It started with an innocuous conversation whilst riding along and a throwaway response, “yes, I’d be interested”.... next thing I’m only two weeks away from starting potentially the toughest thing I’ve ever done – riding non-stop around Ireland with a team of 7 others covering 2150km. And not just riding but ‘racing’ – we’re in it to win it! And not just to win it but to raise pots of money for Aoibheann’s Pink Tie (APT), supporting children suffering from cancer and their families. Oh and this on top of the day job....I’m loving it!

 

Beginning to think though that the actual riding will be the most straightforward part. Not that the course is straight or flat..though it will be incredibly scenic passing by world-renowned sights like the Giants Causeway, all the way down the Atlantic Coast, around Connemara and the Ring of Kerry and over the Wicklow Mountains. Whether it will feel beautiful at 3am when the rain’s lashing horizontal and I’m struggling to stay awake let alone pedal is another question.

 

To think that less than 4 days (and closer than 3 days if we stick to our target) after we roll across the start line at Trim Castle in County Meath we will be riding back across it having completed what it took Chris Froome two weeks to cover when he won Tour de France. Okay our average ride speed may be a little lower than his but we’re without the luxurious coach to relax in or the expensive back-up systems. Instead we’ve a car full of sweaty, wet, tired and possibly crotchety team-mates. That’s why I think the physical challenge is perhaps the least demanding aspect. It will be the mental and social challenges that probably make or break us and will see us either race to victory or be crying in the gutter..

 

Our efforts, as the DHL team (with me as guest ringer) already have been recognised though.  Ken Allen, the global CEO of the company, has been that impressed already that, along with making personal and company donations to APT, has commissioned a TV production company to accompany us and produce a documentary of our travails (and hopefully success).

 

How to train for this has been a bit of conundrum. Unlike say doing the 280km of Liege Bastogne Liege (my previous longest single day ride) when it’s all about building up endurance, in this it’s being able to ride fast and repeatedly. (Our plan is to rotate riders every 10-20km). So it’s more of long intervals and recovery. It sounds simple though I’m sure after 36hours without sleep it won’t be. 

 

Our fundraising target is 20,000 euros. So please help us if you can. You can do so via this link: https://www.idonate.ie/fundraiser/11259300_dhl-express-race-around-ireland-s-fundraising-page.html) - No matter how big or small as all donations are welcome and gratefully accepted.

 

To finish with you can keep an eye on our progress if you like by clicking on the following link - Blackblox GPS Tracking RAI – (though it will not show on this until we start on the 28th).

 

Mark Sandamas

Managing Director