Sunday, November 14, 2010

Home sweet home!!!

We awoke on Thursday to find strong gusty winds and heavy rain awaiting us outside the comfort of the King household in Ashbourne. Whilst the weather made it extra difficult to get up on our bikes, the thoughts of seeing all our family and friends in Dublin later that day was enough to keep us going.
Glad to see a friendly and familiar face, we were joined by our good friend and fellow cyclist Jimmy Murphy. Jimmy joined us on the first day and cycled from Dublin to Arklow and back (in one day!!!), so it was fitting that he should join us on the final few kilometres of our trip. A massive thank you to Jimmy's colleagues in the Dublin City Council who sponsored Jimmy to join us for the first day, raising €400.
We spun along the N2 towards Dublin chatting away, boring the ears off poor Jimmy with tales of our trip. Despite the short distance between Ashbourne and Dublin, it was still tough going as there was a strong gusty wind, which at times was even dangerous, causing Conor to take a trip deep into the grass verge which was annoying, but better than the alternative of taking a trip into the oncoming traffic!!! Special thanks to Eamon Martin from Wheels and Heels in Ardee for kindly servicing our bikes to ensure that we made it over the finish line!!
Outside Glasnevin cemetery we were joined by some more friendly faces. Phillip Watt, Martin Cahill, Sandra Doyle and Niall Phelan joined us for the last few kilometres of our journey. It was very fitting and indeed made it extra special that for the final kilometres of our journey we were joined by some of the people who have helped and supported us the most over the past few weeks. Many thanks to all those who joined us on the final day.
We arrived at the headquarters for the CFAI in Rathmines, where we received a warm welcome (including tea and sandwiches!!) from the lovely staff! It was important for us to call into the charity's office so we could thank in person the lovely staff of the CFAI who have been so supportive and helpful over the past few weeks.
After a quick interview with TV3 news we headed for the Herbert Park hotel (our starting point) where we would bring our journey to a close. Once again we received a warm welcome from our family, friends, loved ones and Fearghal. Many thanks to the Herbert Park hotel for providing us with a great venue for our leaving and homecoming events!! Also a massive thanks to everybody that showed up on the night, it truly meant the world to the Cycling For CF team to be surrounded by our loved ones (who have been so supportive of us) as we crossed the finish line.
And so, as we celebrated crossing the finish line, it began to dawn on us that our journey had come to an end. Whilst we were both delighted to have completed the 2500km (the equivalent of Dublin to Moscow!!), we were also quite sad that our adventure was over! Over the past 5weeks we have had a huge amount of fun and we wish to thank every person we met along the route who made our journey so extra special. To all the people who waved or beeped at us, the representatives from the various branches of the charity, members of the CF community or the many cyclists who joined us for a spin, we say a massive heartfelt thanks! All of you made our journey so extra special and fun. When we're grey (or in Conor's case greyer!) and old we will look back fondly over the past few weeks and think of each and every one of you!
We also owe a huge debt of gratitude to all our sponsors (including our equipment, financial and accommodation sponsors) without whom this trip would not have been possible, on behalf of the Cycling For CF team thank you!!!!
A massive thank you to the CF community and the staff of the CFAI. You were a constant source of support and inspiration to us on the road. Whilst the motivation for our trip was the love we have for our friend Avril, the reason for the trip was to create awareness and fundraising for each and every person living with CF in Ireland. It was with great pride that we wore the logo of the CFAI on our jerseys, as this logo was a constant reminder of all the wonderful, strong and inspirational members of the CF community we met throughout our trip. Whilst there are too many of you to name individually, you know who you are, and from the bottom of our hearts we thank you!

To all our sponsors, people who have donated, families, friends and supporters we say a massive thank you for all your love and support over the past 5weeks! Without you this trip would not have been possible and together we have managed to raise a staggering amount of money (which is still growing) for the CFAI so thank you for your generosity and support!!

Finally on Thursday Nov 18th we will be holding a concert in the Sugar Club on Leeson St. in Dublin. We would love you to join us in bringing this project to a close. There will be great music, a raffle and plenty of dancing, so spread the word. Doors will open at 8pm and admission will be €5 on the door with all proceeds going to the CFAI. Check back here for the full line up and finer details of the night.

See you there,
The Cycling for CF team!!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Meath.....the home stretch!

After filling our bellies with a delicious fry courtesy of Mrs. Townley, we hit the road and headed for Meath!
Once again we were lucky to have the sun shining down on us as we headed along the hilly road towards Ashbourne.
We stopped in Slane for a quick bite to eat where we were joined by Mags Phelan who followed us (in the car!) as far as Ashbourne where we parted company.
Before hitting the road we had a quick chat with our pal Joe Duffy on RTE radio's Liveline which helped to spur us on out of Slane across the bridge and up the hill!!! Many's a time both of us have walked up the hill after a concert in Slane castle but never did either of us think we would be cycling down it with so many miles under our wheels!!
We arrived in Ashbourne in the early evening where we were warmly greeted by Mrs King (mother to the infamous Feargal 'Karaoke'King). We enjoyed a delicious home cooked meal and relaxed in front of the fire in the King household.
As tomorrow will be our final day in the saddle we have been looking back over the past few weeks and we both agree that although we are looking forward to seeing our friends and family tomorrow we will also be sad to finish our journey and will always look back with find memories of our trip.

Tomorrow we will spin the short journey towards Dublin with the great excitement of seeing all our friends and family in the Herbert Park Hotel at half 5 spurring us on towards the finish line!


What a night!!!! The wind and rain was gusting up to 70+ km/h outside our bedroom window. We were curled up in bed (separate beds!!) wondering what kind of weather we were going to have to face in the morning. As it turned out we awoke to find the sun beaming down on Strangford lough with the only evidence of the previous nights storm being the odd bit of seaweed and fallen branches strewn on the roads.
After a short trip across the flat calm lough we headed towards Newry.
Despite the beautiful weather the going wasn't entirely easy as the wind was blowing in our faces however we didn't mind too much after witnessing the previous nights weather!!!
We spun along the road through Downpatrick finishing up in Warrenpoint for the day. We checked into the snazzy and luxurious Whistledown hotel in Warrenpoint where we received a warm welcome. We tucked into a delicious meal in the hotel's restaurant before heading for an early night.

We awoke the next morning and filled our bellies full of porridge and fruit to set us up for the day. During breakfast we met the delightful Mrs. McAnulty from Warrenpoint who we really were honoured to meet. After breakfast we hit the road and headed out towards Newry stopping briefly to repair a puncture on Cathal's bike! After passing through Newry we began heading South again towards Ardee. We stopped for a delicious Carvery Lunch in the Dundalk Superbowl where we were welcomed by the proprietor James Walsh and Graham Russell the local sports development officer. After a quick bite we enjoyed a few games of bowling before hitting the road again.
En route to Ardee we were joined by Nigel and Cathal from the Ardee Cycling Club who chatted away to us helping to distract us as we climbed the final few hills into Ardee! Upon arriving in Ardee, Eamon Martin very kindly, and very immediately, took our bikes away to his shop, Wheels and Heels, for a well needed service. Our gears have never felt so good. While Eamon slaved away on our bikes, we were greated with drinks and sandwiches in the Ferdia Arms. Many thanks to them for putting on a delcious spread for us hungry cyclists.
Many thanks to Leonard and Fidelma Townley for giving us a bed for the night and even washing our smelly clothes!!! Also many thanks to Emma Townley for cooking us a delicious meal and tasty cups of tea to fill our bellies after a long day!! It also worth noting that not only did the Townley family put us up (or put up with us) for the night but they also arranged a Coffee morning in Ardee to raise finds for the CFAI. Well done to all involved!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Strangford Lough!

We left Belfast with warnings of hurricanes fresh in our ears. It was very much a case of calm before the storm as the sun shone from a clear sky during breakfast. Further evidence of the unexpected brightness during the morning was that we had to change the lenses in our glasses from bright yellow to dark purple. However, while we enjoyed the pleasant conditions, we knew the sooner we got to Portaferry the better.

Heading East from Belfast, we had only a gentle breeze to contend with, which was absolutely tolerable and quite enjoyable as long as it remained dry and bright. After passing Stormont, we turned right at Newtownards and were soon flanked by the beautiful Strangford Lough. Stopping in Greyabbey for lunch, we were joined by the Doyle family. Getting back onto our bikes, the sky was noticeably different, as dark tones moved purposefully in our direction. We said goodbye to the Doyles, who I hope had a comfortable trip back to Dublin in their nice cosy car! We upped the pace for the remaining miles to Portaferry in order to keep warm.

By the time we arrived in Portaferry the evening had quickly become a cold one. We quickly checked into the Portaferry Hotel before going to the Aquarium for a few hours!

The storm has now hit the town with full force, with power cuts making this blog post slow progress! We managed to avoid any rain on the bikes today, but Mother Nature is more than making up for that now.

Tomorrow's destination is Newry. Hopefully the wind will relax a bit before then. Although if it decides to change direction and blow at our backs, I'd be more than happy for it to remain good and strong!

Dates for diaries

We have two events coming up that we would like to tell people about.

We will be returning to Dublin on Thursday November 11th. On day one of the trip, the Herbert Park Hotel very kindly hosted our sending off from Dublin. They have agreed to do us a similar favour as we return. We plan to arrive at around half 5, so if you would like to come down to say hi we would love to see you there.

The second event will take place a week later. On Thursday November 18th, we are running a night in the Sugar Club. Admission is €5 and will, of course, go towards the CFAI. We are really excited to announce that we have got some really great musicians to play on the night, including Nicko Fitzgerald, Battered Soul and Jim Corr (not THAT Jim Corr!).

November 11th
Herbert Park Hotel

Homecoming Gig
November 18th
The Sugar Club
Admission: €5

We are looking forward to seeing you all when we return.

Cathal and Conor

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Rounding the last corner!!!

We awoke early and hit the road for Cushendall. Whilst the journey between Bushmills and Cushendall was a relatively short day, the wind was unfortunately no longer at our backs, which meant at times it was tough going. That said it was easy to remain positive as before we reached Cushendall, we rounded the north eastern (and final) corner. Rounding the fourth and final corner near Fair Head meant that not only were we heading south again, but we're on the home stretch!!!
We spent the night in the delightful B+B, where we had a delicious home cooked meal and comfy beds to set us up for a long journey to Belfast the following day.

After a hearty breakfast we jumped on the bikes and headed for Belfast, with the prospect of our final day off spurring us on! Once again, although the weather was dry, the going was made quite tough due to the Southerly direction of the wind meaning that it was blowing directly on the nose!!! Despite the going being quite tough, the day was extremely enjoyable as we were travelling along the A2, which literally hugs the coast all the way to Belfast city. We passed through many beautiful and picturesque towns along the way, stopping in Larne to fill our bellies and refuel.
We arrived in Belfast just before dark feeling shattered after what can only be described as a tough 80km slog into a strong headwind.

We've rested up well in the comfort of the Belfast Radisson (literally doing nothing!!) which is important, as word has it the weather is to turn quite nasty. However nasty it gets, we will be spurred on by the thought of returning home to Dublin on thursday to see all our families and friends!!!

Landmarks galore!!!

After leaving the comfort of the Radisson in Letterkenny we got back in the saddle and headed for Malin. Once again sun cream was not required as the weather was quite miserable, however we had a decent tailwind so the going wasn't too tough.
We stopped for a spot of lunch in Muff before ploughing on towards the northern most tip of the island of Ireland. Once again we were in awe of the beautiful scenery which surrounded us the whole way to Malin.
We arrived in the picturesque village of Malin in the late afternoon where we we received a warm welcome (as well as tea and cakes!!) from Mary and Dermot. After warming up (and drying out) we headed towards Ballyliffin, where we were to spend the night in the warm and cosy 'Bernie's B+B'.

The following morning we hit the road and headed towards Bushmills. We reached Moville in good time from where we caught the ferry across Lough Foyle into Northern Ireland, landing at Magilligan Point. From here we ploughed on towards Coleraine. Sadly our route to Coleraine was blocked as there had been a rock fall the previous night resulting in the road being closed. We turned off the main road and headed for the coast...........literally....... we cycled along a beach for about 3km which took us past the rock fall where we were able to rejoin the main road. In the early evening we reached our accommodation for the night, not before taking another quick detour to the Giants Causeway. Despite our tired and heavy legs, it was an incredibly worthwhile detour as the Giants Causeway is easily the most unusual and beautiful rock formation we have seen.

Massive thanks to Fearghal King's Great Auntie, Nora, for allowing us to rest our weary bodies in her cosy cottage for the night. And many thanks to Fearghal for helping us to arrange this!!!