Borris Viaduct

Borris Viaduct
Borris ViaDuct

Friday, 21 May 2010

What a difference a year makes.

August '09 - Bit bit on the round side
A lot happened in the year after my 1st Dublin - Kilkenny cycle. I was generally in a bit of a slump at the time leading up to that (and by 'the time' I mean a 5 year period from 2004 to 2009 that included my year out from studying architecture in college, 4th year and 3 unfinished attempts at 5th year, all of which I had deferred). To explain what caused this slump and the effects it had on me and my respect for myself at the time would involving writing a whole other kind of blog (that nobody would want to read) so I won't get into that - let's just say that in the lead up to that cycle I was in a bad place after deferring 5th year a 3rd time, and after 5 years of little self respect I had let myself go just a teeny little bit...
October '09 - Healthier, happier

That 1st cycle home gave me a new sense of pride and achievement, of completing something big (or eh, 99% completing it!) and was the starting point in me getting back on track again. 2 and a half months afterwards in early August something else clicked. I had some kind of personal epiphany and my outlook on things changed for the better, and I really started taking care of myself. I started tracking what I ate, regimentally, and by 6 weeks later just before the start of 5th year, I had lost 2 stone and was a new man! My friends noticed the change, like a friend they had lost 5 years ago was back again. I entered 5th year again with one simple goal, to just finish the year, and then walk away from it, pass or fail...

Right, let's try and get back to the cycling. Long story short, I finished college, with slightly better results than expected. To immense relief. The monkey was finally off my back and I was free. So what now? Luckily I had already started making plans...

October '10 Finally graduated!!
In my final week of my thesis hand-up, amid all of the chaos (in fact I think my computer had just died), I struck up a conversation with Brian Attley for the first time. He had noticed I had a cateye computer and we struck up a conversation about cycling. During the flow of conversation I had mentioned my cycle the previous summer and he expressed an interest in doing something like that, as he had been heavily involved in cycling before. This lead to me mentioning, out loud for the 1st time, a plan I had rolling in my head the last year - to cycle around Ireland! At some point in the summer!!

I was committed now - I had said it out loud! I was generally surfing a wave of optimism at the time, so it did not overwhelm me at all. After a couple of post thesis holidays and a lot of piss ups and generally enjoying doing nothing without the weight of the thesis on my shoulders for the 1st time in 4 years, I finally got my head down and started planning my route. Using a guide distance of about 100km a day, and plotting routes around as many landmark destinations as possible, I (rather quickly) plotted out 21 days of cycling and added another 7 days for rest days, hang around days or shit (weather) happens days. So, knowing a month would do it, I set up an event page on Facebook, inviting all possible interested parties, and included all the routes. I was an industrious little fecker that summer!

I hadn't set a date yet and this wasn't just because people weren't exactly rushing to join my epic event! I was prepared to do it on my own, with stragglers joining on various parts of the trip, so I didn't mind the slow show of hands. I had September in my mind,  but had to do one thing 1st - a test cycle with all the gear I would realistically have to bring with me. I decided I needed to cycle to Kilkenny again!