Fear and Loathing at the Obama Plaza (2016)
Tom Cleary & Lorcan Stack – Reservoir Cogs)
Our first proper audax and to say I enjoyed the experience in full would probably be an exaggeration. However, I am still smiling after what was a wonderful adventure. Since last year both Lorcan and I have discussed Paris-Brest-Paris and London-Edinburgh-London as two of our bucket list events and consequently began undertaking longer distance cycles earlier this year. From that time, the months kept rolling by and each month we would both plan a more adventurous trip than the previous month, each a little longer and involving a further test of both our individual and combined abilities.
Somewhere along the way The Celtic Knot 1000 was either referenced or discussed and without any real discussion or undertaking any decision making process, both of us had at least set the event as a target. This fact was leaked out to our fellow club members and suddenly there was no turning back. We were late registering and we now began to focus a little more on exactly what we had undertaken as the doubts and fears set in. What had we just done? Required; more night riding, an overnight without sleep and then we would be as ready as we could be. The bank holiday weekend was around the corner.
On our arrival the reception couldn’t have been better. We had an opportunity to view the array of bikes on the event and agreed we had chosen well with our Genesis Croix de Fers. And as Rory checked our bikes we got the green light – both bikes were fit for purpose. We shared some coffee and chat with the other participants and each gave us their own words of wisdom “keep the stops to a minimum”, “cycle at your own pace” “don’t over exert yourself on the first day”, “Day 2 will be the most difficult”. Thanks to one and all for their supportive encouragement as each piece of advice rang true in the following days. However the key mantra for me was Paul’s rule No. 1 – finish, and finish smiling. There was more than one occasion when the body said no but we knew we had to observe rule 1. In fact from the first time of reading I thought it a wise piece of advice and I wasn’t wrong.
Day 2. Saturday 12pm just before Toomevara. Tired hungry and cold we were heading to Moneygall. Even though we had again received great support from Rory and David who met us on the road with sandwiches and cake, I still had great hopes of getting some hot food in the Barrack Obama rest stop. No such luck, other than a hot coffee through the hatch it was closed. Back on the bikes again and from here each pedal stroke took an enormous effort. My mind was searching for any way in which we could get back to our beds in Clara without having to continue with this misery of pedaling cold and tired as we were. None became apparent and we continued with the torture. Several times through the night I had experienced that drunken feeling when tiredness takes over and the body cycles on autopilot only to suddenly wake up and attempt in vain to concentrate on the task at hand before the drunken feeling returned (the ‘noddies’ – ed ). Day began to break and we were surrounded with a cold grey mist, my already shivering body was screaming for hot food and a bed. How could I have been so stupid as to leave without my leg warmers back in Clara. With this level of tiredness comes a certain level of intolerance. Lorcan had lost patience with me as I carried on out of earshot despite needing to hear his calls for directions. I had my own totally unfounded reason for being equally angry with Lorcan. Neither of us needed to verbalize our frustrations with the other. We persevered and observation of Rule 1 and Rule 2 combined saw us reach our destination around 7.30 am. It had been one long night. We ate a great breakfast freshly cooked by Clare and the rest of the support crew and set our alarms for 11 am and figured we could still get inside the time limit if we were on our bikes by 12 am.
By 8.25 am on Monday morning, 35 mins inside the allowable time, with nothing left in our legs, we reached Clara after yet another overnight cycle. This time we had eaten better through the day and managed the night cycle with just a little more ease. Hats off to all there who gave us such a great reception when we arrived, the feeling of accomplishment and elation were enormous and I couldn’t be more complementary of all we encountered on our wonderful adventure. I can highly recommend the event and compliment the organizers for a job well done. My overall experience was positive despite the hardship experienced along the way. Still smiling inside. We’ll definitely be back for more.
Thanks a million to all concerned!