Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Mille Pennines 1000KM Audax ElliptiGO ride (7-10 July 2017)

The sun was beating down late into the hazy afternoon; I’d been riding since 3am this morning and still hadn’t even covered half the required distance on Day 2. I was tired, exhausted, and hungry having got through 165 of the toughest kilometres I’ve ever ridden on the ElliptiGO. I faced a choice: do I turn left and check-in to a B&B I’d passed or turn right and head on up into the hills and deep into the night….


Tim Woodier and Stuart Blofeld at the start of the Mille Pennines Audax ride in Blackpool


This is my report for the Mille Pennines Audax. A 1000 Kilometre three day cycle tour of the very best of the north of England (and a bit of Scotland). Of course I was doing it on my trusty steed ~ ElliptiGO-GO!! The tour was split into three loops ~ Day 1 was a 251KM loop of the Lake District; Day 2 was a 330KM loop of the North Pennines; and Day 3 was a 340KM out and back loop to Robin Hood Bay across the Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors. The event started and finished in Blackpool with a total time limit of 75 hours, and 13,600 metres of climbing (one and half Everest’s!). It looked really tough on paper, so imagine what the stark reality looked like out on those hills!!!!

I registered for this ride last year and in that time have probably decided at least three or four times not to even start. Training was not going very well (read: non-existent). I didn't have the time to get the miles in, due to work, or do any kind of specific training in the hills. Nevertheless in the end I decided I would start the ride but because I almost didn't start this showed a lack of total commitment to the ride which probably pre-determined my mental state for the ride. I say this because a ride of this intensity and toughness requires 100% commitment to finishing; anything less than that will immediately reveal any chinks in your armour and numerous reasons to slow down, stop for longer at controls, change plans or strategy or simply quit.

The Mille Pennines requires 110% commitment to succeed and going into this ride it was doubtful whether I had that. I think the other reason for doing this report is that many times we only blog when we are successful in our endeavours with social media posts of ‘smashed it’ and photos of shiny medals. Yet we shy away from speaking of our failures for fear perhaps of being seen as weak when things don’t quite go to plan. Yet I think the opposite is true. People want to understand and learn from others mistakes. That’s where the real value is in this process. We are all guilty of sugar-coating our experiences in life and on the road. This report is not one of those, I want to simply state the facts and provide some real insight into the reality of Audax.

I also want to draw particular attention to the Elliptigo. I think many people probably don't appreciate how much harder it is to compete in an Audax in a multi day event on the Elliptigo. We are seen alongside cyclists in these events and have been for many years now. We have been very welcomed into the fold by the Audax community whom welcome all types and all contraptions no matter how diverse. Yet I think now that we are established and have had many successes in long distance Audax that there may be an expectation that once you've committed to a ride and you turn up you are expected to finish, barring a disaster. But the reality is far from certainty, and you are on the absolute limits of Audax most of the time when competing on the ElliptiGO especially on a course like the Mille Pennines which was extremely hilly and very technical.

So what did this ride require to finish it ~ in simple terms it had to be completed in under 75 hrs which for a course of 1007 km meant maintaining an average speed of 13.4 kilometres per hour. Easy right…. Errrrmm no not really. If you factor in stopping time and also time to sleep over the three days, then in reality our moving speed had to be at least 18kph or higher to allow you enough time. And if your moving speed reduces, (because for example it’s bloody hilly!!!) then obviously you have less time to stop and less time to sleep! So that was the challenge that lay ahead.

Day 1 ~ The Lake District (251KM)

So Friday morning (7 July) at 10 a.m. Tim Woodier and I set off from Blackpool with 80 or so other cyclists to complete the first 251KM loop around the Lake District. Day one was a fantastic ride. It was tough, there was some big hills; famously ~ Hardknott Pass in the south of the lakes with its 33% gradient which shares the accolade of being the steepest road in England (Rosedale chimney was on Day 3 which is the ‘other’ steepest hill in England). This was the second time that I’ve tackled Hardknott Pass and it's the first time that I was able to successfully ride up every inch of it without having to walk. Tim breezed up it with a massive smile of his face. Lunatic!

Celebrating like a loony at the top of 33% gradient Hardknott Pass, Lake District

 We set a target to complete day one before midnight and we rolled into the overnight control at Sedburgh at 11:40pm meaning it took just over 13 and a half hours to complete the 251 kilometres. A moving speed of over 20 km per hour and we only stopped for a total time of 45 minutes throughout the entire day which is why we are able to complete the whole course in that time. We knew Day 2 was going to be really tough (understatement!) so we planned to leave the control by 3 a.m. We had some late dinner, slept for 2 hours, got up and had breakfast, and left for Day 2. Our first goal on Day 2 was to complete 80KM by 10 a.m. so that we had the same distance left (250km) and time as on Day 1, and perhaps finish by midnight again,

Nutrition

I slept well and felt like I had recovered from day 1. The sun was already up by 4am and it looked like it would be a warm day. The first control was Hawes which because it was so early required a cash machine receipt as proof of passage (Audax rules). Next it was an unscheduled breakfast stop at a Greggs store around 7 a.m. Because Tim’s pace was already hotter than a Gregg’s steak bake he arrived a good 10 minute before me. Thanks for the cappuccino Tim! He was fresh. I wasn’t and I need a longer stop to get some breakfast. I told Tim he should go on as I knew our pace wouldn’t be the same from this point on and he was going to be a lot stronger in the hills. He agreed and set off to tackle the Pennines. I ordered a porridge, a bacon and cheese turnover, and another cappuccino. I definitely didn’t eat anywhere near enough on Day 1 and I already felt like I was in a fuel deficit and lacking energy. This didn’t get any better throughout the day.

Breakfast at Greggs!
Getting the nutrition right on Audax isn’t easy. And because of the speed limitations of the Elliptigo versus a cycle you don't have the time to sit in a cafe and eat a decent meal. You have to eat on the GO, quite literally, which requires planning, discipline, good solid guts and lots of reserves of flapjacks (Tim’s favourite!), sausage rolls, pork pies, chocolate bars etc ready and stashed in your pockets.

I didn't get my nutrition right on the Mille Pennines. I didn’t bring enough food with me as I was going to rely on the mandatory control stops where we had to buy food/drink to obtain a receipt as proof of passage. Why bring food with you and weigh down your bike if you have to buy stuff on the ride anyway right!.... Well maybe because the shops that you stop at don’t always have what you want or fancy at the time. On day one I didn't eat much more than a sausage roll a banana and a couple of pieces of Tim's flapjack. I also nibbled on some of my fruit and nut mix but I was shot by Day 2. I was really feeling the effects, and was in need of a decent meal. Hence why I spent a good 45 minutes in that Greggs store. I didn’t know it then (or perhaps I did) but even that early on Day 2 the long breakfast stop probably signalled the end in terms of my seriousness about completing this event. As I said before an event like this on the Elliptigo requires you to hardly stop at all and in that one first stop it had equally my entire stopping time of the previous day ~ this was time I just didn’t have.

Day 2 ~ North Pennines (330KM)

Day 2 would be tough with 330 very hilly kilometres to cover. We thought it could realistically be finished in under 24 hours although Tim was more positive that he could complete it in around 20 hours. The pessimistic part of me thought it was far more likely to be 26+ hours. I've completed Audax events in the past that also had a lot of climbing and long days. In 2014 I completed the Mille Cymru in Wales, which was another 1000KM multi-day ride, and just last year I completed a 7-day 2,100KM ride in Ireland on the Wild Atlantic Way. However the climbs in the North Pennines were exceptionally tough; they were both steeper, more severe and longer. Another crucial factor in the Pennines was that there was also next to no recovery time on the descents either as it was either sharp up or sharp (and steep) back down which required you to be on the brakes all of the time. You couldn’t relax or coast or make back any time on any long winding descents. There wasn’t a single one all day! So time couldn’t be clawed back, and that was a pattern all day long. Climb after climb after climb. It was relentless. And being honest the fast frenzied fun from day 1 was fading and being replaced by a hazy slow fog in my mind which I couldn’t kick.

Throughout the day I was stopping more both too refuel and recover from the big climbs. By midday I was up against it in terms of the distance still to cover and the pending cut off times. But in reality the imposed Audax time limit on this ride was just an external factor that was completely outside my control. I couldn’t ride any faster than I was, and I was maintaining a healthy 18kph moving speed which on this terrain on an ElliptiGO was more than respectable.
By 2pm I was starving and had to stop to eat a proper meal. The previous control town which we hit around 10:30-11am was not too long after breakfast so I didn’t feel like lunch at that time, and instead I just drunk a large pot of tea. But come 2pm and after some more huge climbs I was ready for lunch. I knew I didn’t really have time to stop for lunch but I stopped at an amazing looking tea room that popped up in the middle of nowhere in a tiny village. The White Monk Tearooms are set in a former Church, and as a Christian this place such screamed out at me to stop. Decision made! The lunch was amazing (see pic). I was content, I was in control but it was also very apparent that time was slipping away too.

The White Monk Tearooms

Best quiche I've ever had!!!!
Throughout Day 2 I really questioned what I wanted to achieve on this ride and my mindset was such that I didn't have a strong overriding desire or commitment to finishing the Mille Pennines and completing the entire event distance. That was just how I felt. So my mind wandered and I started to list lesser goals that I could savage from the weekend. A strong alternative that took my attention was not to ride day 3 at all. This appealed to my self-preservation mechanism as the sheer enormity of the distance that still lay ahead over the whole weekend and just in Day 2 was simply overwhelming.

When writing a ride report such as this we have a tendency I think to capture each moment and decision in real time as if it actually happened that way. What we remember and piece back together in these write ups is often not actually how or exactly what happened, or the order it happened. My decision making in that late afternoon sun was far from clear, and I just continued to clock up the KMs after lunch. I just rode on in a daze, fixated on the distance I still had to cover that day. I couldn’t shake it and every KM seemed to take me no closer to the finish.

What become more certain to me as the afternoon wore on is that I didn't think I had the required speed, energy or strength to get through day 2 and continue into day 3  and I had to come up with another plan. But I wasn’t thinking clearly and so all I could think was I had to stop. It was that simple. So I started looking for places and rode pass a nice looking campsite/lodge called the Boe Rig just outside Bellingham. People were out playing, and laughing, drinking and eating. How could that not appeal! It was Saturday evening. I didn’t want to continue. I stopped and pulled up the ElliptiGO with the usual keen stares and looks of ‘what the heck is that thing’. To cut a long story short they were full and didn’t have any free rooms. I rang another hotel they recommended. They were full too. I ordered half a pint of Grolsh and sat there contemplating what lay ahead. The thought of riding into the night was ludicrous. It was now 5pm, 14 hours after we set off this morning and I’d covered just 165KM. I still had 170KM to go, and doing the maths in my state that would get me to the control well after daylight and beyond the cut off time. I felt completely stuck and had no idea what to do. Sounds sad and helpless now but in my state it was bewildering.

The lady behind the bar suggested I turn back down the road and head back to Bellingham where there were a couple of pubs that have rooms. And thus we come to the start of my story. Do I turn left and head back or turn right and continue!?

I still had no idea what to do as I left the Boe rig and rode over the stoney entrance track to the main road; left or right. I had hours to think about this up to this point but I didn’t genuinely want to make the decision to actively call it a day. Its far easily to let events just play out and force your hand. But now I had to make a decision. Left or right. Continue into the long hazy night, or call it a night? The handlebar twitched I hit the main road and turned LEFT.

My Mille Pennines DIY Tour

The relief of just making a decision had set me free. I still didn’t know whether I could even get a room somewhere but I had for the first time taken control and set my own destination. I went to the pub that the campsite had recommended but they were also full for the night but the chap behind the bar said he’d call a B&B which to my good fortune had just had a last minute cancellation which allowed me to get a room for the night. £45 inc full English breakfast. I’ll take it!!

I can’t describe the utter relief I felt at this point. To know that I could actually stop here having completed 165 of the hardest kilometres I think I've ridden on the Elliptigo, I'd be able to stop, eat a proper dinner, sleep for the entire night and then pick up where I left off and complete day 2 the next day. Why didn’t I think of doing that before! Its sounds silly but until this point it had never occurred to me to do this to split the ride up. They say that if you plan for failure then you will probably fail. I partly agree with this statement but I didn’t ride to fail and not complete day 2. I gave it my all up to a point, but spent more time stopped than the Audax time limits allowed. At the ElliptiGO speed that isn’t even a lot of time.

In hindsight it was definitely the right decision; I really had no interest in completing the event under these conditions, and what I mean by that is that didn’t want to experience the severe sleep deprivation that I have in previous rides. I started this ride because I thought I had a chance of completing it within the limits, but it was clear by that left/right turn that I was outside those limits. Now I could actually enjoy the ride and see Scotland in the daylight.

I slept for a solid 10 hours at the B&B before tucking into a full English at 8am and setting off at 9am for the remaining 170 Kilometres of Day 2 (on Day 3). Incidentally Tim had made it back from Day 2 before midnight up with the first 10 cyclists to do so! And by the time I left the B&B and continued heading north for Scotland Tim was already across the Yorkshire Dales and half way to Robin Hood Bay!! That is an incredible ride!

Finally made it to Scotland by ElliptiGO!

I cruised up to and past Kielder Waters and Forest and into Scotland, turning west into a strong head wind. But the route also flattened out for the first time in the event which made the GOing much easier. The route came back down the A7, stopping in Longtown for a very nice lunch, and onwards along the A6 through Carlisle and back south to Sedburgh. I arrived back at the control at 7 o'clock where there was little action. No cyclists had yet returned from Day 3, but they did that coming in from 8:30 onwards!

I set this little fella free on the return to Sedburgh!! Highlight of my trip :-)

I bought some beers from the Coop for Tim and I, I ate well, chatted to those coming in and went to bed by 11pm. Tim expected to get back around 1:30am and wanted to leave by 5am to complete the last 80 kilometres back to Blackpool to finish the whole event in under 3 days (72 hours). He did it in 71.5hrs!! A new ElliptiGO 1000KM record for this validated distance on THE TOUGHEST 1000KM Audax ride in the UK.

Tim Woodier at the Mille Pennines Audax finish ~ 1000KM in 71.5hrs on the ElliptiGO!

For me I slept until 6am had breakfast and rode a very wet but flat 80 kilometres back to Blackpool finishing by 11am. I expected Tim to be sleeping at the control but there he was standing, and texting on his phone. I congratulated him on an amazing ride and his first multi-day Audax! I can’t describe just how tough this event was on an ElliptiGO and to not only finish in the time limits but to come home in the top 10 with cyclists is an EPIC performance.

Tim Woodier and Stuart Blofeld reunited at the finish of the Mille Pennines 1000KM Audax ride 2017

Overall the ride for me has mixed emotion. It was and it wasn't enjoyable all at the same time. Nothing of this magnitude is ever going to be easy but we can easily delude ourselves and even romanticise about riding on the open road, taking in the scenery and generally make it out to be all fun fun fun! It isn’t always but it’s always an adventure and in the end I was really happy with the decisions I have made on this ride and when I made them to make the ride more enjoyable. I don’t have any regrets about not finishing the event distance because it was simply beyond me and I wouldn't have completed the required distance in the 75 hour cut off.


In summary it was Day 1 in the Lakes that was the stand out day for me. The beauty of the Lake District far surpasses the brutality and bleakness of the North Pennines. Tim and I rode well and conquered some big climbs, and I’m extremely pleased to say that I’ve now climbed the steepest road in England on the ElliptiGO. Well come on you have to let me finish my report with a tiny bit of sugar coating and an enormous cherry on the top! 


STRAVA DATA FROM MY RIDE

Day 1 ~ The Lakes (251K)
 
Day 2 ~ North Pennines (166K)
 
Day 3 ~ Scotland (171K)
 
Day 4 - Return to Blackpool (80K)



 

Saturday, 1 October 2016

Lakeland 100, UK ultra-marathon (2016 edition) ~ Feature Length Video

Sorry folks for the delay in posting the 'Feature Length' version of my Lakeland 100 experience. Hopefully this provide a bit of insight to other runners contemplating this EPIC race!



Sunday, 28 August 2016

Lakeland 100 run 2016 Edition ~ Video highlights


A short 4 minute action video of the Lakeland 100 ~         2016 Edition

Enjoy!


Longer version with more commentary and pain to follow..... ;-)

Friday, 8 July 2016

Wild Atlantic Way Audax Ireland ride report (17-24 June 2016) - The extended edition!


After 4 months of preparation I was finally on the start line of the Wild Atlantic Way Audax ride (WAWA). The longest ever Audax ride hosted in Britain. 2,100KM lie between me and Londonderry along the longest coastal road in the world. 56 intrepid riders were taking on this challenge made up of 54 cyclists and 2 on ElliptiGO's ~ myself and Andy. There were no other 'special bikes' present which was interesting. Did they know something we didn't?....

All my training was done. Had I done enough? Probably not... Actually definitely not, but that didn't phase me, and nor did I believe it reduced my chances of success. I firmly believed that success in this ride would come down to mental aptitude and a steely resolve to keep GOing when things got tough. You can 'train' this aspect of mental toughness up to a point but its only in the ride itself when you really find out what you have to give.

This ride was all about finding out if I had what it takes to complete the distance on an ElliptiGO within the allocated time of 7 days and 7 hours (175hrs). Physically I thought it was probably possible but there are many factors outside on one's control in a ride of this length that would come into play.

All I was focused on now was what lie ahead and to take it one day at a time. It was far too longer a distance to comprehend riding in one go. Just one day at a time at 300KM per day was the plan. Look no further ahead than this and in the words of the legendary ultra runner Lizzy Hawker 'Stay in the moment'. This would be my inspiration to enjoy each day and each hour no matter what is thrown at me and to GO with it and have faith that it will happen.

The journey over to Ireland was relaxed. Phil Whitehurst and I timed the ferry crossing perfectly from Holyhead and settled with a pint of Guinness to watch the England Wales game. We didn't get to the b&b in Kinsale though until gone 11pm and alarms were set for 4am. Not ideal for what lay ahead and I didn't sleep brilliantly.

Myself, Andy and Phil enjoying breakfast at the start
The morning of the ride was relaxed but also with a sense of nervous excitement in the air. Andy looked very tense and I think just wanted to get started. It was great to finally get started. Andy and I took our positions and somehow found ourselves on the second row in an F1 grid like pattern. The WAWA drone operated by event photographer J Collins Productions hovered above us capturing this unique event in a unique way.

Ready!
 Day 1 ~ 325km – Kinsale to Kenmare
After a 3... 2... 1... count down by the very likeable Eamon Nealon, we were soon on our way riding alongside the Kinsale harbourside. It was a beautiful setting with the early morning sun shining keenly down on us. One mile down the road and the positions were set. I was at the back setting the 'ElliptiGO pace' that would be needed to be sustained over 7 days. It wasn't a sprint, it wasn't even middle or long distance, possibly not even Ultra. Perhaps this distance needed a new name! WAWAULTRA!!! :-D

WAWA start
Andy hung back and we rejoined each other after the early excitement. We were soon in the Irish countryside which wound around the many bays of Southern Ireland. The weather on Day 1 was brilliant. It would be the only day of the entire ride when it didn't rain! At 325km this would be the longest day distance wise but we would have later finishes during the next week.
Stopped for lunch on Day 1
Day 1 highlights for me was a big climb up from sea level straight up the mountainside followed by a fantastic jaw dropping descent as captured on my handlebar cam. Hitting speeds over 60KPH it was a real thrill. Late at night we also found ourselves on a massive climb up Healy Pass which was a proper mountain climb switch back after switch back after switch back. It was hard but it was truly unique ~ this is WAWA!


Eamon at the secret control near Healy Pass
We started Day 1 at 6am and got into the sleep control at 3am. 21 hours in total ~ 19 hours of which was spent riding. The ElliptiGO is comparably slower to a road cycle so our only way to complete the daily distance in the required time limit was to minimise our stopping time. Whilst the cyclists could afford to stop more often and for longer enjoying a leisurely lunch, F1 style pitstops was our only choice.

I enjoyed a lovely chicken curry prepared by the amazing volunteers and was ready for bed. Andy and I agreed to take a 2 hour sleep and after sausage and egg for breakfast we were out the door at 6am to a crisp bright morning.

Day 2  ~ 310km – Kenmare to Ballyheigue
By mid-morning the clouds were starting to look a bit threatening. And then the rain started just after second breakfast. Yes I sound like a Hobbit with all this breakfast and 2nd breakfast talk!! But regular refuelling was absolutely essential on route. And there is nothing better than a Full Irish Breakfast to set you up for a days riding.

We knew to expect rain along the way, this was the west coast of Ireland after all. We perhaps hadn't expected it to come quite so soon or to remain steady and constant for much of the day. It wasn't cold however so the dilemma for me was what to wear so as not to overheat. Because of the warmth a rain jacket soon had you sweating so I opted instead to just keep on what I was wearing, a long sleeve base layer, cycle jersey and add a wind proof gillet. That did the job nicely. You could then quickly dry off as and when the rain decided to eventually stop.

Day 2 was a long day on paper and on the road. Discussion between Andy and I would always turn to what time we thought we would arrive at the sleep control based on our average pace. At this point our average pace was good at 18KPH moving speed. My calculated target moving pace for the whole event was 17KPH. I worked this out months ago in planning for this ride to ascertain if it could even be completed on an ElliptiGO. My conclusion was that it could be but the average couldn't drop much below 17KPH otherwise we would have to stop and sleep ALOT less to make up the distance and lack of speed. Right now we were doing fine, but as the days wore on it indeed became clear that the average moving pace was dropping resulting in less time to sleep than I had ever planned for.


Still time for a selfie
The last 100km on Day 2 was really tough. Andy and I were already both suffering from sleep deprivation despite it being so early in the event. We rolled into the Ballyheigue sleep control at 4am ~ a 22 hour day with 20 hours moving time. I don't think either of us expected that and it was a far longer and tougher day than we had ever imagined. And to top things off having dried out from the rain we had had for most of the day and evening with an hour of riding to go we got an absolute lashing of rain soaking us to the bone again which was hard to take.

Arriving at the sleep control was a mighty relief. A very warm friendly greeting from the volunteers always cheered me up, plus hot food, and cup of tea and a warm sleeping bag to crash was a great ending to a very long day. Day 3 was a shorter day and included a short 20 minutes ferry crossing at Tarbet. With this in mind despite our late finish on Day 2 Andy and I decided we could afford to 'sleep in' and aimed to leave the control at 8am. It seemed a sensible decision at the time especially considering the sleep deprivation we both experienced in the last 100km of Day 2. We needed sleep.

Day 3 ~ 265km – Ballyheigue to Oranmore
We departed at 8am and headed over to Tarbet to catch the ferry which was 56KM from the control. The ferry left every 30 minutes so regular enough not to have to worry about getting a certain one. Despite the rain which continued we made good time and had some spare time to grab some food from a shop. In such trying conditions the mere thought of a warm shop for a 10 minute rest bite from the elements and some food was a real pick me up.


Andy and I making steady progress into the wind and rain
I'd changed into fresh clothes at the last sleep control including my sealskinz water proof socks. I had hoped they would be the perfect answer to the heavy downpours we were getting but they were utterly useless. Water would still get into the sock but couldn't escape leaving my feet permanently standing in water. Not good! The ferry had a heated waiting room so I took the opportunity to change my socks, dump the sealskinz in the nearest bin and return to a normal pair which would at least let the water out!! On a more positive note regarding footwear by new Altra shoes that I had bought just before the event and were untested were proving to be excellent. A wide toe box ensured no rubbing or discomfort whatsoever. Love them!

The ferry trip was short lived and we departed with 10 or so other cyclists who had also got this ferry into the continuing rain. The late start was a mixed blessing. We needed the sleep so I don't regret leaving later but what was meant to be a short day turned into anything but that. The conditions were the toughest yet including some really strong head and side winds which slowed our progress significantly. It took us 10 hours to cover the first 100km and it was already 6pm with still 160km to ride that night. It was clear that our plans for an early finish were not going to happen and we would once again be riding deep into the night and the early hours of the morning.


Mizen Head - Day 1 (remembering the sun and blue skies that were a distant memory)
Weather aside the terrain and scenery on Day 3 continued to be absolutely spectacular. I wouldn't say that we started taking it foregranted but such was the effort that we were putting into the ride and battling the conditions that much of our focus was purely on maintaining forward progress. That became the sole goal and everything else became a little blurred around the edges. Day 3 was however a real turning point in my ride for very different reasons that would impact massively on the rest of the week. What was at first just one broken spoke that went 'ping' late in the afternoon led to a series of further broken spokes all to my rear 20" wheel. And over the course of the next 3 days I was on the receiving end of over 15 broken spokes. I don't even know the exact number! Of course at this point it was just 1 and I didn't think too much of it.
Count the missing spokes!
I completed Day 3 at 3:30am in the morning and pushed really hard for the final few hours just to stay awake and finish as soon as I could. Andy came in at 4am but I was already in bed. The plan for riding ahead of Andy was to find a volunteer at the control who had the knowhow to remove the spoke and adjust the tension of the other spokes so that the wheel ran 'true'. Even with just one break because many other spokes were loose this led to quite a kink in the wheel. And unfortunately there wasn't anyone that could help me so I just went to bed straight away without dinner and hoped to sort it out in the morning.

Day 4 ~ 306km Oranmore to Currane /Achill
Day 4 was a tough day (again). WAWA just doesn't do recovery days. It started leaving the control 1.5hrs after Andy who I told to go on ahead whilst I tried to sort out the spokes with a spoke tensioner. I had some advice given to me by different riders as to how I should tension the spokes around the 1 broken spoke. The most concerning thing was the fact that they all seemed so loose. In fact at least half dozen spokes had no tension at all and could just be turned by hand. I was annoyed by this as this wheel was brand new and just recently rebuilt by a shop in London with brand new rim and spokes supplied by ElliptiGO. Clearly the shop had done a shocking job with the build and threatened to put my ride in some doubt. At this point though I wasn't too concerned and thought after tightening the spokes that I would be able to continue unhindered and without any further drama. How wrong was I!

With concerning regularity another spoke would just break without warning. I worked out that this mostly happened on the ascents when more force was being applied through the rear hub. And all the spokes that broke initially were all on the drive side. All I could do was continue and I didn't let it effect my outlook on the ride. Each time a spoke broke I would jump off and tape the broken spoken to another using electrical tape and push on forward.


Day 2 - Photo as proof of passage to the Lighthouse control
The highlight on Day 4 during the day time was riding with fellow WAWA rider Paul Sexton. It was nice to have company and not feel quite so isolated and alone. Paul also had his fair share of drama early on having sheered off his rear derailier and was down to just 3 gears. I still had 11 so maybe things weren't so bad. We eventually made it to Clifden after a long circular tour around many lakes and bays that always seemed to take us further away from our intended destination. This was something you got use to on WAWA. You would see a road sign showing the distance for the town next on the route sheet but the route was never direct. So what showed as 30km away on the road signs could easily be double that distance. This was going to be another extremely long day and night.


Paul and I in the pub at Clifden ~ he was hilarious company on-route
Clifden was 1060km into the ride and we had to complete 1200km before Day 4 was done. Paul and I went in search of food and opted for a warm busy pub with some atmosphere. The burger and chips there were awesome which we enjoyed whilst listening to two local Irish lads performing live. It was nice to feel normal but we couldn't outstay our welcome. It was getting cold outside so we layered up. Paul didn't have any front lights for his bike. Quite how he got this far without lights was a mystery. Andy and I first came by Paul in the middle of the night on day 2. We found him descending a hill in complete darkness using the moon as he's only light source. Crazy man!

I lent him my head light at Clifden and he went off to buy some extra batteries. I started back on the route and fully expected Paul to catch me in the first mile or two but he never did. I'm certain this wasn't because of my speed because I didn't have any. He must have gone a different way I thought or perhaps he was just as battered as me and couldn't muster any speed either. It was a long long long night alone battling extreme sleep deprivation and fatigue. And the spokes continued to break. It rained and rained but the rain had long stopped becoming any sort of issue on this ride. You just expected it to rain and enjoyed it when it didn't.

During this next section I felt like I was stuck in a bowl in the mountains that I just couldn't escape from. I can't recall much else apart from the continuing hallucinations that kept me kind of amused but I was actually starting to think that it was a reality as I slipped in and out of the real world and some dream state as I floated along on the ElliptiGO. At this point I thought that I would still be able to make the control stop at Corraun for around 6am if I pushed through the night. However I was getting extremely sleeping and shortly after the photo control in Louisburgh I pulled up by the side of the road. I found a patch of grass and decided to sleep for an hour here. It was already light by now. I had with me my emergency foil bivey sack which was brilliant. It was huge ~ taller than me. So after rolling it out I stood up in it bringing it completely over my head.  I curled up on the grass so I was completely covered and protected from the elements and was nice and warm. I used my dry bag with spare kit in as a pillow and soon dropped off to sleep.

Somewhere in the wilderness
I had set my watch alarm for 1.5hrs later but think I woke up before it sounded. I felt an almighty sense of relief that I could sleep in this situation and thus I wasn't bound by the distances between the sleep controls. This meant that going forward in the next days ahead I could, if required, sleep as necessary and not ride on when I was very likely to fall asleep on the bike. I felt pretty good after the sleep and started on my way to Corraun which was 60km away.

It was a long stretch on some main roads. I desperately looked for breakfast in the next town but it was still early and everything was closed. Petrol stations are your bet on these rides. And I was hugely pleased when I came across one which was open. I had a large cappuccino and three pastries. I also managed to send some messages to friends and family to let them know of my progress.

It had stopped raining too and it was a nice morning. By this point I had counted 8 broken spokes all on the rear wheel. It's a miracle I was still able to ride at all. I got news through from friends who were in contact with Eamon race director that he was able to track down some new spokes for me. So I just had to make it to Corraun. The cut off time at Corraun was 10:35am and looking at the time I was going to be very close to that time when I eventually rolled up. I estimated that the spokes had already costed me 3hrs in lost time.

After fighting against a head wind on loop island I finally made it to Corraun 1207km into the ride. I was so relieved. It had been a long night of riding and seeing all the volunteers once again was so nice. It was crunch time for the ElliptiGO. A cycle mechanic from the volunteer team was there waiting for me with new spokes in hand. There was some doubt whether they were the correct length. Luckily they were. Eamon was able to source 7 new spokes. It turned out that I had 9 breaks. So he replaced 7 and left two out.

Day 5 ~ 300km – Currane /Achill to Ballina
Time to refuel for Day 5. A volunteer made me two rounds of sausage sandwiches. Amazing!!! And after a cup of tea I felt on a high. On a ride like this the highs need to be celebrated to keep the spirits high, and I was surrounded by people that really wanted me to succeed which really spurred me on. I didn't have much time to hang around though. The cut off had only just passed for this control and it was almost 11am but because of the mechanicals I was of course allowed to continued and there was no question of not being able to.

The ElliptiGO was fixed and getting back on it felt like a new bike. What I didn't know was quite what a tough day of riding I had ahead of me. Yep again in true WAWA style it gets tougher not easier and don't let anyone tell you otherwise. The first stage of Day 5 consisted of a 77km figure of eight loop. The wind on this very exposed peninsular was unbelievable. It reduced my pace to an absolute crawl but all I could do was battle on. The highlight of this section was seeing others riders on the route. I actually rode the loops in the reverse order which didn't matter or effect the distance ridden. It also meant that I passed riders who were hours ahead of me and already on the return to the Corraun control. A few riders made navigational errors in this section as the loops were a little confusing, and added additional miles. Definitely not something I could afford to do.

It was a really tough day and my morale was dropping. The lack of sleep I got last night further effecting my pace. It took around 3 hours to complete the first loop. As I descended the hill and made my approach towards the turn off for the second loop I spotted Andy's ElliptiGO parked in a petrol forecourt! I wasn't expecting that as I thought he was hours ahead on me. I had left Andy at 6am on Day 4 as I tinkered with my spokes and told him to ride ahead. A lot had happened since then. Andy had it tough too and he told me he was out! I couldn't quite believe it. I thought I was the one in trouble and didn't conceive that Andy would be calling it a day. The big climbs had taken their toll and Andy's ITB band was causing him a lot of trouble. Hearing Andy was out made me seriously consider by position in the ride as well. Mentally I was hanging on to a thread and knew I had another 2.5 days of the most testing riding I would experience. But I was slipping into the mindset of looking too far ahead rather than just focusing on the now.

I promised myself that I would never stop knowing that I could go on. So after a coffee and ice cream I bid Andy farewell and headed for the second southern loop. The mountainous coastal landscape on this loop was breathtaking and I did enjoy taking it all in. There were still some big climbs and the wind was still there. I hadn't completely got over the idea of quitting though and told myself I would just make it back to the Corruan control and see how I fared against the cutoff which I thoroughly expected to be behind.

The long lonely road
I eventually made it back to Corruan some 7 hours after setting off. That's an average speed of just over 10KPH which illustrated just how tough this section was. Upon making it back to the control the Hall was still open and I wandered in but it was empty. Not a soul in sight. They had packed up and were probably already setting up at the next station awaiting the lead cyclists who were 100s KM ahead of me. I had no choice to make. I could only go on. Stopping was not an option no matter how much I wanted this all to end.

It was now gone 6pm and I still had 220KM to ride to get to the next control at Ballina. The distances now between controls was so much to take in that it barely seemed conceivable that I could still do this. But all I kept telling myself is that all I could do was to keep going. The rest of those kilometers on Day 5 and indeed into Day 6 are a bit of a blur. If I were to attempt to describe how it unfolded it would be scarcely accurate as I was now riding purely on instinct. In a way this kind of helped to pass the time as I become less aware of the task at hand, the time of day and what I needed to do in terms of tactics or pace. I was now a passenger on my own journey.

Sleep deprivation was really getting to me now and a long out and back section to Blacksod Lighthouse in the early hours of the morning was tough and probably my lowest point yet. The Lighthouse was a photo control point. I had to take a photo of the plaque at the foot of the lighthouse as proof of passage. However such was my mental state and the hallucinations which were now a regular part of my ride that I was seeing plaques everywhere along the road. I even stopped at one and rode up to it to take a photo but it was just a wall. This continued as I kept stopping unable to concentrate for very long. I eventually made it to the Lighthouse and got the shot.

Shot captured by Phil on my way out to Blacksod Lighthouse (it says it all really!)
On the return leg I was so tired that I knew it was time to get some sleep for the second night in my foil bivey bag. I settled on a grass patch well off the road in front of a commercial building and set my alarm for a 45 minute sleep. It was always a relief to stop and despite the short sleep it helped massively.

Despite the fix to the rear wheel earlier that day this didn't stop the old spokes from continuing to break. The new ones were fine but I had broken at least another 5 spokes during the day but there was nothing that could be done about it so it was just a matter of hoping the wheel would hold out to the finish.

I eventually made it to Ballina at 1500KM where surprisingly there were still cyclists there which I was not expecting. I made it within the cut off time too. A miracle! This was of course because the cut offs factored in sleep time and I was scarcely getting any. I ate, and I showered ~ cold water only :-( and got into fresh gear or was it old stuff.  I can't actually remember.

Day 6 ~ 296km – Ballina to Lackenagh
Day 6 was going to be another long day. I remember very little of what happened. It rained. It was still windy. My spokes were still breaking. And the hallucinations were better than ever. By God's grace I got through what was an unbelievably tough day of riding. I should point out that physically I was absolutely fine. Despite the total distance covered my legs were fine and my feet were comfortable. It was just mentally tough which manifested itself through a growing doubt of what I was doing, why I was doing it and when would it end. I was now on auto-pilot not in control of much that happened.

In this state my game plan now was to try and ride with any cyclists that I could to avoid riding alone and feeling quite so alone and vulnerable. The company really helped me get through these tough times on the GO. Some notable people that helped me along the way were Richard Guthrie, Birgit Zimmermann, and Paul Sexton. Thanks for your company. You don't know how much you helped me. There were probably others too so excuse me for not including everyone. But you know who you are.

I was now approaching the business end of the ride. Being on Day 6 seemed so close to the finish yet the actual distance to go still seemed insurmountable. The night of Day 6 was the most confused I've ever been in an event. My hallucinations were now in full flow and it was becoming increasing difficult to grasp what I was supposed to be doing. Even following the pink line on my Garmin and making forward progress was a real struggle. It felt like I was stopping every mile to gather my thoughts and remember that I just had to keep going. I was in the company of other riders and was convinced I wasn't alone even though I was. At one point I couldn't go on and had arranged for the wife of an ElliptiGO buddy to come and fetch me. She was going to come with my wife and my two children too. I was waiting for them by the side of the road. But they didn't arrive so I would ride a little further up the road before stopping again and waiting. In the end I came to my senses and realised that it wasn't real. No one was coming to rescue me and all I could do was to continue.

I got through the town of Killybegs at 3am in the morning (photo control). This was at 1710KM. 90KM from the next control that marked the end of Day 6. The climbs continued. I couldn't go on much further and I had to sleep. As I was accustomed to by now it was out with the foil bivey bag and I climbed inside. I opted to stop at the top of a long climb in front of some houses. I knew I couldn't stop for long as I was up against the time limit. Funnily it was only when I stopped to sleep that I had complete clarity as to what my goal was. I never over slept and I was always very efficient. Completely covered, I would also ensure I brought my backpack inside with me too in case it rained and I used my dry bag as my pillow which when riding was attached to the front of my ElliptiGO. It was a great set up that worked really well. I set my digital watch alarm for 45 minutes sleep. It would sound before I knew it and I'd pack it up. This time around it took a little longer to reorientate myself and set off. But there was a problem. I didn't know what direction to go in despite remembering that I climbed the hill to get here I continued in the same direction but was really unsure so turned around and went all the way back to the bottom of the hill only to turn around and come all the way back up. It was very frustrating riding in circles up and down the same hill. This continued for what felt like ages but eventually through pure good fortune I managed to work it out. Having looked at my track on Strava post-race it appears that there was in fact no turn off the road. I just went back and forth on the same road adding around 3-4 extra miles.


WAWA clearly taking its toll
The new day had dawned and with it more drama in my unfolding adventure. After a big climb and descent another spoke broke. I stopped at the bottom of the hill to tape up the spoke and when I set off it was immediately obvious that this was it for the ElliptiGO. The rear wheel was now so bent that it was completely unridable. Game over? I certainly thought so. I was in a small village with just a cluster of houses and some commercial buildings but not a single person around. The occasional car or 4x4 would go past but I didn't really know what to say if I flagged them down. I had no reception on my phone so couldn't phone Eamon. I knocked on some doors but no answer from anyone. So I walked along the road as it started to rain again and came across a primary school. It was 8:30 on a Thursday morning and there was life inside. I parked up by busted ElliptiGO and walked into the school. Two children greeted me and fetched their teacher. She was a little surprised to hear of my story and the distances I had ridden but thankfully was happy for me to use their phone to call Eamon. But Eamon wasn't picking up so I could only leave a voicemail. So I called a taxi to drive me to the next control which was 40 miles away. One of the children, no older than 10, had a taxi number on her mobile. I called and explained that I had a large bike and needed a lift to Lackenagh. He seemed OK to do it but I didn't really get a sense of how long it would take for him to get to me or the cost.

I was invited into the school staffroom and made a cup of tea. They really looked after me. And then Eamon called the school phone back. This call changed everything and thus the final chapter in my adventure was being rewritten. The plan ~ to contact a local bike shop and get a road bike brought out to me and swap it over for the ElliptiGO which they would try and fix. Let me be clear on this.... I have never ridden a proper road bike in my life. I have two ElliptiGO's, a Dahon foldie and a Giant mountain bike. But there was no doubt as to what I had to so. This was my WAWA. I always felt that something would happen on this ride, and I was fully ready for the unexpected. Funnily enough even before I started this ride I promised myself that I would make the end no matter what EVEN if that meant not finishing on the bike I started it on. I had almost predicted it.

I had a bit of a wait for the guys to get the bike out to me. The time off the bike was actually very welcomed as I chilled out with the brilliant kids, used the bathroom to freshen up, drink tea and interact with people in a way I hadn't done for 6 days. It was great. I had been removed from my state of conscious unconsciousness and been placed back in the real world. It was a real blessing in disguise and I truly believe that this was the way it was meant to be. I was feeling pretty good and had a confidence that things would work out. My Christian faith has helped me a great deal in tackling this ride both in the build-up and during the ride itself. God was right there alongside me which gave me the confidence and inspiration to continue no matter how bad things got.

The guys rocked up with a van and trailer and the next chapter began. They unloaded a Cube road bike and rolled up my poorly ElliptiGO onto the trailer. I didn't know it then but this would be the last time I would see my ElliptiGO as they couldn’t fix it. In fact as I write this two weeks later my ElliptiGO is still at the bike shop!

Riding a road bike was a completely new experience for me. Could I even ride this thing up the road for 100 yards, let alone for the final 350KM to Londonderry! It just felt odd. It goes without saying that the very compact hunched position on the drop handlebars of a road bike couldn't be any more different to the upright standing position of the ElliptiGO. They also brought me some cleated shoes that click into the pedals. I tried them on but they were one size to small and I didn't want to take the risk anyway. I've seen experienced cyclists fall because of cleated pedals and I simply wasn't going to risk it given my complete inexperience on a road bike. So I stuck with my very comfortable Altra running shoes, and prepared a small holdall bag that went over each shoulder with only the bare essentials ~ rain jacket, tracker, money etc. So I was going from my ElliptiGO laden with all my spare gear, tools, and handlebar cam and preparing to ride the next one and a half days with little more than what I was wearing on a bike I've never ridden. I've never been more ready in all my life! Up the WAWA.

The Cube!! I certainly couldn't lift an ElliptiGO like that!
We agreed that they would follow me for 1 or 2 miles to ensure I was OK. I was and soon I was left to my thoughts once again. The first few miles were nice and flat and it was immediately obvious just how much faster a road bike is compared to the ElliptiGO. Now we all know they are faster but until you have experienced both you can never fully appreciate just how different the effort to output ratio is. I was clocking 25KPH without even trying. My average speed on the ElliptiGO was 16KPH. I WAS FLYING!!! And having fun again!!! I had 50KM still to ride to complete Day 6 and get to the sleep control at Lackenagh. But clearly I would not be sleeping. It was around 10am when I left and if I could keep up the 25KPH average speed I would arrive there at midday. The cut off time was 11:55am!! The terrain was undulating but also including some big descents. I had no idea of how the bike would handle around the tight twisting hairpin bends so took it really easy. The brakes were biting well so this gave me some confidence.

I got into the rhythm of riding the Cube quite quickly and to be honest it just made for a nice change. Of course I was only in the first few hours of the ride and was contemplating having to ride through the entire night without stopping to make Londonderry by 1pm the next day. I was comfortable now but I was also aware that due to the fact I was only wearing normal running tights (no padding!) that things were probably going to get a lot tougher.

The maths was simple. I had 350KM to ride in the remaining 27 hours. It seemed more than doable so I wasn't stressed and just got on with the job in hand. And then the heavens opened. It was an almighty downpour that perhaps lasted for 30 minutes but I've never ridden in rain like it. The bike handled it well and I just kept pushing hard enjoying the raw speed this thing could produce. I was in my element and looking forward to seeing Eamon and the gang at Lackenagh. The guys were waiting for me and I greeted Eamon with a huge grin. This guy had saved my ride! I couldn't hang around though. The volunteers were expecting me and had prepared a parcel of food just for me. I scoffed down some pasta, apple pie and a cup of tea. Both my drop bags from the ride were also at this control. I didn't have any fresh clothes so chose the least smelly to change back into. This included my insulated long sleeve base layer which had served me well, and some fresh socks. My shoes were soaked through from the downpour but still extremely comfortable. I was set. 1800KM down and 310KM to go.  I was absolutely knackered, not physically in terms of my legs but just though general fatigue and lack of sleep.

Day 7 ~ 311km – Lackenagh to Londonderry
So far I had managed to get just 8 hours of sleep. 8 hours sleep since last Friday, and it was now Thursday afternoon! At the time I wasn't really thinking about it in this way. This was just my reality and I was in the moment. I estimate my moving time to be at least 20% more than anyone else on the ride too. And now I was just one day away from finishing what I genuinely believe to be the hardest thing I will ever do.

But it was not over. We were all told, almost gleefully by Eamon before the event, that the WAWA has a sting in the tail. Day 7 had some big climbs ahead and I had no idea what they would be like on the Cube. It only had two front gears and perhaps 10 on the sprocket. So it appeared to lack a 'granny gear' for the really steep stuff. Oh well we would just have to see.

As I was riding along one thing then suddenly occurred to me looking at my bike setup... Lights! It had some but the front light looked totally inadequate for any kind of night riding. It was one of those small LED lights, the kind you can pick up in the Aldi Cycling special. Great to be seen by others but utterly useless to see anything yourself. The batteries were also on the way out so I stopped at a local Asda. Luckily after the shop assistant had a good look in their stock cupboard she found some CR2032 batteries. That was the best I could hope for. I looked on route for any cycle shops or shops that would sell bike lights but there were none. Oh and my tracker was dead. This was far more troubling in many ways than the light as it meant my friends and family couldn't track me anymore and may presume I was out the race. I didn’t like that and so for the rest of the day I was going into every garage and shop I saw to see if they sold one of those external portable battery banks. You know the type that you can charge your mobile phone with. But no luck. So no one knew where I was. I was utterly alone.

As the night drew in I found myself heading back into my conscious unconscious state and conjuring up scenarios in my mind which I believed to be true. On a series of long and steep climbs I lost all sense of what I was supposed to be doing. I would reach the top of a big climb and be convinced that I had to ride back to the bottom to meet up with Eamon who had organised some kind of elimination hill climbing contest. It was mad. I certainly hope Eamon doesn't read this blog as he might actually take this idea seriously and add it into the WAWA2020 edition!!!

I stood there stationary at the top of the hill wondering what to do. I really didn’t want to let Eamon down and was convinced there was something else going on. Crazy. I decided though the best thing would be just to continue rather than go back down the hill and hoped Eamon wouldn't get mad with me for ducking out of his contest. Don't ask me where I get this stuff from!!!

It was now getting dark and it was evident that despite the new batteries in the front light I was pretty much riding blind. Cars could see me so I wasn't in danger from that aspect but I couldn't see the road surface or spot any pot holes. I prayed hard and continued moving forward. The rain started again as I rode into the long dark night heading for Letterkenny. This was the next control point at 1950KM and I reached it after midnight. Nothing was open as I rode around the streets looking for somewhere to stop and get a rest bite from the awful weather. I'd made up my mind at this point ~ I refused to go on until it started to get light again as I felt the risk was too great. So I had 3 hours to hang out in this barren town. But then I spotted a hotel and pulled up at the entrance. It was a 4* hotel ~ the Mount Errigal Hotel so I didn't rate my chances of them letting me in, in my state but this was my only throw of the dice. They were so nice to me. I explained my situation and they were happy for me to stay in the main lounge area which was so plush. The chap even brought in my bike. Birgit Zimmermann also had the same idea and was already here. I ordered a hot chocolate and biscuits, hung up my wet jacket and curled up in a lovely comfy chair. I looked around taking it all in and can’t tell you just how relieved I felt, and almost emotional. I was out of the rain, I was safe, warm, and enjoyed an amazing 2hr sleep. From memory my alarm was set for 2:45am.

Mount Errigal Hotel - my safe-haven 
The ride from the hotel quickly took me onto the N13 dual carriageway. I had just 150KM to go now and the next 30KM flew by. It was still dark but the lighting on the road was sufficient and there was no traffic at all. The route would take us to Malin Head at 2050KM as we hit some big climbs including Mamore Gap which was mega steep. Once at Malin Head this completed the end to end route from the Southernmost tip of Ireland to the most Northern. By this point my ride was all about finishing but I wasn't too concerned about the cut off. I was more concerned about the increasing uncomfortableness of my bum and hands! There is no doubt that this is the biggest negative aspect of road biking especially for a novice like me. And with no padded shorts all I could do was to constantly shift around on the bike changing my position to try and lessen the pain. As I got closer and closer to Londonderry I allowed myself for the first time to acknowledge that I would finish WAWA. After everything I had been through in the last 7 days the feeling was one of relief, amazement, joy, and satisfaction. Finishing this ride was certainly not a given and there were significant challenges along the way but my faith was a huge benefit to how I approached this ride and one word sums it all up ~ BELIEF.

It was a long drag into Londonderry and the heavens opened once again but nothing mattered now. I was reaching civilisation and back in the urban sprawl. It was strangely reassuring and comforting to be back in a built up area and out of the wilderness of the Wild Atlantic Way, which marked the completion of a quite amazing journey. One which pushed me to, and arguably beyond my limits. It was all consuming and on many of those dark lonely nights I questioned whether the WAWA would ever release me from her clutches. It’s hard to put into words where this ride took me, but hey at 8,000 words and counting I think I should stop there. Oh hang on I haven’t reached the end…

I crossed the finish line on Peace Bridge after 174 hours and 56 minutes just 4 minutes inside the official 175 hour cut off. Eamon, Seamus and the whole WAWA gang were there to greet me. I had survived the WAWA!! Up the WAWA!!

Post-ride I was presented with a trophy on Peace Bridge. They had even set up a podium! The trophy was STUNNING! Eamon had gone to the trouble to get a bespoke version of the trophy designed with an ElliptiGO rider in the centre. I gazed in amazement and wonder at this quite awesome hunk of metal. It was priceless and meant the absolute world to me. And this ladies and gentleman was my WAWA.

The Podium!

The Bling!

Because you're worth it!

Still want MORE!!?? Then check out my video of my WAWA ride. 



If you enjoyed reading my blog and would like to support my fundraising for this ride please visit www.sponsorstuart.uk. I have raised over £3,500 so far for my Church.


Huge thanks also to all the sponsors and supporters that made this Audax possible:

Audax Ireland


Failte Ireland

GMiT (Galway Mayo institute Technology)

Ballina Engineering Works (who made the amazing trophies!)

Primal livetracking

And of course COPE CYCLES in Dungloe whom without I would not have finished the WAWA!!!





Link to Strava ride data


Post-race Pizza party!!!!