IN WHICH WE ENJOY A RATHER NICE SPELL OF WEATHER, AND HAVE AN IMPROMPTU BIKE RIDE WHICH TURNS INTO SOMETHING OF A TRIATHLON…
The weather has been very pleasant of late. Plenty of high pressure about, and that usually means some sun. Not to be a curmudgeon, but there has also been a prevailing easterly. Mostly a breeze, and gentle enough at that, but always there tugging at your sleeve to remind you that whilst we may be enjoying something of a clearing – a cheery glade, if you will – we are not out of the woods just yet.
Like all good things, and especially here in the Emerald Isle, good weather rarely hangs about too long. You know there’s sun about because young lads seem to forget to put their shirts on, and everyone changes colour from a light blue to a bright red. It’s quite the sight!
(And as an aside, most people assume it’s called the Emerald Isle due to all the ‘soft rain’ and lush grass, etc. But in truth, it’s because the country is something of a fantasy land, and behind the curtain there’s a little gnarly old wizard pulling the strings and generally making a bollocks of everything.)
I had a late reprieve on Friday night to say I could grab a few hours early the next morning. It left no room for decent plans or ringing around mates, so I just arose about 6.30 in the morning, had some breakfast and clambered aboard the new steed. Rather than give myself performance-anxiety headaches trying to work out a route, I just went back up along the canal on the Greenway. Last week, I was pushing to reach a certain point, and I fell short, so this was a chance to right that particular wrong. Wrong being altogether the wrong word here of course…
I took the old main road as far as Maynooth. The newly-opened Royal Canal Greenway ‘stops’ at Maynooth, and the stretch to Leixlip has yet to be finished. Sections are still a bit gnarly, not least for a road bike. The first sight to greet me when I joined the Greenway was not the pleasant one above, but the piles of rubbish from the previous night’s revelry. Nobody minds folks having a few beers alfresco (not least during the pandemic when pubs are closed in any case), and a slice of pizza. All good. But the mountains of rubbish piled around each bin was quite depressing. Do we need more bins? Sure. Do the bins need to be emptied more often during this period? Again, probably. But folks also have a responsibility here. Rubbish is not absorbed into a bin by osmosis…
Anyway, the harbour scene was a welcome distraction, and soon we were pulling away from the urban surrounds of Maynooth and on ‘into the west’. Kilcock next, and then on towards Ferrans Lock, where a previous journey had ended.
The above picture is of a Mute Swan taking off just after Ferrans Lock. Just for the record, this would have been an award-winning photo had a number of factors been in my favour. One: I was sitting in a boat in the middle of the canal. Two: I had a professional camera with me. Three: I knew how to use said camera. And four: I managed to take an award-winning shot with all these conditions being met.
Otherwise, you’ll just have to accept that this was the best I could do, after seeing the swan start its rather clumsy take-off procedure up ahead, like an overladen cargo plane. I wondered if I had time to pull my phone out of the pouch. Decided I didn’t. Reconsidered. Fumbled with phone. Tried and get camera to work. Cursed softly as swan sailed gracefully past… such is the lot of the runner who thinks they secretly work for National Geographic.
Next up was Cloncurry Bridge, where I had turned for home last week. On then, towards the heart of the midlands, and past Furey’s Pub. One day, this charming little spot will be open again for business. Today, the owners had decided the enforced closure would be a good time for some renovations, so, true to form, there was a workbench out the front, surrounded by timber and tools, and (I assume) the owner of said tools sitting in his van, checking his phone.
I could have made the 40k mark but with a curfew to consider, I decided the decent thing to do was turn at 35, and shortly after I passed that mark, I came to Ribbontail and the long level at Longwood. (Read a little more about this bridge here: Lenny is a great travel writer). A short stop to take on some sustenance, and then back on the bike into a gentle headwind.
An out-and-back is not usually as interesting as a loop, in terms of visual spectacle. But I suppose one small factor for anyone in training is to see how your times fare, in terms of splits. Mine were almost identical, and given the tiredness in the legs factor, and the
howling gale breeze in my face, I’ll take that as a negative split, thank you very much!
I made it back with some time to spare, so I decided to see how the legs would hold up for a run, so I pottered on up to the lake about a mile away, and once there, deemed it sinful not to at least get in and wash away some of the morning’s hard-earned sweat. Also, it was a chance to see if the Garmin really is waterproof. It is.
And on the way back, I passed through a grassy field that had a healthy crop of dandelion ‘clocks’ and so it seemed a shame not to take a picture of one…
Back home, and a decent enough haul for the morning: a 70+ k cycle, a short run, and a dip. It doesn’t really qualify as a triathlon, though it does at least have all the various parts. Just not in the right order. I suspect the order, now that we’re on the subject, was decided on how likely you were to drown/fall off your bike/keel over and die. And the current swim/cycle/run seems to be the safest option. But I wouldn’t mind doing the run first, one day, and then the swim, and finish on the bike. If anyone knows of such an option, let me know.
Yesterday, I managed about 8k of running in the park, and we’re back in to a new week with regular morning gym sessions (and by gym, I mean shed). As of yet, I have no set training plan for GaelForce West, so perhaps I need to think of one. There’ll be plenty more bike up into the mountains, and some trail running. As always, where time-off allows, plus the other ongoing spectre of Covid.
I leave you with Saoirse, doing her best Hollywood actress look. Not that she was aware I was taking the photo ’til afterwards.
Stay safe out there.