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Little by Little One Travels Far

Little by Little One Travels Far
The Race Around Ireland is an epic endurance cycle race in Ireland, that has been listed as one of the most gruelling adventures that one can do. Over the next few months we are going to follow the journey of Lisa Jacob and Nikki Dorey to get to the start line of one of Ireland's most interesting and exciting events.


I started training for the Race Around Ireland in November. I began by borrowing Nikki’s spare road bike, using normal pedals and wearing shorts worth €34. I had learned to ride a bike when I was young like most people, but as far as having any experience with cycling went- I had none (unless of course you count having a big heavy bike to commute on occasionally, and a helmet!)

A huge part of the reason I decided to say ‘yes’ to doing the race was because our coach Brian was very realistic about starting small and building gradually. He spoke about stopping for coffee as often as I liked and breaking up the mileage into manageable chunks. I began by doing hour long sessions, then 2 hours with coffee half way, and so on. My first 3 hour spin felt like I had been out for a whole day and I came home and slept for the same length afterwards, probably after eating my bodyweight in cereal bars en route!

Yesterday, with around 20 weeks of training, I cycled for 6 hours. Sitting here (with a sore ass but glad to be seated on something softer than a saddle), it seems surreal that I did 167kms in one whack. I can’t help but reflect on that development, and everything that I have learned along the way.

· Pump your tyres to 110-120 before you cycle every day. (I can thank Dorey for the ‘gentle education’ on this one!

· Zip up all cycling gear before washing it or it will lose its shape, oh and for waterproof stuff, only use ‘non-bio’ (again thank you Dorey!)

· Falling off your bike when you first use clip-in shoes is a rite of passage. You’re not a true cyclist if you don’t. When you’re learning, clip out really early before you have to stop

· €34 is better put towards shorts closer to the €100 mark. Even if you have only one pair- your downstairs department will thank you for it

· Joining a club is the best way to learn, and cycling in a group is so much easier. Thank you Orwell for helping me ‘begin’

· Clean your bike after a ride and keep the chain oiled (or get someone to do it for you

· Don’t get to the point where you get hungry before you eat. If you do, it’s probably too late

· Anything under 10 degrees, wear full baselayers.

I suppose away from the bike specifics, I have learned a lot about myself too.

· My dad says if nothing else, I’m persistent. My only promise to myself is to keep going, no matter how slow. I’m no match for him playing table tennis, but I pride myself on being the person he hates playing the most because I just keep getting the ball back (albeit with no skill or deception!) The great thing about doggedness is that you need no talent to work hard. Anyone can do it.

· I’ve learned that endurance is a different kind of beast than the sprint repeat required for hockey or rugby 7s, or anything that requires skill execution under pressure. Going long and going alone requires you to stick with discomfort and become even more acquainted with your own mind than you could imagine. It demands that you make peace with that nagging voice in your head that says ‘I can’t go any further’ or ‘this is too hard’, and you have to keep talking it down- most minutes of most miles, most days.

· I’m reminded that stretching your capacity little and often can lead to big gains. Now I’m cycling quicker and further, but it wasn’t one big jump, it has been small increments each day and each week.

· Lastly, I’ve learned that having great people around you to support you and your mission makes everything seem manageable and achievable.

Most days on the bike I think I still have no idea how I’m going to complete the race. I always go back to keeping it bitesize and looking after the small: get to the top of this hill, get to the next bend, get to the next town. It’s the only thing I can control today. Hopefully then the big will look after itself, and in the end, it will get me around Ireland.

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