Archive News

"IT'S A LONG WAY FROM TIPPERARY" 10/05/2009

Friday, May 15, 2009

It is a Long Way….
As the song goes, ‘it is a long way from Tipperary’; something nine cyclists found out over the weekend of the 9th and 10th of May. In fact it is about 160 miles from Thurles Tipperary to the pitch on the Scarva Road, via Roscrea, Kinnitty, Tullamore, Kilbeggan, Mullingar, Delvin, Kells, Ardee, Dundalk, Newry and Scarva. 
 
The nine cyclists and three cars set off on Friday the 8th May, despite the foreboding weather forecast and the tropical downpours and made it safely to Thurles in the evening. The intrepid nine were as follows:
 
Seamus I am the captain McGrath
Seamus Jack Hammer McGreevy
Moya Race to the Front Stewart
Martin Kill the HillFitzpatrick
Damien What a (loud) LaughLennon
Liam Stay up late DrinkingMcGrath
Des Hard Man McConville
Maura Ban Garda McGrath
Aidan Taking on Fuel  Lavery
 
Happily set up in their comfortable B&B, a good night was then had by all and the hardy cyclists were fortified by 30 seconds of the darkness; well for some it was closer to 90 seconds. After Seamus McGreevy had a good night’s sleep (and Martin and Damien didn’t) a fine breakfast was enjoyed by all on Saturday morning.
 
At breakfast the rain was bouncing off the parked cars outside and we all wondered whose idea was this hair brained scheme anyway, Seamus? Despite the rain we left the B&B at 9:00 am and cycled the few miles into Thurles and found Hayes Hotel on the Square. After multiple photographs, just to prove we were really there, the rain began to ease and the sun was doing its best to shine. At approx 09:30 we left Thurles on the N62 heading for Roscrea. The rain stopped, the sun came out and we had a strong tail wind. How lucky can you get? Great idea Seamus!
 
23 miles later we entered Roscrea and stopped for some drinks and snacks. Well we stopped where Maura the Ban Garda indicated as she was in the support vehicle on Saturday and kindly stopped traffic at strategic junctions to let us through safely. Feeling well satisfied with things so far the way to Kinnitty was inquired after and the intrepid band took the R421 to Kinnitty and skirted the Slieve Bloom mountains. Pretty, but hilly; hard work going up and silly speeds coming down, right Martin? Fifty miles from Thurles we stopped on the outskirts of Tullamore (right by the golf club) for a quick break and some refreshment, before pushing on a further 10 miles or so to Kilbeggan for lunch.
 
Now lunch was an opportunity to refuel. Some took advantage of this wonderful opportunity and some didn’t. Some had just soup and bread and some had three courses and another 30 seconds of darkness. Personally I had lots of fuel available for the last 40 miles of the day.
 
After lunch it was onwards and upwards on the N52 and heading to Mullingar. Soon Mullingar was a distant memory and we stopped again after approx 80 miles from Thurles, 20 since lunch. At this point bums were sore and aches and pains were appearing. However our stop in Kells was within striking distance and we pushed on.
 
Our B&B was on the Ardee side of Kells and we arrived safe and sound after 106 miles from our first B&B at 10 minutes to 6 on Saturday evening, pleased as punch and ready for some R&R.
 
We dined royally at Headfort Golf Club at the suggestion of the land lady, a past ladies captain of the club. No holding back at dinner, we all ate very well and had a most enjoyable night’s craic. Further craic was then had at the local pub afterwards; hard men or foolish boys?
 
Early on Sunday morning Maura, Des and Liam left before 9:00 am to cycle the last leg home. Our excellent support driver from Saturday was determined to cycle the last 60 miles home. However help was on hand, Mark McGrath and Paul McGrath soon appeared as support drivers for the day. Paul looked after the early group and Mark the latter group.
 
Talking of latter group; that is the one I was in. I arrived for breakfast after 9:00 am and a fine breakfast it was. More fuel for the days cycle of about 60 miles. We left before 10:00 am and cycled along the N52 to Ardee. Despite the wind turning into our faces we covered the 16 miles distance in approx 1 hour. We were up for it and were going strong, the sun was shining and we were on the way home. A short break in Ardee was followed by a ride into Dundalk and our time was too good, we were too far ahead of schedule. So a longer stop in Dundalk brought us back on schedule and we left for the 10 mile uphill ride to Newry.
 
10 miles uphill; easy peasy, to the intrepid men and women on their bikes. Cycling into Newry was fun or scary depending on how you look at it, passing all those semi-parked cars waiting patiently at the traffic lights as we whizzed past at 30 miles an hour. No matter we were soon at the WIN industrial park for our last pit stop before the short run into Scarva. Off we went with a great feeling of accomplishment but soon a small piece of glass brought us to a halt. Martin’s back tyre had a puncture. As the puncture was being mended Ada Lavery joined us on the tow path to cycle back to Ballyvarley. Soon everyone was in Scarva safely, the sun was shining and the band getting into tune on a beautiful Sunday afternoon.
 
After a number of phone calls to ensure all was coordinated we set off on the last two miles to the pitch. What a welcome. The heroes had returned and the Aghaderg/Ballyvarley club had celebrated the 125 years of the GAA with something a little different.
 
Thanks must go to the support drivers for providing the back up we needed. All the food and drink we consumed at the various pit stops were invaluable.
 
Thanks to Francie McGrath for last minute logistical help (or Moya’s car would still be in Tipp)
 
Thanks also to Paul McGrath and Centra for sponsoring so many energy drinks and energy bars.
 
Thanks to the organisers of sports day for providing and coordinating such a splendid welcome back (and of course the photographers).
 
Thanks to Seamus, the captain, for coming up with the idea and organising all the ’volunteers’.
 
Aidan Lavery