Sunday, August 17th. Tour of Munster Day 1.
I was rested, and raring to go once again. The three days in Ulster at the beginning of the week merely whetted my appetite for more, and because the organisers are from the east-Cork town of Midleton this was definitely classed as the spin of the year! The cyclists’ mecca on this All-Ireland semi-final Sunday. Oops, sorry…don’t mention the hurling.
Today’s jaunt through Counties Cork, Kerry and Limerick was an epic day in the saddle. The stats are massive. 138 miles @ 16.7mph in 8h15m. Stats do not tell the real story, though.
Here’s the real story: 38 seriously fit cyclists watching out for one another, helping out always and keeping a happy bunch rolling along nicely, thank you very much. This was critically important during the first four hour journey via Cork, Macroom, Killarney to the lunch stop in Castleisland, as we faced a very fresh headwind.
As we turned north-east towards our destination, the wind became our friend. However, when one door opens another slams you in the face! In this case, despite a more favourable wind, there’s a five-mile section of “dead road” heading up out of Castleisland, and it became very important to drop the pace and keep the strong group together.
Cycling in a group is estimated to be up to 30% more efficient, so there’s a big onus on all in the group to ensure that everyone benefits from this saving of energy. On three occasions, following my turn at the front, my mind began playing tricks with me. It’s a long way to Limerick. Maybe you’ll get there, maybe you won’t. Are you sure you’re strong enough? These thoughts need to be killed off without mercy.
There’s no better way to ensure that happens than to ride within the umbrella of a group that is intent on maintaining pace, rhythm and all its’ members.
That’s exactly what happened, and we thrived on hard work to Newcastle West and Patrickswell, and finally knocked it back a few notches as we entered the Limerick city limits.
My highlights included:
1. Meeting James Colbert’s mam as she joined with us to Cork City
2. Lunch at the Country Market in Castleisland, and their innovative coffee-serving technique.
3. A full 15 miles beyond my previous longest spin
4. Catherine’s Basset sweets once again.
So, it’s early to bed and early to rise…you know…it’s the attempt to build up a store of wisdom! There’s a stiff note of caution, however: tomorrow’s another day, and the bike won’t cycle itself. Night night from the Strand Hotel in the Treaty city. Night John Boy.
Postscript: I missed having Mike Collins alingside today. Get well soon mate, and hopefully we’ll meet in Dungarvan next Sunday…
Final episode: Day 5 Limerick to Midleton