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Weekend Touring & Leisure News (22 August)

posted 23 Aug 2010, 18:39 by Kevin Monaghan   [ updated 23 Aug 2010, 19:25 ]
By Tom Carolan....
Carmel Buckley, Claire Malone and Tom Gowran represented the Wheelers at the first Etape Hibernia, a major event taking place on closed roads in County Clare over the weekend. I must get on to them to see how it went. And next weekend, Shay O’Toole and sundry other reprobates will be heading in the direction of Waterford for the last round of the An Post series. Any Wheelers interested in going along for what promises to be a great day’s cycling should check out the event on the web. I’ve been on a couple of the An Post races and they are always supremely well organised and well worth the journey.
 
Now, it’s official. Like Austin Powers, I’ve lost my mojo! The dreadful realisation dawned on me last Sunday morning when I was asked by none other than Arthur Dempsey, the club’s recently appointed C group leader to take charge of the C group for the day while he was unavoidably detained (most likely by the Gardai). As luck would have it, it was a gloriously sunny day and a huge gathering of Wheelers arrived at ORS for the morning spin. About thirty or so cyclists presented themselves for C duty when asked to join their preferred group, so following club protocol which decrees a safety-conscious maximum of fourteen cyclists per group, Tom Shaw and Liam Whelan kindly volunteered to lead a group each. Instantly all cyclists under the age of 85 flocked over to join Tom’s and Liam’s groups. I was left in charge of a crew which, to a man, were probably ugly enough to haunt a house, the honourable exception being young Pietro from Kilbeggan, a newcomer who hadn’t the sense to join one of the other outfits. He must have spent the morning wondering if he’s done something terrible in a previous life!
 
So all seven of us wheezed, puffed and spluttered our way over towards Tullamore for the regulation tea and toast in the Bridge House Hotel while Tom, Liam and their charges dined at a different establishment, one of those that caters for a better class of clientele. Something has to be done about this! I think if I get a few shots of Botox, or perhaps subject myself to minor cosmetic procedures to remove the suitcases from under my eyes, with some major dental work (to include the eviction of that family of badgers that has been living in the cavities in my teeth), I might stand a chance of poaching some of Tom’s devotees for future outings, but for now, and without my mojo, well, it’s going to be a struggle…..
 
I decided to avoid the problems of cycling in the company of a bunch of aesthetically challenged geriatrics this weekend by joining Conor Isdell’s B Group. (Still no sign of Arthur Dempsey, by the way – I wonder if the Gardai have applied for an extension so that they can continue to question him. Only joking, he’s a little under the weather this week – get well soon, Arthur!). A definite step up in class, in every sense! To my surprise, the pace was manageable for most of the spin and the only complaint is that they took their refreshments in the more Spartan surroundings of a petrol station rather than in a nice hotel or restaurant that is the norm with the C Group. The pace increased as we left Tullamore and I was struggling a bit to keep up so I was delighted to see Rochfortbridge coming into view (believe me, that’s not a phrase I ever thought I’d find myself writing) signalling that we were on the home stretch. All in all, a decent 100Km outing in fine conditions and an indication that the gap in standards between the B & C Groups is a narrow one.
 
Tom Shaw and Joe Duffy meanwhile took charge of the C groups and Tom was good enough to send in a few lines on their day in the saddle.
 
“With Joe Duffy standing in for Arthur and taking out the faster C Group, me & George Bell took out a perfectly sized Beginner/Leisure group of ten!! Going to Moate was abandoned, in favour of Tullamore, mainly because of a nice new tea stop, the Clonamore Hotel, which Liam Whelan discovered over last winter!! A nice even pace averaging 15mph, was maintained all the way.

Newcomers (to me anyway) were Margaret and Mary, who took it all in their stride, and arrived at the tea stop at their ease!! Beautiful fresh scones and tea/coffee were produced to 9 of us!! One individual, who shall remain nameless, ordered a full Irish, which he devoured while I was eating the first half of my scone!!!....now that's fast eating!! Didn't slow him down on the return journey, which we took back by Rahugh and via Tyrrellspass to Rochfortbridge and back to base. Conor's group passed us near Gaybrook and some, the breakfast man included, couldn't resist giving chase!  All arrived back safely and really enjoyed their spin!!”
 
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