Enable Ireland is a charitable organisation which provides free support services to children and adults with physical, sensory and intellectual disabilities. They have 40 service centres in different locations across 14 counties and provide support to over 5,500 families. Due to continued budget cuts they face a shortfall in funding and so nationally they need €2 Million every year to meet the costs of delivering their services and the figure grows every year.
There are cyclists all over the country preparing to complete this years Ring of Kerry cycle for Enable Ireland. If you wish to show them your support, please donate using the link below:
After months of conversations around biking and promises of how much I would enjoy cycling, my brother-in-law finally gave up on me buying my own bike. Instead he decided to force his old bike upon me, perhaps with the hope of guilting me into doing something with it.
“Look, I’ll drop over the bike at the weekend. Get out on the road and see if you like it”. Feeling the guilt to do something with this free bike, I went off to buy a helmet and flat pedals from a local bike shop to at least show some enthusiasm. The weekend arrives and true to his word the bike arrives but so does the rain which puts a dampener on my eagerness. Roll on another three months and the bike remains in the house untouched and under a pile of coats. Not because it rained solid for three months, in truth I fell into a further three months of excuses; “It’s too wet, I’ve anything else to do, I was out on the town last night, I’m tired, I can’t decide where to go, I’m not going out alone, the roads are lethal, I’d look stupid, what if I fell off?”
At this point when I see my brother-in-law I’m trying not to engage in any bike-related discussions. “Did ye get out on that bike yet?” had been asked far too many times and I could no longer face the shame of saying “No”. Any more excuses and he’ll be asking for the bike back. My wife agrees, “If you aren’t riding that bike I want it out of the house. It’s taking up space, it’s dirty and we don’t need another clothes-horse”. I couldn’t possibly give the bike back without having got on it, that would be an insult to the brother-in-law’s generosity and absolute confirmation that I am a lazy sod. I decided to finally put an end to it all and went out for a spin.
The bike in question was an old aluminium hybrid with bullhorn handlebars. When I look back now it was a heavy and cringey looking commuter bike with rusty components and enough grease on the chains to give you a nice black tattoo if you as much as looked at it. It was definitely not one that would have you itching to get out on the open road. The attire; Runners, Baggy ¾ lengths and an old cycling jersey had me thinking I looked halfway appropriate. If I saw myself now I’d probably think I was cycling home from an evening playing tennis or basketball and definitely not out for a cycle.
The plan of action was simple, go as fast as I possibly could until I got home or exploded, whichever came first. A measly 16km. I wouldn’t throw my leg over a bike now for 16km but back then it was a mini-adventure on two roads I’d only ever driven on before. I spent the first ten minutes on a main road wincing every time a car passed and praying they wouldn’t shove me into the ditch. Only when I got onto the back roads could I relax. I had been on this road before but this time was different. I could see beyond the hedges, take in the scenery and smell the countryside. I instantly began to appreciate the hills and rolling roads. On the way up they felt like torture and on the way down they felt like I was dropping off the edge of a cliff.
The spin lasted about 30 minutes and by the end I was draped over the handlebars desperately gasping for air, trying to cool down and compose myself before going back inside the house pretending it was grand. Thinking of it now, though it wasn’t the best approach for a beginner, it probably wasn’t that bad a 10 mile TT. Even now the thoughts of producing a similar effort horrify me.
The satisfaction of making that first step was incredible, this was something I instantly wanted to do again. Later that week my brother-in-law asked “Did you get out on that bike yet?” I was beaming with pride to be able to say “I did 16km Wednesday night”.
“No, I said Sixteen”.
“Oh, well at least ye’ve made a start.”
Sensing he was distinctly underwhelmed at my efforts, the next target was set. 60km but maybe not at the same intensity. I’ll show him….