Ride like the wind (with the promise of rain)

“Accused and tried and told to hang
I was nowhere in sight when the church bells rang
Never was the kind to do as I was told
Gonna ride like the wind before I get old.”

‘Ride like the wind’
Christopher Cross

So, yesterday was a day of rest. Not a biblical day of rest. I’m not even sure, with my limited knowledge of world religions, if anyone goes in for Thursday as their big day off. According to my own self-imposed ‘tenet’, yesterday was the day I was supposed to relax and recharge from the first three days of the programme.

As it happened, my good mate TC suggested I join him and a few mates for a spin. One has to be careful when old pros say they are going for a spin, but I can only say that now with the benefit of hindsight.

Five of us met up outside Celbridge at ten in the morning, and we set off. Seasoned veterans as they were, they had already sussed out the prevailing breeze and chosen to ride into it first, then turn for the next leg of the loop, and try and get some benefit from the wind on the return leg. Plus there was a promise of rain.

We headed back towards Leixlip and out through Dunboyne across the Moor of Meath along the Rooske Road (which I believe is Irish for swamp so that makes sense). Past Kilbride and on to Ratoath, and then out towards Skryne, not far from the Hill of Tara. Spots of rain, and a brief stop to don jackets. Not that I obsess about my ownership of things Lidl, but I reckoned I now had on Lidl socks, Lidl cycling tops (x2) and a Lidl jacket (not to mention the Lidl bike computer cable-tied to the handlebars, and the bike kit hanging under the saddle). Frau Merkel would be pleased no doubt. Though I haven’t seen her looking pleased of late.

Sryne Tower and 15th Century church
Sryne Tower and 15th Century church

We passed over the M3, Ireland’s quietest and most contentious (but not cheapest) motorway. That was our turn for home. Past Killeen Castle, Drumree and on towards Batterstown. Nothing to do with batter of course, but just a poor Anglicised approximation of bóthar, or road. Baile an Bhóthair. So, town of the road. From Wikipedia, I learn that there once was a railway station here, but it closed in 1963. And the long distance coach service finished up this year. And there isn’t even a post office. It would seem the name has taken on some significance; it’s the only thing left in the town. On the plus side, there seems to be cycling race here each year; perhaps there’s hope yet.

From there it’s a hop, skip and a jump via Kilcloon direction to Maynooth, but not before the sniff of coffee and scones seemed to kick in and the pace jumped up markedly on the last stretch. The rain was coming down, and conversation all but died.

Maynooth is their regular stop-off point for refreshments, and from here everyone is about ten minutes away from home and hot showers. It was a great introduction to riding with a group – something I had never done before, and it gave me an insight into the cyclist’s viewpoint when on the road, dealing with motorists. I learned the etiquette of sharing the front, and how to read hand signals and pass on warnings. All told, a great experience.

We did just over 90kms in about three and a half hours, with an average speed of around 26.8 km/h. That is the longest cycle I have ever done in one sitting, and it was encouraging, not least as the half-iron event in September is also 90kms.

So, a rest day it wasn’t! Today, I managed 40 minutes in the pool, despite being stuck with the Friday lunchtime swim which is notoriously busy. I will probably run tomorrow, so maybe Sunday will end up as a day of rest after all. Hallelujah!

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