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Striking for Galway

I share an office at work with a guy that's from Galway. On Tuesday we both discovered that the 2 of us might strike for Galway for the weekend, he had planned to visit his parents and I had a Christening on Sunday. My colleague had cycled to Galway a couple of times before with last August being his most recent, and he had warned that taking something like this on should ideally be done with a following wind. The forecast was giving a settled spell with a high pressure building over Ireland for the bank holiday weekend. Thursday evening we break for the Easter holidays and we are both game ball for striking off together. My colleague lives in cork city, if we were to meet, Rathcormac would be the spot. Good Friday comes around and I take a look at My Giant TCR and decide I got clean away the winter blues, take off the mud guards, (yes some of us have mud guards instead of winter bikes), and oil the chain. Happy with my couple of hours work, the BEAST is ready for road, ohhhhh, I forgot to mention, the new bottom bracket bearings supplied by An Rothar (best Giant Agent in Ireland) and fitted by the one and only Gucci #1. With the bike ready, I only had to prepare myself. Forecast was giving a high pressure but the centre of the high would be just off the west coast of Ireland for Saturday morning, but Windfinder, the best (free)weather forecast website on the internet indicated that while there would be northerly winds they would slowly die down as the high moved East over Ireland during Saturday. I got my gear ready, that's a no brainer, temperatures of 10 deg C, winter leggings long sleeved jacket, shoe covers and it goes without saying it had to be a "Velo Revolution Day". 2 bananas, 2 kellog nutri grain bars, 1 Kenetica Gel, 2 litres of water with High 5 zero tabs and I'm set. Friday night and I send my buddy a text, well what's the story, So for reasons out of his control, he had to pass and was driving. Dellima!!!!, what'll I do.........for anyone that really knows me when I set my mind on something, it’s hard to change to my mind. With my family travelling by car I knew I'd always have a get out clause. Early to bed......& not 8 pints of Tropical Lager, like Lanza (Sorry what goes on Tour). 6.00 am and the alarm goes off, time to freshen up, put on the gear and down to the kitchen for the one and only, bowl of porridge, a Real Man's Food. 07.00 and its time to don the Helmet tune in 2fm on my brick phone, set strava on record, throw the leg over and hit the road. Did I mention the half a jar of Chamois Cream!!!!. Having used Strava route planner to map the route, now that my tour guide was out, I had it all down loaded. Midleton up the main street, and once passed the court house just in case there was some other MCTC Lunatics out ready for a Spin, no such luck, not even Moloney the Piano Man or Cadogen the mountain goat, not even the Guccis were out, truth is I hadn’t really said it to anyone. 1st stop the 12 balls, banana #1 and off I roll. It’s like they say how do you eat an elephant, well its one bite at a time. Next bite was Fermoy and the Barrack Hill past the GAA grounds, get that out of the way and your game ball for the day. Up to now the wind had been blowing but I wasn’t long back from a week of cycling in Lanza, now that’s wind. All the same any wind that’s not with you is a wind that’s against you (philosopher or what). Next bite the dreaded drag to Gloccamara, a 6 km climb at around 3%, feels more but now the Northerly blow was taking its toll. I make it to Mitchelstown and it’s time for the 1st coffee of the day, it wouldn’t be a coffee stop without the heated croissant with ham & cheese filling, mistake #2, did I not mention what mistake #1 was, I was sure that was obvious LEAVING HOME ON A BIKE in the 1st instance. The head wrecking thing about my 1st coffee stop, it was 09:30 or 2 ½ hrs since I left home and I was still in Co. Cork. Quick trip to the boys room and it’s time to roll. Next bite get to Ballylanders, so you can get to Hospital (not an actual one) and then roll for Limerick. Limerick gets me 110k or so into the journey. In Hospital I had to double check directions with some locals (2 lads in an ISUZU jeep, I know I had doubts myself), let’s just say they were no GUCCIs. “Follow the main road LAD”….I might have added the lad bit myself. Climb #4 out of the way now all I had to climb at this stage was some balls of a hill in Co. Clare. But that was 20 or 30k away. I got on to the Tipperary Limerick road and unlike Jonny Finn turning left here was actually the correct option. Heading in the main road, petty good surface, I was clocking >30k/hr (only because the wind was across me) this section of road was East/West in direction. I only shouted abuse once the whole day but I had no choice, this old guy passed me on the main road only to cut me off as he turned into a Petrol station, God only knows how I wasn’t actually hospitalised, but once I saw how elderly he was, I was just glad for the both of us and went on my way. I know some of ye reading this are thinking John shout, let alone John shout abuse, that could never happen, completely out of character for him/me”

As the gear says “Dressed Like A Pro”, there was only one thing for it, hit Childers Road in Limerick with the belly held in till you get Cratloe and TRY and do the Gear Proud, at least put your best foot (wheel) forward. Limerick really didn’t know what hit it………. Down past King John’s Castle and time for the 1st photo of the day. Quick nibble on a nutri grain and I’m off again. Out past Thomond Park, I must say Its a fine sight and at the next roundabout take the 2nd exit and the old Cratloe Rd. Limerick city was a great experience, not alone did I not get stabbed……but the persons in charge of motor vehicles I encountered couldn’t have been any nicer, giving way to me even when they had the right of way, I had been dreading it but it was not what I expected, must have been the GEAR. Next bite, six mile bridge & have lunch, I was there around 1 ish (I think), but at this stage the time didn’t really matter, the GOAL now was just to make it to GORT. For those that may not know the road, I was travelling the shortest route available to Galway and Gort was where the motorway meets the main road, so if I needed to call for support, I’d have to try not do it before then. Sixmilebridge, brown bread sandwich, chicken for protein and coleslaw, of course with a coffee. At this stage I had used about 1 ½ litre of liquids and the café filled my water bottle, in with another 2 high 5 zero tabs and I was ready to take on the world. Tulla was next and not sure if it was tiredness but I thought the last climb of the day would be before Tulla…..it’s not but how do you eat that elephant!!! Gort felt like it was a hundred miles away, but I was there before I knew it, by now my gel was also consumed. I had to take a break in Gort, I was screaming out for respite, another coffee and a Mars and Its time to head for Galway. I had to take the N18 (Saw drs and all that). On strava route planner this looked flat, but at this stage every little pick on the road was getting tough. Before I knew it I was a the Oranmore roundabout, I thought I was there, only to take the 2nd exit and see a sign that says GALWAY 11KM, at this stage I had surpassed anything I had ever done before and I’d gladly taken a lift. But determined to get there I dropped a gear and pushed on. Into Glaway city centre and I’m following sign posts for Salthill, where unknowns to me I pass Lloyd Weymouth stuck in traffic. My original plan was to take a photo by the Spanish Arch, but Murphys law, I arrive and there’s a food festival…….skip that plan and head for the Prom in Salthill, I met a lovely couple who took the picture for me. Back towards town and I find my Hotel…….Guess what, I beat the family up. A quick shower and back down to the bar for pints. Guinness Gives You Strength………as they say the rest was History 223km @ 27km/hr in to a Northerly Blow


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