So how was your weekend?

Would you like to hear what 29 cyclists, 6 motorcyclists and 6 support crew got up to?

Well after what was sure to be a restless Friday Nights sleep for some with a 3.30am call. We all met at the West County Hotel in Chapelizod at 4.30am for sign-on and a quick briefing from our Chief Marshal Alan McCaffrey and one of the organisers Stuart Carrick. Once everyone was ready we set our wheels in motions on route to Croke Park Stadium for the official starting point of the CP2CP Cycle 2017.

We got into Drumcondra in no time thanks to our Outriders and the clear roads at that hour of the morning. After a quick stop for photos at Croke Park we made our way through the City Centre, along the quay's and out on the N4 towards Lucan. Cycling through the City even at that hour of the morning wasn't without its hazards, broken glass, tram lines, drunks walking across the road all made for a nervous start to a hell of a long day.

Andrew & Seamus waiting patiently
for the group to arrive at Croke Park.

Cycling down O'Connell Street at
5.45am was a new experience.
We had a few funny looks from the party
goers of the night before.

With our later than planned departure, the sun wasn't long up after us and this really helped to warm up the spirits for the journey ahead. What appeared to be a short time later, thanks to the good company we all arrived in Kinnegad for the first of our planned starts. Harry's of Kinnegad had a wonderful breakfast waiting for us. It was also here we met Donna Price from Irish Road Victim Association. Before we saddled up again, Donna thanked us for all our hard work, generosity and wished us a safe and enjoyable day.

The roads of Westmeath were kind to us and we made some time back thanks to a group who have been dubbed  'The Hateful Eight'. Thankfully on this day they had a name change and they inherited the name 'The Helpful Eight'. They along with some from our hosting club Clane Wheelers were very strong cyclists and rotated up front allowing others to sit in behind and get a tow. To those that might not know this has a huge saving of energy for the ones behind putting in more than 30% less effort.


Smiles all round from Thomas & Scott
Everyone was in good form as is notable
in this photo of Ian and Shane

With a quick refreshment stop at the Craggen Court Hotel in Athlone it was now time to tackle the N6 bypass. It was here that the hard work of our Outrider's and Motorcycle Garda Mervyn Henson really came into play. We were placed in a bubble so to speak and no other road users were near us making everyone feel safe. We pulled off the N6 and onto the Roscommon road where our lunch awaited us. On the outskirts of Roscommon town is Hannon's Hotel and they welcomed us with open arms. The staff severed us soup and sandwiches and it was more than enough to fill the gaps in the empty stomachs after the 170 kms covered thus far. We also met one of the organisers of the cause 'Walking in their Shoes' Julie O'Connor. Again Julie thanked everyone for what they were doing , she even read out an email they had received that week from a Mother who had fell on troubled times. This gave everyone an idea of where their funds raised would be used, not just with the homeless in Dublin put also those who just needed a cupboard full of food to feed the family for a week. Thanks again Julie for the insight.   

(Matt Keane) Just one of the many support crew who kept us safe,
Watered, fed and on the road during the event.

It was the next stage that the legs would begin to sing with the first of the long drags out of Roscommon. Thankfully this stage was one of the shortest stages of the day, just the 30 kilometeres to deal with. As we came into Castlerea we had to dismount for the railway line, this would not be the last time we would be crossing the Dublin to Westport Train line. A short walk over to the other side of the road to the filling station were some of our amazing crew had set up shop. During the day cyclists and support crew were treated to water, coke, chocolate bars, protein bars, cookies, sweets, crisp, jellies and bananas.

After a quick refueling we remounted and made our way towards Ballyhaunis and the county of Mayo. It was here that minds started to wonder back towards our starting in Croke Park. Shouts from the group were now being directed to those standing outside of pub's, 'whats the score' it was a welcome distraction for some. As we took a detour in Clairemorris we doubled back on ourselves for 300 metres where The McWilliam Park Hotel had tea, coffee and scones awaited us. It was here that the new 2017 CP2CP Cycle kit would be making its grand reveal.

The reveal of the 2017 kit

After a brief discussion with the support crew it was decided with the day getting long, we need to make some discussions about the remaining stages. We had planned to stop off in Westport for 10-15 minutes in a local shopping centre carpark but with the light fading fast it was decided to cut this to a toilet stop. As you can see by the photo below some had other ideas. It was also here that the Mayo crowd, after winning their match against Kerry brought a smile to many faces. I'm sure many had absolutely no idea who we were or where we had cycled from, they just cheered and saluted us and we in turn cheered them after their win, UP Mayo!!!!     

Fill her up there Sean!! 

A very tough climb up out of Westport west just after the corner, particular with 280 kilometres already in the legs, but we caught our breaths and gathered our thoughts, we knew it was only another 9 kilometres out to Murrisk where at the Croagh Patrick Visitors Centre some of our families, friends and loved ones were waiting to cheer us over the line. It was a very subdued atmosphere heading out, think that was due to the tried and sore bodies. It might also have given some of us time to reflect on the journey. Not just over the last 15 hours but also the past weeks, months and years. 

I for one was not far from tears looking out over the coastline, watching those around me and thinking of what they were just about to achieve and why they were doing it. We all have our reasons for doing this cycle but none more so important than one persons. The silence was only broken the odd time just to thank the man beside me for his support throughout the day and also to remark on his ability to give but never want anything in return. It was the same two years ago when at a difficult time in his life, he answered our first call. You know who you are Sir.  

A gentle reminder that our guardian angels were with us as we rolled into Murrisk, County Mayo.

As we arrived at the Carpark at the base of Croagh Patrick we had a large gathering of about 20-30 people, not bad considering that this was the other side of the country for many families. Hugs, kisses and tears were shared (that was only from Rambo) along with the traditional selfie photos. We had a further surprise in store for the participants, 3 bottles of the cheapest Tesco Champagne would make for a great photo opportunity and with tired and weakened arms the lads let her rip!!! We got back on the road very quickly after as many of you will know Irish summer evening can come with nasty midges in the air.

Unfortunately we weren't able to stay around to meet those from the Mayo Branch of the Parkinson's Association of Ireland, however the organisers managed to meet with them later in the evening and thanked them for arriving out to Murrisk. Their support along with the other charities was fantastic to have on the day.
Now just the small matter of the 9 kilometres back to Westport for a hot shower, warm food not to mention the well earned pints back in the Castle Court Hotel.

Celebrating at the foot of the Croagh Patrick Mountain in Murrisk,  County Mayo

All gathered for the evening meal in a private restaurant in the hotel and we shared our stories of the day. Some didn't need to share theirs as we all knew of the hourly trips to the toilet he had made all day. After dinner the organisers thanked all involved in making the day such a huge success and everyone proudly stepped up to received their medals. One might be forgiven to think all went straight to their beds but with the Mcgregor v Mayweather fight on it wasnt an early night for some, the real challenge was only starting for them.

Sunday would see us bubble wrap a few sore heads, sorry bicycles and load them onto the Lockerfix, Magic Slush and Wheelworx van's and then load ourselves onto the waiting coach to drive back to Dublin. Special thanks to Scott Cumisky for telling the driver it was okay to move off after he took his seat thus leaving behind two of the organisers. A short sweet call later and we were all on broad and putting our feet up and heads down for the long trip. We arrived back at the West County Hotel well ahead of schedule and after saying our goodbyes all went on our merry way.

We as organisers really appreciate everything all who were involved did. From the cyclists, to the support crew, to the people who donated, to the people and companies who supported this event. It was truly amazing and a testament to human kind that we can all still come together to help others.

I know two chaps are sitting up there on a cloud looking down having just witnessed what you all achieved and are very impressed and proud of you. It's important for the organisers that we continue on one mans legacy and I hope some of you will be there in the future to do so.

In the meantime, stay safe, enjoy cycling and life.

Stuart & Nicky and all the CP2CP Team.


A medal we're sure all will cherish