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Mizen to Malin Odyssey

posted 13 Jul 2015, 10:10 by Kevin Monaghan   [ updated 16 Jul 2015, 12:28 ]
(By Graham Morgan)   
Participants in the Mizen Malin cycleTen members of Lakeside Wheeler's - Ciaran O'Brien, Philip O'Hara, Aidan Farrell, Charlie Sheridan, Tom Duffy, Graham Morgan, ParaicDevine, Andy Vambeck, Pat O'Sullivan and Joe Duffy (Driver, Photographer and anything else that was required)  backed up by a Donegal Bay Club Man Greg McHugh - set off last Sunday for an early start on Monday to take the Mizen to Malin challenge to raise funds for St. Brigid's school to go towards a new school bus (http://www.gofundme.com/s769wg).  Here is an account of the odyssey...

Day 1 
After a delayed start due to the weather we got on the road at 10.30 up to Mizen Head for the start and some photos. In the car park Charlie noticed a problem with his tyre and Paraic got a puncture - two wheel changes and we were just out of the car park. We didn't really get going until 12pm. A beautiful cycle up through West Cork to Glengarrif for the first stop then over the Caha Pass, Kenmare, Molls Gap, black valley through the gap of Dunloe and into Kate Kearney's Cottage for Soup. 120km in and all the climbing over, or so we thought. Back on the road over to Adagoe heights and some climbing on the way to Tralee. From there we did some more climbing and a good sprint for home into Listowel at 8.30pm with 185kms 2,300 metres of climbing and an average of 28Kph.  We are all still talking but we have to go for dinner yet.

Day 2 
Today started off wet but cleared as we headed on the ferry to Clare. We decided we would stop in Lahinch after a few route changes and had a nice side/tail wind. When we got to Lahinch a storm brewed and a monsoon started so we stopped for an extended lunch break. the monsoon didn't abate. As we left, more route changes and after a quick stop to enjoy the wetting the quickest route was decided on and we got to work getting wetter and wetter.  Thankfully the rain let up at the tea stop in Gort when we got under the canopy in the service station only to start again when we restarted. I didn't think we could get any wetter but we did. Thankfully as we got to Claregalway the rain stopped just as we got off the bikes.

Luckily instead of the rain tomorrow we have a block head wind so more adventure awaits. We are in good spirits. Philip O'Hara gave me a new gillet as a thank-you for bringing him over all the mountains yesterday. The lads are looking forward to the hills of Donegal as we head into day 3. Today we did 157k climbed 800 metres and averaged 28kph. Joe's plans for photography unfortunately have been hampered by the monsoon. But he is still doing backup with a smile on his face

Day 3 
The weather started off cloudy and windy but as the day went on it got better and better we took back roads but it turned out to be the straightest route with very quiet roads and great road surface we stopped for lunch on the side of the road in Mayo - a lovely country spot.  We had dispatched Joe for ice cream he came back with enough cream for the whole of the Wheelers. The woman whose house we stopped beside was happy enough after she took most of it off us. The roads were rolling but the fatigue has put manners on us so pace was a bit more easy today, even so there was very little talking done between Ballyhaunis and Sligo. 

When we arrived at WB Yates grave for a much needed stop the lads couldn't wait to get off the bikes. Refueled and ready to rock we powered into Bundoran with just shy of 160k on the clock 27kph Ave and another 800 metres of climbing. Tomorrow is the last leg and we are all looking forward to it if we can get out of bed tomorrow. Charlie and Greg have hatched a plan to win the race to the top of Malin head tomorrow by doing a 190k and are at home getting fed a special Donegal diet of fresh cream in preparation not to be outdone we are on a special diet of Guinness. We will know who's taken the right option tomorrow at the top of Malin head.

Day 4
Another great day on the bike sun shining as we left Bundoran the lads were in great form and stiff, stiff as a board in fact. We soon loosened up as we hit Ballyshannon and had a lovely 12 per cent climb into the town hugging the stunning coastline on the way to Donegal town. We stopped in the town for a quick shot of jagermeister and pick up the two Donegal men.

We eventually got on the road and we're soon through the stunning  Barnsmore gap heading for Ballybofey and onto Letterkenny on some rolling roads but for every uphill we had a great downhill we stopped off in Letterkenny and after a lovely break on the side of a roundabout we headed back on the road to Burt and some more amazing scenery after a quick stop Aidan Farrell decided to make a guest appearance In stars in your eyes thanks to a jeeps turbo failing on a hill. We stopped shortly after Buncrana and after a vote we decided to go the scenic route around the coast only to go over the bog but not a Mullingar bog,  a mountainous one where Charlie and Philip decided to keep it steady while everybody else took off and they missed the break. They are still making excuses over dinner but everybody has a bad day. 

We made it to Carndonagh with no sign of the lads.  Luckily Ciaran got a blow out and we soon were all back together. It was again agreed that we would keep it all together and we did until the road turned upwards and the break went again as we got to the foot of Malin head. Philip said again we should keep it together until the finish. That was my cue to attack on the stinging finish to Malin head.

We all finished a great week of cycling which we would highly recommend for anybody who to take up the challenge. Philip O'Hara said he will sponsor the event if you let him up Malin head first unfortunately for him a gillet, a jersey and a water bottle weren't enough to buy me off. An epic 4 days on the bike 660km covered a lot of meters climbed and an average of just under 30 kph. Our hoops are glad it's all over for another few day's. Joe unfortunately has another difficult day tomorrow driving us home lucky for him we couldn't do it without him and we are all grateful for his help and support. Thanks as well to all our family and friends and sponsors for the good look messages .
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