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.