Destination Unknown


A bleating alarm clock announces the arrival of six am, before an outstretched arm slams it off within 3 seconds. An entire household need not be awoken from their slumber due to the offbeat desires of a single member. Breakfast is consumed through bleary motions. Bikewear that had been left out the previous night is the chosen attire of the morning.

As the orange hue of the early morning sun begins to rise from behind far off hills to the east the slow methodical clicking of a freewheel begins to echo between a house and a shed. Two louder and more positive clicks signal the coming together of man and machine as feet are bonded to pedals via carbon soled shoes and lollipop like speedplay pedals.

The white blanket of crisp frost from the previous night is still everywhere to be seen as man and machine sweep down towards a valley and river below. For the next three hours all that matters to the rider are his thoughts, heart rate, dreams and cadence.

This is an escape form the realities of life, some good some bad. Out on the road, with only unseen singing birds for company all seems right with the world once more.

Two years previously a doctor in a white coat and blue denim jeans stood before the rider and looked meaningfully into two green eyes. In a kind, but matter of fact manner a diagnosis was given that would change a life forever.

Up until that moment, the colour of a bedroom wall was an issue. A scratch on the side of a car that became visible from a certain angle in certain light conditions was an issue. An acquaintance who passed by on the street one afternoon without bidding hello was an issue. In the blink of green eye, a different perspective came into view and a whole new paradigm became evident. Life is short. Most people spend their time relating to all that has passed rather that all that lies ahead. By the time this realisation is made the number ahead is usually going to be less than the number that has already passed. For this man on this day that number became very low.

Now a choice had to be made. The number of days left in a life was low, but the amount of life in those days need not be. Sitting in the passenger seat of a people carrier on the drive back home after the diagnosis, a choice was made. A fight would be fought and an example would be set. If the number of days left were few, a conscious decision was made to put as much life as possible into those days. The days of all who lived under the same roof were going to be improved too. Whatever happened ahead, the memories left behind were going to be good ones.

Happy childhood memories all seemed to revolve around two wheels and steel frames, so that very afternoon a trip was made to a local bike shop to purchase not just one but five bikes. The whole family were going to get to experience the remembered pleasure from a childhood that now seemed a very distant memory.

Short spins of just a few kilometres together and alone grew further and further. Out on the quiet roads the two wheeled machine seemed to carry more than just the weight of the rider. A burdensome weight seemed to lift from drooping shoulders too. Group spins with other family members seemed to produce infectious laughter, and one on one spins with both riders looking at the road straight ahead, but talking directly to each other led to openness and understanding that had never been there before.

Regular visits to hospitals meant helpful pain. Pain of treatment was almost unbearable but the objective was to help reduce an unwanted foreign object that was trying to take over a body that did not want to be taken over. The ensuing battle was a hard fought war of life and death. Some days were better than others, but with a realisation of just how much there was to fight for, a previously unknown determination was found.

Gradually the doctor in the white coat and blue denim jeans began to soften his expression. Positive progress was being made, more than was expected, and now a light was beginning to appear from the far off depths of an Alpine tunnel.

Throughout this time, two wheels kept on turning. Some days they turned for just minutes, others they turned for what was now becoming hours. A solace was found each and every time. It was as if the two wheeled machine was a time travelling machine to a carefree world of youthful excitement. Unknown to the rider this was exactly what the doctor ordered, or would have ordered had he been aware at the time of the positive consequences these bike rides were having.

A day finally arrived when a visit to the doctor resulted in an announcement that enough battles had now been won to make the winning of an entire war a very realistic prospect.

On the way home a new Garmin was purchased to enable a new goal to be reached. 10,000KM in a single year was now another realistic objective and it was this goal that now had the rider aboard his two wheeled machine on a cool frosty spring morning rolling along the meandering back roads, choosing not to have a care in the World.





6 thoughts on “Destination Unknown

  • February 7, 2015 at 10:39 pm

    Maith an fear.
    Sure that’s only part of a fabulous journey
    Le cunamh Dé

    • February 9, 2015 at 9:24 am

      Go raibh math agat Máirtín. I look forward to seeing you along the journey again this year.

  • February 7, 2015 at 11:19 pm

    Truly inspiring post Barry. Keep riding, keep writing, keep fighting,

    • February 9, 2015 at 9:25 am

      Thanks Patrick. Glad you enjoyed reading it.

  • February 8, 2015 at 10:26 pm

    I’m lying here in CUH Barry waiting for an operation to fix my elbow after a spill from the bike on Saturdays club spin. Obviously feeling quite low but now thanks to your poetic wisdom at just the right time leaves me very much looking forward to my recovery on the bike in the company of my kids and wife !! Thanks Barry for scribing just the right words at just the right time !! Keep it up !
    Anthony Kenneally, Youghal CC

    • February 9, 2015 at 9:29 am

      I hope that your recovery is quick Anthony. I am really glad that something that I typed up was able to offer some form of relief from the frustration that you must be feeling at the moment. Looking forward to seeing you back out on the bike again soon.


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