I joined Orwell in July 2015 a complete rookie – to the point that, after one of my initial spins, Rodney & Gerard gave me an individual lesson on changing my gears! After many sharp learning curves, and thanks to the patience of Derek & Stephen, I was delighted to complete the W100 in 2016 and looked forward to replacing the tough training sessions with more leisurely cycling. But Winter 2016 brought the familiar mantra of "Winter miles brings Summer smiles" and I found myself out on the bike more frequently than expected. Initially I ignored the muttered questions about W200. To me, the W200 was many metres of climbing – not to mention several kilometres – outside my capabilities. I didn't really believe I could do it but Leonard had other ideas and urged me to give it a go. This was echoed loudly by my cycling buddies, Kim and Clare. With these three behind me, how could I say no?!

 

Tentatively, I signed up for the training group, resigning myself to the fact that my next ten weekends would be taking a very different flavour! On that first morning, as I rolled up to our meeting point beneath the Luas bridge, I was greeted by a slick, professional-looking bunch. I felt way out of my league and my sole aim that day was not to fall off the back! A quick paced spin followed, which I survived, albeit with the afternoon spent collapsed on my couch! Each week the miles got longer, the hills got higher, and the craic and banter got better. Warren's unmerciful roars to "Give it a lash" were softened with Leonard’s gentle encouragement and the dynamic duo helped bring out the best in each of us. Despite this we still ranted, whinged and cursed in unison when the routes became just a little too "lumpy"! But in equal measure, we laughed, encouraged and praised one another's efforts. As our legs grew in strength our minds grew in resilience.

 

 

The day arrived – bike cleaned, gear packed, jellies at the ready. Nerves were really kicking in at the start line. I had decided to divide the route into sections and try to avoid focusing on kilometres. A tough climb early on, coupled with a burst jersey zip going up the Wicklow Gap made for an interesting start! After a quick refuel in Baltinglass, it was on towards the terrible trio; Son of Mann, Slieve Mann and Shay Elliot. Head down, I just went for it. A strawberry smoothie courtesy of the Orwell car at the top of Shay Elliot never tasted so refreshing!

 

After a much needed fuel stop in Rathdrum, the meeting of the waters was upon us quicker than I anticipated. We got a nice pace up for the last 50kms. My legs began to tire, my saddle was far from comfortable and my white-knuckled grip from the decent down Shay Elliott had left an ache in my neck and shoulders. A glimpse of my club mate’s black ribbons (to remember Tonya) reminded me how lucky I was to be taking part in this event and got me through to the finish line where hugs, heartfelt delight and broad smiles were exchanged. Our empty tanks were quickly refilling with sheer delight, pride and gratitude.

 

0
0
0
s2smodern
powered by social2s