The best place to start this story at is at the bag.
When travelling you need a bag. Now, when cycling 400 miles, you don't want to carry the bag, which would live in the back of the sweeper van during the cycle. Since you aren't carrying the bag, you over pack.
Well I do.
So I packed. Unpacked and re-packed. Now, after the event I know what I needed and didn't need. I didn't need the 3 kg of pasta and tinned tomatoes and the fig rolls I brought. Somehow, the thought of staying in hostels meant, to me at least, that I'd have to fend for myself. I know that I'm going to be pointing out the error of my packing in later posts.
The bag weighed a lot.
So in to the back of the car with it, and on to the back of the car goes the bike.
The meeting point turned out to the very bottom of the Silver Springs Hotel
. Milling around are lots of familiar and unfamiliar cyclists. Some of these people remained unfamiliar for a while... more on this later.
The call went out... the plan is changing.
Since for some reason the cycle is due to start at City Hall, we all have to make our own way, in ones and twos to City Hall and meet outside where the Garda escort will let the 40 cyclists cycle together. Great idea. Cork has traffic lights. Minutes later, thirty or so separate cyclists, mostly in identical shirts, were stuck at the lights on the Penrose Quay. A large mob of completely unrelated cyclists all arrived at City Hall.
Then the photos started. This took a while and is as boring as it sounds. If you've ever been in a "group shot" wedding photograph, you know exactly how this went.
Then the "fearless leader" announced that the plan had changed slightly... again. It appears that due to the permit for that day in Cork, the collectors (bucket shakers asking for change, money or personal assets) could only do their collecting on the streets we cycled down.
I actually have to pull out a map
for this one. From City Hall, down Anglesea Street on to South Terrace, from there along the Quay's George, Sullivan's and Proby's on to Sharman Crawford Street to get to Washington Street. Through a side street to Sheares' Street and past the Mercy Hospital to get to the Quays Bachelor, Coal, Lavitt and Merchants. From there I think it was the Michael Collins Bridge on toe Penrose Quay, up to the Lower Glanmire Road and out of the city.
Don't worry, that's the last time I'm going to give a description that detailed.
After that it's a simple (and mostly flat) ride out of the city, towards the tunnel, then over the overpass belonging to the tunnel roundabout and off Middleton. Being sort of easy going chats were had when doubled up.
"So how did you get roped in to this"
"Well I'm a friend of - LEFT - Tom's"
"You mean - CENTRE - Tom up there?"
"No the other - COMING THROUGH - Tom"
Deep meaningful chats are not exactly possible when warnings are to be passed along the line of bikes.
They are the exception.
Shortly, we were in Middleton, on main street turned left past the Rugby Club and hit the first hill...