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Catalina's Beginners Blog.

So 6 Weeks on, the beginner groups continues getting stronger as the weeks pass by.

Since my last write up, we have been out and achieved what some of us though was not achievable. But let me go first to week 5 just in case you weren’t there!

Week 5 saw us meeting at 9:30 in the Courthouse again, despite the freezing (and I seriously mean it) freezing fog!! To say it was cold it was an understatement. Still, a big group, around 25 I think with some new faces, made it that morning! Idea was to do around 60 kms, some inclines/hills (whatever you want to call them really) and maybe a bit of speed work! So, off to Youghal we go. We lost one of our road captains and Trish who was suffering badly with a cold/asthma and forgot her inhaler. Both returned back to Midleton before we reach Killeagh. Fog seemed to have lifted a bit after that, beautiful sun, a bit of heat (still freezing, don’t get me wrong!) ….and the Youghal bypass greeted us….off we go…I start cursing not having had breakfast that morning (DO NOT DO THAT AGAIN!) …but I keep pedalling, people pass me, but I keep going, I know the drill at this stage, drop to the small ring, and breath!!!! Everyone up the top waiting to regroup, and continue the journey after a little breather (and a bit of chocolate courtesy of Garry McGuinnes)….Off we go passing the roundabout, a bit of climbing but nothing serious…spectacular views, we got up to Kinsalebeg petrol station, where we stopped (Mags though we were having a coffee break, he!) our picture was taken , and we quickly turned back!!!!! Back to Youghal, where I was at the top for a while (not long before a hill where I drop to the back again!) and this time we stopped for coffee…only to be received by instant!!! Oh dear, we are not being very successful with our coffee breaks!! Anyway, there was another garage not far, so the group was split between the likes of “I don’t care what coffee I get as long as it gets me warm” and those who “need the real thing”! After the break, it was decided that the group was big enough to maybe split into two groups, so one group could go a bit faster! Here, I made the decision to try and keep up with the faster lads thinking, sure we are all “beginners”, and it’s almost “flat” all the way back, what harm can it do? Well, it went very fast, it was obvious that the group was breaking very quickly but I tried to hung there at the fast group…there was a fast changing chain , so they were taking turns going up to the top and lead, but I was not able for it….and first big hill, I was dropped!!! Now, I shouted at the guys to hold for me, I was sure I would be able to keep up, but they couldn’t hear me. Unfortunately we were far from the other group, so I had to ride back on my own. I want let you all know all that went through my head, but it wasn’t nice….Anyhow, I kept going, thinking, ok, just get home, just get home, but it was hard, I there and then realised the advantages of riding within a group, not only physically but also mentally…it’s so much easy!! Passed Killeagh, and debated to wait for the group behind me, but there was too far, and I didn’t want to get cold (fog hadn’t lifted there and again it was freezing), so I kept going….I won’t lie, I was hurt, hurt that I was not able to keep up, and also hurt that no one in the front group realised I was missing and waited for me!! But, Mags to the rescue (not only she does break coffee machines, but she also fixes things!!) she caught up with me before I reached Castlemartyr, and we rode back together…cursing this and that, fixing this and the other….and we reached Midleton!!! We were determined this was not going to break us, and glad it didn’t!!

So, when week 6 came, and we found out we were doing the Earthquake route, and all the climbs involved, some of us beginners had a bit of a chat via Facebook messages, and were afraid, very afraid of the task ahead, but determined to raise our voices (I don’t have to make a huge effort on that, you all know I am loud by now!) if the group was going too fast for us!! Lloyd was our Road Captain, along with Shane, Fergus and Dave O’Brien. I made sure I positioned myself to the front to make sure we were not too fast..but sure, I forgot my garmin, so I had no idea what speed we were doing…but it felt good, and in fairness to Lloyd, he keep looking back, making sure “I” was ok, and that everyone else was still with us. Small stop before we reached the Youghal bypass, we were reminded to use the gears for the climb, just to take easy, forget about anyone else, and just go!!!...when we reached the bottom of the bypass, someone had a mechanical…his chain broke!!It went all too fast, first we were all stopping, then we were told to go ahead…some lads stayed behind and fix it (we need a class on these things guys!) …and off we all went….some went fast, some went slow, but we all made it to the top.

(I was told Mags fell trying to stop when she got there, she got cleats during the week…I feel it’s important to know those things…I will be getting out with mine next week..and I’ll report back on one of my falls too..hehehe) . After a quick sip of water, a few jellies…off downhill we were…I am starting to like the descents after those climbs….apart from a stoopid car beeping at us at some stage, it was fun speeding a bit!! Little did I know what was to greet us after the roundabout…..a hell full of climbs…..but I was mentally prepared for it….I knew I was going to be slow, that I might be on my own for a while…..and off we went….it wasn’t as bad as I expected…J* (can’t disclosed his full name, sorry) joined us in Youghal, and he stayed with me during the climbs to Tallow….he kept telling me all about the hills ahead, how many how long..and I told him to lie to me, I would rather not know!!! Well, when I asked him to tell me the truth, he wouldn’t …go figure!!! Anyway, here I was puffing up the hill, when his phone rang…and he answered it…I couldn’t hardly breath and here this man goes cycling up hill talking on the phone!!!!! Fair play!!! ….As the group was spread up the hills…we regrouped a bit before getting to Tallow, a quick banana and some drink, and off we went again.There was some nice descents on the way….I loved every minute of it!!!

We arrived in Tallow, and we found a shop for coffee….panic when Mags was there at the top of the queue….and just before she gets there, the machine runs out of water….seriously!! Some people have gone to another shop, lucky ducks!!!! Anyway, the lovely ladies in the shop refill the water and we all happy enough to have got a hot drink!!! After everyone has had their little coffee and a bit of a banter, we are told there is yet a few more hills, and to Dungourney, bad road surface, but then it’s all downhill…do you believe them? I didn’t and right I didn’t!!! It was hilly, I wouldn’t call that a road, and surface was worse than bad…but we made it..I feel I have to mentioned here St. Fergus , Garry the Great, Mick the Merciless and Dave the Determined , as they all stay with some of us to make sure we were ok at all times…..Adrian kept going up and down, making sure we were not stopping, Shane was taking selfies on the road..even a video where you can check my lovely cork accent!!! And we made it to Dungorney, where we had one last stop, shared any left over jellies, food, drink , and as it was “mostly” down hill, we decided we were not going to regroup again..Some tough hills after Dungorney, but, I don’t know what’s up with me, they didn’t bother me as much, and I didn’t die on any of them….mmmm, do I like them, hell no!! But I am getting used to them!! Gary stayed with me, and Fergus with Trish, Deirdre and Mags were flying at the front…..Chats are great on those spins, we are all getting to know each other, and lots of friendships are being made…I have proposed a beginners graduation celebration of some sort!! So let’s bounce some ideas next week and see what everyone would like to do. Not sure what will happened after our 8 (or is it 10) weeks beginners group stint finish, maybe an intermediate group???. But what I know it’s that I am glad I made the decision to join the group, and that despite the ups and downs, I am still here week after week, with such great people and being encourage by everyone when I most struggle!! Let keep up the good work!!

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