Drude Rides Ireland

 

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Preparation

When writing this originally in early 2007, I was trying to convince you that I might actually make it on this ride before you parted with your cash and made a donation.

So, if you read the other pages, you'll be aware that I rode John O'Groats to Land's End in 1995. However, twelve years is a long interval and so the only value of that experience was the mental one to know that a long ride can be done, and what it's like to get in the saddle day after day for a significant distance. At that time, I was cycling to work three or four times a week, so that was a handy 30 miles a day of practice to keep things ticking over. For a few months beforehand, I was doing longer training rides of up to 100 miles around the Chiltern Hills where we lived then.

Since then, the usual commitments of family and work leave less time for cycling, but I had been trying to prepare for Ireland as well as possible. So, most weekends from January 2007 saw rides of up to 75 miles a day around the Border Marches where we live now. It's tough, but great, cycling country and hoped that it amounted to good preparation for Ireland. The Brecon Beacons, Black Mountains, Cambrian Mountains, and Shropshire and Herefordshire Hills have some unforgiving climbs, but some wonderful views on largely deserted back lanes. Most cyclists would say that the wind can be the biggest foe, and I'd add to that any terrain that is constantly up and down, where you quickly lose the payback of the work in the previous climb and the whizz downhill that follows. I'd been checking the Ordnance Survey maps of Ireland to see how much of that lay in wait. Our friend Pat, with tongue firmly in Anglophile cheek, is a mine of information about American motivational phrases, and one was particularly appropriate: "Pain is just the sensation of fear leaving your body" ..... some of those contours worried me, so I was expecting a lot of pain!

To establish that my idea wasn't completely crazy, we took the opportunity of the school half term holiday in October 2006 to go over to the west coast and check out a few of the most potentially difficult routes. So, whilst Beccy and Calum visited the beach or waited for me at the designated pub stop, I was pedalling 60-odd miles from Dingle to Kenmare via Macgillicuddy's Reeks and the Killarney National Park, or 50+ miles around the Beara peninsula. Though it was tough going, it wasn't enough to put me off the 2007 plans, but I still hoped there would be easier days than those through the Cork and Kerry mountains. Whilst the 1995 ride managed a 90+ miles-a-day average, I was aiming for about 75 miles-a-day in 2007 to allow for age, terrain, and Atlantic coast weather, but see the RideDiary for how that panned out. Another phrase from Pat: "Ridden hard and put away wet" - that seemed like it would be me, but the diary tells you that the weather gods were mostly kind!