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Weekly News 31st May 2010

posted 2 Jun 2010, 02:27 by Kevin Monaghan   [ updated 2 Jun 2010, 04:51 ]

Doesn’t everyone love Oscars’ night?  Those evenings when the Beautiful People emerge from their limousines toothpasted to the eyeballs and, blinking into the camera flashes, totter unsteadily on 18” heels towards the interior of the building. Well, the glitterati and the paparazzi were present in large numbers in Dominick Street on Saturday night outside Oscars restaurant when about 22 Wheelers and Wheelerettes turned up for an evening organised by George Bell to mark the first successful assault of the year on the Slieve Blooms. I wasn’t there myself – I was away on a weekend break with the War Office – and I can’t wait to see the pictures   in Hello magazine. While George was holding court at the head of the table, and those guests fortunate enough to wangle one of the coveted invitations were tucking into their filet mignons, lobster a la Noel Kennedy, and necking bottles of fine wine, I was huddled in a bed and breakfast somewhere in Wales, sharing a bottle of not so fine wine, chosen from the local off licence by my most recent wife.
 
This wine tasted so rough that I was wondering how it could have been obtained without a prescription, so I looked it up on a wine tasting website. One critic had described it as ‘a wine with a personality disorder’ while another had referred to it as ‘a bad tempered little wine spiteful tendencies and a hint of psychosis’. I rather think it captured the mood of my weekend, and I really wished I had been able to join George and his merry crew on Saturday evening. Reports emerging from my undercover operatives who were in attendance tell me that a great time was had by all. The only consolation I had was that, before I ended up in Wales, I spent the week working in London and managed to slip away for an evening to cycle across part of the South Downs near Beachy Head – a great few hours in the saddle and refreshingly different from the normal Wheelers’ weekend experience.
 
Joe Duffy sent me a notice about one of the events that he and Shay O’Toole are lining up for National Bike Week – The Great Mullingar Turbo Cycling Challenge. It sounds like a tremendous idea – take it away, Joe…………
 
For National Bike Week we have a novel cycling event which will take place at various venues around Mullingar from Sunday 13th to Sunday 20th June excluding Wednesday16th.

As part of the Lakeside Wheelers efforts for National Bike week, we will set up six bikes on turbos and invite teams of 3 to ride in relay for a total of one hour. The object of the exercise is to see what distance your team does in the hour. We then hope to set a record with the total distance recorded from all riders during the course of the week. While it is geared mainly for teams we also want Individuals to take on the challenge. This is a TT on the spot so go on challenge your mates to take you on.

You can be on multiple teams during the week. Ladies you can get all female teams to challenge each other, join a mixed team or indeed do both. We also want to encourage under sixteen teams to come together to compete against their mates. There will be a prize for the team with the greatest distance for the following:- male team, female team, mixed team, under 16 male team, under 16 female team and the individual who covers the greatest distance.

We need members of the Lakeside Wheelers to take up this Challenge. Get two others from outside the club if possible to make up your team. However if this is not possible get a few of your cycling buddies and pick a slot on the time sheet and register with Daryl O'Toole at 044-9332170 or email studentc&e@westmeathcoco.ie .

Why not challenge a few teams of people you know or work with to go head to head. You could also challenge those you normally ride with on club spins to ride in the same session to see who will cover the greatest distance. This will be a fantastic bit of fun and we need you to be an ambassador for the club so don't delay contact Daryl with your team or teams.
 
Great idea, Joe! And Liam Whelan is not a man who is short of ideas either. He has come up with the novel suggestion that he and his acolytes should occasionally start their Saturday morning spins from somewhere other than Mullingar in order to add variety and novelty to the experience. He asked for suggestions as to where they could give this new idea a try and, after much brainstorming and furrowing of brows, someone came up with the absolutely brilliant suggestion of, er…, Ballynacargy. Thus it was that Liam and his troops set sail from downtown Ballynacargy last Saturday. Syl Corcoran, another relative newcomer who appears to have fallen under Liam’s spell, sent in a great report on their travails and, judging by the series of misfortunes that befell them, it may well be back to the drawing board for Liam and his ideas factory…… Syl takes up the story.
 
I have had a long and dedicated history of sedentary life and am new to cycling this year. This change in my lifestyle has been successful thus far and more so than any of the other sporty activities I have reluctantly been dragged to before, I enjoy it, in fact I love it! I was attributing this to the great outdoors, noticeably getting fitter and never being left behind. But I on Saturday morning I discovered that it is really the people you cycle with that make me want to stay at it!
 
Saturday’s route was born on Tuesday evening when another new cyclist and I made an exploratory trip around Ballynacargy and Abbeyshrule to examine the locality and to provide the beginner cycling group with a cycle which would be as pretty as it would be fun. Miles and miles and miles of road were covered in the rush to create the perfect spin. By the time we were finished there wasn’t a boreen, lake or river that wasn’t considered for inclusion. And we took care to shout ‘hole’, ‘gravel’ and anything else that was appropriate out the window of the car as we drove the route –in both directions- to achieve the most authentic experience available with out a bike!
 
So, on our return I emailed the route to Liam ‘Can you fix this?’ Whelan who identified that the route was too short. Liam added a bit onto the route and it looked great. So all set for Saturday, so far so good.
 
We all met in Ballynacargy and despite the rain, thirteen happy cyclists took to the road. A bit of a shock was had when we headed out the road and after five minutes spotted the Hill of Laragh looming front of us. Of course some of the group took off up it like hares whilst others myself included decided that walking up some of it might be the best bet. Lots of laughing ensued as we wheezed up the hill and got to the top. After Liam checked with air traffic control we raced down into Milltown. At this point the GPS exploded so was of no help to us. We headed for Rathconrath. On the way, one of the very up and coming lady cyclists had an accident where to avoid a bottle she cycled up into the ditch and had to be taken home.
 
I think that I got altitude sickness up Laragh, as did the other navigator because after haring down the hill and making a couple of turns, we were lost. Not just lost as in we don’t know where we are, more piseog lost, the kind of lost where you recognise landmarks and think ‘oh yes I know where I am and where to go’ but strangely find yourself back in ehhhh…..Milltown again! It should be mentioned at this stage that we navigated a hellish hill on the way. We also passed Mearscourt at one stage which was reassuringly familiar but then hit the Balrath Triangle which sent us back to somewhere near Moyvore and I suspect not for the first time that day! Just on writing this I realise that I can’t even remember with absolute clarity the route we managed to take….
 
What I do remember though is that we stopped at the shop in Moyvore just to make sure that we were still where we thought we were. Just as we stopped someone got a puncture. As this one was being fixed, someone else noticed that they had a puncture and it too had to be fixed. So after plenty of banter to keep us in good spirits and dreams of tea and scones, thanks to Georgie Bell and Liam, we all took off and all excited to be moving again, got another puncture!!!
 
By now some of the cyclists decided to commune with nature, while we were waiting for the puncture to be fixed. I decided that this was a very good idea and for various reasons which include a tractor, a mechanic and a farmer, got lost! I had to ring for help and Liam came back to get me. Thanks Liam!  See, no one ever left behind! 
 
So finally, we got to Abbeyshrule, and even though we were over an hour late, they had the loveliest tea, coffee and scones prepared for us. Never have scones, jam and cream been so appreciated. And people were still laughing and smiling! Of course, I had to announce to the group that I too had a puncture and after the tea, Georgie and Liam who by now were the fastest tube changers in Western Europe fixed my bike. During this a tractor and large low trailer arrived beside us. I know that I was not the only one who thought that Georgie and Liam had decided to arrange a lift back to Ballynacargy for the lot of us!
 
The trip back to Ballynacargy was pleasant enough as in no punctures, no one landed in the ditch and we didn’t get lost. I got in last and was expecting people to dive into their cars and never to be heard of again! But no, we had a pleasant post-mortem (in the rain) and people were looking forward to the next cycle. I wasn’t even barred from the club! What a lovely group of people! No wonder I like it!
 
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Kevin Monaghan,
2 Jun 2010, 02:30
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