Everything Except A Newborn Baby

Monday, August 18th. Endurance Challenge 2068 Tour of Munster Day 2.

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We ENDURED for Breakthrough Cancer Research

It’s all about people, isn’t it? The people working at Breakthrough Cancer Research are there to help people. Those of us cycling today were there to support Endurance Challenge 2068, in turn helping others.
A slow re-run of my mental slideshow of the week brings people into focus, and brings with it a clear view of each person’s intent to be there for others. Yes, we love our bikes and our cycling egos. Yes, we will betimes do our dammdest to outclock one another on a carefully-targeted Strava segment. Yes, we can seem to think more about our bikes than anything else!
But here’s the punchline…we do it all to be social. To be with people whose bike-passion is similar; to have the craic over coffee, sometimes to claim little bragging rights or to at least offer stiff excuses to negate the tiny victories of good friends!
The real reason we biked the 106 miles through three counties today was to support one another on a life-journey. Actually, seeing that in print sounds a bit corny, but I’ll not withdraw it! I spoke with Eddie on the final roll to the finish, and he commented on how much the ten days had meant to him. “It had everything except a new-born baby!”, was his summing up. He’s just about right, I’d say, as my memories of five of the days will prove to me.
The details of where I went, and how much I enjoyed the cycling must wait until the latter end of this article, as I attempt to do my summing up of the most important part of the week…the wonderful people who I met with, spoke with briefly or at length, and shared with me a small portion of their story.
As I mentioned earlier, the memories are a slow-motion slideshow on my mind, and I am grateful for each and every slide! Some are slightly blurred as I remember certain conversations but not the name of the biker, while others are crystal clear. As in life, some central characters made strong impression, while others played a supporting role. All are part of the show, as we rolled on from Limerick, to O’Brien’s Bridge, Birdhill, Cappamore, Bansha, Tipperary, Cahir, Clogheen, Lismore, Tallow and Dungourney before arriving to a rapturous welcome in Midleton.

He knows he's nearly there!

Taken in Dungourney, Sean knows he’s nearly there!

So, my attempt to bring some slides into focus includes the following (in no particular order):

  • Oonagh, who is off doing a half-ironman in two weeks
  • Ger, a teacher from Farranfore who was in his younger days teaching near Dungarvan, and renting in Fitzgeralds Terrace, my childhood homeplace. We swapped lovely stories of a wonderful Stradbally man, Sean Ahearne.
  • Leonard is married to a lady from Seapark, Abbeyside
  • Peter brings music to Dungarvan, working in the piano business
  • Two proud Tipperary men (Johnny & ???) , quietly savouring the match result, yet knowing that it was the strength of the Rebel boys (and girls too!) that brought them safely to the finish line. Perhaps, the Premier boys will cross next month’s finish line just a little bit ahead?
  • Donie…jeepers lad, you had a lot to put up with from me, but the cycling was massive. Thank you
  • Johnny, you too had a restless night, and yet the support on the road was top notch!
  • Tony, thanks for the chats, the fist-thumping and your gentle leadership along the way. You won’t forget we have a little cycle trip in the planning for the Autumn?
  • Brendan, I’d love to be as mad as ya, and as sound as ya at the same time! Brendan paid me the ULTIMATE compliment when he said in a strong Cork brogue: “You know, the other fella is the road captain…but you are the general!” (Ego now downsizing again after that out-of-characher blip…)
  • Nessa, I’m gonna get my head chopped off for this, but…if I were a woman, I’d be a Nessa!
  • Eoin, working the Dungarvan circuit, unknowingly tried to destabilise me with High5 Zero electrolytes
  • Catherine for the hidden stash of Bassett sweets and your extraordinary care for us throughout
  • Tommy, Kieran, Jim and Brian…the long road is shortened with good stories. I’m still wondering who sponsored the shorts?
  • Niall, what can I say? I caught a sideways glance at the finish. You were so proud of us, and of the entire event. Rightly so too, captain, my captain! Were it not for you I might not have been at the start line. This entire event was an immense accomplishment on your part!
  • Bernie, you looked a wee bit shocked as I pointed out the run section of our local Waterford Adventure Race atop the Vee
  • Nick, you grew rapidly into your role as road-captain, thrust upon you by circumstances. You will surely never ckimb the Vee again with such satisfaction, keeping a group of 31 together all the way to the summit!
  • Eugene…it was a huge privilege to be with you. Your reaction to the views near the Vee hairpin made me even more aware of the beauty on my Waterford / Tipperary doorstep!
  • Mike, back from a fundraising cycle for the Hospice Foundation in Spain, content to fund it yourself, and repeat the dose again around most of Ireland. You’re the main man!
  • James & Sean… are getting used to all the kudos for this mammoth event? I learned a lot from listening to bits of your life-story, and like many many others, I was inspired to go the extra mile, not just on this event, but along life’s twisty road ahead.
  • The huge contingent from Midleton CTC…ye made this tour EPIC.
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James Colbert: helluva determined man!

After that ramble, the details of the cycling seem less important. To offer a brief summary, we cycled the 106 miles with a tailwind, stopped briefly at 11.59am and offered a silent prayer, pushed on through the Premier County to lunch in Cahir, before approaching Clogheen with caution. Many in the group had developed myths about the Vee. There were worried questions that needed answering. Here’s the lowdown: the group were of one mind. We decided to keep all 31 together going up, and it is a tribute to Barry & Nick that this plan was executed to perfection. Downwards then through the Déise, the final county on the Endurance Challenge on magnificent roads, before heading on to Tallow and over the border into Midleton.

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Please support Breakthrough cancer Research

I learned a new word today : stravatise. It’s a verb. The act of logging a journey on strava. Well holy God!

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On the open road

The Irish Examiner has a great article today about the event. Not the same little quirky bits you see on blogs, but important nevertheless. Final word to James: It is only when cancer “touches someone close to you” that all your trust and hope goes into treatments, which stem from cancer research. “We really hope our challenge will raise much needed awareness and funds for Breakthrough Cancer Research,” he said.. Here’s the full story.

I've never been more proud of two medals!

I’ve never been more proud of two medals!

Hope lives here.   Website: Hope Lives Here

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138 Epic Miles: Midleton to Limerick

Sunday, August 17th. Tour of Munster Day 1.

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Chief bottle-washer Niall & myself

I was rested, and raring to go once again. The three days in Ulster at the beginning of the week merely whetted my appetite for more, and because the organisers are from the east-Cork town of Midleton this was definitely classed as the spin of the year! The cyclists’ mecca on this All-Ireland semi-final Sunday. Oops, sorry…don’t mention the hurling.
Today’s jaunt through Counties Cork, Kerry and Limerick was an epic day in the saddle. The stats are massive. 138 miles @ 16.7mph in 8h15m. Stats do not tell the real story, though.
Here’s the real story: 38 seriously fit cyclists watching out for one another, helping out always and keeping a happy bunch rolling along nicely, thank you very much. This was critically important during the first four hour journey via Cork, Macroom, Killarney to the lunch stop in Castleisland, as we faced a very fresh headwind.
As we turned north-east towards our destination, the wind became our friend. However, when one door opens another slams you in the face! In this case, despite a more favourable wind, there’s a five-mile section of “dead road” heading up out of Castleisland, and it became very important to drop the pace and keep the strong group together.
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Cycling in a group is estimated to be up to 30% more efficient, so there’s a big onus on all in the group to ensure that everyone benefits from this saving of energy. On three occasions, following my turn at the front, my mind began playing tricks with me. It’s a long way to Limerick. Maybe you’ll get there, maybe you won’t. Are you sure you’re strong enough? These thoughts need to be killed off without mercy.
There’s no better way to ensure that happens than to ride within the umbrella of a group that is intent on maintaining pace, rhythm and all its’ members.
That’s exactly what happened, and we thrived on hard work to Newcastlewest and Patrickswell, and finally knocked it back a few notches as we entered the Limerick city limits.

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GIANT coffee-stop

Verdict: epic.

My highlights included:
1. Meeting James Colbert’s mam as she joined with us to Cork City
2. Lunch at the Country Market in Castleisland, and their innovative coffee-serving technique.
3. A full 15 miles beyond my previous longest spin
4. Catherine’s Basset sweets once again.
So, it’s early to bed and early to rise…you know…it’s the attempt to build up a store of wisdom! There’s a stiff note of caution, however: tomorrow’s another day, and the bike won’t cycle itself. Night night from the Strand Hotel in the Treaty city. Night John Boy.
Postscript: I missed having Mike Collins alingside today. Get well soon mate, and hopefully we’ll meet in Dungarvan next Sunday…
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Drung DRUNG

Tour of Ulster. Enniskillen to Armagh. Wednesday, August 13th

It is done. This big target was set back in late March, and today it has been ticked off the list.
After a most delicious breakfast at the Enniskillen Hotel served by the most professional & friendly staff I’ve ever come across, Brian, our resident mechanic, was keen that to put some oil on the chains, after horriffic rain yesterday.
An earlier 9am start to coincide with a rising westerly wind, pushed us along briskly lo lunch in Castleblaney and our final destination back to Armagh City Hotel. We took it easy today. It was a day to savour after two tough ones. Marion and her cousin Marguerite were waiting for us, and after photographs and a very short chat among the Ulster Warriors we went our separate ways. We intended staying longer, but the cavalcade was moving on to Dublin for the next phase, and they looked like some beauty-sleep was badly needed…

Thanks
I want to thank many people. In no particular order: Niall the head honcho, Tommy & Kieran on lead van, Catherine for the food stops (especially the Bassett sweets!) and Brian our mechanic. They watched over us. They organised our bike-day from top to bottom, and were fantastic.
I’d like to thank all who donated to my charity page or gave me cash, and finally I want to record my appreciation to my ten bike buddies for good safe cycling over the three days. Unfortunately all ten were were no craic at all. As dry as sticks, they were…but, sure, isn’t it the fundraising that’s most important?

I am back with these no-craic-at-all-at-all cyclists for the Tour of Munster on Sunday and Monday next. Report to follow.
Highlights:
The staff at the Enniskillen Hotel
Sun &  tailwind
Rolling countryside of Cavan & Monaghan
A little extra excursion around some lonely unmarked roads
Tailwind. Did I mention tailwind?
And last but not least…the staff at the hotel
The village of Drung. I noticed that the Irish and English spelling is exactly the same. One in italics the other in CAPITALS. Despite my best efforts, I was unable to figure out which was which. Does anybody know of any other placenames with this feature?

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Catherine prwsents Kieran with pretty pink carnations.

No craic? Well, I hope you weren’t fooled by that!

So, that’s it from me, and that’s it from Ulster. I need to go watch the Irish ladies rugby world cup semi-final against England.
You’ve had an overload of Spring Forwarding, and it’s important for you to wait a wee while for the next wee story.

Páraig / Pat (whatever)

The Derry Air. Moving Air is Called Wind

Tonight the update will be short and sweet, unlike the spin today with Endurance Challenge. A whopping 107 miles from Armagh to Derry through five of the Ulster Counties.
If Heineken did wind, t’would be the best wind, and always at your back. I think today’s wind was supplied by Murphy’s stout. Granted we had tailwind for an hour. After that, we didn’t.

Highlights:

  • group spirit, despite the conditions
  • lunch in Randalstown together with impromptu entertainment by young Irish world dancing champion
  • the view from Barnsmore Gap
  • the great people of Northern Ireland. They are so friendly and they are do delighted to welcome us here.
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Barnsmore Gap, County Tyrone.

Did you notice the GoPro speed camera on Sean Buckley’s helmet? Penalty points for some of us today!
The leaba is now calling, and I’ll not be found wanting. Tomorrow we head south to Enniskillen. I’ll be dreaming of a tailwind. Just hope it doesn’t turn into a nightmare.
Just heard the sad news that Robin Williams has died. I just had to google him and came up with… “You’re only given one little spark of madness. Don’t lose it”.
There’s a few Cork lads here who seemed to have been given a double dose, and they sure know how to use it!

 

Five Men Fix a Puncture

National Bike Week took place last month, but it passed me by as my focus was very much on my first triathlon. As soon as my wetsuit was hung up (temporarily) I longed to start my long endurance cycling training. In fact, whereas I probably should have taken an easy week to recover, I did the opposite, in fact, as I biked approx 270km over four spins (37, 26, 96 and 114kms). I was aware that this was not really a very bright idea! As luck would have it, I spent the following week in Galway and Athlone and I was happy to leave the bike (and the runners) at home. One full week of rest… my first and only week of complete rest since before Christmas!

I noticed this week that I was really raring to go, and as the weather once again obliged, the miles began to clock up! Sunday almost 140k; Tuesday: 60k; Wednesday: 33k; Thursday: 130k; Saturday: 35k and today Sunday 106k brought the total to just above 500km in eight days. The shorter distance days were at a very very easy pace, recovery pace.

Today (Sunday) was another very warm morning on the rothar, as a good solid group of twelve DCC riders headed for Cappoquin and the Vee. We kept the pace steady, and as agreed, we kept the group together on the way up to the Tipperary border. Without stopping, we pounced down to Clogheen and waited at the junction for Newcastle five who assisted with a puncture on the way down. It’s actually easier for one person to fix a puncture, but men tend to think that 10 hands are better than two!

The journey east to Newcastle proved to be very enjoyable with a gentle tailwind, plenty stories and only one mechanical. (By the way, for a good read about what MEN talk about for three or hour hours cycling, have a read of TheCyclingBlog…highly recommended!). The stories started to take on a more serious tone as we approached the village, and after the right turn for Melleray, many horror-stories and fantasy were only too forthcoming. The experienced among us opted for the sensible (experienced) version: the silent movie! Onwards and upwards, very hot sun did not help us at all, and our group of twelve were scattered to the four winds simply because there WAS no wind. Not even a little cooling breeze. The climb is quite difficult, at almost exactly 1000 feet in  3.5 miles. The average gradient is 6%, but there are three steeper sections at 15, 18 and 19.7 per cent. It’s no wonder that we tackle this monster so rarely. Take a look at the profile below. The first is the Vee, the second is Newcastle (officially Knockboy), both approximately the same height, but Newcastle is much shorter and steeper.

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The Vee and Knockboy. Everywhere else is flat.

Having heard the horror stories at the base, we listened to the advertisments atop! Rightly so too, I suppose. I had decided early on in the spin to take it gently on this climb, because my mileage this week was more than double my recent weeks. I kept my HR in zone 3 most of the way, and only crossed into zone 4 for only three minutes, and arrived at the summit with tired legs but fresh lungs. Our spin home via Cappoquin once again was very enjoyable if uneventful, and as the distance was just a little short of 100km I went for a short ramble on my own.

8 days…500+ kilometres. Three weeks to goal date. A lot done, more to do!

Details of my spins can bee seen on Strava. Here are some sneak previews of the efforts this week:

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Lots of climbing

Capture miles january to july

Miles per month so far. I’m still in old-fashioned miles.

Capture miles

Lots of distance. Probably best to schedule an easy week again.

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The same effort, same enjoyment, in kilometres this time.

I realise that it would be a good idea to take some photographs along the way. Nothing speaks like a photo!

Finally, it’s clear to me now that I’m well on my way to being ready for my planned long events in three weeks time. Bring it on!

Páraig

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Have you a favourite hard hill? Please tell how HARD it is…

Plan A

There’s no run this week. None last week either. I’m feeling a bit like a Garth Brooks fan: ready to rock, but nowhere to go.
However, instead of reviewing a completed event, let me preview instead. I knew that as soon as my triathlon debut was over I would shift focus to the bike because there’s a big agenda coming up in mid-August.
Here’s a list of my planned events:
July 27 Tour of Meath 160k
August 3 Tour de Suir 160k
August 10 Tour of Kildare 110k

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August 11 Armagh to Derry 174k
August 12 Derry to Enniskillen 138k
August 13 Enniskillen to Armagh 124k
August 17 Cork to Limerick via Killarney 172k
August 18 Limerick to Cork via Waterford 209k
August 24 Tour of Waterford 160k

In addition to these events, there will be plenty going on in between. I have settled back in with Dungarvan Cycling Club Group 3 on Sunday mornings. Our usual is approx 90k, and this is being added to week by week as we look towards higher mileage needed for selected events.
To get me up to completing several 160k spins, I know what’s needed. I have completed my base weeks, and now I’m ready to up the distance on selected weekly spins to approx 120 / 130k. I will knock back the pace a bit for these longer ones.
Additionally, I will look very carefully at my recovery between long spins. My favourite part of long-distance cycling is the two short spins built in each week at a very very easy recreational pace. There are three rules:
1. There must be coffee and a scone. Maybe even jam!
2. No watching the clock. Watch the ripening wheat instead.
3. Devote a short few minutes to appreciate my health, and to step in the shoes of life’s sad situations. Recently my mind has been flooded with images of Garth Brooks fans. Follow with slight chuckle, and return to rules 1 and 2.

These easy spins are very important. They being real enjoyment, they relax tired muscles and release any lactic acid built up from harder sessions. Ideally, these easy spins will be completed the day after the longer spins. Other factors to be considered: good nutrition, good hydration, recovery sports drinks after long spins, good sleep and some Guinness.
I’ll be sure to update you as my plan progresses…

As you know I am participating in Endurance Challenge 2068, and in order to publicise this event as widely as possible I would really appreciate if you would help spread the word. Here’s a recent update on my fundraising for Breakthrough Cancer Research.

Online or offline. Please consider donating, no matter how big or small.

MyCharity.ie total is €517, and JustGiving total is €325

I did go along to the Kilmac Trail Run last week. It sure is an event with a difference! Have a look at the difference in the picture below…

My plan was to turn the number upside-down if things did not go to well

This surely deserves a separate post? Yes… Watch this space!

The Big “C”

There was a time not too long ago in Ireland when the word Cancer was not mentioned out loud. The shortened “Big C” was the phrase used my so many. Thinking about it now, I’m struck by the fact that “BIG” was included. Definitely, it is a BIG disease; for certain it was magnified even further in our society because it was the BIG untreatable in most cases, and surely it developed a larger-than-life meaning for many who suffered and for those who watched loved-ones crumble from health to death.

Today, things are different. Different, but in some ways the same. Even though it is now talked about more freely and because the prognosis for many forms of cancer is so much better, there is still a terror attached to this disease. However, as a society we are becoming more accustomed to challenging our terrors. I have no doubt that a significant aspect of this change is due to our increased understanding of the role of science, and our strong belief that we do possess the means to find the necessary solutions. In this regard, RESEARCH is the key. It’s not just me saying that. We live in times where we now understand that, while it is critical that we provide services for those who have cancer and for their carers, it is equally critical that we focus on our attempts to treat the causes and not the symptoms.

I noticed a link recently to National Breast Cancer Research Institute. They do great work. In fact, recently three members of Dungarvan Cycling Club (Emma, Anthony & Beanie) completed Race The Rás, together with hundreds more, to raise funds for and awareness of breast cancer research.

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National Breast Cancer Research Institute. Key words: AWARENESS and RESEARCH

And with that in mind, I turn my thoughts back to Endurance Challenge.  As my preparations for August’s Endurance Challenge 2068 begin in earnest, I thought I’d share my profile with my readers. Having met with Niall at the recent Comeragh Tour in Ballymacarbery, I shared with him my commitment to blog the event. Several days later, following a phone call, I was nominated as a “participant of interest” (god, just imagine……..a retired oul school-teacher!) and I submitted the profile below. The purpose is to help in promoting the event and to encourage others to sign up to take part.

This is a REAL challenge to raise funds for REAL cancer RESEARCH

This is a REAL challenge to raise funds for REAL cancer RESEARCH

PRESS RELEASE

My name is Pádraig de Búrca, from County Waterford. I will be at the start line in Armagh in August, and I urge you to consider joining with me (for this section or others of your choosing )and hundreds of others, in our efforts to raise much-needed funds for Breakthrough Cancer Research.
I took to cycling in 1999 after several injuries playing badminton. I am a member and former secretary, PRO and chairman of Dungarvan Cycling Club. While I am competitive, my true enjoyment comes from the many sportives I’ve done. My favourite, of course has to be the Sean Kelly Tour of Waterford, but my seven Wicklow 200’s, Mizen-to-Malin and Alpe d’Huez rank very highly also.
I usually run during the autumn / winter, and recently graduated to several half-marathons. I run (towards the back of the pack) with West Waterford AC. This year I decided to keep both my cycling and running going side-by-side, and when I joined my local Tried & Tested Triathlon Club, I learned to swim in order to take part in their inaugural local triathlon. As soon as this is completed, my focus will shift back to the bike and I will be researching old and new challenges in the run-up to my three-day Tour of Ulster (August 11-13). Definitely on my list is the Tour of Meath in July, and the Tour of Kildare, together with longer spins with my local clubs.
I am a retired primary school principal teacher. When I retired, I had decided not to commit myself to any new ventures for a full six months. I did have some requests, because people know that I work hard when I do make a commitment. Almost to the day, when my six-month moratorium was completed, I spotted a Facebook post about Endurance Cycling 2068. It sat on the back burner for a few weeks, and then I decided to register. Why this one? Well, I will be cycling in memory of my brother-in-law Jim, who died last February. I am thinking that it will be an emotional time for me.
I also made a decision recently to keep an active blog about this event, my training, together with a mish-mash of other bits & pieces. I’d love you to follow me for updates. More importantly, I’d love if you would consider participating in any section of the challenge. You’re not a runner or a cyclist? Well, why not consider organising an event? The good people back in the Midleton office will be only too happy to advise. Sure, if it comes to it, so will I…
It’s likely that many readers have or have had some experience of cancer in their family. This is my opportunity to make a big commitment to a big cause. Finally, I feel that I will get from it more than I give. So could you! Check it at Endurance challenge 2068. As Mrs. Doyle says….go on, go on, go on, go on, go on, go on…
Go on! Join with us.
Please feel free to make a donation however small to my JustGiving page or MyCharity.ie

Are you a Twitterer? Follow me @deburcapadraig

ENDS

 

I would be very interested in hearing from others who have registered for this event.

Are you a cyclist / runner? Have you or your family been affected by cancer?

 

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FINALLY, if you notice any typos here, please let me know so that I can fix & update.