All right! I'm trying to start writing about cool things I did RIGHT AFTER doing them, rather than weeks or months later, so here's my little bit on the Cycle4Life!
EDIT - the error with picasa web albums was finally fix'd by google on 4 June, so I'm finally adding in the pictures below.
May 19th -- first annual D.I.D. Cycle4Life in Dunboyne, Co. Meath!
I woke up with JUST ENOUGH time to spare. I quickly got dressed, then made a breakfast of scrambled eggs and hemp protein powder. They were green! Unfortunately, I had no ham.
When I arrived in Dunboyne, it was SUPER COLD. I was wearing my horrendously mismatched cycling clear (see last picture below), and coated in a light layer of sweat from the 15 km cycle from Dublin. I had meant to take my windbreaker and a light balaclava/headband/kerchief/multi-purpose thing I'd bought specifically for cycling trips, but of course I forgot them at home. Sat on a bench and spent 30 minutes mentally kicking myself for not bringing them.
Kickoff was at 9:15. Place was packed with people gearing up for the cycle!
[picture depicting a road jam-packed with cyclists, the starting line consisting of a yellow arch in the distance]
I started off somewhere near the middle of the pack. I was alone, but didn't mind too much. I decided to just talk to everyone along the way and enjoy myself. The first person I struck up a conversation with turned out to be my cycling buddy for the rest of the day. His name was Paul.
[picture of a middle-aged dude in cycling gear, with sunglasses and bleached hair]
He was on a rickety-looking hybrid, and I thought at first that I was gonna outrun him fairly soon, but the guy moved at a much faster clip than I thought he would. I was faster than him on the uphill portions of the course, but he always caught up to me on the downhills. I do think he was more destroyed than I was at the end of the day, though, but considering the bike he was on he was doin' pretty well. (If you're readin' this, Paul, 'twas fun times.)
We averaged about 18 kph and talked about stuff 'n' things. He gets an automatic 20 degrees of awesome for thinking Captain Picard was the best Star Trek dude. (side note: yes, I measure awesome in degrees. There is a science behind this.)
As fer the cycle, everyone was talking about how the hill of Tara was gonna be SO HARD, and I'm used to cycling up Howth head so I was expecting something, like, Howth-sized or bigger. The hill of Tara was like half of Howth, haha. It was a bit steep toward the end, but I geared down to the granny ring in front and managed to cycle up it without stopping or having to stand up out of the saddle to grind. I did feel super fit and a bit smug when I passed a whole bunch of people walking their bikes up the hill. XD ...at the same time, I was kinda "cheating" 'cause my touring bike has lots of super low gears for towing trailers and stuff, but I wasn't weighed down by anything at the time. (There were lots of people grinding really huge gears the whole time, though; idk how they didn't wreck their knees doing that. If you're not getting at least 70-90 rpm on the bike you're not doin' yourself any favours, that's for sure.)
Here's a the view from the top of the hill:
[picture of green fields and trees stretching off into the distance, with some kind of stone tower in the middle. on the left side of the frame is a guy carrying a camera past me; I guess he was taking advantage of the scenery too]
We stopped for some bananas and some coffee at the top. Then I remembered that my little sony camera has video capabilities and asked Paul if I could make a video for you guys to showcase his cool accent. While he grew up in Ireland, his dad's British, so he's got like the perfect "received pronunciation" thing going on. Click below to watch:
The rest of the day wasn't all downhill, but it wasn't all uphill either. The sun even came out for a little while, and it was never cold as long as we were movin' on the bikes. The countryside of Meath was gorgeous. I love the smell of farms, I love the fields of cattle and sheep, the green of the grass, purple wildflowers, trees and hills and little creeks and bridges. Cycling through all that makes me super excited for my July cycle tour of Ireland!
I've decided that I actually like cycling up hills, too. I used to dread hills--I liked hiking trails but hated the uphill parts; workout machines like stairsteppers just seemed evil to me. Now, after doing Howth a few times, and even carting full panniers around Achill island, I like hills--I like the sense of accomplishment you get when you top the rise, y'know? And all I know is that I'd better get used to hills 'cause I'm gonna move back to Colorado before long, and them thar's MOUNTAINS...
Anyway, we spent a little longer at the food stops than the other people so we ended up finishing a bit later than them. Actually, toward the end we got LAPPED by some of the lads who were doing the 140 km cycle--yeah, they started an hour before us or something, but they were going TWICE AS FAR! And when they passed us they must have been going like 45 kph. I tried to keep up with them for a sprinting finish in the drops but lasted like 10 seconds. :(
We reached the finish and cycled through together, a real team. It was great. (Total time on the bikes: 3:40 over 67 km--not too bad really.) After, we stopped to pick up our goodie bags--I got a stuffed seal, some gummy bears, cheese crisps (which I promptly gave to Paul), some headphones, and a kids' movie? Um, ok. I'm on the lookout for a kid to pass the stuff along to--Aisling, don't you have like little nieces/nephews/cousins? lemme know...
After that Paul and I parted ways and I made a little video (click below) that makes no sense out of the context of this blog post. WARNING. I swear in this, because sometimes I forget that "shit" is actually a swear. I'm becoming Irish apparently.
(from description of video on youtube: Anyway, yeah, the maths on this video don't seem quite right, do they? 67 km + 15 km doesn't equal 100 km, Jam!
no. but it's more like 17 km to my home, and I cycled out there in the morning too, so 17 + 67 + 17 = 101. There. Pwned.)
And that was that! I felt pretty good at that point, like I could keep going all day, but about halfway through the 15 km cycle home I realised that I was actually knackered and had hit my limit. Made it home at like half three or something. I laid in bed for the rest of the day watching youtube, iirc. I even decided I'd earned the right to eat dinner in bed so now I have buckwheat cracker crumbs floating around in the sheets, haha...
So. I want to thank my generous and amazing sponsors for their contributions to the Temple Street Children's Hospital on my behalf. All in all, I raised 325 euro--FOUR TIMES my original goal of 80! I couldn't have done it without you guys; you really are the best. I was super excited and proud to be able to hand that money over to this wonderful charity. Too bad I won't be around for the same thing next year--I'd do the 140 km route that time, and maybe keep up with the crazy lycra lads with the aerodynamic helmets and carbon bikes this time! (or not)
Finally, here is a picture of my getup on the day in question:
[picture depicting me wearing the blue and white Cycle4Life jersey, with orange bib shorts, purple tights, black arm warmers, and red gloves--nothing in the ensemble matching whatsoever. Also, I've got my sleek new surly long haul trucker bike! OMG I LOVE HER.]
p.s. -- Keep on checking back here for more posts and updates. Below I said my goal would be two posts a month, but I want to post once or twice a week if possible. If I don't, feel free to hound me in the comments until I do!