KILMACUD CROKES / BCI NISSAN M2M 2022 DONIE'S BLOG DAY 5
Really sorry about the delay folks,IT problems,but here it is now,enjoy.
Well, we did make it !! We were never going to fail,not after all the effort that went in over the last year. At 9 o clock on Sunday morning, 78 cyclists left the Clanree hotel in Letterkenny with a Garda escort heading for Malin head. There was a massive buzz about the place this morning, much more than usual. Breakfast eaten,bags packed,bikes out and off we went. 80k to Malin head,but not for group 1, Kev had other plans....again ! I didn't tell ye about Dave,Donegal,Cullen yet, another member of group 1 this week(didn't know him well enough to slag him publicly). Dave was with us all this week and is a really good cyclist but more importantly was a bit of craic too. He's from just outside Buncrana ,where everyone are stopping for coffee today at the Inisowen gateway hotel....but not for group1,Dave invited us all up to his house on the outskirts of the town for lunch,his wife Kerry and the rest of his family were waiting for us with a massive spread of gorgeous food for all of us and Liam and Kevin in the van. Only in Ireland would you get hospitality like this and not for the first time this week.
Plan was to head over the Mamore gap from here and on to Malin village where all the groups were meeting up,but with time running a little bit scarce we had to abandon that plan and get to Malin as quick as possible. So Dave basically took us over every mountain in Donegal in a "short cut" to Malin ,where we arrived around 1 o clock and met up with all the other groups for an ice cream on the green. From here it's 13k up to Malin head and we all headed off in our groups to finish our massive journey. Now, for some people it was a bigger journey than others.....Philip o Dwyer,group 3 all week,and a former M2Mer had been diagnosed with early onset of Parkinson's and had set himself an incredible target of completing M2M 2022 ,no matter what it took. He probably trained twice as hard as any of the rest of us this year,got his medication etc sorted out and with the help of his good friend Kevin Bannon,who cycled every kilometre with him,rolled up Malin head at 3 15 where his 2 daughters were waiting for him,unknown to himself....very very emotional scene and not a dry eye on Malin head !!
Now,in 2021 ,Pat Rowley and myself got.....eh........a little bit sick !! For a lot of the year we were on all sorts of different treatments and medications and surgery and our lives were pretty much turned upside down. Despite all the hospital visits etc,we set ourselves a private personal goal....to get ourselves up Malin head in 2022,no matter what it took !! Today was the day !! Most of the gang didn't know what was going on but personally I was a bundle of mush all the way from Malin village to the head. Pat and i were cycling side by side for a while on the way up and i couldn't even talk. As we approached the head group 1 headed up first and Pat and i followed, over the finish line and I bawled my eyes out for 3 minutes. Frank Rutledge in group 3 was on the same journey too ,having been diagnosed in August 2022. All 3 of us have beaten the desiese and are doing really well know ,but a 4th member of the group Wally, is still fighting,so we'll all have to go back again in 2024 to do it with Wally and finish the deal.
Every body made it to the the top and with brilliant sunshine there was a brilliant atmosphere on Malin head. We all cycled to a pub 2k away where the bike van was waiting,couple of quick pints and on to the buses that took us to Buncrana ,where we had a great night in our hotel. Very emotional day for me !!
That's my 5th M2M completed and definitely my toughest, fitness wise I'm still not back to where I was but I'm getting closer and enjoying the challenge, big thanks to group 1 for minding me.
Few observations/lessons learned this week.
1. Nothing is impossible.
2. Kevin Coakley is a great friend but needs something better than Google maps.
3. Sugar definitely keeps you going.
4. Liam o Carroll is a great singer.
5. Mark Cregg is a changed man.
6. Dave,Bradley,Byrne gets younger every day.
7. Bart o Connor is a chicken thief.
8. Don o Shea owes Liam o Carroll a new chain.
9. I never want to see another fruit pastille.
I helped out on the M2M comittee this year for the first time, Incredible bunch of people under the stewardship of Brendan Sweeney. It was an absolute pleasure to work with them all and no mountain was too big a challenge, which is why this event goes from strength to strength. The task alone of moving 80 people ,on bikes,from one end of the country to the other ,let alone the logistics of transport,back up,bikers,kit etc.
As much fun as it was ,the charity side is really important too so don't be shy about clicking on the link on the other mails or even just revolut me if you'd prefer.
I've really enjoyed sharing my experiences with you all this week and hope it gives some insight into what goes on in M2M. Here's to 2024 !!