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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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