CMRF Tom
Kilometers for Kids Italy Cycle Tour 2010

What a day, what a cycle, what an experience! We have reached day four of the Team Crumlin cycling challenge in Riccione Italy. It has been one of the most challenging and rewarding weeks of my life. I have experienced highs on a bike which I never thought possible, and I mean that metaphorically as well as literally.

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Over the last four days we have covered hundreds of kilometres and climbed thousands of feet all to help Crumlin Kids. When your muscles begin to burn 3 kilometres into a 6 kilometre climb to 1200 ft there is no better motivation to help you along the way than the knowledge that your short term pain is leading to long term improvement for the sick children of Ireland. I am very proud to be counted among our Team Crumlin cyclists. Trust me, I am no athlete but that’s what makes the feeling of achievement that much greater. We can all make a difference.

Today our tour brought us to San Salvatore, Verucchio, San Paolo and Covignano where we visited a local farm house for a taste of Italy lunch. Nobody does food better than the Italians and there is no better place to savour it that in the beautiful Italian countryside.

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It was another tough day with 5km climbs of up to 1000 ft for groups one and two. The last kilometre of this was at a 15% gradient. Now that’s a challenge! For group 3 we also encounter difficult hills, climbing up to 800ft. The sense of achievement when you reach the top is very special. Thank god we are all riding Scott fully carbon bikes with a compact gear system. If they are good enough for Marc Cavendish they’ll do for us. Our total distance today was 80Km for groups one and two and 60Km for group three.

It not all pain though. The stunning cost line, the beautiful countryside and the blue sun filled skies make this region a little piece of heaven, and what better way to experience it than in the fresh air on a bike.

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Along the way we stop in the most fantastic towns and meet the wonderful local people.The sight of John Scully having a full blown conversation without a word of Italian is something to behold. Italians are a very family orientated race, they love children and because of this they have really embraced our team and made us feel so welcome. I’d say the two ladies that group two met this morning will never forget the experience of an Irish sing song lead by Niall McDonnell. In group three we have Mark Mulligan who has come all the way from Boston, along with 74 year old Bobby Dowd. Now there are two men who know the meaning of commitment.

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Once again our guides Licia, Gildo & Eddy were fantastic. They control the group to perfection and ensure that everyone is totally safe. They say in Italy that the cyclist is the king of the road, and it sure seems that way. Never before have I seen drivers so respectful and understanding of bikes. Our support team of Arthur Ebbs, John Scully, Liam Leahy, Josephine Mulligan and Edel O’Malley are also playing a blinder. 

Tomorrow will be will be the final day of our challenge. I will be great to reach the finish line.

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Below are links to the Garmin maps of our routes to give you an idea of what has been achieved by the Team Crumin cyclists this week. And very soon we will have a new bone marrow transplant unit in our cancer ward which is a greater testimony of what has been achieved by this and our other overseas challenges.   

Groups 1 & 2

http://connect.garmin.com/activity/39549414

http://connect.garmin.com/activity/45414557

http://connect.garmin.com/activity/33853423

http://connect.garmin.com/activity/33853426

Group 3

http://connect.garmin.com/activity/45068572

http://connect.garmin.com/activity/33853407

http://connect.garmin.com/activity/33853396

http://connect.garmin.com/activity/33827641

Kilometres for Kids - Italy Cycle Tour 2010 -Day 3 - Edel O’Malley Guest Post

Day 3.

A very chilled and pleasant evening was had by all the group last night – we stayed in the bar in the hotel and sampled the local beer and wine. With some very tired people, exhausted legs and stiff shoulders people took it very easy and drifted off to bed early enough. They are saving themselves for the wrap up dinner on thursday  night, although some felt it important to have one or two glasses of wine to help them sleep. A few of us chatted about previous cycle challenges and we want to send our best wishes and a speedy recovery to Eugene O’Leary who can’t be with us this year. See you next year Eugene.

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Day 3 started a little bit earlier for some of our cyclists as 6 hardy soles met on the steps of the hotel at 7am and went for a quick refreshing, wash away the cobwebs, swim in the magnificent Adriatic. Pauline Hannon, Thomas Clancy, Eamonn Nicholas, Pat Kennedy, Padraic Benson and Charlie Hosty. The word is spreading about the early morning swim and I reckon that this group will grow over the remaining days.

I forgot to mention yesterday that our own Tom Hickey (the Overseas Events Manager for CMRF) has been cycling with group 3 all week and is thoroughly enjoying taking on the challenge – his quote is “never ask someone to do something that you wouldn’t do yourself”. 

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Today’s cycle was spectacular. Bellissimo! All of the groups headed south toward the town of Pesaro – a beautiful seaside resort. From Pesaro each of the groups took on the gruelling 5 KM steady climb up cork screw corners to the top of the “Panoramica”. What an achievement. It was absolutely amazing to see each and every person take on that challenge at their own pace and the fantastic way that those who made it to the top first, cheered and clapped their team mates over the finish line.

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It was a display of fantastic cycling and a joy to see Paddy Kinsella, Arthur Ebbs and Alan Hinchy powering up that mountain. How Harry Hoare got time to sing a song while cycling up that 5km climb is beyond me! Donal Sweeney, Michael Kelly and Niall Mulrine (the Donegal team) all conquered that hill too.

Tom Hickey was telling me later that group 3 really enjoyed the challenge of the long climb. Eddie, who is their guide then led them all back down the corkscrew hills and onto the coast road toward home. Michael Flynn, Jim McCawl and the whole group had a wonderful day. A huge congratulations to all on group 3 for a fantastic achievement today! 

Groups 1 and 2 headed for home on the high road, rolling hills were the order of the day. I know by now after three long days and challenging routes – our team are feeling it in their legs and backs, but remarkably there is not one complaint or groan. Our team Nurse Josephine Mulligan is on hand to help with any problems and the in-house team sports massage guru, John Newell is on hand to offer advice on stretches and exercises to help prevent and alleviate the cramps and stiffness.

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I have completely and utterly fallen in love with this part of the world, the people are wonderful and friendly, the food, the beautiful language and the shoes! We have been blessed with the weather, as we had another lovely warm and sunny day today. Here’s hoping it lasts until Friday.

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Spirits are high, craic is great and personal goals are being fulfilled…..  what more could you ask for.

Kilometres for Kids - 2010 Italy Cycle Tour - Day 1 - Edel O Malley’s Guest Blog

Our 2010 Kilometres for Kids Italy Cycle Tour has begun. We have such a fun filled couple of days ahead of us  - We are in Italy’s famed cycling region of Emilia Romagna.

10 Italy Cycle Promo

Taking part in this challenge are; 

Padraic Benson, Cormac Bracken, Damien Callaly, Orla Callender, Brian Cannon, Thomas Clancy, John  Cloonan, Paul Collier, Thomas Collier, Annette Crowley, Lorraine Donnelly, Bobby Dowd, Martin Ellis, Danny Finucane, Michael Flynn, Denis Geaney, Seamus Graham, Pauline Hannon, Alan Hinchy, Harry Hoare, Charles Hosty, Michael Kelly, Patrick Kennedy, Paddy Kinsella, Ger Lawlor, Paudie Lynch, Tony Maguire, Emmet Maher, Jim McCawl, Niall McDonnell, Katie Muldrew, Mark Mulligan, Stephen Mullin, Niall Mulrine, Sean Murphy, John Newell, Eamonn Nicholas, Finbarr O’Hanlon, Chris Rogers, Donal Sweeney, John Sweeney & Simon Thornton Magretts

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The challenge started with a full briefing on the night we arrived, the team discussed the routes, safety and the team were introduced to the guides who will cycle with them each day – as they clock up an amazing 20,000 kilometers between them all over the next 5 days. Each of those kilometers is worth approximately 6 euro per kilometer to helping sick children – a phenomenal achievement. Go Team Crumlin!

We are delighted to welcome so many old friends back on the cycle, lovely to see so many familiar faces, but also a big welcome to all the new people to the event – it is great to see such enthusiasm and commitment from so many.

Route 1:

Today’s cycle took advantage of the fact that there is a lot less traffic on a Sunday and so we headed out of Ricionne, north along the coast line up through Rimmini and on toward Cesenatico – stopping off on route to visit the tomb of famed Italian cyclist, Pantani.  It was a good start to the day with the route being reasonalby flat at the start.  Stopping off in Cesenatico for a break and then we turned inland and headed to the beautiful town of Bellaria.  As the heat of the day rose so did the climbs and our team were tested for the first time with the rolling hills of North Italy. It was inspiriing to see all the team take on those hills and climbs with such gusto.

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A well deserved ice cream break was had by the team in Santarcangelo, before tackling the hills back towards the coast and down into Riccione again. After five and a half hours in the saddle, a tired but exhilarated team arrived back at Hotel Dory. Many of the group are taking advantage of the sunshine to wind down and relax on the beach. It will be early to bed tonight as tomorrow’s route will take them further into the countryside and more hills!  It is a privilege to be here to witness such great team work and comradeship amongst the group – constantly helping and encouraging  each other along.

CMRF Kilometres for Kids Seattle Trail Walk: Wednesday July 21st, 2010

seattle skyline

So we’ve reached the end of another great Kilometres for Kids Crumlin Challenge. At this point you cannot help but take time to reflect. Months have gone into the preparation of the event.

A city that I had never visited before July 2009 has now become familiar and welcoming. People I had never met before this year have become companions and friends. Others who I have known from past events are like old friends that you quickly fall into a comfortable swing with. So there is always a touch of sadness.

It has been a journey of many roads. Along this journey, I have met people from all over Ireland, as well as those in Seattle, who have made us so welcome. People who all live very different lives. A group of people that may never have crossed paths but for one common goal, to make a difference, to do something to help sick children, have all gelled together to become a team.  

We all have our reasons for getting involved. Some of us have been patience, some have lost family or friends and some hope that by getting involved we can simply make things better.  Some are more athletic and are trying to beat the clock while others are simply pushing themselves to their limits to complete their challenge. But that’s what being part of Team Crumlin and taking in a Kilometres for Kids challenge is all about. It’s about taking part and doing all you can to help improve the lives of the children who attend Crumlin Hospital.

2010 has been a rough year for everyone. Thousands have been losing their jobs on a monthly basis. This is not an easy time to fundraise but it is at times like these that we need help the most. So to undertake this challenge shows bravery and commitment that’s beyond any words that I can offer.

Owen Boyle, Paddy Brennan, Phil Byrne, Aine Cofolla, Pauline Cafolla, Ann Coghlan, Mary Coghlan, Patricia Conlon, Helen Cullen, Yvonne Duffy, Martina Egan, Sylvester Egan, Linda Finn, Ann Hickey, Kate Howard, Serena Howard, Tanya Kavanagh, Mary Kelly, Michelle Kilcommons, Orla Le Strange, Sarah Le Strange, Aidan Marshall, Brendan Mc Gonagle, Joe McKay, Ray Meade, Jackie Mills, Leo O’Rourke, Sandra O’Rourke, John Stone & Margaret Stone, take a bow.  It has been a pleasure to share this experience with you. All of you, your families and friends as well as everyone who has supported you along the way have made a major contribution towards helping us to achieve our goals of upgrading the Bone Marrow Transplant unit in St John’s cancer unit and also renovating our cardiac unit.  

Gerry, Hannah, Pauline & Bernie thank you for sharing the load and making my task easier and enjoyable.

Along the way there have been back packs and collections, pub quizs and dance, blisters and sore muscles as well as lots of laughter and joy. We’ve walked our Kilometres for Crumlin Kids. Roll on 2011. I can’t wait to see everyone again in the Rhine Valley.

photo: flickr

sammamish