Heave-HO…Here We Go. Saturday 8th August 2020
My First Cycle Around Lough Derg
by Abigail Grant Ryan
Nenagh-Ballina-Killaloe-Two Mile Gate-Ogonnelloe-Tuamgraney-Scarriff-Mountshannon-Whitegate-Connagh-Gorteeny-Portumna.
Bursting with Excitement
Last Saturday I took part in the Lough Derg Lake cycle. As this would be the furthest, I’d ever cycled I checked was it ok to set off 7.20am instead of the 7.30am start of 1st group. I initially was going in group 3 thinking that was slower group lucky I copped that one early enough or all the sambos at the tea would have been long gone by time I arrived Phew!
A chill in the air but sunscreen on as forecast was for a great day. Past the hurling field. Here we go! I was bursting with excitement for the challenge that lay ahead. I’d been putting in the miles over the past few months.
While craning my neck to see who was at hurling field, the starting point, I forgot to start my Garmin watch and was on way towards Newtown till I realised Oh, I was kicking myself I am going to do the longest cycle I’ve ever done, and I won’t know how long it was. Damn!
Nice and easy up towards Portroe longest incline ever but the other side is always worth the huffy puff climb. Heave-HO here we gooooooooo I whizzed down the hill no brakes applied as I had been here before and it is the closest thing you’ll get to flying like a bird.
Picture Post Card Stuff
The “look-out” over the Lough Derg in the early morning was spectacular. There was a pink tint in the water. Not only were the trees reflecting but also the clouds above. It was like a painting. I thought how lucky we are to live in such a beautiful part of the country with this on our doorstep. How lucky am I, my family are all asleep in bed and im up a hill looking at this.
I passed a few cyclists coming up the hill from Ballina the look of envy on their faces as we exchanged the nod/wave was funny they were probably saying I wish I were coming down this fecking hill.
Is This My Lucky Day or WHAT?
I got the green light at the Killaloe Ballina bridge, always a bonus!
I’m an hour into our little adventure I say “our” as it’s Viv and I. She’s my bike and being dyslexic I actually mis-read LIV on frame to be “VIV” and it stuck. So VIV and I are expecting company any minute so I decided it was time to drink something and eat my peanut crackers and jam (thanks Ciara Gaynor) I remember she used them in her ironman on the bike and it’s just perfect for this day out.
Onwards we go and green traffic light as I approach the roadworks. My luck is with me again as I just miss cattle crossing and someone on the road letting out a large truck too!.
Reaching Ogonalue and looking out right to lake there was another picture postcard scene. The water being so calm it looked like the boat there it was hovering over the water spectacular and only me to see it not a sole in sight. Where is everyone?
On wards and upwards matching, the down I got on the other side of lake and I was wishing they had picked Mountshannon as a stop off for food. Time to eat something again.
Mount Shannon I must come back here as it has a very cool park with an even cooler maze that both kids and adults will find fun. Passing the impressive Stag sculpture coming at end of the village.
Later I Pass a lad walking beside a mountain bike before Whitegate so I asked him was he ok as I did have a pump and a phone on me, but he said he was fine…. As I cycled on god, he’d a long way to go to the next village.
Still no sign of anyone and in a way, I was glad as the roads were not the best and I steered Vivian clear of a fair few potholes.
Longest 10km EVER and I’m TOO EARLY
23km to go ok we can do this. Almost 3 hours since I left Nenagh and 10km to go ok and I think the sign is wrong like where the hell are the signs for portumna!! Arse very sore by this stage and 1 bottle gone.
10.40 am and I say to myself god I’m going to be too early my kids were coming out to the forest park for 11am and I’m thinking I’ll have to wait till Roisin in the support car with the plate of sambos and flask of tea arrives behind the rest of the riders.
Just then to whip me out of my daydreaming a very Large German shepherd starts barking bounding towards me in a garden. Oh, I speed up big time hoping that there is no opening at the end of the wall. I could always get my bottle ready to spray at him (thank you Darren Dunne for that tip) lucky he was going nowhere…. onwards to the longest road ever towards the forest park. I thought it would never end.
Company and a Tea Party for Kings and Queens
As I signalled my hand for a right turn into forest, I looked behind me and low and behold there is 4 cyclists in beautiful lake jerseys pulling in with me…. Poor Vivian, I drove her over the cattle grid my teeth chattering in my skull and after me looking after her so well for las 3 plus hours!!!
Well what an unexpected surprise awaited us in the forest! 2 long tables laden down with every goody and sambo you could think a cyclist should not eat! It was just so lovely! What a lovely lunch! Thank you so much to all the helpers and sponsors this was needed, and we were all very grateful for it.
The rest of troop started to pile in and it was lovely to see my husband my kids. So many cyclists all together re-fuelling and was lovely to see familiar faces and Geraldine and Majella who I have cycled with over the past 2 years arriving. Both giving out to me for going ahead of the group time.
It’s A Long Way To Tipperary
After a quick photo social distanced, we all joined up together outside the park entrance again and took off for home. Lovely chat all the way and banter. I thought it would be the easy section of the cycle, but it was quite a long journey to get back to Nenagh I kept up as best I could but lost the main crew after Ardcroney. Every corner I went around I thought I’d be at meat factory but no another long section of road ahead. I did have my very own personal escort Mary Duggan Cullen in her car behind me though, thanks Mary.
“you couldn’t have asked for a better day to cycle around the lake”.
Reached the Hurling club and said our goodbyes the synopsis out of everyone’s mouth was “you couldn’t have asked for a better day to cycle around the lake”.
What a good cause and a real achievement for me personally. I can’t wait to get going with my little friend Viv again on another day out. Thanks to everyone involved for giving up your time for us cyclists.
Thanks to all in the Tri club for all your encouragement over the past 2 years since I joined. To Paul who gave me a H.I.A. when I fell badly off the bike last October right on the side of my head and for Clever, Paul, Majella and Geraldine who made sure I got home ok that morning. I will never forget your kindness. Thanks to all the Saturday regulars for heading out with me on cycles in all weathers during the past two winters even when I was on a bike that was for a 6ft man and I didn’t even know it. Back then I never would have believed I could cycle around Lough Derg in a morning.
…….so what distance was the bloody thing after all that!!!!! Stupid watch!!!???
Next time I might even brave it to go with Group 1!