The Freedom Machine: Intoxication to Immoral Acts

Michael Gilhaney is always going to a particular destination or other on his bicycle at every hour of the day or coming back from there at every other hour. If it wasn’t that his bicycle was stolen every Monday he would be sure to be more than halfway now. (Flann O’Brien, The Third Policeman)

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December 11, 2016

Recently, Cycling Ireland has estimated that the boom has peaked. The cycling boom, that is. Registrations have dropped ever so slightly in 2016. That’s the official statistic, yet it’s very likely that the number of people cycling is continuing to rise. It’s just that they’re not Cycling Ireland members.

I read a really wonderful article by Paul Rouse in the Irish Examiner (Friday, October 28, 2016*) and I urge you to go there and read it in full. Outlining 150 years of the bicycle in Ireland, he describes how cycling has changed people’s lives, “and this change has been dramatic”.

You will read about Flann O’Brien’s depiction of Michael Gilhaney:

“…some people simply lived on their bikes. This was an obsession picked up on by Flann O’Brien, who – in his novel The Third Policeman – has the sergeant describing how a man in the parish, Michael Gilhaney, ‘has spent no less than 35 years riding his bicycle over the rocky roadsteads and up and down the hills and into the deep ditches when the road goes astray in the strain of the winter. He is always going to a particular destination or other on his bicycle at every hour of the day or coming back from there at every other hour. If it wasn’t that his bicycle was stolen every Monday he would be sure to be more than halfway now.’

‘Halfway to where?’

‘Halfway to being a bicycle himself.’

Women On Bikes

You will read about the reaction to the arrival of women in cycling. Likely, you will not be surprised that certain national establishments expressed the view that cycling to dances far away from local eyes led to “ranks of reckless girls who became outcast women”.

Furthermore, when women wanted to wear men’s clothing (you know what I mean), the response was remarkable.

Verbal abuse was commonplace and the female editor of a newspaper called the Rational Dress Gazette was hit by a meat-hook while out cycling in trousers in Kilburn in London in 1903.

Thirdly, of grave concern to menfolk was the notion that “cycling would destroy a woman’s feminity, by giving her muscular legs and arms”.

In my view, the important equality becoming increasingly evident within leisure cycling might well be partly attributable to three lasses who, in the past, have spoken out to bring matters to the attention of the few remaining bigots:

  • “I hate men who are afraid of women’s strength.”
    Anaïs Nin
  • “No woman gets an orgasm from shining the kitchen floor. ”
    Betty Friedan
  • “A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle.”
    Irina Dunn (That’s deep!)

We’ll leave it there, so…

DCC Audax 2017

I mentioned last week that there’s another new group within Dungarvan Cycling Club. That makes seven now! Here’s the info from Declan:

An audax group is being formed within Dungarvan Cycling Club, commencing in January 2017. Audaxing is the term used for long distance cycling, from approx. 200k upwards. Members of DCC may also wish to join Audax Ireland (not compulsory), as some events (eg 300k, 400k 600k) are organised and may be on our planned rides). Initially, the idea is to have a long spin on the second Saturday of each month, weather permitting. Later, when the event season kicks in, long audax events will be selected approximately once a month. Who is this new audax group for? If you are interested in this type of riding, and if you have the ability to cycle at approx. 25kph pace, then this may be for you. Planned spins / events will be posted as per club policy together with all other club spins. Members will be most welcome to join us for these spins (or part of). Several coffee stops and a lunch stop will likely be on the menu. The group will be captained by Declan Earley, and routes / events selected by him, as per all other DCC groups. Anyone interested is asked to contact Declan (or Paraig de Burca) just so that we can get an indication of interest.

I will be a keen participant in this venture, and very likely at the start line of Dungarvan’s 200k Audax in early March of 2017. Watch this  ____ space.

And so to the bread-and-butter of some of the spins last weekend:

Group 4 On Tour
Before the fog descended

On a bright crisp morning for cycling, 9 group 4 cyclists left Dungarvan heading in Lismore direction and we were joined at Cappagh by Seamus who made wise decision not to leave home until he found his gloves. As temperatures dropped we met a cold damp fog . Coming out of Lismore, a brisk pace was set and some of us were glad to hear the call  “Slow it a bit as we are ahead of our planned pace”.

The words “Fail to Prepare … Prepare to fail” came to mind as, heading for Ballyduff, the word Puncture was uttered. Prior to leaving, puncture procedure was discussed: what exactly the group does when someone punctures. Some said he drew it on us, but the plan was put into effect perfectly! … 6 rode on as the puncture was dealt with, although it took 3 attempts as first two tubes proved faulty. As we regrouped, another maintenance request was called for a faulty brake cable and a comment was heard that it was the two guys with the dodgy-coloured Tipp / Dublin jerseys that had come croppers. Not sure what was being implied and maybe some GAA jealousy. While proceeding through Ballyduff at Mass time a potential accident was avoided as good calling and calm heads dealt with an incident where a pedestrian hadn’t noticed group coming through and stepped out on to the road. Leaving Ballyduff a good pace was set heading for Lismore to get blood circulating as air temps remained low. We stopped for coffee in Lismore and watched Group 5 pass by. Soon, we were joined by group 23K and enjoyed some good humoured banter as those who couldn’t make the club Christmas party listened with open mouths as the Kris Kringle presents were discussed. Following coffee we headed back to Dungarvan going through Tourin and soon arrived in Cappoquin. Regular changing at front of group ensured a good roll up on way home and the good rhythm shown on dance floor on Friday night was in evidence again as all stayed together to return a pace of 25.2 kph for a terrific 70K spin. Special thanks to Seamus for the CO2 canister, when Criostóir punctured. Many hands get bikes going again! (Tony S.)

I am reminded of something I wrote back in 2014: “It’s actually easier for one person to fix a puncture, but men tend to think that 10 hands are better than two!”

Fun and coffee in Lismore

I thoroughly enjoyed our morning together. At one stage, with about 15k remaining, I pushed them outside the comfort zone that we all enjoy. I was reminded of a veteran holiday bike-touring leader who said that the trick is “to push them without breaking them”. In that way, there comes a realisation (once the zombie-like state moves gently towards recovery), that one’s potential is usually several kilometres ahead of self-limiting beliefs. De réir a chéile a thógtar na caisleáin. Rome wasn’t built in a day.

On a lighter note, I am attempting a summary of our Group 4 Kris Kringle experience, but as yet it will have to remain as a DUD (Dark Unpublished Draft). I am fearful of slander, ostracisation and letting my standards slip. Perhaps one day, when my cycling career is over, it might see the light of day, but for now it shall remain in the fog.

Group 3: The Long And The Short Of It

For a long 90k spin, the report is short. In the words of Van Morrison, “There be days like this”. I’d guess it was because of the dense fog!

Shaking off any cobwebs from the club Christmas celebrations, 10 members of group 3 headed towards Cappoquin, Lismore and Tallow. The group shared turns at the front making good progress until after Tallow, and the inevitable climb, when a slight change was made to the route due to thickening fog and poor visibility. No visit to Inch then but instead a slight detour to Ardmore this time enjoying bright winter sunshine! Home via Kiely’s Cross and the main road. In all a spin just shy of 90km and a respectable 28kph average. (Carol B.)

 

Group 3  descending the Sweep into Dungarvan
In the beginning there was no fog
Tip Of The Week: Clean & Maintain Your Bike

We had a mucky spin last Sunday, Dec 11th. Be sure to run a hose over your bike immediately afterwards. 30 seconds each side, after EVERY spin, but especially today. It’s much more difficult to get the muck off if you leave it until later

  • Every third week, the bike really will need a good thorough cleaning
  • If you don’t have time to do this, try to make time. Done properly it’s about 20- 30 minutes. 
  • Very likely, twice a year, get your bike serviced at your local bike shop. (Some will be able to do servicing themselves). A good time might be early autumn (Sept – October) and spring (March – April), but it all depends on usage. Perhaps one may be enough
  • You know it’s overdue if gears start slipping
  • There will always be an unexpected repair from time to time
  • Change your shoe cleats before they get worn

NOTE: for the very time-pressed cyclist, I’m offering thorough bike clean service. Deliver your bike to me, and I’ll deliver it back. If you are even more pressed for time, I offer a “Collect, Clean and Return” option. Private message me one-to-one if interested.

There are numerous good video clips from the guys at Global Cycling Network. These two will guide you to having the cleanest bike on the block.


To end this week, I am asking for feedback, dear readers. Please review the choices below to suggest a name for my BIKE. I’m not promising I’ll heed the feedback, but it will be processed over the Christmas, and the name emblazoned on the top-tube for a maiden spin in January.

Off-bike Fun This Week

My dose of off-bike entertainment this week comes also via a link from The Irish Examiner. Donald is set to appoint Breaking Bad anti-hero Walter White to head the Drug Enforcement Agency (the off-bike DEA) Be sure to watch the video within, “The Lead with Jake Tapper”)

To add a semblance of balance, I’ve chosen to add a gorgeous photograph snapped by Mícheál Burke (He’s my brother):

Winter scene at Knocknamaulee in the Comeragh’s

Until next week, happy biking and stay safe out there,

Paraig

Follow @burkesbiking for all blog updates. Same goes for Instagram

*Irish Examiner. All rights reserved.

Dungarvan Triathlon

Saturday June 28th, 2014

Another wonderful day on the sunny south east! Saturday June 28th, 2014 will go down as a red-letter day in Dungarvan sporting annals as the local Tried & Tested Triathlon Club held its inaugural Dungarvan Triathlon at the beautiful Clonea beach. The sun shone brightly, and calm sea conditions brought a huge sigh of relief to the organising committee and competitors alike. This was my first triathlon. To be sure, I was not alone as there were 42 club members taking on the challenge for the first time. We had trained well, under the watchful eye of experienced triathletes. We had taken on board all the hundreds of tips and tricks. We had, in short, been tried and tested.

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Beautiful Clonea

I arrived just after 8.30am, to find that the place was buzzing. As we racked our bikes, prepared our gear and double-checked everything, there was plenty time to relax and chat. For me, this was a great way to calm the little floating butterflies. However, as briefing time approached, we turned slightly inward and the banter lessened. I went for a short jog on the beach with Paddy, very short really. I was happy just to walk back at my leisure to get into my wetsuit. Following our safety briefing by Dave, we walked to the far end of Clonea beach and entered the water for a few minutes of acclimatisation. I remembered the advice: use this time wisely. Warm up, swim for 10 / 20 seconds, stand, stretch, relax, repeat. No time for chatting now. This was it! Months of training just for this moment. I had decided to swim on the right edge of the group, as there was a slight tailwind and current in my favour. Overall, my swim went well. We were in the expert hands of 22 kayakers. For the first time I noticed that my breathing was better, and I was able to swim longer sections with my head in the water. I did take my little sculling breaks on my back every now and then, and was pleasantly surprised that when I passed the final buoy at 600 metres I was not as tired as in previous training swims. The final stretch back to the beach was easier, and I was focused entirely on the Powerbar flags at the water edge. Finally, after 27 minutes or so I emerged. The photo shows how much it took out of me, but in fact, I recovered quickly for the bike section.

Section 1; 750 metre swim
Section 1; 750 metre swim

This being my strongest sport, I pushed as hard as possible into a very slight headwind to Stradbally. I eased into it to Ballinroad roundabout, and increased the effort near Garranbane. The climb to Ballyvoile hurt me, and the heat was intense. From there to the quarry after the river Tay I was able to recover a bit, knowing that the part of the course where it’s easiest to lose time is from the Tay bridge to the turning point at Five-Cross-Roads. And therefore, I was thrilled to see that the course was slightly shortened for safety reasons. The return to Clonea was fast, with a lovely tailwind, and I pushed very hard. Unfortunately at the Crooked Bridge near Ballinroad there were two cars in my path. In all fairness, they had nowhere to go as they had cyclists ahead. I eased off through the chicane, and pushed on hard to the roundabout. Here too, the same situation. I was a bit cheesed off, but looking back now, it gave me  just a very short breathing space to prepare myself for an all-out assault on the final flat section to Clonea.

At Ballyvoile
At Ballyvoile

My transition to the run was quick. But the run itself was not! I had very little left, and plodded around slowly. The spectators and marshals along the route kept me going, and as it turned out, only one competitor passed me. My brother Ray was at the 400-to-go point, and as I passed he gave his usual advice. “Don’t have a lame finish! Go HARD”. So I did…and I was glad I did! I raced it. The huge crowd for the last 100 metres was really special, as I heard my name shouted over and over by unknown unseens! I did indulge at about 20 metres to the line as I clapped over my head…and finished with a sprint. Tried & tested. Passed!

image

Immediately after, I met up with many many fellow club members and marshals. We shared stories and high-fives. We waited to cheer home other club members. We sipped, munched and chatted. Triathletes all! Joey in Clonea Leisure Centre offered me a bed, but a stint in the jacuzzi followed by a long cold shower brought me back to life, and again as we lingered in the warm sunshine, posing for remembrance photos, I enjoyed Ivor’s delicious ice-cream.

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Couldn’t have managed without my biggest supporter

The presentations took place shortly after, again in blazing sunshine, and as I cycled slowly back home, I was able to take it all in. Later that evening, we enjoyed a great get-together at the Moorings in Dungarvan, as we listened to the playback over and over again, until such time as voices became slightly blurred and the effort of the day seemed to take its toll.
No matter, roll on 2015.

Details on Strava
Details on Strava

Tried & Tested Triathlon Club is in its infancy. Founded in 2012, this was its first hosting event. And what a super show it put on! Serious kudos to all involved, especially Dave, race director for the day.  Actually, that does him a disservice because he has worked tirelessly in this role since last Autumn. I recall cycling with Dave back in early spring, and what struck me was his determination to ensure that this new club would cater equally for the few on the top of the charts, for the many mid-table members and for the back-of-the-pack stars. Chapeau Dave! Your determination and vision brought 42 new members into triathlonland.
I want to thank all the club members who helped out. One competitor mentioned that there were nearly as many marshals as athletes. Their support and encouragement was immense! Finally, I want to say a very big thank you to two wonderful coaches….Ann in Clonea Leisure Centre and Natalie. Ann got me started in mid-December. Three lessons, then she told me to go and practice what she taught me! It took me until mid-January to swim a length of the pool, and I never looked back after that. Natalie taught a weekly lesson right through the spring. She coaxed, encouraged, pushed and guided me and many others. But here’s the thing: I specifically remember one session back in March when I was close to packing it in. Natalie had the insight to just leave me alone and muddle my way through my doubts! By early June, although my swimming stamina was still missing, I KNEW deep down that I would complete my first triathlon.
Tried & Tested. PASSED.

Finally, finally: I thought it was very fitting that Tried & Tested Triathlon club made to make a financial contribution to Dungarvan Bay and Helvick Head RNLI Fundraising Branch.

Our efforts also help others
Our efforts also help others

For a selection of event photos check here. Also theres a complete set of event albums here.

So, what comes next? Lots of cycling in July and August as I prepare for Endurance Challenge 2068. I will be cycling the nine counties of Ulster and the six of Munster over five days in mid-August.

Monday 11th: Armagh Town to Derry City.
Via: Banbridge, Antrim.
Distance: 174km or 7-8 hours
To view a map of this route click here.

Tuesday 12th: Derry City to Enniskillen.
Via: Strabane, Donegal Town, Ballyshannon.
Distance: 139km or 6-7 hours
To view a map of this route click here.

Wednesday 13th: Enniskillen to Armagh.
Via: Cavan, Castleblayney.
Distance: 124km or 6.5-7.5 hours
To view a map of this route click here.

Sunday 17th: Cork City to Limerick City.
Via: Killarney.
Distance: 172km or 8-9 hours
To view a map of this route click here.

Monday 18th: Limerick City to Cork City.
Via: O’Briens Bridge, Cahir, Lismore
Distance: 209km or 8-9 hours
To view a map of this route click here.

Post update coming soon. Watch this space…

Questions:
For triatltetes out there, what are your memories of your first one?
Did you compete at the Dungarvan Triathlon? Want to share your experience?
Why is an important day called a “red-letter-day”?

Dungarvan Triathlon Gallery: June 28th, 2014

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He’s got the Edge: winner, Chris Mintern

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Note: BIG RED SIGN !!!

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Ready, steady, GO

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Dungarvan Triathlon Club

Want to see all the photos? Check it out at Dungarvan Triathlon Flickr Photos

Click here to return to my account of My First Triathlon

Taper, my arse!

If you read my last post, you will have known that I intended doing the Tried & Tested Triathlon Club 20k TT this evening. Furthermore, I had intended doing it sensibly, as the Dungarvan Triathlon is only nine days away and my hard training is finished. But….it did not go to plan.

Ballyvoile
Ballyvoile on a summer evening. Bikers going too fast to be caught on camera! (c. Meabh)

On a beautiful warm summer evening again, I was at the “crooked bridge” and decided to give it 100%. Why? I don’t know really. Maybe some overflowing testosterone (I’m allowed to say that, coz tis my flippin blog!) but mainly because I need to have an indication of where I’m at. I had hoped to do this event for the past few Thursdays, but Thursdays is not a good day for me as my family all meet up for tea and a catch-up. Also, whenever I do the brick workout on Tuesdays, I figure it’s a bridge too far (and not sensible, to boot…) to do two extremely hard workouts within 48 hours.

Garmin metric info
Garmin metric info
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Strava info the old-fashioned way. I usually prefer this.

Anyways, shortly AFTER starting, I gave it welly. Looking back at it on Strava, I had several section PB’s and KOM’s, and was really really thrilled with my pace. And I know I have more in me. What was interesting was that I was not able to get my HR to where it can be maintained for the duration. This tells me, of course, that the oul body is a wee bit tired, and with sensible rest and fresh legs on Saturday week, I’ll know what’s possible. Mind you, there’s a big unknown in the equation. How will I manage the TT after swimming 750 metres? Well, I’ll update you after next week. In the meantime, I’m going to approach it in my most positive frame-of-mind. Even though I’ll find the swim very tough, I have two things in my favour. 1. When I get on the bike, I’ll definitely be well warmed-up and 2. My HR will be high enough to go hard from the start. I do realise this is my FIRST triathlon, so there’s a chance that my best-laid plans might come to an abrupt halt! It’s important though, to visualise the best-case-scenario.

My clock time for the 20k TT was 36:52 That works out at 20.3mph / 32.6kmph.

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Incidentally, looking back through this post, the title may be open to various interpretations! However, Meabh noted that the comma in “Taper, my arse” saved me from further embarrassment.

 

Finally, here’s a good post-TT tip: three Guinness in the Lady Belle, Dungarvan, watching the highlights of England’s unfortunate defeat to Uruguay.

Scoreline England 1 – Luiz Suarez 2.

Report from The Irish Times and another from BBC Sport.

Do you ride bike time-trials? Let’s compare / contrast…

Are you an England fan? Perhaps a Uruguayan fan? Will Chile be the 2014 dark horses? Share your thoughts please…

Triathlon Taper

The training is all done. I’m ready now for the Dungarvan Triathlon on Saturday, June 28th. I have worked hard since early spring, learning to swim, and competing in several bike and running events to get me to where I need to be. My task now is to ease up quite a bit to be fresh  for the big day.

I will participate in tomorrow’s club brick session at Ballyvoile. However, I will go gently. Not completely easy, though. My plan is to push the bike section very hard on the short hill, and ease up for the rest of the lap. on the run section, I intend to go hard uphill, and very easy back down. I’ve got a swim on Wednesday, and bike time-trial on Thursday. Again, I will concentrate on short hard efforts followed by easy-paced recovery. There’s a 5-mile run on Friday night, and this will be my last hard run.

Bring it on!

 

Completed events 2014:

January:

  • Naas Duathlon (run / bike / run)
  • Dungarvan John Treacy 10 (run)

February:

  • Kilmac 5 (run)

March:

  • Cycling week Gran Canaria
  • Ballinroad 5k (run)

April:

  • Butlerstown Duathlon (run / bike / run)
  • Butlerstown 4 (run)
  • Ballyvoile Brick #1 (bike / run / bike / run)

May:

 

June:

 

In addition, I biked (occasionally) with Dungarvan Cycling Club, and with Tried & Tested Triathlon Club. Challenging, training & leisure spins.

 

Footnote: I WILL get around to doing a post on all the above events. Just at the minute, they’re coming at me faster than I can cope with! Winter is a great time for writing. In summer, I gotta take the chance to get out doing them!

 

Ballymac Comeragh Tour 2014

START
START

Weather: cool, mostly cloudy, mist and showers through the day.
Distance: 92.5 miles including my cycle from Dungarvan and back before and after.
Food: top class!
Registration: quickest I’ve ever seen! A young girl perhaps 9 or 10 had me sorted within minutes with a smile and all the information I needed.
Charity: Special Olympics
Organiser: Martin Moore
Overall: 10 out of 10

2014 comeragh tour 5
Thanks to Dave / John once again.

I biked up at 8.30 with my friend Declan and after the above-mentioned registration and warm coffee we headed off in misty rain about 10 minutes before the peloton. A lovely NE tailwind speeded us uphill towards Dungarvan, and on the Colligan descent our favourite photographers Dave & John were in place to provide the evidence!

Colligan descent
Colligan descent

On then to the Pike climb. Here, we steadied the ship and went up sensibly, saving a bit of energy for the headwind section to Carrick. Just before Leamybrien we were delighted to see a large group pass by, led by Pat Dunford,  top runner-turned-biker. Declan and I nodded to one another. This was the group to sit in with! And certainly it was grand to be towed along at a good pace. At Mahon Bridge this group of 14 turned left for Mahon Falls, and we proceeded straight on towards Carrick. Once again we were joined by several others to form another group. However, this time it was Declan and myself who did the driving! Providing huge assistance to us also was DCC’s Eamon Doherty. Within a short number of miles a number of others had joined us, some helping and others saving energy on the back. No problemo… That’s allowed too!
Soon the lovely sweeping downhill to Carrick beckoned, and for most of us the much-awaited water stop. Plenty bananas, bars and jelly-babies as well to stock up the energy levels. There was also a very pretty photographer snapping us as we headed for the bananas!

Oh God, which one?
Oh God, which one?

A group of 5 who had worked with us into Carrick arranged to leave together and stay together to Clonmel, and within minutes we were joined by a strong DCC contingent including Trevor, Tony, Dwayne and Maurice, (I bet I left someone out…) and on we rolled at a nice tempo. However, I punctured after about 10 miles. Declan pulled in with me and we assured the lads that they should keep going. Anyway, as it turned out, Declan just wanted to take a few shots of me in repair-mode. This was to be puncture number one of two for me. Seems I was too much focused on trying to smile to the camera through the misty light rain rather than checking the tyre properly!

Repair-mode
Repair-mode

Back on the bikes again we joined up with the popular DCC guest rider Paul from Limerick with his wife Ber and daughter Michele and we enjoyed the company until Clonmel. The slight uphill drag to The Hidden Inn once again sent out a warning to our tiring legs. We had an hour cycling before the event and remembered that we would have more miles to home after Ballymac, so we paced it sensibly. Near Fourmilewater the light rain started again and with that my inevitable second puncture. Murphy’s law. But as we were within smelling distance of food and coffee / soup, we didn’t mind too much. No photos this time though! I was grateful to Martin for being in the right place in the support van to give me a track-pump to get good tyre pressure for the last few miles. Go raibh maith agat!
Finish: good food and good chat with friends. We did not linger too long. The journey back was before us. Climbing the hill a second time was no bother and we arrived in Dungarvan safely, having had a great day out.
Declan had biked in from Stradbally to meet me earlier, so he had to soldier on for a further 10 miles alone. I did suggest joining him, but it was only in jest. Rule number one: do what you need to do… no more, no less!

The Lady Belle did tempt me later in the evening, but I snoozed in the armchair until near closing. Sure, maybe I’ll head over for a few nice Guinness tonight.

 

Sincere thanks to all stewards, marshals, caterers, fellow-riders for a great event.

More photos here.

Full gallery pictures of the event, and previous years on Ballymac Cycle FB page. Several million photos of several million cyclists. Most are really pretty!

Photo credits: Dave Coleman, John Coleman, Dan McGrath, Nicola  Moore Moroney and unknown others.

Ballymac Comeragh Tour 2014 Gallery

2014 comeragh tour 5
Start in Ballymac. We had already cycled up.
2014 comeragh tour 3
Colligan descent

Oh God, which one?

Oh God, which one?

Repair-mode
Repair-mode
2014 05 comeragh tour 10
Declan leads going downhill…
2014 05 comeragh tour 9
I lead going up…
2014 comeragh tour 1
Done & dusted for another year!
2014 comeragh tour 2
I need a sandwich… FEED ME…
Colligan descent
Colligan descent