Night Ride report

“From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered-
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.”


What with the evenings drawing in, there is now a grand stretch in the night and it won’t be long till the winter solstice and peak time for quality training. As I sit and thump out this report on the evening after the night before, I am overwhelmed by a sense of guilt at not being out and getting the quality miles in.

One of the most ethically and legally dubious decisions the club committee has ever made, namely agreeing to a night ride up to Sally Gap, was followed through with on Friday night and has, I feel already entered club legend. The numbers in years to come who will claim to have been there, will be a significant multiple of the original pioneers. For the record, they were Brian Hayden, (esteemed past chairman, who since resigning seems to have taken on more work on the club’s behalf than he was doing before stepping down), originator of this hairball scheme, Andy Lakes, club Health and Safety officer (needs strongly to consider his position),Rob, Robbie, Katie, Paula, Joe Flynn, Brendan Bonnie, Mick Dempsey, Colm and me.

We had a briefing from Brian H as to what he wanted- total commitment to the spin, hard out of the corners and anyone struggling to be cut loose to fend for themselves.

What ended up happening was a great social evening which will remain long in the memory.
We headed out from Parkvale and it was great just to spin along and chat and not look at the computer, just concentrating on staying alive and out of hospital. The touring and elite groups headed out and stayed together for the duration of the spin.

The first heart in mouth moments were on the descent into Enniskerry and the off camber corners added a frisson of excitement. Rob’s van however has some excellent spotlights and was able to light things up for the most part so long as you didn’t push too far ahead.

Up then down the Poggio and into the countryside and visibility from the van lights was a good 50 to 100 metres as the tunnel effect of the hedgegrows and overhanging trees allowed us all to relax and enjoy the solitude.

The drop down the hill to Powerscout Waterfall was deemed a point of danger by Health and Safety nut Andy, who decided to relinquish his role of lighting up the road ahead, to go and block the exit from one of Wicklow’s most popular scenic attractions lest we be taken out of it by an unsuspecting tourist in a camper van. The group safely negotiated this potentially dangerous intersection thanks to Andy’s foresight, however promptly ran into a series of potholes which were completely invisible and which punctured Bren and Katie’s wheels.

The two wheel changes were completed without the exchange of blows .

There was a quietness down in the little hollow at the bottom of the steep ascent and a light drizzle on one of the warmest nights of the summer. The drizzle settled and the spin up to Glencree was magical. We were all tipping along at a conversational pace unhindered by traffic, sheep or deer.
We stopped for tea, coffee and fancies at Glencree where the clouds parted, revealing the Milky Way to the south and the glow of the city coming up behind the Dublin Mountains.

Brill. It was pushing on towards midnight and the touring group had pubs and clubs to get to, while the the rest of us headed further up the hill. Brian Hayden’s turning off the lights on the steepest part of the climb by Loch Bray under cloud cover was met with a stream of expletives . We crested the summit and descended down to the gap passing along the way an unidentified individual or group of individuals in to the left hand side of the road. I kid you not there was even a sprint off into the dark between Colm and Mick with a late burst from Rob, unassisted by van lights for the prime at the crossroads. No one could tell who won.
Nothing more to do than a 40 + kph descent off Sally Gap, strung out six in a row for one of the most memorable sections of road I have ever covered. A couple of pot holes half way down on the 10 K in to Manor Kilbride and a near collision with a badger left us all buzzing. Six lycra clad men and a conservatively dressed DS wandered in to Mooney’s for last orders, greeted by the patrons with a look Tom Crean might have received when he reached South Georgia. It certainly is a friendly place and sent out some of the creamiest pints we’ve all had for some time. Bikes were kindly looked after by the outdoor smokers . We dragged ourselves away soon after one o clock to the sound of beery cheers from those enjoying the warm evening air. Down past the golf club and on to the Embankment with the warm after glow of the pints and Bushmills lighting the road.

All ten unexpectedly arrived safe and sound into Tallaght. By the time the chains were cleaned and the bikes washed down, it was pushing 2 a.m.

” This night has opened my eyes and I will never sleep again.”
SP Morrisey and J Marr

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