Just had to do this. I told you all about John Murray in Day 5. John got sick with 40km to go on Sunday and had to retire. As you can imagine he was absolutely gutted. I met him on Monday and he was really sick and even more disappointed. I won't go into the details but he spent 3 days in hospital this week,getting out on Thursday .
This morning, John and his wife drove down to Bantry and John cycled out to Mizen head to finish his journey. What a guy !! Can't say I'm surprised, absolutely delighted for him. One big step up from the level of commitment shown by a lot of people last week.
Best of all,now every single person that started the journey, finished it !! Attached is a photo of John at Mizen head.
I'm still having nightmares about Mark but that's for another day !!
What a way to start the day,6 30 am,blue sky,final day of M2M and an apology from Mark !! Kevin Bannon, he's all yours in 2020 !!
It has been an incredible 6 days,basically a group of 80+ adults(Including crew)acting like 5 yr olds,while our kids aren't around. From the moment I picked Ollie up at the bike drop off on Tuesday evening, I hadn't stopped laughing.
Yes we made it to Mizen head !!
Early this morning the bus picked the 4 groups up in Glengariff and brought them back to Kenmare,where they set off across the Caha pass,tough start to any cycle,but they all got over it . Into Bantry for lunch and then out the peninsula to Mizen head.
Kevin brought us out to sheep's head,spectacular scenery and not too many hills,65km and back to Bantry for lunch just as all the other groups were leaving for their final leg. Sun was shining now and everyone was in great form. We all met up at Barley cove, 3km from Mizen. Group 1 headed down first,followed by each of the other groups,as each group arrived they were cheered in by the groups that had already arrived. Just like 2 years ago Ronnie was last to arrive but this time he wasn't alone, Micky Finns tyre literally exploded at Barley cove,so he was delayed and joined Ronnie and last but not least professor Arnie Hill from Breast cancer Ireland,who always does the last leg with us, was with him too. Massive reception for the 3 lads and hugs and kisses all round the entire group ,and rightly so !!
Sadly one member of the group didn't make the final 40km,my good friend John Murray (who's on this email list) had been fighting a dose of flu type symptoms all week and having got over the Caha pass and down into Bantry he became very sick, combination of flu and severe dehydration took its toll and John had to retire. John has raised over €5000 already for our charity and I know how utterly gutted he must feel. I kind of feel responsible for him because I'm part of the reason he did the challenge, usually he had just given me a few quid and got to read the diary,but this year,having seen how much fun I was having he decided to do it himself. Knowing John,sometime this Summer he will drive to Kenmare early some morning and complete his journey. I've already offered to join him !! Get well soon John.
I'm not sure everybody realise the enormity of what they have achieved this week. It's not just about the cycle, breast cancer is a disease that has touched everybody in some way and the money raised by the group will go a long way in helping to find a cure. Arnie Hill said a few words to us all and genuinely thanked everyone for their efforts. Just last Monday, a friend of mine (who's also on this email list) had given me a donation and while I was messaging him to thank him,he told me his mum was in the hospice in Harolds cross with the disease and just that weekend the family had managed to get all the grandchildren together from all over the country, to visit her. The hairs were standing up on the back of my neck as I read the txts and It really brought it home to me the reason why we were doing what we were doing.
I always leave the "Thank yous" till the last day. The entire comittee (including Bomber),savage undertaking this year and brilliantly executed. The support vans with Gerry Park and Vinney Patterson , Liam o Flaherty and Mick Carolan, Liam o Carroll and Mick Hynes and the newbies Micky Green and Robbie Kelliher. Dave Sharpe and and his crew of bikers. None of this would have been possible without them. All the M2M ers who contributed to the overall safety of the group. To all concerned, getting 73 people on bikes from one end of the country to the other is no mean achievement !! Thank you all !!
We had a brilliant night in Bantry after all the celebrations at Mizen and it was brilliant to see all the interaction between everybody. Liam o Carroll acted as MC, I love to see a man who can laugh at his own jokes before he's even got to the punchline. Arnie Hill gave an excellent speech, starting ,as always with humour and then explaining seriously the effects of breast cancer and the lengths that they are going to to eradicate it. Kevin Coakley acted as a judge and handed out fines to half the attendance for crimes committed during th week. The night ended with a massive sing song that went late into the early morning (I believe).
Few things I learned myself this week;
1. Never go for pints with Ollie Baker the night before 5 days of cycling.
2. When you're over 55 don't try to compete with "skinneys" that are half your age.
3. You can never have enough shammy cream.
4. If you hold you're hand up at your ear while singing,you'll sound better(Mark)
5. Lycra is not flattering.
6. Neither is pink....on men.
7. Never offend Kevin Coakley.
8. Stay well away from the Mamore gap.
9. Never ask Bomber to organise an early morning bus.
10. Even though I missed Burkie,Mark Cregg isn't the worst roomie.
11. A little tinker,is not a verb for fixing your gears.
12. Beetroot juice does work.
What more can I say ? My wife slags me about being off enjoying myself for 6 days,I used to tell her it was hard work,but from now on I'll just have agree with her. Including all the hard work,it has just been an unbelievable 6 days,my face is more sore than my behind,from laughing. If everyone enjoyed the trip half as much as I did there will be no complaints. Bomber,we're gonna need 3 buses for 2020 !!
After the initial comments from Mark last night he seemed to settle down,he slept like a baby till around 5 am,then the hammers of hell erupted,snored his brains out for an hour ! Kevin Bannon was having a giggle at breakfast because even though he was at the other end of the corridor he recognised those nasal tones immediately. Told me he still wakes up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat after his nightmare with Mark 2 years ago.
Today was a very long day. Kevin insisted that everyone be on their bikes at 7 20 am. This meant breakfast at 6 30 and then gear up and go,because we had to catch the ferry from Kilimer to Tarbert at 10 o clock. He was running around shouting "come on,come on" at everyone, then just as we were ready to leave at 7 20 he discovered he had a puncture !! New tube and tyre required,got it sorted in under 15 mins and on the road at last. We'd only gone 100yds when we were called back because someone had left their phone on a wall,guess who ? Yep,our Kevin. On route we also had to call to Pat Burke's parents house as is now traditional, you cannot pass their door without a call. This was a very brief call,I'd say 5mins...but we did call. All the other groups called too and were very well looked after by the Burkes.
The organisation for today's journey was unbelievable. The route was Lahinch to Kenmare. There was no accommodation available in Kenmare so the plan was to bus everyone over to Glengariff for the night and then back to Kenmare in the morning to resume cycling. So tonight people are scattered all over the place in Kenmare,hotels and B&Bs. It was also decided that if group 1 cycled over themselves, we'd only have to hire one bus,so we did.
After we arrived in Tarbert we cycled down to Listowel, quick coffee and on to Faranfore for lunch . From here we cycled down to Kilarney which was choco blocked as it was a bank holiday weekend,we wangled our way through the traffic and headed up the 14km climb,"Molls Gap"at 8km we stopped at "ladies view"to regroup and get some photo's. We've 2 guys in the group that are extremely good at climbing,Padraig and Adrian. The lads call them "the skinneys" not a pick on them. Dave (Bradley) Byrne ,lost the run of himself and tried to take them on,his attack lasted all of 1 minute !! It was now raining and getting a bit miserable as we climbed the last 6km to the summit. All I could think of was the groups following and how they would cope,fair play to them all ,they managed it all very well,for people only new to cycling this was a serious challenge and well overcome. Everyone descended down to Kenmare from the summit and boarded the bus to Glengariff. Very very tough day for everyone, dinner wasn't till 9 30 by the time everyone was sorted out.
Tomorrow won't be easy either as everyone has to be transported back to Kenmare to start their cycle and the cycle begins with an 11km climb up the Caha pass which group 1 did this evening.
I'm not 100% sure what we're doing tomorrow but it's looking like a spin around Sheep's head if Coakley can retain control of the group. lunch is in Bantry so we'll meet up with everybody there and head down to Mizen head together . I'm really looking forward to the finish tomorrow, we've got about 35 people who've never completed this before, it has been an epic journey for the last 4 days and I get a bigger thrill from seeing these guys cross the finish line than I do from crossing it myself.
Despite the unbelievable level of organisation by the committee there were a few minor incidents today....Bomber's bag got left in Lahinch this morning !! This evening I met him on main street he was wearing Mick Durcans shorts and Robbie Kelliher's t shirt.....not a happy camper !! Coakley and Pat Halpin are sharing a bed,not even a double,its a three quarter,think Pat's after Wally's job !! Wally was handed a sleeping bag and still isn't sure where he sleeping. But because tomorrow is final day and we're staying in a really good hotel in Bantry i'm sure all will be forgotten .
Managed to do 202km myself today,42 extra,which takes my "additional kilometres " to 104km. Promise is a promise !! Thanks a million to all of you who contributed to my charity fund.
Here's to tomorrow ,final day and getting everybody to Mizen head safely.
Interesting night,thankfully no sleepwalking,a little bit of snoring but a lot of sleep talking !! "No Kevin,you can't make me do it" "get that lazy ****** Wally to do it" "Burkie hasn't taken a turn all day" "please God,make it end" and the most worrying of all "I love you Bomber" !! Today we left Claremorris at 8 15 and headed out a slightly longer route than planned,West to Ballinrobe and down into Cong for an early morning coffee then over to Ashford castle for a photo. We didn't get invited in like last time because we didn't Ronan (The goat) Conway with us to grind down the security men at the gate. From here we headed for Headford where Padraig's in laws were due to be out in the main street to wave him on. As we cycled into the main street Kevin called Padraig out in front of us all,not as a friendly gesture, but just in case there might be some stray buckshot in the air !! We cycled the length of the street and didn't get a single clap,wave,or cheer....complete No show ! As if that wasn't humiliating enough for Padraig he spent the next 10 minutes listening to Mark singing "I'm nobody's child" and all the group joining in for the chorus !! Onwards from here to Corrandulla,Claregalway Oranmore and into Kilcolgan for the mandatory lunch with all the other groups and storytelling.
Forecast for today was very cloudy and probably rain in the afternoon. Another No show,after a slightly hazy start it was gloriously sunny all day while most of the rest of the country was getting what we got yesterday.
From here we sped into Ballyvaughan and turned out along the coast to Fenor and Lisdoonvarna,then down to the cliffs of Moher where we met two of the other groups who had come a shorter route but had also climbed corkscrew hill.....no mean feat !! We all got some fabulous photos here,a lot of which ,I'm sure can be found on the Kilmacud Crokes website.
Together we all flew down into Lahinch where we're staying tonight. 130km for most groups and 172km for us. That's 62km extra for me as part of the extra 100/150km I pledged to do on my charity page.
Great swim in the sea this evening for most of us and great relief for legs that are now tired.
We all dined together again tonight and were joined by Michael Culligan who is joining us to the finish. Due to work commitments Mick could only get to us today, so to make up for lost kilometres he cycled 279km down from Cabinteely !! Better still ,it's Ronan Conway's birthday today and Mick organised a huge birthday cake with a massive goat on it.
It's brilliant to see how all the groups are getting on so well together. A lot of these people had never met before Tuesday and now everyone is on first name terms.
Coakley and Wally are still doing a good job with group 1,but they'll need to tighten the reigns a bit tomorrow as we have nearly 200km to do. A few members aren't happy with the shackles that are being put on them and if things remain as they are there could be trouble. Today a veteran M2Mer overtook Kevin,completely out of turn, on one of the final climbs,Mr "I'll go in bus 1 if I want" has been answering back constantly,and now that we're in his county, he's not adhering to Kevin's strict rotation system. Wally isn't backing Kevin as well as he should, it seems since his mum brought his washed jerseys back to the hotel last night at 10 o clock he doesn't really care any more because he knows he has enough now till the end of the journey. I've heard whispers of a group 1A.
Massive day for all groups tomorrow,so let's all stay safe,please God.
Finger is getting sore so I better sign off for today.
Ah Jaysus,he's off again "mammy mammy" "not another banana" "my bum hurts" "lads,any takers for a group 1A" !!
Well,here we are,Day 2 in Ballybofey. Kevin Bannon you're never going to believe what happened last night ! Not a single snort out of young Cregg last night, not even a cough. But there's been an interesting development. Now I did notice he had about 4 cups of coffee after dinner which may be the cause. I woke up at 6 this morning to Mark walking over and back across the room completely naked,wearing only his cycling helmet and saying "Coakley you're a ***** and as for you Wally" over and over again. His eyes were closed so I can only assume he was sleep walking. After 5 very long minutes he calmly removed the helmet and got back into bed. Not the kind of image you need going round you're head on a long days cycling and needless to say I didn't get any more sleep.
I didn't say anything to Mark but I did talk to Coakley and Wally and asked them not to be shouting at him so much today !!
After what was the most glorious day yesterday today couldn't have started worse,driving heavy rain as each group set out at their allocated times. Mad country !
Group 1s time was the latest at 8 15. We were all outside on time ready to go except Adrian and Paul,by 8 25 Coakley was going ballistic, as we all waited in the rain and just as he was about to give the order to leave the 2 boys appeared. I was delighted because it was going to take the attention away from Mark for the day. Punishment for the boys was that they had to pay for the groups coffee at the next stop. Despite the rain we thundered along past Donegal town,Ballyshannon and into Bundoran for coffee. The support team found us a lovely little cafe on the main street,but when we went inside it was obvious to the lady owner that we were absolutely saturated, we offered to stand and not sit on her cushioned seats but fair play to her she brought us into the adjoining restaurant which wasn't opening till 7 in the evening and let us sit in there on the posh seats. Lovely scones too,but when I got up to go there was a pool of water around my chair and everyone else was the same. Big shout out for Bundoran tourism !
The rain had stopped now and from here we motored on through Sligo town and into Collooney where all the groups met up for lunch together . This is one of my favourite things about M2M and the way it is organised ,every day we all meet up together if at all possible to eat together and swap stories about what had happened along the way.
With 100k done already we only had 70 left to do today. Down through Tubbercurry, Charlestown ,Knock and into Claremorris for the night. Group 1 operates a rotation system when moving,so each guy has to do 2km at the front(which is the hardest)out of every 14km that we do. Something caught my attention as we drove along. Coakley was making the changeover calls and one individual was getting 4km turns as opposed to everyone else's 2km. Serves him right for getting on bus 1 yesterday !! That Coakley has an evil streak in him that obviously Mark has picked up on too.
As we cycled into Claremorris there were pink ribbons along the roadway all the way into town for our charity and a small reception in the town square where all of Wally's family were waiting as it's his home town. Most of the groups met here for a few photos and then Wally brought everyone over to a local pub steeped in GAA history. Well Almost everyone ! Of all the people not to tell,how could they forget Bomber ? 2 years ago in Kinvara Bomber had a little bit of a meltdown,well this time it was a complete " one flew over the cuckoo's nest job", he'd already changed and showered before he realised nobody was around and when he finally made contact everybody was arriving back at the hotel. He refused to communicate, wanted dinner in a private room and wanted Ronnie Murray removed from their room and put in the van for the night. Eventually Liam o Carroll managed to get him to join us for dinner and Liam even serenaded him beautifully before dinner.
Another day with everyone home safely today but we had one little minor accident along the way. Nobody was badly hurt but it just helped to keep everyone aware of the dangers of moving so many people from one end of the country to the other on bikes.
Tomorrow is a relatively handy one 130km down to Lahinch but something tells me that's not for group 1. Mr Coakley has booked the earliest departure time for us.
This one finger typing takes a lot of time so I better get some sleep now(hopefully).
I wonder would Bomber be interested in swapping Ronnie for Mark ?
"Every time I do this it just gets better and better,what I honestly thought couldn't be surpassed last time has been completely steamrolled. Bring on 2018 !!"
That's the last line from the 2016 account of our trip . Now let's see what this year can do.
As before ,we loaded up our bikes in the club on Tuesday evening and they were shipped up to Malin head early this morning.
There are 71 people starting today,with one more joining us tonight for the next 4 days and one more person joining us on Friday for the remainder of the trip. So 73 people will be finishing the journey on Sunday hopefully.
This is a massive, massive undertaking and I can't praise the organizing committee enough. They're a very modest group so I won't mention any names.....well,except Bomber !!
We needed 2 buses to get everybody up to Malin head this morning so we all had to meet in the club at 5 15 am for our 5 45 departure time,first bus arrived on time and was loaded up promptly, but that's when things started to go downhill, no sign of bus no.2 . Eventually the bus arrived 45 mins late which was a bad start to a day that needed to run like clockwork. Bomber was taking no responsibility and fecked off in the jeep with Liam o Carroll !! We got our selves loaded up and headed as far as Monaghan where we were supposed to have a quick stop for a leg stretch but this was cancelled because we were late and carried on up to Derry where we stopped for breakfast. The lads in the first bus were there just finishing their breakfast but for some reason when we arrived there was no more food to be had,another 20min wait till we eventually got fed and the only sign of Bomber was the skid marks outside the hotel where himself and Liam had left !!
We all arrived at our staging area about 4km from Malin head just before noon and quickly began the tasks of unpacking the bikes, getting togged out and getting our bags into the support vans. Very high levels of excitement now among the 71 cycĺists with everyone wanting to get on the road as soon as possible. For safety there are 5 groups, 1 ,2 ,2A , 3, and 3A. The 3A cyclists are the least experienced so their bikes were transported up to the starting point at Malin head which is very steep,and then the cyclists were brought up in the van to start their journey. Where's Bomber ? Yes,in the van !! A 3 time veteran of this trip. Fair play to Ronan (The Goat) Conway who is leading this group and has been taking most of them out training since January. The other 4 groups cycled up to Malin to the start.I'm in gròup 1,so it's probably the group ye'll be hearing about the most over ths next few days.....much to you're relief Bomber !
Wally and Kevin Coakley are leading our group and had already decided that the intended 100km spin today was being extended to 120k with a little hill thrown in. So we were the second group to depart after group 3A. Then at intervals the other 3 groups left at their designated times and thankfully everybody got off safely.
There are 14 in our group and they're all fairly handy cyclists so it should be an interesting journey.
Weather now is clear blue skies and 20+ degrees with a slight breeze, pretty much perfect.
There is a small bit of tension in the group because one of òur members ,for some reason,decided to travel up on bus 1 while the rest of the team all travelled together on bus 2 . I'm not going to mention names but,I'm sure he knows what he was doing. Anyway I'm sure nothing was meant by the gesture and nothing will come of it.....over the next few days.
So we cycled down through Malin village and then took a right turn before Carndonagh to head to the little hill that Wally and Kevin had arranged. It was called the Mamote gap (i think) and i never,ever want to see it again !! It was only 2km long but got ti 21% in places...a lot of places !! This means it was bloody steep. I certainly wasn't first up but 2 of our first timers,Adrian and Padraig were joined by Bart and Kevin Bannon at the summit when I got there with my lungs resting on my crossbar. Toughest climb I've ever done !! One guy who shall remain nameless was going so slow that he actually fell over in the middle of the road,one or two others may need new cleats tomorrow after the amount of walking that was done !!
Anyway, on to Buncrana from here for a coffee stop,we met most of the other groups just leaving when we got there. Next stop Letterkenny for ice cream and then to Ballybofey for the night. Thankfully all 71 of us arrived safely. We had a great dinner together in the hotel and it was great to see all the different groups mingled together at different tables,brilliant sense of comradery. That was a long day from the 4 30 rise this morning to the end of dinner which was around 10pm but everyone is in great spirits and can't wait for tomorrow.
Tomorrow is a big one for everyone, 170km down to Claremorris from here and that's before Wally and Kevin decide where we're really going !
I'm lying on the bed here typing this with one finger, knowing full well that whatever the lads decide on for tomorrow that I can handle it. But there is something that really scares the crap out of me....lying in the next bed is Mark (the fecking snorer) Cregg !!
How the hell did I get put back with him after all those silent nights with Burkie the last time ?
Bomber strikes again !!