So yeah, I’m cycling to Sligo

Me (left) heading off on first cycle

That’ll be me on the left in the Sky jersey, heading off on first cycle yesterday

SLIGO. I’ve driven there countless times. I’ve taken the bus there. I’ve taken the train there. But I’ve never cycled there. Actually, the farthest I ever cycled in one swoop was about 10 miles on an exercise bike, a run around town is enough for me and at that, only if the weather is good. To correct that, I’m cycling to Sligo. Last week I didn’t have a bike, now I do. Last week I had never cycled beyond ten miles, now I have.

The route we’re taking (when I say we, I’ll be joined on this trip by my father, brother and cousin, the latter pair also pretty much in the same position as myself) runs about 150 miles and the plan is to do this over two days in October. 2010. I bought the bike on Friday gone, had the first cycle yesterday (and managed 22.17 miles at first time of asking, ticking along around 16.5 mph average) and I’ve got six weeks to get myself into some kind of shape to make the cycle to Sligo. This coming from someone who sits at a desk most of the day, hasn’t maintained any serious level of fitness or exercise in years and who has developed a serious taste for dining out and ordering in over the last few months, much to the detrement of both my wallet and health.

There are plenty of reasons for doing this. Festival season has been good to us folk in Kilkenny and I’ve just come off ten days and nights of the Kilkenny Arts Festival, which were rather good to me in terms of food and the late night pint. Throw in a comedy festival, Roots festival, and more besides and it turns out I haven’t been completely looking after myself food and fitness-wise, so I figure it’s a good way to get in shape. Then there’s the challenge part of it. There’s nothing like overcoming a massive obstacle when you put your mind to it. In my case, the obstacle is a 238 km trip from my home in Kilkenny to the family home in Sligo. It’ll save on diesel anyway.

Cube Agree SL 10

I’ve tried the C25K running programme, made it half-way once, almost finished it another time but found that I was able to carry the pace of 5km a lot sooner than 9 weeks so got bored. I don’t get to see my kayak all that often (it resides in Sligo at the moment) so figure cycling is a good a way as any to get fit and give yourself a challenge. I get a call one day last week from my cousin (also pictured above) that went something along the lines of “come on, we’ll go look at bikes in Dublin”. After all, if one is to cycle anywhere, one must have a bike and unfortunately I don’t think the mountain bike picked up last summer would cut such a trek.

So, Friday meant a trip to Cycle Superstore in Dublin to collect the bike above, a Cube Agree SL 10. I should thank Justin for his assistance in the shop there, he looked after us well for the afternoon both with the bikes, the service and the pricing (we walked in looking for three bikes, pedals, new gear for me and more besides).

Next thing you know I’m up on the bike, first cycle out of the way (yesterday) and on my way to getting in some kind of “show shape” as I like to call it, for October. We’ve earmarked the weekend of October 8/9/10, take a chunk of one day to cycle Kilkeny to Athlone, then do Athlone to Sligo the following morning. If things go really well and there’s nice weather the previous weekend, sure we might try that one. Either way, I’ve got six weeks before hitting the road and I’m very much looking forward to it.

Note that this isn’t a charity cycle or fundraising cycle, this is four of us (two at complete beginner status, one with a few years experience, and one who gets notions to travel the world by bike every now and again) taking off for the fun element, and hopefully with a pint at the finish line. It’s all healthy eating until then! If you’re interested, I’ll be writing about the experience over here for a few weeks. May as well be blogging about the whole thing. Whether or not I stay cycling afterwards remains to be seen but it’s a nice goal to have in sight for a start!

Author: Ken McGuire

Runs Event Media and The Devious Theatre Company and writes about food at Any Given Food. You'll find me on Twitter here and here.