On Sunday morning our group of members and friends (pictured) gathered at Westport Leisure Park for the club outing – cycling from there to Achill…and back. We don’t do easy! It was a mixed group with a range of experience from regular cyclist to those who have not been on a bike for seven or more years. The plan was to proceed at a leisurely pace with the group maintaining contact and some fixed points for stops and sustenance. The weather forecast was not great and it was tough at times on the outward leg into a strong breeze and showers, but we pedalled through in high spirits enjoying the novelty and the adventure. We stopped at Nevin’s in Newfield for a welcome breather, plus coffee and scones.
All along the way we appreciated our beautiful wild Mayo landscape and understood why the Greenway has been such a success. The scent, sights, sounds of rural Mayo were on all sides. Bloomin’ marvellous. Purple heather, reddish-orange montbretia, stone walls, streams, and in the fields the resurgent buachalan buí and laid-back livestock nonchalantly chewing the cud. Scudding clouds chased shadows over the hills. Families, runners, walkers – all sorts. There was a lovely easygoing connection within the group, sharing experiences and chatting as we progressed through gates and over bridges, taking the rough with the smooth. There were good long stretches as we headed to Achill and time flew by.
Óstán Oileán Acla was the venue for a lovely lunch. Time to relax, enjoy the luxury of a chair, and recharge the batteries. The sun shone and the wind was on our backs as we set out for Westport on the return leg. A lead group of six or seven set a steady pace. Barbara Ronayne settled in with the peleton – she could relax having claimed maximum points on the outward stage to secure the polka dot jersey as ‘queen of the mountains’. Ambrose Gaughan went missing for a while – it was reported he ditched the bike to take in a 10k training loop and check his heart-rate. Finian Joyce was travelling on four wheels maintaining support in a kind of chef d’équipe/soigneur role. Ann McDonnell our ‘directeur sportif’ and brilliant organiser kept an eye on everyone so we were on our best behaviour. We made great time with the wind and in warm afternoon sunshine. Jimmy Feeney drafted in the lead group after Newport and attacked as soon as we hit the bottom of Slogger Hill to claim the stage victory and maillot jaune at the finish. Everybody arrived back at the Leisure Park safely having completed 100k out and back. It was time to toast a major achievement outside Madden’s in the evening sun. A milestone in club development and a wonderful day. Sláinte!
PJ Hall was one of the group on the Achill outing. Fair play to him for turning up after completing yet another Gael Force on Saturday in 4:58:59. Well done also to Paula Prendergast who was 3rd woman finisher in 4:55:27 and John Geraghty 5:37:20.