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Lakeside Wheelers Notes 14th June 2010

posted 6 Jul 2010, 05:16 by Kevin Monaghan   [ updated 6 Jul 2010, 05:25 ]
Into The West
There was a letter waiting for me when I got back from a few days away. The name Joe Duffy appeared on the back of the envelope. My hopes rose. Recognition at last, I thought to myself. The talent scouts up at RTE have finally woken up and realised that they’d better get me signed up before the BBC or SKY Sports step in and steal me out from under their noses. Well, it turns out that the Joe Duffy in question is not the Joe who hosts the whineline on the radio, but our very own version, organiser of ‘Into the West’, the Wheelers’ annual spin to Galway in aid of breast cancer research. The trip isn’t happening until September but like a lot of cycling events these days, it is likely to be heavily oversubscribed, so get your entry forms completed and submitted without further delay.
Weekend Away in October
There was also an email containing a message from our social events officer, the ubiquitous Adrian Murphy. Adrian is threatening to hold a cycling weekend somewhere in Leitrim in October. I’ll tell you about our recent trip to the South West in a mo, but for anyone who has yet to venture out on an away weekend with the club, trust me, they really are fun. There is the challenge of the cycling followed by the shared sense of satisfaction over the course of an enjoyable evening of socialising and perhaps even a small sherry to help things along. If anyone hasn’t received the email containing details of the Leitrim trip, get in touch with me, Adrian or club secretary Carmel Buckley.
More Racing Success
A few Wheelers headed to Carlow on Sunday and while they were there, put in some tremendous performances. Damien Shaw, one of the most promising newcomers to have joined the club in ages, came home first in the A4 category with Ciaran Coffey not far behind in 6th place. John Murray won the A3 race, and in the ladies Wendy Bates and Sarah Franzoni finished in third and fourth respectively. Well done, one and all. Full details of the racing results and events are regularly posted on the club notice board by Dave Fagan, so check it out for all the latest racing news and gossip.
Mullingar Two-Day Next Week
Next weekend sees the club stages the two day Mullingar GP. This is a major event on the club racing calendar, and I have received a strongly worded directive from club chairman, Shay O’Toole, requesting that all Wheelers should turn up to lend a hand if at all possible. This is our chance to put on a great weekend’s racing so let’s get out there and show what we can do! And on the following Sunday, 18th July, the Tour of the Lakes will be staged, full details of which will be posted in next week’s notes.
Cork/Kerry 2010
Now, after all that, let me take you away from the cycling hullabaloo that has been happening in and around Mullingar over the past three weeks, what with the National Bike week, the summer league and all of the other biking events, and tell you about a gentler, more civilised weekend that we had down in Kerry and West Cork. There are days in any cyclist's career that stand out as being amongst the best that you will ever have during your brief stint on planet earth, and I can tell you for sure that the Saturday that we toured the Beara Peninsula was one such. I hold the view that Ireland, on a fine sunny summer's day, is a great place to be and if, on that fine day you happen to be in a place as lovely as Beara, then no place on can surpass it. Even struggling up the murderous climbs near the southern tip of the peninsula around Allihies, sometimes at less than five miles an hour, is made bearable by the phenomenal scenery – a cloudless sky with a warm sun glistening off a calm sea and all around you the cliffs, the bare hills and the isolated villages – it really is God's own country on a day like that.
I arrived in Sneem on the Friday evening in the company of Martin Eighan and Michael O'Donovan – the latter a Corkman who admits to 'breaking out in a rash' every time he crosses the border into Kerry. I have to say that he didn't look to be quite at ease for most of the evening and he only began to relax once we'd cycled across the border into Cork on Saturday morning. We stopped for refreshments on the way down and caught a bit of a world cup match on telly (England were bravely  holding on for a draw against the mighty Algeria – and that reminds me, I better put in some practise on the old vuvuzela!) but it wasn't worth hanging around for so on we went.
An advance party had already made their way to Sneem on Thursday evening and three or four of them actually cycled round the Ring of Kerry on Friday – a neat little circuit of about 190 kilometres. And there's a thing I love about cycling – the rate at which people go from being barely able to cover five miles on a bike to doing something like the Ring of Kerry in a day. I've seen guys – men who would have struggled to make it to the local fish and chip shop on a tricycle (yours truly included) - join up with the Wheelers and within a couple of months they're covering distances north of 100Km without undue strain. Neil Weir, for instance, started cycling only late last year and he covered the Ring of Kerry and the Beara Peninsula on consecutive days, a not unimpressive total of 325Km (just over 200 miles in old money). If there is another sport that offers the chance to progress at that rate, then I haven't heard of it!
We cycled out of Kenmare on the Saturday morning and over the big climb into Glengariff on the Cork side of the peninsula. The Cork / Kerry border comes just after the end of one of the tunnels at the top of the mountain and here we witnessed an emotional Mike O'Donovan climb off his bike and kiss the sign that said "Welcome to Cork". And for the rest of the day he wore the air of a man who was relieved to have made it back to civilisation after having been stranded for far too long in a godless wilderness. When we stopped for a very agreeable tea and toast in Glengariff, Tom Shaw looked up an old work colleague from almost 30 years ago in Dublin. Tom found him eventually, but quite what his erstwhile workmate made of someone reappearing unexpectedly after such a long time, only this time clad from head to foot in bright yellow lycra, is anyone's guess!
I couldn’t let the occasion pass without welcoming Liz Hoctor’s new bike to the club – a natty little light blue number making it’s debut in the world of Wheelerdom, and a definite step up from it’s predecessor, a 1950’s Raleigh Panzer model complete with armour plating. Good luck with the new steed, Liz! (Later in the evening and as the sherry kicked in back at the hotel, Liz revealed that a few years ago, she and Carmel Dolan shared a house and they began to regale us with stories from that era. Luckily Liam Whelan, knowing that I am possessed of a sensitive disposition, covered my ears to shield me from these tales of wild excess! Thanks Liam!)
Back out on the Beara, it was down along the east coast of the peninsula with a beautiful diamond sea sparkling to our left, towards Castletownbere for the lunchtime pitstop. I think we all knew that the serious climbing was still to come as we dined alfresco in the town square while keeping an eye on the world cup match that was being played on the pub TV (this time Japan and Holland were attempting to bore each other into submission). It was interesting to note the numbers of cyclists that were passing through the town, all intent on inflicting varying degrees of punishment upon themselves over the course of the day. In the best traditions of cycling camaraderie, many of them stopped for a friendly chat and to warn us of the terrain ahead – I think I heard some mention of a 25% gradient climb somewhere up ahead as I sat there with my face buried in a pizza. I thought about developing a tactical knee injury but decided against it.
They weren’t exaggerating, unfortunately. There were about a half dozen mini Matterhorns to be conquered before close of play, including one particularly long slow 6Km ascent out of the village of Lauragh, a hard, hard climb when you’ve already got 120 plus Km in your legs, but the scenery more than compensated. I’d never been down to the bottom of the Beara before but I’ll tell you this – the loss is entirely mine. Pedalling along the coastal roads near Allihies in close to perfect weather conditions was as joyful a cycling experience as I’ve ever had. To quote the governor of California, I’ll be back! 
Picture Of The Week (attached)
Reprobates and recidivists on tour in Cork Kerry 2010. L to R: George Bell T.O.A.O., Carmel Nugent, Liz Hoctor (complete with brand new bike), Rose Duffy, Mairead Greene, Carmel Dolan, Ollie Bright, Dominic Bannon and Liam Whelan
Kevin Monaghan,
6 Jul 2010, 05:23