That I was able to ride in and complete the Wild Atlantic Way Audax is, of course, down to the effort of so many others. From day one I was bowled over by the generosity of spirit of all those who gave up their time and sleep to support the dreams of fifty-six riders. I always made a point of thanking them whenever I could, whether they were in the kitchen, showing us to our beds or giving us wise advice. They were there for us, always with a smile, whatever the time of day or night.
Audax Ireland members turned out in force to help make this event the success that it was, and my thanks must also go to those cycle clubs around the country who were swept up by the vision of this monumental event and who came to man a shelter control for the night.
Those who we saw day after day, in the camper van, at each control, I don’t know how you did it. I’m sure that we got more sleep than some of you did!
And then there are Seamus and Eamon. What a pair! What a vision to come up with this ridiculous event in the first place! If it weren’t for them, I would have given up the day I was ill. I may only have known them for seven days, but they both have a very special place in my heart.
I must also thank all those who kept me in their thoughts and prayers during the week, especially when I became ill. That I stayed safe on the roads, despite extreme tiredness at times, I accredit to your petitions on my behalf. That I finished this crazy ride is as much down to your prayers as my stubborn determination. Above all, I must acknowledge and thank my Heavenly Father, whose constant love and presence sustained me.
Through my ride, I was able to raise over £3,800 for a school in Onialeku, Urua Province, Uganda, that my church is supporting.
So the ride is ridden, and the riders have dispersed, some perhaps basking in glory, others maybe licking their wounds, but all, I suspect, changed by this unique event.
If I hadn’t had the misfortune of getting food poisoning, my boundaries wouldn’t have been expanded nearly as much. My eyes wouldn’t have been opened to what this body and mind of mine is capable of. And I wouldn’t have discovered the fun (yes, fun!) of sleeping outside, something I thought distinctly odd only a few weeks ago, but which now I can’t wait to do again! In this way, as well as in others, I know that the ride has changed me. Somewhere along my journey, perhaps in enduring the suffering, I became a Randonneur.
I think I was also changed in quite a profound way. Long after the aches, bruises, cuts and callouses have disappeared, I will now bear myself with a quiet confidence that I lacked before. And I will carry with me memories of the savage beauty of the Wild Atlantic Way.
For the record, I, Richard Guthrie, cycled the Wild Atlantic Way Audax in 173 hours 25 minutes and 25 seconds.
My other cycling adventures:
Making Ends Meet
Irish and Scottish end to ends in 2012
Highlands & Islands
Cycle touring in Scotland in 2013