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Great Rugby Cycle Wales - Reflections

27 September 2022

Jeff, one of the Great Rugby Cyclists pens his reflections on the ride:

So after cycling 700 miles, with almost 38,000 ft of elevation, our 2022 Challenge to cycle around Wales is over. I enjoyed a good night of sleep last night after an evening of celebration and good craic with my Great Rugby Cycle friends.

My lower back has held up and while it is sore I managed to complete the challenge. I will be delighted to get back to some more gentle cycling with my friends at Killinchy Cycling Club and my Community Cycling friends who I know will take it easy on me.

The alarm went of at 07.30 and after a more leisurely breakfast than usual we said our sad goodbyes to those not travelling with us. While I'm happy to be going home to family and friends it was also sad to have  to say goodbye to the other participants.

We watched the first half of the All Black's v Australia and departed just after 09.30 to Fishguard for the ferry to Rosslare.

I'm doing this final blog as we relax on the ferry for this 3.5 hour sea crossing.

My lasting memory of this trip will be the new friendships made and old friendships renewed. What a privilege it was to undertake this event with this group of people. Of course the scenery in Wales was spectacular with beautiful coastal views, picturesque Welsh valleys and hills, but those long and steep climbs were testing.

Our A Team group of Coralie, Kieran, Peter, Phil, Simon and Steve cycled at a great pace each day and on those occasions when they sped past us I was impressed by their prowess. Kieran kept is all amused in the evenings with his fine stories and we demonstrated our appreciation for all he has done by 'preparing' his room last evening for him on his return. Unfortunately the A Team supreme efforts caught up on them on Day 8 and they needed assistance to finish the last 5 miles yesterday! A good pay day for a Cardiff taxi driver.

I so enjoyed the banter all week between those 2 great friends Tony and Mal, my sides were sore from laughing at some of their antics and I will forever remember the look on Tony's face when he saw his prized bike in a rubbish skip.

Belinda, Corrina, Rob and Phil enjoyed the respect of the group for their efforts. Starting out first most mornings and frequently finishing well after the others, once finishing in darkness, they demonstrated great resilience. None more than Phil for getting up some of those hills given his handicap. Top man.

Our own peloton contained Andy, Charles, Jeff, June, Mark, Max, Steve, Stu, Tuks and myself with guest appearances from Mal and Tony.

Andy did a fantastic job organising and plannning the routes for us each day, as well as sorting the routes on our Garmin devices each day for a number of us. Andy loved the downhills and scared me with the speeds he flew down some of the steep descents.

A big thanks to Max for supplying us with abundant amounts of home baked Doddie iced shortbread cookies. These were so good and I enjoyed 1 or 2 of these every day. Max and Mark travelled together and the banter between these two matched that between Mal and Tony.

Mark, now what can I say about this guy. We all loved his black shiny patent cycling shoes but he kept the best to last by appearing in pink socks and fluorescent orange cycling shoes. Only a real man could carry this off - and he did.

Charles dug in with great determination and even though at times he found the pace tough going he got there. When we peaked another tough climbTuks enquired where Charkes was. The laughter in the group when Charles shouted out " I'm right here" or similar sentiments was special.

We all loved listening to the banter between June and Tuks. The speed of June when Tuks exclaimed "June, porridge up" when it was not actually there was so funny. June, despite a setback during the week got right back on a large man's bike, dug in and kept going as if nothing had happened. She was like a child on Christmas morning when her beloved bike was repaired and operational again. 

June and I loved our morning porridge. I enjoyed an emotional moment at the end of Day 8 with June when we were recalling why each of us was participating. The efforts of the cycle caught up with me and I admit I was tearful.

Tuks was a real character and we enjoyed so much his rugby stories and his family story about his Dad's journey from Ukraine to Scotland. Tuks loved to remind us of the hattrick of tries he scored against Ireland.

We all laughed heartily last night when Tuks introduced us to "One smart fellow, he felt smart". This was just hilarious and I will play this with my family and friends on my return.

It was great to meet up again with Steve with whom I had completed The Long Weekend in 2020.  We recalled funny stories from our previous cycling event and he cycled strongly all week. Any time I see a Mixed Grill on the menu I will think of Steve - he enjoys a good meal almost as much as a fast descent.

Stu, our Organiser and man who made this whole event happen deserves all our respect. What a job he did organising us all and making sure all the arrangements went like clockwork. This was my 3rd event with Stu and I think this was the toughest one I've done so flatter next time please!

When we were cycling we relied so much on our back up crew of Tracey and Jill. Ladies, you were just brilliant. Thank you so much for all you did and I hope we can meet up again soon.

Over the week we were joined by Alex,  Emma, Liz and Stewart and each of them added memories for all of us.

Over the week, and indeed before I left, I was so grateful to all the people who phoned, text, messaged me and provided support and encouragement. Your support meant the world to me.

To all the people who have donated to my Justgiving page I want to say a massive thank you for your support. This disease is just awful so be assured that all monies raised will be used will to help families dealing with the disease and to help fund research into finding a cure for it.

As I have said on previous blogs I participated in this event in memory of my partner Anne`s younger brother Ian who sadly suffered from Motor Neurone Disease. Ian`s family and friends raised monies in his memory previously and I`m hoping by reading this last blog you will get involved by making a donation, if you have not already done so.

If you would like to donate to this worthy cause please do so via the following link:

https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/THE-GREAT-RUGBY-CYCLE-2022

Great Rugby Cycle Wales - Reflections
Great Rugby Cycle Wales - Reflections

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