On 16th July 2017 28 members set off to complete the 2017 C Group 100 miler. It was the culmination of a lot of preparation. First of all by the members who had been training for this. For Marie Hinch, who was our official support driver, photographer, sandwich maker and general go-to person for anything else we were neglectful of. For Trish Mc Guane who put a lot of time and effort into making sandwiches and cakes and also her, by now legendary Chicken Tikka rolls. There were also others who, without prompting, brought along various delicious cakes and treats. Tom O Hanlon deserves special mention here for bringing, across town a couple of trays of coke balanced precariously on his handlebars along with his day bag. All of this support contributed together to make this a wonderful day on the bike.
We formed up at the courthouse at 7.30 for an 8am start all sporting shining bikes, sparkling club gear and our daybags. I think some thought we were heading to Majorca for a week, with the size of the bags. Not sure what they were expecting!
Rolling out of Naas we were all in high spirits. Some were slightly nervous for what the day might bring and would we all complete the task at all.
The brief in setting the route was to keep it within the confines of the County. So the final distance was to be 105 miles. Some baulked at the thought of those last miles but the Captains on the day had no doubt that everyone would complete the route. Not only that, but that we would complete it together, as a group.
From Naas we went via Johnstown/Kill, Ardclough and Celbridge. Maynooth to Kilcock and skirting the county border, but not crossing it, we had our first stop at Knockanally Golf Club (not inside but Al Fresco). Marie had the fare all set up on our arrival and we enjoyed some coffee, tea and cakes, the details of which I will spare your mouth watering taste buds.
That was after 30 miles. And with that we set off again for Carbury knowing that our next food stop would be Rathangan at 51 miles. Being aware of this was, in some ways comforting, in that we knew we were leap-frogging across the county.
We thought that our arrival into Allenwood might get to some at 50 miles. Knowing a short leap would take us back to Naas and relief. But there were no hint of abandonments as we right-hooked our way over the bridge and danced on toward Lullymore and Rathangan.
Bombing along the road to Rathangan, which i personally regard as the longest road in Ireland because of the relentless nature of the last three miles. We had our first ‘mechanical’! Chalkey claimed he lost his chain and as we were close to Rathangan we went on, saying he could catch up there.
Once again Marie had arrived ahead of us and had our lunch all set out for us when we arrived. The weather now was beautifully sunny and warm and necessitated the distribution of copious amounts of suncream. In Hugh Durnins case rather more! He looked like he had been in a Laurel and Hardy custard pie fight while trying to convince us that this was how he kept his, now legendary, youthful looks.
Half way through our second level of sambas and before the opening of the chicken tikka rolls someone asked where was Chalkey?
Hastily scrambling search parties, to head in various directions and making unsuccessful calls to his mobile. We went in search in some trepidation. After what felt like an age, he was eventually reeled back in, looking like Cool Hand Luke returning in chains, suitably flanked by his minders. We think, and we told him so, that he, finding himself alone on the Lullymore Road figured he could make a bolt for home, while claiming that he had been abandoned to the ravages of of the bog. No such luck Chalkey!
55 miles from home now, fed to perfection, oiled up and greased and ready for the road to Monasterevin, Kildangan and Athy and cross country to Castledermot. The roads were good, the traffic was light and the spirits were high. There gradually began to appear cracks in our formation, as stamina and strength began to tell and some started to feel the pain of miles. By Athy we were clearly 2 groups and distance was opening. On the Athy to Castledermot road a tractor invited 2 of our chasing group number for avail of its slipstream to break free leaving our diminished group to cruise on our equal pace into our last stop-of in Castledermot.
Bodies lying akimbo on the grass, in the sun, there were murmurings of taxis and calls to beloved ones. But thankfully nobody availed and after a rest and re-watering and the consumption of the last of the Chicken Tikka rolls, we set sail under a following wind to Kilcullen and Naas with the promise of a well earned pint at Mc Cormack’s hostelry.
There was much chanting and groaning as we passed the 100 mile mark somewhere north of Kilcullen and Naas loomed just as the anguish abated.
Pints in Mc Cormack’s were welcomed as the groups arrived in their order and delight at having completed this marathon, was widespread. Congratulations were given all round and well deserved. There was ‘some class of a football match’ on tv and although some of our number were avid followers of this ball game, it did not diminish the enthusiasm for what we had all just done. Stories were exchanged and there was no sign of the tiredness that would gradually sweep over us as the remains of the day were allowed to drift by.
A magnificent day on the bike and a true delight of what we had done.