NI Coastal Cycle - Day Four

The last day is always the hardest to write, mainly because I keep thinking- lots of time, no rush, and then I can’t remember what we did and when. So let me try to do this in a logical way for a change. We gathered at the Cuan for a not too early start with Lisa and Rory joining us. Bikes all ready and Natalie poised to follow, someone suggested sausages for breakfast and Caroline headed off to get some for myself and Patrick. Natalie had to stay behind and wait for them but we hit the road and immediately made the acquaintance of the headwind that was to accompany us most of the way.

Rory was disappointed when we passed the first coffee shop and the next and we had to remind him that this wasn’t one of the cycling groups usual, casual strolls. In fact before we reached the first official break at Mauds in Newcastle we had had two unofficial stops for punctures, another comfort break and rain for the second 15 miles. As a result Mauds and lunch fitted very well together and although we did feel that progress was maybe a little slower than planned, this was the last day and completion altogether was really our main aim. Philips knees were still giving him trouble, I know I would have given up miles and maybe days before but even a spell in the van was declined.

Happily Rory was able to use one of his super duper weather apps to show us convincingly that we were going to have no more rain and would be in time to avoid the high winds of the coming storm, so off we hared again. Rory could not stay longer as he was needed to free up Natalie and we were not prepared to do without her invaluable support, and fortuitously he left his bicycle in the van and took the bus rather than cycle home. The next delay occurred when Patricks chain broke, within a few miles and he was able to swap his now useless bike for Rory’s. we had carried Greer’s second bike as a possible replacement but it would have been more difficult for him to use a smaller frame bike. First then he had to master the gears. Did he get instruction from Natalie or work it out himself?

Anyway the next stop was to lower the saddle somewhat, the next to do something about the pedals as his cleated shoes were slipping over one of the pedals. We didn’t have the right tools to change the pedals but some smart person suggested a simple solution, remove the cleats from the shoes. It seemed like no time from then until we were turning away from the wind and flying into Newry to complete the challenge. We were in too late to avail of afternoon tea in the Canal Court Hotel but actually no one was too disappointed and we were all glad to see the Mainstay bus arrive

Now came the real challenge, how to get 9 bikes and nine people into Greer’s van and the Mainstay bus that had come to help us get home. We ended up taking several of the bikes apart, Paddy and I were trapped in the back seats by wheels, bags and frames, but we were able to keep Lisa’s bag accessible. This was vitally important because it contained a bottle of prosecco and enough glasses for everyone and resulted in a hilarious conversation on the way home. The least offensive topic was discussion of the excellent qualities of the chamois cream that we had used to prevent saddle friction with graphic illustrations of its lubricant quality and details of the, not unpleasant, tingling sensation that accompanied its application. I don’t feel It would be appropriate to disclose anything further about the journey home. Suffice to say we arrived back to the strong winds that we had been racing ahead of, rebuilt the bikes and headed off home. At The photo opportunity for the papers today w found out that we had raised 7500 already with hopes that a few more contributions might trickle in. A very satisfactory result

Am I allowed to indulge myself and say that I was really pleased that Paddy and Patrick rode so strongly on the challenge, that Greer is an example to us all, Jim started hesitantly and then proved that he needn’t have concerned himself about his success and that if I had a quarter of Philips determination and grit I would be more than happy. It does help when you have the practical support from people like Lisa, Rory and Jim’s friends and the whole thing would not have been possible if Leo and Natalie hadn’t been there. Finally my unsung heroine, Gillian, who accompanied Philip around the coast in the preceding weeks and months, making notes, scouting the route, collecting and transporting Paddy and myself to the train and putting up with a constant conversation re the Coastal challenge from her spouse. Not all relationships could survive such pressure!!!

Thanks to Mainstay for their help and thanks also to all our friends and family who have helped and supported us physically and financially. Believe me that Mainstay is a very special organisation, my close association over the last few years has only reinforced my appreciation of what they have done for Paddys brother and all their other clients. Thanks also for reading my Coastal challenge notes. And if you don’t read them just let me know and I will put you off my list for the next time.

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