That time of year again for the annual pilgrimage to the Marble City for a bit of R&R before a long hard season begins for 2012. The club again returned to the Springhill Hotel Kilkenny for a night of fun, frolics and bulmers…. Both towns set off at 9.30 and , We (Gorey) headed north to meet with the southbound SERC express, piloted by Wayne Byrne before we all turned our bikes on the N11 to face them ‘for Mount Leinster’ into a ‘whore’ of a headwind and pedaled back through Gorey and on out towards Camolin.
The plan was the group to stay together till Ferns then the lads that can cycle just a bit faster than the rest of us… We’ll call them the ‘racers’ for the sake of argument would push on and us the riders who wanted to take our time and enjoy the vista we were called the ‘Tourers’. However the best laid plans came undone at bloody Clogh! The group slightly split up and I was at the back with Big Phil. Phil is only back on the bike a few days litterly after a very long lay off… so to even consider a ride this distance takes balls…. so i stayed with him as I was only back after 10 days off, plus I enjoy the banter with Phil and we were in no rush…. We cruised along and before we knew it We saw club President Willy Murphy, half naked outside the gates of the Ferns GAA club…. before I had a chance to grab my phone and have his beautiful chest tweeted and re-tweeted around the world, he remounted and was back cycling. The club had the luxury of a support car , driven by the great man ,Mick Considine… Willy was too warm so was getting rid of a layer to hand to Mick in the car. Our little group called the ‘tourers’ plodded along at a nice pace, and we were soon climbing that horrible road up to Kiltealy. Along slow road with a bad surface to boot… I was traveling Well, so I took solace in the fact I was in good spirits compared to the suffering I did last year on the same stretch of road. We were in ‘Tealy’ in no time… I stopped to wait for Phil and had a chat to Mick, I put in my i pod for some tunes for the next leg of the journey down into Borris. The descent down into Ballymurphy was class. Averaging 30 mph for 8K was a great feeling. Before long We stopped in Borris as ‘planned’. Well me and Phil did. We got a few drinks and sat out in the soaring 10 degree sunshine and enjoyed our break. However the worst part of doing that was getting the body going again.. I always struggle at that, and I did… 20 miles left approx, I didnt get the legs turning till the last 5!. With the head wind still blowing we pulled up at the gates of the hotel and left our bikes in the boiler room for save keeping.
As arranged We had soup and sambos on arrival, then too our rooms for a quick change to catch the 2nd half of the rugby. Once Ireland won out, we all converged in the pool for a swim and jacuzzi. It was a fair sight to see 13 finally tuned athletes all rammed into the same jacuzzi… we managed it, and I am sure We probably broke some sort of world record in the process. After the hot tub We had a splash around in the pool… well until Ronan turned up in tight pair of speedos, they looked like a size small too… I thought it best we leave before things got weird. While the lads messed about in the pool, I along with Phil got massages in the Spa… He got the neck and back done, and I got the legs done. Which makes perfect sense, as he was on my wheel all day, my legs hurt from dragging him through Carlow and Kilkenny and his neck was hurting from looking up at the road signs as to count down the Km’s.
On a serious note, the group had a man down…. Gerry, he wasn’t well at all. Had a tummy bug on arrival and had either end in the toilet bowl for most the evening. He was so bad at one time there was concerns raised about his well being among the group, but we soon got over it and had a few drinks.Its what Gerry would have wanted. 7 pm was dinner time. We all gathered in the restaurant, and made El Presidente, Willy Murphy, say a few words… for everybody in the restaurant, I mean everybody. We soon tucked into our meal. The banter and the craic was 90 with the lads. We ordered a few drinks, and being the man he is, Willy dined on the finest of red wine, in fairness he ordered a bottle of Miller, but Alexandra, the polish waitress brought him a bottle of Millieur …..red wine, classic…..
We retired to the bar to continue the slagging and banter… poor Gerry went out for some ‘air’… I bet when out there he bumped into his toilet bowl who would have needed some ‘air’ as well. We didn’t see Gerry for the rest of the night. As the night rolled on, one by one each man fell away with tiredness. It was pushing for 10pm at this stage, however one man, the oldest of the group, 72 year old Mick Shiels flew the flag and was left at the bar drinking sherrys… what an athlete. We arranged breakfast for 8am, and Ronan enquired what to wear down for breakfast, our club gear?… I replied.. ‘no , your speedos’. He wore jeans and a t shirt in the end. I was in room 101. Bar a prison cell in the local cop station, it had to be the worst room in Kilkenny. Its the 1st room everybody passes on their way to and from reception. The window in the room opened out at the front of the hotel and the door opened out onto the place where the hallway is that seperates from 1st floor to 2nd floor. As the night wore on, I was awoken at 2am with the constant comings and goings of the party goers. Upstairs I could hear the banging on the door by ‘Catherine’ who was locked out of the room by ‘Jenny’.. as for 30 mins I could hear banging on the room door with Catherine shouting ‘Jenny…..Jenny…. JENNY!, its f**king Catherine, will ya let me in ya drunk bitch’…Catherine eventually gave in came down the stairs walked by my room mumbling to herself, went to reception and got herself a key, went back upstairs and I could hear the door slam shut… the funny thing is 40 mins later, I am woken by Jenny, knocking on the same door saying ‘Catherine, I’m f**king sorry, I didn’t know you were gone home early, will ya let me in please, I am pissed’…. turns out Catherine was banging at an empty room in the first place. Between 3am and 5am I had the usual coming and goings, with the added problem of my location near to the 2nd floor, he meant that groups staying on both floors would congregate at my door to review the nights events in great detail. One group of people at 5.30am were chatting and laughing, to their hearts content , when I had to get up and pop my head out the door and ask them too move on.. which in fairness they did. They decided to ‘go out for a fag’, which they did, outside the side door… just by the window of my f**king room….. ya know it was just like asking 3 drunks to move from standing on one side of my bed to the other. Totally pointless. They eventually finished and got a taxi at 6am… a bloody taxi!!!, makes ya wonder what the hell were they doing standing in the hall way at the rooms in the first place and not reception.
Breakfast came around and I was totaled. Went down and had some grub and was hoping there might be space in Micks car for a lift, as I was not in the mood for cycling. Gerry had taken the space as in fairness he was a wreck, but was on the mend. After breakfast, we suited and booted and hit the road for 9.30…. With a slight headwind We really made great time home, We entered Borris and the group split, the ‘racers’ up front breaking trail and the ‘tourers’ and the lads with 1 hour of sleep or less in the slower group. Have to confess, like last year , I felt ten times stronger going home than going to Kilkenny. I was under pressure to get home to let the Mrs off to work, so i put the hammer down and made good time. Was home in 3hrs 15min, a full hour quicker than last year… another little milestone for me.
The trip to Kilkenny is great, I would highly recommend it to any club. As most know, ya really dont get to meet most of the lads only on the bike on sunday mornings, so to meet them in a social enviroment is great, ya also get to see what they look like as half the time ya can’t see their faces for helmets, glasses and scarfs!. Ya also get to learn more about them, for example….I snore like a train, Mick drinks like a fish, Phil eats like an animal and Ronan squeals like a pig……
Till next time boys and girls… keep it between the ditches