Posted by: brendanodornan | August 27, 2012

Mission Accomplished – 140km cycled

I am sitting here in front of this computer screen with aching neck muscles, tender shoulder muscles, throbbing thighs and a backside that causes me discomfort to sit on.

Having said all that I am ecstatic at having achieved the goal of cycling 140km all around Lough Neagh. It was an entertaining day out and the adrenaline from cycling along with hundreds of other people was addictive. The spectators who came out to watch along the roads gave a lot of encouragement as they waved, clapped and cheered every cyclist as they went past. This really helped keep me going. It felt like I could have been part of the tour de france. Although I did wave back at people as I went past and that’s not something you see Bradley Wiggins and Co doing.

There was a huge crowd at the event. Easily in excess of 1000 cyclists of all ages, shapes, sizes and on all kinds of bicycles. There were tandems, mountain bikes, hybrid bikes and shopping bikes with baskets on them as well as the ubiquitous road bikes. There were young teenagers and there grandparents. There were cycling clubs and there were amateurs. Everyone was out for a good day out and there was lots of courtesy and encouragement extended all round. The banter was infectious and you just couldn’t help but laugh.

As it was my first time out with such a large group I learned a whole new vocabulary and sign language from the club cyclists and it makes me tempted to join up with a club for more outings.The communications involved shouting to those around you about potential dangers eg. shouting “HOLE”! accompanied by a pointing down at the road indicated that there was a hole in the road, which became patently obvious as you ploughed straight into it shaking the fillings in your teeth – of course the reason you didn’t see the hole was because it was obscured by the cyclist in front who had shouted the warning about it. “CAR UP” and “CAR DOWN” were shouted frequently indicating that a car was either coming towards you or from behind. Although my favourite warning was from those who shouted “SLOW”! and when everyone else slowed they were able to accelerate past, at least that was how it looked to me.

There were cycling club outfits from all over and a couple in particular had designs on their outfits that kept me amused as I went along. One had shorts with the phrase ‘WARMFLOW’ printed along the backside. On the back of another club jersey was the phrase ‘POWERED BY MUSHROOMS’ and judging by the speed at which they went past me I think they must have been the ‘magic’ variety! However if I was awarding prizes for the best outfit, the top prize would have to go the Scotsman who cycled the Lap with his face painted with the Saltire, sporting a rampant red wig (at least I hope it was a wig) and a pair of novelty cycling shorts in a kilt design with a pair of large bare buttocks exposed at the rear (I think they were false).

We registered at about 8.30am at Peatlands Park just off junction 13 on the M1. Then after eventually finding our starting position (between the red flags) we got released by the starting Marhsall at just after 9am. After having repeated the mantra ‘This is not a race’ over and over he then got us started by shouting “GO, GO , GO”!

We set off east and then headed south into Portadown to cross the River Bann before turning north, skirting Craigavon and Lurgan. A short water and banana break was had at Gawley’s Gate after about 40km . We set off again heading north towards Crumlin. At the left hand turn off the Lurgan Rd., my wife and daughter had turned out to see us pass and this was a huge morale boost as my daughter shouted “Daddy”! and clapped as I went past. My wife later told me that they had been waiting for about 15 minutes for us and had asked the Marshall if many people had already gone through and he replied “about a thousand”!

I don’t think we were that far back in the group.

I was cycling with my two brothers and one of them had a tyre blow-out just south of Antrim on a little back-road. During a quick 5 minute repair there must have been two hundred cyclists went past us.A few shouted to see if we were OK as they went past.

The lunch-stop at Clotworthy gardens was a welcome rest at 12pm and we got soup, a bread-roll, an energy bar and a bottle of water. A Sports Massage was on offer if you were inclined to avail of this opportunity and judging by the size of the queues plenty of people were interested in having their muscles rubbed.

We mounted the bikes again and this was when the aches were starting to be felt. The pressure of the saddle on the tender nether regions was obvious. The miles disappeared as we cycled west towards Randalstown and Toome with a few shallow but noticeable climbs around here. We then turned south and into the wind now towards Ballyronan and another water stop. We didn’t need any water top-up but just took a short rest and chewed on a few jelly babies before starting out again. There were a considerable number of people who didn’t stop at this point but just continued on.

We dismounted to cross a footbridge at Maghery with 5km left to go and this was where I was really out of breath and starting to struggle. I think it was psychological because I got it into my head that since we were dismounting, the finish must be just round the next corner. Unfortunately there were 5km of corners to go. One brother had left us, speeding off into the distance about 10km back and we didn’t see him again until we reached the finish. We thought that he’d latched onto a cycling club which wasn’t actually participating in the Lap of The Lough and that he might have been unknowingly now riding off into the sunset in the direction of Dungannon.

We crossed the finish point at just after 3pm and picked up our Lap The Lough cycling caps. There was a sandwich, tea/coffee, water and a bar of chocolate to replenish the energy. I could hardly find the energy to chew and when I sat on a picnic bench I had to keep shifting about as it hurt! As for getting back onto my bike to cycle to our parking (about a mile away) this was just agony!

We had completed the Lap The Lough in just over 5hrs, at an average speed of 27.4km/hr (17mph) and had covered 140km. I burned 4500 calories. Sadly I have no pictures as my camera malfunctioned (dodgy batteries) however the Lap The Lough face-book site have promised to post pictures so head on over there for a flavour of the event. Update – I just got these pictures sent from my brother, they were taken before we started the cycling so we look fresh.

The Lap The Lough was a highly enjoyable day out and highly recommended to anyone with a little bit of training. I cant wait for next year! Will I see you there?

Thanks for reading,

Brendan

P.S. if you enjoyed following my exploits training and participating in the Lap The Lough and would like to make a donation to the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign please visit my web page at http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/brendanodornan

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