Frosty Royal Cycle

posted 29 Nov 2010, 11:00 by Kevin Monaghan   [ updated 17 May 2011, 13:51 ]
(By Kevin Monaghan)
Up The Royal! - Not a phrase normally associated with a dyed-in-the-wool Westmeath man but thankfully it doesn't refer to our arch-rival footballing neigbours!  No sooner had the text message arrived on Saturday evening, wisely cancelling Sunday's road cycles due to weather conditions, when another message landed organising an impromptu mountain bike spin on the Royal Canal tow-path.    With the later start of 10am making this an even more attractive prospect, it was pleasure to join the quartet of Mark Horohoe, Robbie Kenny, Kevin Marshall and Mark Monaghan for a couple of hours on the crispy frozen tracks along the canal east of Mullingar.  
Despite the temperature - Robbie recorded a minus five on the way int town - the low winter sun shone brightly, lighting up the frosted trees in a picture-postcard scene.  The frosty conditions did away with the muddy conditions that are the norm at this time of year on certain stretches of the canal and everyone managed to stay upright for the duration (well almost everyone).
There was a slight detour when the group reached The Downs bridge to introduce the crew to a few off-road tracks which were combined into a loop that brought everyone back to the same spot to continue along the canal.   A short refreshment break at Nead's Bridge (unfortunately Mary Lynch's was closed) and it was back along the same route for home, without the detour this time.  A sixth participant joined us for a while on the homeward leg when we encountered a crane (heron) who decided to fly just ahead of us for a couple of miles, landing occasionally on the frozen surface of the canal to see what was keeping us.   In keeping with usual road cycling protocol, the pace quickened somewhat for the last few miles - getting the heart rate up and the lungs filled with the cold November air.   All arrived back in one piece, glad to have braved the frosty morning and beating the elements so to speak.
Apologies to Charlie Sheridan who had headed out from further east along the canal to meet up.  The detour at The Downs, exploring the tracks, meant we didn't get to meet up.  Sorry about that Charlie - my fault.  Hope you enjoyed your outing as much as we did.
Pictured at Nead's bridge on Sunday morning's mtb outing are l-r Mark Horohoe, Kevin Marshall, Robbie Kenny and Mark Monaghan. 
Behind the camera - Kevin Monaghan (note the shadow!), far right (10km further east and out of shot) - Charlie Sheridan!