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!

This Is Where The Magic Happens

Lough Talt, Co. Sligo

This is where the magic happens. Thought I’d pop this one into the blog as it’s a shot I’ve taken to rather quickly (and currently resides on my desktop as a wallpaper), one snapped over the Christmas period.

This is where the magic happens. Not the work life, not the music life, not the theatre life, but the unwinding part of life. Get in the kayak, hit the lake, top to bottom. Bliss.

In Collateral, Jamie Foxx would take a breather on the job by looking at the photo of the island he kept on his visor in the taxi. Me, I keep a picture of a lake on the desktop. It’s rare I get to see it during the day with all the windows and tabs open, but when I do I’m reminded that there are simpler things in life and that there are places you can go to get away from it all.

So when I’m tweeting about hitting the road to Sligo or sitting amongst mountains, this is where I’m hiding out. I think the next time I’m up is the weekend before the Blog Awards but you can be sure that if I’m up, I’ll be hitting the water.

I Should Really Get Mobile Broadband

I’ve noticed a change in my blogging trends of late. The free time that I wish to dedicate to blog posts finds me in areas where my connectivity is completely restricted. My work within the theatre has increased dramatically (no pun intended) over the last few weeks (I spent the last two weeks of June in preparation for and producing a run of ‘Trainspotting’ only to take last week off before starting pre-production this week on a new show for August) and the gig count is going up.

I find myself with downtime in venues and restaurants where no laptops go, or where there’s no wifi signal to be found. That said, the Watergate Theatre were kind enough to allow me use of their connection to make the occasional tweet, check email etc.

During the Trainspotting run I pulled out a piece of paper and marked all the dates for July on it noticing more Xs (away) than spaces (home) between evenings and weekends. August, not so bad.

So now I look towards a mobile broadband solution. I’ve been tempted once again by O2 and their reduced offer for the summer months (€19.99p/m and a modem for €19.99). Having spoken with Bernie Goldbach and some O2 support people, the thoughts of running a 3G sim through an iPhone are quite tempting (my desire for an iPhone exists as a secondary phone to my N95 8GB though the 3G model has me very interested).

Pat wonders why there is no interest in the 3G iPhone though I’ll agree that the price and dataplans are a pain in the arse. Is it possible to pick up a 3G iPhone away from O2 (I’m happy on my current contract, thanks) but fire a 3G datasim in there from the broadband dongle? If so, sign me up.

When I find myself in Sligo (such as this weekend and at least 2 of the next 3 weekends), my options are limited around the lake but there are healthy signals 2-3 miles away which I don’t mind the short spin in the van for.

I’ve recently added another musical promotion string to my bow so it would certainly make work life that bit easier.

Perhaps I’m just trying to convince myself to go out and get it sorted. Lifehacker’s guide to sharing your internet connection from your iPhone to your MacBook Pro also has me wondering.

Here I Go Again

Here I go again… I’ll be in Sligo until Monday, likely hitting the surf this afternoon (if I can get up off my desk to hit the road). The three day work week in Kilkenny has been a God send but isn’t it amazing what you can squeeze into three days when you put your mind to it? I’ve been flat out on all fronts in the office, culminating in a few hours out in the studio last night checking up on the progress of a local band’s EP (due this June I think) and talking music with this guy (check out the Dragons Breath).

Anyway, I’m off to the wilds, kayak ready to go, playing a gig Saturday, surfing Sunday before returning to normal on Monday night.

Enjoy your second long weekend in a row! (Why doesn’t this happen all the time).

Internet Silence For The Weekend

Kayaking TrioJaiku off? Check. Twitter off? Check. Internet profile on phone? Still deleted. Last.fm Radio? Nowhere to be found. Paddle? Check. ProTools? Check. Boots? Check. Bike? Check.

I’ve been waiting for March to hit for ages, this stretch of ten days or so to be more precise. It’s close on two months since I’ve had the chance to get up to Sligo but come lunchtime today I’ll be counting down the miles to the lake, all in the hope that I’m getting a head start on the bank holiday traffic.

I’m imposing internet silence for the weekend. Twitter and Jaiku mobile updates are off. There’s no broadband connection in the house above – which surprisingly suits me this weekend – no dial-up connection and mobile coverage is sketchy at the best of times.

The lack of any decent speed internet connection doesn’t sway me at all at the lake. I know if I drive 7 miles up the road that I can get a wireless broadband connection. I know if I make the trip into Ballina (Mayo, we’re pretty close to the border) and could bring my laptop with me, enjoy internet access and coffee in the town, but I choose not to. There are enough natural distractions in the area to enjoy as opposed to spending even MORE time logged on.

Barring one appointment I’ve got on Saturday I plan on getting back out on the lake, tackling some more of the waves at Iniscrone (I’m guessing we’ll have the weather for it though I must look up the surf reports), cycling the mountain roads until my legs fall off and if I’ve enough energy left, flesh out an idea on paper that’s been bubbling away in my head the last two weeks (good bubbles) and I’m NOT leaving until I’ve got one new track recorded for delivery on MySpace next week.

If you’re emailing me, DMing me or looking for me in general, don’t expect to find me until Tuesday – or maybe Monday night, depending on what happens on the 17th.

Yes, some of us still believe that St. Patrick’s Day and it’s traditional Irish activities should take place on the 17th and not a bloody Saturday.

Then we’ll do it all again next weekend for Easter.