FundraisingPosted by Andrew McManus Mon, July 27, 2009 23:38:42
Another Fine morning greeted us as we woke up in Ayr this mornin' and spirits were high as we cleaned our completely filthy bikes in the sun outside the fine Chalmer's hostel. But as usual we faffed about way too long and the weather decided to take a turn for the worse and we were left to begin our cycle in the pouring rain. Never nice.
After yesterday's idyllic experience of sun, tailwind, and breathtaking scenery I'd changed my opinion of Scotland. Maybe it wasn't going to be so tough after all. But this morning we got a slight glimpse of the wild Celtic wraith that could threaten to chop us down at any time. But again Jim donned his (ridiculous) blue Braveheart battle makeup/suncream and he led us out to battle the elements.
Sean's starting to get the hang of this ol' map reading business and if you forego the fact that he refuses to pick either the easiest or shortest route you could say he did an exceptional job today! And as he only seems to get us lost in areas with decent scenery these days I guess it's forgivable.
Neil was mourning the fact that he never gets a chance to appreciate the scenery because he tends to be struggling up the hills and then bombing down the other side due to his, um, gravitational advantage, so I've decided that tomorrow I might paint a few landscapes for him so he knows what he's missing. I tend to get a bit bored waiting for the 'older gents' to catch up with me on the top of the hills so I might as well set up an easel and paint a few pictures for them to pass the time....! hehe
After a rough morning the clouds dispersed and we ploughed on like a well oiled machine & before we knew it we were in Kilmacolm being fed by a massive support team including Tara, Rose and Stephen & Fiona's kids and Tom & Kate's kids. Good work folks.
The second half flew by all smooth with the only event being me getting a puncture on a mental dual carriageway. As I began to take off the wheel Eoin FORCED me to move 50m down the road in the van so I didn't get turned into roadkill. Paul 'Legs of Jelly' Kelly and Paul 'doin' rightly for his age' Collins obviously weren't so concerned about me general health and instantly accused me of cheating. After cycling twice round the next bleedin' roundabout to shut 'em up wasn't enough for them & the stick continued deep into the evening. I thought the midges around Lough Lomond were bad but they're nothin compared to those two lads. Tomorrow I'm gettin the support team to buy me some Kelly/Collins repellant to go with the insect repellant.
By the way the 'youth hostel' beside Lough Lomond is a flippin' castle where Robert de Bruce used to have his hunting Lodge. That's a bit of history for ye.
And apologies Paul. It's not your fault Kelly ryhmes with jelly. You're a master of the bike. If your prefer I can call you Ally 'legs of steel' McBeal or something.
TrainingPosted by Sean Roberts Mon, July 27, 2009 08:46:26
Saturday night was brilliant. Lots of fun and lots of money raised – not to mention a few pints sunk.
Sunday morning and a few heads were a little groggy. Sean “Geezer” Lacey managed to convince Paul Abrahams to stay out and hit the town in Belfast. They were last spotted on CCTV around 4am, staggering out of a night club called “Yellow” - a little ironic as they both looked a little green as they came down to breakfast.
Paul Kelly on the other hand was looking surprisingly fresh faced – a big thank you to Paul’s mum for keeping an eye on him and knowing when to step in and tell him “no more”. Mum always knows best Paul.
We bid Sean goodbye and left him to return to the bar for a quick hair of the dog.
A lot has been made of my navigational skills on this trip, but I don’t think any of the Irish lads will be able to criticise me from now on, as our promised “5 minute cruise to the docks” turned into a 30 minute tour of the back roads and alleys of Belfast – all very interesting, if a little worrying when there’s a ferry to catch.
Andrew’s sense of timing was as impeccable as ever as after 30 minutes of standing around waiting to be let onto the ferry, he decided to get the charger for his phone just as we were told to board.
They say that there is nothing like a smooth ferry crossing, and this was nothing like a smooth ferry crossing. 30 minutes into the journey and a couple of the lads were beginning to regret eating that extra egg and onion sandwich. Having chosen the seats right next to the smokers’ balcony probably didn’t help.
“A” for effort for Paul Kelly who managed to collect £3.42 from passengers on the ferry by posing as a tramp beneath a few sheets of the Irish Telegraph. A few grand short of the “Colchester Duo” but keep trying Paul.
The dodgy crossing was well worth it. When we set off on the bikes for Ayr we were treated to spectacular views and probably the best 50 miles we have done to date - very little pedalling and the sun on our backs with a fair tail wind – just how cycling should be!!! Having said that it did become a bit too much for some of the lads who had over-indulged the night before. There was some fierce muttering and swearing under breath as we took the turn for the coastal route in to Ayr and were met by one final hill – great for purging those beer-sweats.
As we finally descended the hill into Ayr with Jim leading the pack, covered from head to toe in blue paint, it looked like a scene from Braveheart.
And I think I speak for all the lads when I say we were particularly appreciative of the great welcome from the girl with the ford escort.
PS one final note of concern - Paul Collins photo collection of naked men continues to grow – they say that every man needs a hobby but I’m not sure this is appropriate for a married man.
Big ThanksPosted by Nora Church Sun, July 26, 2009 17:21:13
The Halfway Bash was a great success with a great turn out so many thanks to all of you for coming out to support Rosesgift. MC Paul C did a great job with the raffles helped by a formidably fast team of ticket selling girls and Tara who was the chief spinner of the rickety wheel and despite cutting her finger on it bravely came back to spin again!
The cyclists even let their hair down despite another tough day ahead today although after days of consuming over 7000 calories for some of them it was a bit tough getting through the evening without some power bars or protein shakes every half hour. Jim and I bumped into Neil Gallagher on the way out and I think he was must have been either tired or emotional as he seemed to think we were sandwiches!
TrainingPosted by Jim Church Sun, July 26, 2009 09:36:38
Todays leg saw us moving up from Dublin to Belfast.
Finally the sun was out so with warm sunshine on our backs we set off again.
The machine was all business today and the whole ride went very smoothly. First stop was in Drogheda where we paid our respects to Oliver Plunkett. The sassenachs amongst us were all naive to this saint so finally some culture arrived to the unruly mob.
We then made our way over the hill to Newry and thanks to the new road we flew over. Lunch was supplied again by Nora Church (note that this Nora is the same as yesterdays Nora but this time she was Jim's wife)! We were all happily tucking into the food when suddenly Thomas noted that Niall was missing. Eventually after a phone call it became apparent that he had overshot us and was pedalling as fast as he could to catch up with the group! After lunch we caught up with Niall who now had to pedal and eat lunch at the same time. No mean feat considering the group could feel Belfast was close at hand and was putting down the hammer.
Michael O'Kane was waiting on his BMX at Lisburn to guide us on the final leg into Wellington Park Hotel. Secretly I suspect he was after the glory finish judging by the fact he was pulling a wheelie at the front as we arrived!
The welcoming commitee cheered as we arrived and really livened up the mood. Thanks for that!
The halfway bash kicked off later and was a fantastic success! We raised over £2000 and everyone had a great time. Special thanks are due to those that donated the prizes and the excellent band who stepped in at short notice. Big up to OCB - The Orchard County Blues Band!
Some of the cyclists let their hair down so we'll see how the next leg goes...
Big ThanksPosted by Paul Kelly Fri, July 24, 2009 22:46:53
Two countries down and two to go, we began the first of the two Irish hundred milers today – Wexford to Dublin. Stocked up well on the "famine soup" from the night before, everyone was champing at the bit to get going and get this perceived tough ride out of the way. Consequently, the peleton got of to a “flyer” much to the disgruntled Paul Collins who was complaining as usual about the lack of respect we were paying to his age (52 is hardly old Paul), or his saddle sores. Perfect weather conditions, combined with careful route planning (thanks Jim), saw us get through the first 28 miles in an 1 ½ hours, which is considerably quicker than I expected.
Showing no respect for the roads that lay ahead, everything was running well ahead of plan. That is until James Kelly went clean over the handlebars and into the ditch keeping everyone back for half an hour. With no consideration for anyone apart from himself he made us wait while Jim bandaged up his two badly bruised and grazed legs, and Eoin attempted to fix his bike (to no avail). True to form, James jumped on posh Tom’s winter bike and knocked out the rest of the 100 miles – true Ballinascreen man!
With everyone now back on the bikes and going again, the pace again picked up and it wasn’t long before we arrived in Rathnew to a delicious banquet prepared by Nora Kelly (Eoin’s Sister).
Fed and watered we hit the road again, and after Rathnew there were to be no more planned stops …….N11 the whole way to Dublin. Thankfully, with the exception of a couple of puntures and Sean "Geeza" Lacey taking the time to change his shirt and flex at a group of local pensioners, that’s exactly what happened. Entering Dublin was as much a chaotic as it was an interesting experience, as Paul C stuck on his bord failte hat and badge and gave everyone a guided tour of all the major sites, capped with a visit to the GPO where we stopped for a photo…… albeit without a tricolor, much to his dismay. (Photo to follow)
Anyway, after a bit of too’ing and fro’ing and a few wrong turns we eventually made it to Bewleys where we quickly dumped the bikes, and got showered before heading down for dinner.
After dinner everyone went for a massage, as my cousin Anne McCloskey and her mate Ruth came up to offer they expert Physio services. Basically, the idea was to get any knots etc rubbed out of out aching calves, and to help anyone with sore knees. Paul Abrahams however had other ideas. Before the girls knew it he had his shirt whipped off and was on the treatment bench asking them to take a look at his lateral peridormis (answers on a postcard please if you know what it is) at the base of his back!!!
Anyway, to anyone who can make it I’d like to re-extend our invite to meet us at the Wellington Park Hotel tomorrow evening from 8pm for “The Halfway Bash”, it promises to be a good night with some fantastic prizes on offer.
p.s. Thanks to Uncle Seamus, Danny McAuley and Nora for all their help today
TrainingPosted by Paul Collins Fri, July 24, 2009 21:05:43
Day five followed on from day four....tuff!! Lashin rain, big hills and many miles, so much for Eoin's regular pre match talk" easy 60 or so lads today, big downhills...." The only thing he got right was the downhil into Fishguard..1 mile!
We got off to a great start with a 5 star breakfast thanks to Olivine and Kevin, followed by our now customary hill start and lashin rain. We was joined in the middle of the night by a new member of the sauf london crew,young Sean"lock up your daughters" Lacy.
Sean had an eventful first day with the pelaton, he cracked his head off the ceiling on the first night trying to get into the top bunk, shud have had his helmet on anyway, and then on the ferry crossin to Rosslare dropped his phone overboard!!
We hit the road still tryin to move after the feast and covered our normal 5 mile before we had a p stop, the pelaton got movin like a well oiled machine, unlike Andrew's chain, which must have came off at least 6 times. fell off! Andrew has now officially been christened Mike, half man half bike, he has yet to experience any pain, not too hot on the sleepin arrangements( will explain later) but shit hot on a bike.
We arrived in Fishguard to met by more food from Rachel and Rodger and to be waved off by Olivine and Kevin...surely we cant still be eating!!
The crossin was grand except that Paul Kelly decided it wud be a good idea to introduce the lads to poker and subsequently fleeced us all.
The landing in Rosslare resembled a scene from the Key Stone Cops, bikes one way, support cars another and Neil " I hate cyclin"Gallagher and Paul Abrahams still in the bogs. Jim and Norah's re uniting wud bring tears to ur eyes, think Heathcliff!
We were joined by four new riders, Joe Young, Tommy Ward, James Kelly and Niall. Now this cycle is tuff enough but James and Joe decided to do it on their kids BMX'S..NOT GUD!
We made great time into Wexford, found the digs and headed out for some pasta. Wat followed cud only be described as gruel,it was so gud that Lacy and Paul Abhs went for two curries chips!!
Finally got the head down about 11, in our room we had 4 bunk beds between 4 of us, naturally all claimed one each, the lower deck of the Hogan was the bed of choice for 3 of us, but Mike decided to head up into the upper Cusack, normally reserved for last man in and really handy in the middle of the nite, more brains in a false face!!
Tomorrow Dublin, then home for a nite, ill really miss Paul" i dont f******* snore lad" Kelly!!
FundraisingPosted by Tom Lees Wed, July 22, 2009 23:02:18
The day starts with the lads tuning in to the weather forecast - you can hear the groans down the hotel corridor. The rain is following us up through Wales and beyond whilst the toe of England at Land's End is now bathed in sunshine. Still, the day started well with a full english/irish breakfast at the Cardiff Hilton and then the morning clean and tune up of the bikes, when we make sure that all is in good working order (like the chains etc). We had a route planned that would take in a climb up the Bwlch which some of us visited on the Dragon ride. That also took in some of the small Welsh villages nick-named Pyjamarama, where the residents heckle us on the way to the bookies at midday still in their pyjama bottoms. We stopped and asked a bloke the way to Neath where we would be stopping for lunch. He asked us what bike ride we were doing and when we told him it was the Land's End to John O Groats, he replied "Well I think you are lost boys aren't you" (insert Welsh accent here).
After Neath we formed the chain gang again (so-called because every 10 minutes Andrew 'The Chain' McManus's chain comes off) and I think we would have to grudgingly admit that it did work (sometimes) as we flew along for a few miles.
Oh, and Neil (our perpetual inside left, no.2) has taken over the mantle of our "Capt. Furious". Whose turn will it be tomorrow?
(photo: Top of Bwlch - raining, obviously. I think something weird must have happened in the perspective of this photo - look at Sean and Stephen on the right!)
Tough day today. Off on the ferry to Rosslare tomorrow so we'll start the day with the shipping forecast.
FundraisingPosted by Paul Abrahams Wed, July 22, 2009 19:52:50
Woken at 4am in the morning by the driving rain and morning delivery at our neighbouring Somerfield, day three didn’t start well. The terrain was set to be kinder but the relentless horizontal rain would take no prisoners. This called for a moment of genius on my part as after realising my water proof ‘cycling’ jacket was neither water resistant nor conducive to cycling, or any sport, emergency repairs were needed.
The ride started well with ‘Spotter’ Sean out ahead of the pack for the thankless task that no man wants, but thinks can do better, to map yet another seamless route. He continued to stand by his philosophy of “I know the sign says Cardiff, but ask yourself, does it really mean it??”, and it pulled us through once again and he still found time to shed a tear on reaching his homeland.
Our latest stage of the journey saw us cross into new counties and countries, crossing the Avon and Severn Bridges on route. This third gruelling day drove home to the team that if we had any doubt of the challenge we'd signed up to, we certainly didn’t now.
Meanwhile, the dry warm hotel had to wait as the 95 mile monsoon hindered ride had its usual interruptions. First a trip to Asda for Stevo ‘Captain Fury’ to purchase cream for his swollen forehead, apparently from a mysterious wasp sting and not from chewing one or just over frowning in general as the team suspect. Neil did his best to break momentum by again overloading his bike, breaking a spoke and buckling a wheel in the process, puncturing the tyre of the replacement bike within five minutes of straddling it, dropping his sunglasses twice and pulling us all over so he could adjust his seat and camel toe. A committee meeting was called late last night to decide whether to release Neil of his duties. But then he does camp so well and we need him in for comedy value. He will learn of the decision via the circulated minutes.
Stage three of the tour complete and the team I know are looking forward to the next challenge of showing no respect to the Welsh Valleys, testing the notion of what goes up, must come down. We’ve seen little proof of that so far.