While the whole country has been adapting to the widespread societal changes brought about by Covid-19 pandemic, members of the Blackwater Triathlon Club have been finding ways to continue their training in the absence of physical events. As the list of cancelled races has been growing, club members have been taking part in virtual duathlons and cycle races on Zwift to help satisfy their competitive instincts. Over last weekend we had several members taking part in the latest round of the Pieta House Virtual Duathlons. Every week, two new duathlon challenges for beginner and expert level athletes are released which must be completed by Sunday night. Results are posted to a scoreboard that features thousands of others tackling the exact same challenge across the country. Each week the distances get longer and the duathlons harder until the final challenge of a sprint distance duathlon (for starter level challengers) or a gruelling middle distance duathlon (for expert level challengers) on week 6. Last weekend Anne Furlong completed the starter level challenge, completing a 5km run, a 10km cycle and a 5km run. Ashleigh Byrne O’Brien, Peter O’Brien, Adrian Collins, Gina Lyons and Barney Kiernan completed the Expert Challenge, which consisted of 10km Run, an 80km cycle and then another a 5km run.
Well done to all of them, and to the thousands across the country who are taking part and at the same time helping to raise funds for a very worthy cause.
While some of our members were combining events, two particularly adventurous souls decided to try something a little more extreme. On Saturday Frankie Hallissey, one of Blackwater Triathlon Club’s more extreme swimmers, swam from Carrigadrohid Castle to Inniscarra Sailing club. Frankie and his friend Karen Deenihan, accompanied by a support kayaker each swam the 13km route in 4 hours and 20 minutes. Conditions on the day were ideal, with deep water the whole way and water temperatures of around 15 degrees Celsius. Apparently it was the result of a mad lockdown idea while trying to think of something to train for? Blackwater Triathlon Club members are used to Frankie taking part in extreme swims, mostly things like ice miles. It’s probably better for everyone that America is closed at the moment, just in case he takes a fancy to The Atlantic? Well done to Frankie and Karen.
Then on Sunday, not to be outdone by the swimming contingent in the club, Vincent Guerin, one of our cyclists took a little spin, cycling from Mizen Head to Carnsore Point on his own. A very impressive distance of 319 km, completed in 11 hours and 36 minutes.
Vincent sent us a report of his adventures on the day.
Last Sunday the 5th of July 2020, after the end of various lockdown restrictions, following what had been years of hoping and months of waiting, I finally undertook a Mizen Head to Carnsore Point cycle, tracking the south coast of Ireland through Cork, Waterford and Wexford. My wife Sue and I headed down to Goleen the night before to be greeted by howling winds and sea fog. The rain battered the windows overnight but thankfully it had ended by the time I set off on my bike from Mizen at 5.15am. I pretty much had the roads to myself and local wildlife was all I saw until about 7am. From Schull the route tracked the N71 until Halfway where I headed towards Carrigaline for the ferry crossing at East Ferry. I’d arranged to meet Sue in Midleton at 12 noon and with 150kms in the legs and a good soaking near Fota it was a welcome stop. Food on board I joined the N25 eastbound which was a bit of a shock to the senses after the quiet roads of West Cork. Despite the large hard shoulder, the gusty conditions meant you could not relax for a minute as the cars sped by.
Youghal and Dungarvan were next to be ticked off with the sea views returning. This stretch was the hardest of the cycle, with some big climbs to test my legs (please don’t ask me why I took the Youghal bypass) and sketchy descents on busy roads sapping the morale. Thankfully, Sue came to the rescue with some much needed caffeine and chocolate at the road side. Having stopped at the Coach House on the Waterford Greenway last year while doing a dry run for our bike-packing trip on the ViaRhona, it was earmarked for the dinner stop. Joining the Greenway for a small stretch was bliss after the main road and despite staying too long the rest was needed. Passage West was next on the journey and I caught the ferry across the river Barrow having skirted around Waterford. Both ferries were a cool addition to the route and broke up the cycling.
I was now on the final leg of the journey and with a large number of byroads to choose from it made for a bit of route adjustment on the go. Thankfully, the roads were quiet again, even if occasionally Google wanted to send me up the garden path. I had never been to this area and exploring new parts of the country added to the trip. Our Lady’s Island was beautiful in the late evening sun with all kinds of wild birds on view. With 10km to go I could see the wind farm that I knew was beside Carnsore Point on the horizon and it made each tired pedal stroke that bit easier. After 319km and 11hr36mins cycling I gingerly picked my way down “The Lane of Stones” (aptly named) which leads to the beach and the end point of what was an unreal day cycling from one corner of our country to the other.
Well done to Vincent. An amazing day in the saddle.