Longest Day Challenge Belfast – Dublin – Belfast

On a weekend when so many Phoenix riders made us feel very proud in the Irish Championships (report to follow) another group took on the ‘Longest Day Challenge’.  John Moran came up with the idea of cycling from Belfast to Dublin and back in a day on the Saturday closest to the summer solstice.  John and Niall Bell provided invaluable backup support on a windy showery day.  Here is John with the riders at 5.30 am just before the start, followed by John’s report.

Six

Well Folks Saturday was certainly a long day.I spent only 4 hours in bed and they were interrupted checking the alarm clock to make sure I hadn’t slept in. Just think of what it was like for those taking part !

For me it was also a most rewarding day and I was very proud to have been able to help the participants achieve their goal.

In the end 10 started the event and 10 finished. Unfortunately Daniel Daly missed his flight home on Friday evening and couldn’t make it but from his email you could tell his dissapointment.  I told him not to worry he could join me doing this next year! One other entrant didn’t show up at the start and we waited until 05.45 then had to go.It turns out he had emailed Oliver but Oliver’s didn’t get the message until Sunday night.

I have a lot of people to thank for helping make this happen not least the participants who were a fantastic bunch who just got on with it and there was never one grumble or complaint throughout the day.

Eamon Gorman lent us the van and Niall Bell was a fantastic help to me with everything.Without Eamon’s van and Nial’s assistance the back up would have been very hard going indeed.

We had one spare bike and 4 spare wheels and to save time the system was to replace the wheel temporarily and fix the puncture on the move and repatriate the wheel at the next stop.This saved some time but I would say we still lost an hour through punctures and we missed one puncture scouting the road ahead into Dublin which was unfortunate.

The road down was tough with a strong headwind making progress slower than anticipated and we arrived at Croke Park at 1.30 about an hour behind schedule.We came in via Malahide which turned out to be a mistake but after a short photo and comfort stop at Croke Park we returned via Santry and Swords.Croke Park as a destination was good as there were toilet facilities freely available and as a proud Down man it was nice to see their name up in lights five times…again

There were no major incidents to report and everyone just kept it going steady with the group never splitting.

On the way home we had quite a few punctures and at one stage just before Banbridge there were five spare wheels on the road we even had to take one from the spare bike.

In the end with the overcast sky and fading light and a few people having no lights we had to opt for a House of Sport finish where we were met at about 10.30 pm by Peter Stewart and Ciaran Donnelly and Damian McGuigan and a cooler full of beer which was greatly appreciated. Poor Damien had cycled to City Hall and then had to dash to HOS when we changed our final destination due to the fading light.

I will sign off now by congratulating in no particular order of importance the fantastic effort and strength of a very special bunch of very nice people:-

Martina Elliot, Oliver Magill, David Buick, John Cole, David Tweed, Aidan Mckegney, Simon Murray, Danny Magee, Michael Henry and Michael McMorrow.

Chapeau.What an epic.

I was very envious of those taking part and hope that next year someone will join me in this endeavour?