Whats Happening on Saturday?

First Leg

If you haven’t guessed yet, we want you to join us this Saturday for a cycle and a party. Its going to be a big day, and we’d like you to be there.

We reckon that cycling is the most fun you can have with your clothes on, and by cycling a long way we’re doing our bit to help Aware raise awareness of mental health issues. Regular exercise is good for the mind as well as the body and cycling is a great way to take regular exercise. The Home Coming Cyle is in Aid of Aware. We raised €15,000 with our Send Off Cycle 18months ago, and we’re hoping to exceed that this time around.

So, what’s going to be happening?

3.00pm 200+ cyclists will leave Blackrock College in a Massive Charity Cycle to Greystones.

5.00pm We all arrive at Greystones, finishing the first Irish circumnavigation of the globe by bike.

5.01pm We open a massive bottle of Champagne from Bubble Brothers, and the party starts.

For the rest of the evening there’s all sorts entertainment. Tarja(Olympic MTBer) from AllMoutainExperience will be giving a skills seminar on a skills course set up in the Rugby Club Grounds. The guys from Great Outdoors will be showcasing some of their gear and giving away a four person tent!   There’ll be live music by Blind Yacketty, and Louis will be spinning an eccletic mix till the wee hours. There’ll also be a big barbecue and a full bar.

So grab a bike and join the party.

Get the details here

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Swimming in England

Feckin Union Jack Swimming Hat
Fearghal

Haddon-England

Ok lads, swim up river to that tree, and then maybe to that boat. The tree’s about 20m away and the boat maybe 50m. Jaysus, I’m not sure if I can we we chimmed. Once we’d recovered from the chill we managed swimming to the tree (though the current almost stole my boxers), then drifted back down stream to the jetty hopped out and dried our lobster coloured skin.

With us safely on dry land, Dan our host headed off for a mile-long crawl. He was back in twenty minutes. His normal training sessions are two to three hours.

While we were enjoying the bird song on a river bank in rural England we ruminated on long distance swimming. After 29,000km in the saddle, its become difficult to understand the stock incredulous reaction to our trip. Cycling long distances seems normal now. Yet, the thought of swimming a mile seems undo-able to to me. When I think about it rationally I know that its just a case of putting one arm in front of the other for long enough, much like cycling. But when I try to imagine myself swimming out to dalkey island or something similar I get butterflies.

Lost Video Clips

Simon

Check out these 2 other video snippets from the party here and here

I’ve been going through some of my photos and found this forgotten footage of Fearghal “dancing” at party in Iran and just in case anyone wants to learn some of his fancy moves, I thought I’d put it up for you. Learn these and you’ll have all your mates green with envy.

Sorry its not the right way up.

Leaving Istanbul

Drying Laundry

Fearghal

Bulgaria

Last Thursday we cycled out of a grey and shiny Istanbul. It had been raining heavily, the road was slippery, and we we had wet feet within a few minutes. Leaving Istanbul was hard. We had spent the previous week hanging out with family and girlfriends, it was difficult to drag ourselves away and get moving again, the cold dirty spray from passing trucks did little to help. By nightfall we had failed to escape Istanbul’s urban sprawl and camped on the only dry land we could find, on the fringe of a petrol station forecourt.

Munching on excellent kebabs, and drinking the endless supply of tea plied by the forecourt attendants it began to sink in- we were on the last leg of our cycle. In a few days we’d be in the EU, in three months we’d be home- the adventure would be over. Somewhere in Turkey the world had changed, and it now seemed behind us. Somewhere along the way, possibly the cold and empty desert of Iran, or the icy passes of the Caucasus we had crossed a bridge, had left a dream and were cycling towards an achievement- and now it was time to start thinking about after. But enough of after for the moment.

Silhouette

Technically our last few days in Turkey were also our first in Europe, but in reality they were our last in Asia. Cycling towards Bulgaria I could feel it, the tea, the dancing with arms aloft, and all the fancy trim of the orient ebbing away. Curved crescents giving way to angular crosses, warm and unquestioning hospitality to reservation. Inshallah to cold rationality. All of this had been happening gradually, but there’s nothing like a border to evoke determinate perceptions where in reality blurry lines exist. Sometimes a line in the sand really helps bring things into focus, and the line in the sand between Bulgaria and Turkey was a bold reminder that most of this is adventure is now behind us and now each kilometre brings us closer to the familiar rather than propelling us into unfamiliar worlds.

Located at the nexus of several realms, where Europe, Asia, Arabia meet Turkey begs cliches and handy metaphors. All of them apt. It is a crossroad and a bridge, it is where the Occident and the Orient merge, its kebabs and beer, ordered roads and pragmatic Islam. For us its where the hard yards, the unknown and unusual begin to give way.

Turkey was good to us. The Turks possibly the warmest people I’ve encountered. They are excellent hosts, generous and undemanding, gregarious and outgoing. I’m sorry to have left.

Tea House

Surely over 15,000km deserves a pint?

Speedofile - 15,000km

15,000km wasn’t just a another number on the digital display of our speedometers. It signified the half way point of our homeward odyssey- 15,000km of the 30,000km that the Guinness criteria demand of a bicycle powered circumnavigation of the globe.

Each one of those 15,000km is significant. They represent, burning lungs at 4,300m in Peru, arse jarring mud tracks in Bolivia, numb fingers in the Spanish pyrenees, coasting winding country roads in Uruguay, or darting between air conditioned shade in China. Added together, if we do say so ourselves, they represent an impressive achievement. Something we’re very proud of.

We recon that if you met us in a pub in Dublin, just after having cycled 15,000km halfway around our fair planet you’d buy us a pint? Surely all that sweat grit and tears deserves at pint?

So, why not buy us a virtual pint by donating 5 euro to Aware, or a little more if you can. Your cash will help Aware make Ireland a happier place.

Follow this link to donate… Cheers.

Blog Archive – Catch Up

Sunrise

Fearghal

Almaty- Kazakhstan

Its been a while, three weeks or so, since I’ve had access to the internet, alot has happened, too much to catch up fully in a blog post.

I won’t recount my journey in detail, as Si as already covered the route I took in his post. Desert, mountains, desert mountains and a big push to a border crossing on the last day of my visa. I had some awesome evenings camping beneath diamonte and black velvet skies and was treated to the same peaches and cream starts and burnt orange rose finishes to my days.

The desert and an ocassional tail wind but mainly benign crosswind made for big distances, and I managed to break 200km on three ocassions.  It also made for some pretty boring periods, one flat stretch en-route to Hami an oasis on the edge of the Taklamakan desert, was so uneventful that I managed to watch an episode of Fawlty Towers on my ipod while riding.

I was holed up in Urumqi for a week, as I waited my kazakh visa.

It dawned on me that my freind Dave’s description of Chinese as sounding like a cork person trying to speak french was possibly the most accurate linguistic observation ever.

En route to the border I had an interesting if a little random, evening with EarTie a Chinese Kazakh, and his two freinds, in an oil refinery town called Dunshanza they cooked me goat’s leg stew, and did their best to get me pissed,
which isn’t too hard after 120km in the saddle. It was a surreal meal, the goat was lovely and the bread was the best things since er, sliced pan. The conversation was, predictably, a little stunted. It revolved around the lads saying names of Western celebrities like Micheal Jackson, or David Beckham and then me giving the thumbs up if I recognised then. One of the guys, his name was Choddle, was pretty drunk and prone to spontaneous riffs on his air guitar which to he expected acknowledgement for. Cultural sensitivity aside, its hard look impressed by a thirty second,closed eyeair guitar solo to Guns and Roses by a grown man but I did my best. When it came time for some photos one of the lads held my hand and the air guitarist attempted to nuzzle me like a cat might. I assumed this was a cultural thing and thought nothing of it.

Touchy Feely Kazakhs

After dinner I stayed in Eartie’s place, moved my bags into my designated room and laid out on the plint like bed and went to sleep. An hour or so later I wake up suddenly and he has hopped into bed next to me and is nodding off. This unsettles me quite a bit. I’m in a strange country miles from home and there’s a Kazakh man in the bed next to me! My options were pretty limited, as my bike was in a lock up two blocks away so I couldn’t bolt. I’ve been trying to maintain cultural relativistic view point on the lad’s effeminate gestures and touchy feelyness, reassuring myself that some cultures just don’t require as much personal space as we do. To anyone reading who may think me homophobic, try to imagine yourself in my position, alone in a flat with three strangers of any gender and imagine trying to repel possible advances and extract yourself and your four bags walk and navigate the four blocks in the dark to the lock up where your bike is hopefully still chained to a post.

My rational voice was telling me that everything was fine, so too was my spidey sense which I trust the most, its the sense that tells me whether to trust a situation, person, place. But there was still a little voice saying ‘ferg a guy just hoped into your bed, get the out of here.

Soon, my host was snoring so I decided to try and get some sleep too. But before doing so sweated over how I would sleep. I couldn’t decide on whether to turn my back to him, might that bee taken as an invitation? or face him, again,
how might that be interpreted? so I lay on my back and tried my best to sleep. As soon as the alarm went off I was out of there like a hot snot’, and cycling west again by 6,oclock. The whole experience was reminiscent of a certain mustachioed cheap suit wearing character who’s been haunting Kazakhstan’s image for the last few years.

Providence smiled on me allowing me to cross the Chinese border during the short window that it was open. According to an official I spoke to it would be closed for the following week, and it was closed for the previous week due to the National holidays. I was lucky enough to catch the four day window that this crossing was open.

The Chinese are super paranoid at the moment, as it’s the 60th anniversary off the birth modern China. From
what I can gather, in 1949 China began its cultural revolution and transformation into it’s current red star monster state with Mao at the helm. The government feels that now would be a perfect time for a terrorist attack from one of the many minorities that have been trampled on for the last 60years, specifically the Uighurs in Xinjiang province. though, given the ferocity with which they dealt with the recent riots in Urumqi, and the current military prescence in the province, its highly unlikely that anybody of sane mind and full control of their body would even fart upwind of a party cadre lest it be misconstrued as a dissident act.

RIght now I’m playing the visa game in Almaty. More about that in the next blog.