a long-distance bicycle ride with check-point controls
Thursday 16th June
I was in good time at Belfast Central station for the train to Dublin, and managed to blag my way onto the platform before the main queue of people, so I had plenty of time to get the bike securely stored in the guardsvan. I was underway! Although I had previously got lost cycling in Dublin, this time the journey from Connolly to Heuston station proved no problem, and I had time to grab a sandwich and coffee before boarding the train. It was on this train that I met the first of my fellow Randonneurs, Andrew Nuttall from England, and Brian Greene from Ireland, the latter of whom I had previously met on Irish audaxes. Andy had missed his connection, but was able to get his machine on the train, which only had two bike spaces, since Brian’s bike was in a bike box. I say machine, since Andy was one of two people who were intending to tackle the event on an Elliptigo, an American invention that is powered by the legs in much the same way that a cross trainer works. Designed more for the flat paths of California, this was the most extreme event that it would ever have been used in.
We arrived in Cork on time at a quarter to five, and Andrew and I set off for Kinsale, the start point for the Wild Atlantic Way Audax. Brian was going to get a bus or taxi, since his bike was in a box. After a small detour to negotiate roadworks near Cork Kent station, the journey went smoothly, and we arrived in Kinsale at 6pm. I found my B&B and checked in, paying for the room there and then, since I would be leaving the following morning long before anyone else would be wanting to get up.
I made my way down to the Temperence Hall, which was the registration venue for the event. I carried my bike upstairs and was greeted by a scene of mild chaos, with bike boxes, bikes, and different coloured bags strewn everywhere.
I propped my bike against another and was directed to the registration table, where I signed in and received a pack with my drop bags, brevet card, tracker and event number in it. It also included an event jersey.
The drop bags were for me to put fresh clothes in that I would be able to access later in the trip, the first drop bag being available at 600km and the second at 1500km. Days ago I had decided what would go in each bag, so it was an easy matter to transfer the contents of each plastic bag from my pannier to the corresponding drop bag. I did almost forget to put the event jersey in the second drop bag. I had decided that I would only allow myself to wear this special jersey if I got far enough along the journey, as a bit of extra incentive to keep going! Towels were labelled with my name and number, and my event number was attached to the front and rear of my bike.
I put the drop bags in their appropriate piles, handed my pannier in for transport to Derry, and headed back to the B&B. Leaving the bike there, I wandered back down to town and had a meal in an Italian restaurant, before turning in at about 9.30pm. It was going to be an early start…
Route: Cork to Kinsale 28km
Next: Day 1