Well finally all the pain is over. Since December of last year Team Awesome has been training for the Wicklow 200. The Wicklow 200 is a 200 kilometre bike ride through the tough hills of Wicklow. The morning starting lovely but just as we set to roll off the heavens opened and the rain poured down.
The course is very challenging with an easy roll out at the start and the first climb of the day which seen us attack the ‘Sallys Gap’. From there on we rolled through some of Wicklows beautiful sights until we stopped at the first checkpoint.
From that point on it was all big hills. 120k into the spin we hit the first big climb which was ‘Slieve Mann’. Other team memebers Iano and Hoppo pulled away from me at this stage as the lashing rain and fog was hampering my confidence. I battled on and reached the peak. No time for stopping at the top as the rain was too bad. Soaked to the bone and the wind chilling my body on the horiffic decent i had to stop at the bottom as my leg had cramped from trying to keep the bike upright against the massive sidewinds. That outta the way i had to hit the second big climb. The ‘Shay Elliott’ is probably the most known climb on the route. Named after the Irish cyclist it was another tough one. But i knew that when i reached the top i would have a greeting party as Louise, my Sister and my Mam had been waiting at the top in the lashing rain for hours. That really inspired me to drive up the climb.
Louise at the top waiting for us.
Finally at the top of the climb.
Iano and Hoppo at the top of the Shay Elliott.
From there to the next checkpoint was downhill with a nice rolling road to rathdrum. At this stage i was well over being soaked to the bone and just got on with it. I was about 10-15mins behind the last but trying to gain a bit of time so they wouldnt be waiting too long for me. We all gathered up again at the check. Myself, Iano, Hoppo and Gwin began the last 70k togeter which was supposed to be flat and a nice roll in…not. Instead it had some short nasty climbs which my legs didnt have the power to pull up. The lads rolled away from me and i settled into a medium pace to survive the distance. Once over the hills i was able to put the power down again and managed to keep it up around 30kph for the long drag back into the finish. So many things go through your mind when you are out alone on your bike in the lashing rain and nobody around you. We had all aimed to do it in under 9hrs with the weather conditions but with 40k to go and just over an hr left i had resided to the fact that i wouldnt make it. Then rolling into Ashford i got a burst of energy and kept the power on. In my mind i was constantly working out my averages to see if it was possible. It would be very close.
There was one last drag out of Kilcoole that i attacked as i knew i was within the last 10k. With 8hrs 51mins on the clock i prayed that the roundabout for Greystones was just around the next corner. Like an Oasis the sign for the roundabout appeared and i clicked down a gear and sprinted for it. Under cutting riders and cars as we went around it i sprinted down the road. The clock was reading 42kph and i was counting down the seconds hoping i would achieve my goal. The run in had numerous roundabouts which i attacked fiercely. Onlookers where amazed by my sprinting at such a late stage. Just as i rouned the second last roundabout the finish was in sight. I actually started to cry which is very strange for anyone who personally knows me. The emotion was just unreal. But i composed myself and sprinted for the finishline. I managed to get there is 8hrs 56mins and 10 seconds.
I was greeted firstly by Hoppo and Gwin who cheered and also had signs of emotion on their faces. Then Louise and my family came running over. The tears nearly started again as everyone had known the commitment we had all put into this. This simply wasnt a 200k bike ride, this was a decision by a group of friends to challenge the lifestyle they had been living for many years and doing something to better their life. It was about improving our physical and mental well being in a time when this country is full of negativity and people trying to put you down. Team Awesome was established with a goal to make our lives better. Some may have doubted us or thought we where mad to do what we did, others supported us fully and gained that positivity that we all put out especially our fearless leader Hoppo. We are achieving goals now that we would never have thought we could last December. I am a proud member of Team Awesome and this is only the begining of what we can do. So stand up Ronan Hopkins, Iano Kinsella, Gwin, Jonathon Kenny, Keith Lai and Brian Curran…you have done your team proud and it has been a pleasure to achieve this goal with you. Time now to recover and set the next benchmark.
Iano looking so proud.
Me and Iano. Im rocking my Stay Strong Stephen Murray Jersey for inspiration.
6 months of training and 9hrs in the rain for this cert and a medal. Are we mad?