangle sandwiches! No slices of apple tart! No slices of pizza! Some challenge! I agree to join the challenge . But on arriving at the food station in Ballinamore the first thing I see are lovely egg sandwiches 'triangles'! I was so hungry I resolved to start the triangle challenge tomorrow.
Good fast pace the last 50 km into Longford through some lovely rolling hills. Good to be back in the land of the 'free text'!
It's so lovely meeting new people in the peloton as we cycle along. The group is continuously changing and new faces are appearing alongside you all,the time. Chatting about 'stuff' as you go. Also, reacquainting yourself with your buddies too. It's a great cycle.
Arriving into Longford town, making lots of noise, to the cheers of the local people as we roll through the town to our destination and finish for the day.
All that remains is to await our home stay. This is an exciting part of the day too. You never know who you host is going to be. But you can be sure they will be different than yesterday and stories and craic will be good.
Claire with her little boy are keep in Joseph and I for the night
Our host arrives to collect me and joe and take us to her home to meet her family. What generous people our homestay hosts are.
Claire has a nice curry waiting for us when we arrive and we meet her 2 boys and 1 girl. The party in Longford was not an issue. I am exhausted. Been a long and tiring day and looking forward to my bed.
We will do it all again tomorrow but one thing I know for sure is ....it will be different than today without a shadow of a doubt.
I'll tell you all about it then.