December 26th , St. Stephens Day and I was still feeling bloated after all of the Turkey , ham , pringles and a host of other non essential foodstuffs , so i decided that it was time for a spin on the bike . We spent Christmas this year in Limerick with Ciara’s family so I headed off from Monaleen at the lazy hour of eleven am.
Passing down by Synotts bar as I headed for the Dublin road I passed Martin Philips coming against me , looking like he was on his way back from his spin . Whilst I was still mooching around the house putting a nappy on ‘baby anabell’ at the request of a two year old he was out getting the miles in . However he did get married recently and will soon have all of that to look forward to .
A little further on I was approaching the Dublin road roundabout when I spotted three more Limerick CC’ers approaching from the right . At first I thought that it may have been Brian Quinn or Bob Murray but as it turned out it was Arthur ( Schmidt ) , Adrienne McCarthy and another guy who’s name I didn’t catch . I headed on in towards the city with this trio and we passed two sulky drivers who had their legs resting on the arms of their miniature two wheeled horse drawn carts , with the horses rear ends between their legs . If the horse decided to break wind it would be right in their faces and I thought to myself as we cruised on past them that I ‘bet you wish you had a bike’ instead .
The others were on their way home so I headed off out towards Cratloe alone . Alone that is except for the incessant clicking from my bottom bracket which I was meaning to sort out for the past fortnight . I wouldn’t mind but for the fact that I’ve fitted at least six in that time and the dura ace b/bracket , which is on my bike are the easiest to replace . Ah well a carpenters door is always the last to be hung !
I turned in Cratloe with the woods on my left and headed back in towards limerick city . With a nice strong breeze now behind me I was cruising along at about 40 kph when I started passing a multitude of people out running . Now I must admit that running does not hold a huge appeal to me . I know that a twenty minute run gives a similar workout to an hour on the bike , but give me the bike any-day . The thought of bouncing along looking in over the same ditch for five minutes would just not entertain me , although Dick O’Gorman does seem to be able to overcome this drawback by running along at the same speed as a group of twenty cyclists .
There happened to be a 10k run on and I began to pass more and more ‘runners’ of all shapes and sizes . There were those in lycra , similar to cycling gear who looked pretty much at their ease . But there were also those in football shorts wearing grey AC/DC t-shirts soaked in ice cool sweat . These were the ‘new years resolution ‘ bunch who were on the road a week early . There was one guy in particular who must have had a shower in deep heat before heading off . I could smell him from 200 metres back and my nostrils were completely clear by the time I got up to him . Alas the same could not be said of the ‘athlete’ himself whose tomato red legs looked pale compared to his face which looked set to explode . His breathing sounded like a 1979 ford cortina which didn’t want to start on a frosty morning and his legs moved with the fluidity of a Komatsu track machine . I looked at him as I cruised on past and thought to myself out loud -‘ bet you wish you had a bike’ .
Further on I past Barry Kent , a Limerick tri-athlete who works in Clonmel and looked as smooth on the tarmac as he normally does astride his Trek Madone . The finish line was at the bottom of the Caherdavin straight which seemed a lot shorter and less steep than I had remembered . That may be because it is twenty years now since I raced up there as a bright eyed under sixteen . I happened to win that race and was able to convince myself that this would lead to a pro contract and a ride in the tour de france . What an under sixteen race in Caherdavin has to do with a ride in the tour God only knows , but when your fifteen watching the tour on telly and all you can think of is being a pro it’s easy to come up with some kind of direct link . The naivety of youth !
I cut across by the ‘Treaty stone’ and St Munchins church and saw two Kayaks in the rough freezing cold water . One guy looked as though he knew what he was at whilst the other looked as though he was called on the drink talk the previous day . He looked cold scared and uncomfortable , and I thought ‘ bet you wish you had a bike’ .
On the way back out towards the Tipperary road I passed off Limerick prison on my right and approached Garryowen on my left . Garyowen was made famous in the rebel song ‘Sean South from Garryowen ‘. A true song about a famous Irish martyr for Irish independance who gave his life alongside Fergal O’Hanlon and whose grandson now wholesales coleslaw for a living . Looking accross a green area I saw a guy with a grey hoodie and no helmet riding a 250 trail bike along the road . His pillion passenger , a blond with knee high white boots was also helmetless .He did not need to wish for a bike , he had one .
Finally I was almost back at the house , I was out of the saddle breathing hard and getting rained on . As I approached the crest of the final drag up towards Monaleen a guy in a 07 black Range Rover vogue looked across at me and I could almost hear what he was thinking – ‘ bet you wish you had a car like this!’