It Has Arrived – Again

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Something I’ve been really looking forward to for ages is the new “It” movie. You know the one – the Stephen King story about a creepy clown who kills children, appears everywhere and seems to be immortal, ensuring that generations of children are terrorised by this creature who represents everything children fear most in this world.

I saw the original “It” movie at my very first sleepover (slumber party, if you prefer). Picture a sitting room crammed with 11 year old girls who were experimenting with the most badass, rebellious thing any of them had ever done – rented an over 15’s movie.

Bold, or what?

So, we turned off all the lights, piled up all the snacks, snuggled together in a wodge of sleeping bags and pillows… and pressed play.

I have no hesitation in admitting that I was honestly never as scared as I was watching that movie for the first time. I had no real issues with clowns before then but that movie completely unnerved me and I couldn’t sleep for weeks afterwards. It was probably the first time I had properly and completely scared by something. It was months before I stopped looking over my shoulder, checking under my bed and always ensuring there was a wall behind my back when I walked just in case something might creep up on me from behind.

After a few more horror movies and sleepovers, I slowly started to get braver and eventually I actually became a big horror movie buff. There was an old movie rental shop in my town and they had a great horror section so when I’d go babysitting, I’d rent out three movies for a fiver (oh, for the good old days…), turn off all the lights and watch them by myself – see how hard core I became 🙂 From teen slasher movies like Scream, I Know What You Did Last Summer and Urban Legends, to classics like Psycho, Candyman and Silence of the Lambs, I could watch them over and over again.

So it was, that when the trailers were released for the remake of It, I was suddenly right back in that moment of anticipation, excitement and complete fear. Really want to see it, really DON’T want to see it – because I know I’ll have to sleep with the lights on, check under the bed and make sure I’m not alone for a single moment lest It should appear when he gets me on my own…

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Ahhh… turns out I’d nothing to worry about. The It remake was disappointing and not scary at all. The plot is slightly different, which is not a bad thing but the story they replaced it with was too simplistic and the movie was too long given that very little actually happens in the movie. Then there’s the clown – Pennywise – he’s on camera a lot, which is unusual for horror movie stars. They usually exist in the dark or are invisible for the majority of the movie and typically don’t make a visible appearance until the end. Not the case here. I thought they did a good job from a filmmaker point of view of not making Pennywise laughable when he appears on screen – the new Pennywise is positively demonic in appearance and the makeup/ outfit is to be commended. However, I cannot say that I found new Pennywise even remotely as creepy as the original. Original Pennywise had a genuine clown look going on and it was only when he suddenly became evil or you noticed his eyes (or the hideous teeth) that you suddenly became aware that this was not about to be a happy clown experience.

I have to give a mention however to the kids in the movie, who are just brilliant and easily the best thing about it. Great cast and exceptionally entertaining.

New It merits 3/10 stars from me. Old It merits 8/10.

It’s okay. I probably wouldn’t be recommending this movie for anyone to go and see. Instead, I would without a doubt, be recommending you find an old DVD of this movie (or online if you can), pull the curtains, turn out the lights and have a good night scaring the life out of your good self.

Off you go now…

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Riding Around (this wee country)

Riding Around

There are lots of reasons to like cycling. Exercise, fresh air, environmentally-friendly way to travel, genuine tanning opportunity and people tend to think you’re pretty hardy. I’ve also mentioned the coffee stops too and the inevitable accompanying piece of cake. But the best bit about cycling, for me anyways, is speed. That feeling of whizzing through the air, preferably down a hill, wind bellowing past your ears and bringing tears to your eyes as you soar through space feeling like a superhero.

It’s utterly childish and utterly wonderful.

One of my most vivid childhood memories is taking my bike out for a ride one afternoon after school and homework had been completed (I’m nearly sure it was a Thursday afternoon and I reckon I was 10-11 years old). It was hammering rain outside and I just suddenly got the urge to get on my bike. My Dad, you see, was very liberal in his child-rearing views so he wouldn’t have objected to my apparent lunacy of going for bike ride when it was pouring rain outside. What I remember is pedalling, standing up on the pedals and going absolute full throttle down the road from my house, no rain jacket, no helmet (wouldn’t advise this now, mind you!), rain spitting up from the road and coming down from the sky and it felt amazing.

Pure unadulterated, unrestrained freedom.

I felt free, I felt invincible and I felt I could do absolutely anything.

I don’t do stupid things like cycle about without a helmet anymore, but I do still have moments of speeding down hills as fast I can go on my bike, big stupid smile across my face and feeling thoroughly heroic. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

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I’ve also taken to being more adventurous with my cycle routes in the last few months – trying out different areas and even driving to a start point a bit further away so that I can explore new areas and unexplored territory. Not gonna lie, it hasn’t always proved a roaring success and there have been some not so good road surfaces and just predominantly boring areas of Ireland that I would quite happily not miss ever seeing again. But mostly, it’s been great seeing new parts of the country and enjoying different landscape and towns of our fair green isle.

 

Sitka spruce and lodgepole pine dominate most of the coniferous woodlands of the Slieve Blooms, the largest cover of forestry in Ireland

Today, I took a venture around County Laois. I started from Monasterevin in Co. Kildare and headed towards Emo (because I always wanted to visit this place with it’s very cool name…), then Mountmellick  and on to Clonaslee and the Slieve Bloom mountains. I passed through quite a few small towns and villages along the way. Most of these towns were old, delapidated, small towns with not more than the usual old pub, shop, church and great looking GAA club. I was hoping there might be a coffee shop somewhere along the way but if there was, I didn’t see one.

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I like seeing these small towns, as there is something reassuring in the way there are so many towns around Ireland that are exactly how they were 30 years ago. Sure, the cities are modern and progressive with all their fancy dancy wifi, frappuccinos and chic male haircuts, but take a short ride out to the countryside and let you be in no doubt whatsoever – you won’t be getting no fancy wifi down here.

Lest you be getting notions about yourself 😉

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This is Rosenallis, not far from the Slieve Bloom mountains. Quaint, you might say.

It was nice to see rural Laois and they did have some lovely cows and friendly locals, but some of the roads weren’t the best (poor road surface makes for gritty cycling…), the scenery was not special and the towns were disappointing. I probably wouldn’t return here again unless there was a cycle race in the area. Rather, I think I’ll be trying out another area the next time.

The good news? It didn’t rain, I didn’t get lost and I had a little weekend adventure – and that’s good enough for me to feel just a little bit heroic for the rest of the day.

Happy weekend!

Trip to Pau: Tour De France Holiday

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Freshly back from my recent trip to the south of France to follow the Tour de France as it made its way from the Pyrenees across to the Alps, I posted last time about my general Tour de France experience. I’m not going to plague you with lots of posts about the trip but I did think it would be helpful to run a few posts about the places I stayed in, particularly as there are not too many guidebooks or tourist information of any kind about either Pau or Rodez.

And it is the holiday season, after all…

I was naked of information on my trip, but you needn’t be. Or at least, you could be bikini-clad after this… not promising anything mind you 😉

First off, and ahem, most importantly…

Good Boulangeries

You think when you go to France there will be bakeries on every corner. True but also just not true. They seem to be one of those kinds of things – you seem to see them all the time when you’re not looking but then when you want one, you can’t find a single one.

Now, Pau does have a few excellent boulangeries so I would like share this valuable intel. The ones I would recommend are:

1. Brioche Doree – Avenue de Lattre (Just off Boulevard des Pyrenees)

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This was the best croissant I sampled while in Pau and also, probably overall during my entire south of France excursion. It was slightly more expensive (at 1.20) but I grabbed a coffee and croissant deal for 2 euro which I was pretty damn impressed with given that you wouldn’t get either a coffee or a croissant of this quality for less than 2 euro in Ireland. You can also sit outside and enjoy your brekkie if you like. Or you can do what I did and wander the half a minute down to the Boulevard des Pyrenees and enjoy your breakfast while admiring the stunning views into the mountains.

2. Boulangerie at corner of Rue Cazaubon Norbet and Rue de Camot 

If you happen to be staying anywhere around Rue de Camot, this is a great, traditional, small bakery and they do excellent bread and croissants – again for pennies. This place was half a minute from where I was staying so it was my go-to. However, if you don’t get here before 10:30am, don’t bother. The croissants will be gone.

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3. Le Pain Pascal – At the corner of Rue de Liege and Rue Bayard

Good croissants, bread and some gorgeous other baked goods, including fruit tarts and patisseries. Again, you need to get here early for there croissants or you’ll be leaving empty handed. Or with hands full of french patisserie… Up to you, really.

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Getting to Pau

Pau is a place I probably never would have visited (or even heard of, if I’m honest) if it hadn’t been selected by the Tour de France organisers as the finish/ start point of a stage of the race. It’s a small french town in the South, not exactly used to the same flow of people as say, Paris.

Impressively, however, you will find that Pau is very accessible. There is a solid train station and a regular train service, with trains travelling from Biarritz, Toulouse, Paris and most other large cities in France – the train service in France is generally excellent. I have found that you can pretty much make up whatever route you like and the rain service will work with you to help plan your trip. Unlike the Irish rail system, the french trains are brilliantly well run, very regular and the system operates wonderfully. I accept that I have limited experience, but I have always found it a good experience.

The train station is located 5 minutes walking distance from the Boulevard de Pyrenees and the main town area. I would however, point out that there is a breath-taking climb from the train station up to the town – don’t be shocked when you emerge from the station and see what’s facing you. Either embrace it and heave ho….or take the funicular. Your call.

Pau also has its own airport, if you’re less into trains and more into the easy-get-me-there-quick options. It’s not far from the town and there is a shuttle bus that leaves from the airport every hour. On return to the airport, the shuttle bus departs from the train station again every hour, from 7.05 am onward and tickets cost a massive 1.50 euros.

What to do in Pau

Pau is a beautiful old french town perched on top of a hill with stunning views of the Pyrenees mountains. If you like to cycle, I’d recommend bringing your bike as you’re so close to the mountains that you’ll find once you leave the town, you’re into the mountains within about 15 minutes.

Needless to say, the climbs are good and the views are worth the effort.

Pau is a what you might call “a big town” – small enough to be able to walk around to everything but big enough that there you won’t find yourself always eating in the same restaurant or drinking coffee from the same place every day. By day three, I had got my bearings and knew my way around pretty well. There is a big shopping area, if you like to shop and there is generally a nice buzz about the town, full of people and a nice atmosphere.

In terms of what to expect from Pau as a destination, it’s a pretty, relaxed, quaint French town and somewhere to chill out for a few days. Bring your “ready to relax” hat, a book and pick up some great local wine, cheese and fresh bread from the town and you’ll be well set to recharge the batteries.

Bon chance!

A Day at the Greatest Cycling Event on Earth: Tour de France

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A day’s stage of the Tour de France looks a bit like an instalment of the Hunger Games -an unsympathetic game of elimination in which 198 riders start together and ride progressively faster for 150-plus kilometres until a combination of tired bodies, nasty crashes and mechanical mishaps leaves one small group of riders out in front.

The finale inevitably involves either a flat all-out sprint or an unfathomably steep climb up some ridiculous mountain, where the roads narrow and the riders enter a human tunnel of overexcited fans who lose all sense of self-control, screaming and running around the riders like they’ve completely lost their minds.

The riders battle through the crowds, fighting fatigue and their own mental demons, wrestling with each other as the tension rises and team rivalries start to spill over. Bodies are forced to the absolute max, as riders begin to drop off one by one, ultimately leaving one rider who can grind it out to the line pushing past everyone else, pushing past all the pain, fatigue and aching limbs to say screw you all, I am the strongest today. I am the strongest despite the ultimate test of hell you just put me through.

Fail to make the time cut, don’t bother coming back tomorrow. If you do, you get to go home, rest up and come back tomorrow and do it all again. And every other day after that for the next 23 days.

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It’s the toughest endurance event on earth, without question. My own feelings on the Tour de France have always been that if you make it onto a Tour de France team and finish the three weeks, that in itself is a massive achievement. Putting aside placement or any thoughts of winning stages or, dare I say, one of the coveted jerseys. Just finishing the race – is HUGE.

This is a race with no sympathy. No room for moaners, wusses or posers. This race will weed out the weak and spit out the pretenders. It’s part of what makes this race truly great. It’s the hardest and the best of cyclists, competing against each other on some of the world’s toughest climbs across the French Alps, Pyrenees and Massive Centrale.

Brutal.

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I’ve wanted to go to the Tour de France ever since I read David Walsh’s book on Lance Armstrong – Seven Deadly Sins. Not for the reasons you might think! David wrote about driving around following the tour as a journalist from place to place, day after day and just being apart of the tour story. Feeling the drama as it unfolded around the French countryside.

This year, I went.

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I didn’t follow the tour for the full three weeks, because of work… and other boring reasons. I followed it for a week. I greeted the tour as if came into Pau, witnessing Marcel Kittel soar to victory in a sprint victory, before then moving eastwards to Rodez and Laissac. It was magic. The atmosphere in the french towns on the day the race was due to arrive was fantastic – pure joy and like the biggest parade you could imagine. Old and young come out, all day to line the streets and raise the atmosphere.

What You Can Expect Spectating at The Tour…

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You will stand for four-five hours under a hot sun if you want a good spot next to the barriers at the finish line… and you will only see the cyclists for five seconds (ish). If you’re clever, you pick a spot along the route with some sharp corners or on a climb where the riders are forced to slow. That way, it takes much longer for the riders to move past you and you get to see them for longer. Also, these spots are much less populated so you don’t need to arrive here until maybe 30 minutes before the peloton is due to arrive.

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You will get close enough to the cyclists after the race to hug them!

It’s good craic waiting for the race to arrive so don’t be put off by the long wait time. You can chat to the other people waiting and get to hear lots of good stories. There’s also the caravan which always arrives ahead of the peloton, which is basically a big parade. The finish line area also has lots of big screens showing the actual race, which you can watch as you wait. If you’re the chilled variety and are not fussed about being right next to the barriers, you can also bring a fold up chair, your book and a picnic and just sit at the side of the road and chill out until the race is about to arrive.

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The boys doing their cool-down bit. Bora’s Bodnar was THE break of the day, having been in the break from the beginning and then going solo from 25km from the line, he so nearly managed to hold off the peleton only to eventually be caught in the last 400m. Hate that!

My experience of being apart of the Tour de France was fantastic and I loved it. The atmosphere was definitely worth travelling for and is something special that I will always remember. And as for the south of France, in general, I’m happy to report that it was beautiful, relaxing and thoroughly enjoyable. In fact, I’m already thinking I may be making this trip an annual event.

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Tomorrow, Chris Froome will ride his bike from Montegron to Paris with a glass of champagne in hand, tipping his hat to his fourth Tour de France victory. This will be the fourth time he has proven himself to be the toughest, grittiest, strongest cyclist in the world.

Or just the most stubborn.

Making Your World Bigger

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I live in a small world.

I get up, put my cycling gear on and head out the door to work in Dublin. I do my work day, mostly in the office in the city centre and sometimes out and about around the country. At the end of the day, it’s back into the cycling gear, train home, make dinner, watch some TV and bed. Gym one or two evenings a week and I also venture out to the Dublin suburbs to stay with my Grandad one or two evenings too.

At weekends, I’m also pretty boring – long cycles around Kildare, Meath, Laois or out towards the Wicklow mountains. Then it’s food, meeting up with friends for coffee around Kildare or doing something nice with my cousin and my little goddaughter. I drink about 5 times a year and go out on the town even less than that. I love a good night out and getting my dance on, but the opportunities are few and far between these days with most of my friends (who I would do these things with!) having moved away or emigrated.

But I’m also the kind of person who is quite happy in myself and mostly content in my own company – reading, cooking, going to the cinema, following sports, whatever. I’ve always been good at keeping myself entertained and finding something to do.

I love my little world. It reassures me in many ways and I feel lucky to have somewhere I feel safe and somewhere I can call home.

But lately, I have started to feel like my world is too small and I have this itch to break out and blow it wide open – run in every direction and see where it takes me – let it tear me down, re-design me and build me back up, one foreign brick at a time.

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Breaking Out

I was lucky enough to be given a last minute opportunity at work to go to Scotland for a week to take part in a work-related course. I jumped at it – to my surprise more than anyone else’s… I am such a person of routine – I make the same things for dinners, for lunches and supper – I do much the same things every day of the week – but when given the opportunity to drop it all and have a whole week of newness and the unknown, I didn’t even hesitate.

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Funky building in a park in Hamilton where I went for a wee walk

I had a great week in Scotland, despite a wee bit of rain 😉

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Big building in Hamilton, Scotland where I was for the week

I met loads of great people with incredible experience, who were a joy to meet and get to know.

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I didn’t take any pics as I was driving, but this cool looking island could be seen all along the coastal drive and it was amazing looking!

I saw a whole new country with stunningly beautiful scenery.

I felt free.

This trip reminded me of what life is about and what my soul really wants. I forget this. I forget because the day-to-day needs and foggery gets in the way, clouds my view and makes me forget. It forces my soul to submit, conform and behave.

But I don’t want to conform anymore.

I want to be bold, break out and live in the big, big world around me.

Tomrrow, I go to the south of France to see the Tour de France in person. First stop Biarritz, then on to Pau, Toulouse and Rodez. I can’t wait. Sun, tiny villages in the south of France, pro cyclists up close (and hopefully personal) and pure unadulterated freedom.

Freedom to roam, freedom to discover and freedom to just be me. Away from everything I know, all the crap and away from my little world into a much, much bigger one.

Cycling, Coffee, Cake &…Wind

Coffee

Go cycling, they said.

You’ll love it, they said.

When I first started cycling (in any sort of meaningful way, as opposed to a 5 minute jaunt to the shop…) it was with the local triathlon club. I figured I was very new to all this lycra and metal malarky and could benefit from some guidance and experience around me. After all… unlike running, when you’re on a bike you’re typically going much faster and the potential for becoming entangled in metal or wiped off the road is much greater. So tips from the experienced… most welcome!

As I quickly learned, apart from things like road etiquette, what gear you should be riding in and general tips about how to actually ride your bike (who knew?) , there are also a particular number of certainties that go hand in hand with cycling, which unless you have already been initiated into this clandestine little world, you never would have put together.

(I didn’t know anything of this cycling decorum so lest you too end up looking like a confused, gormless gobshite – like me – I suggest you read on!)

1. Coffee 

Every cyclist’s best friend and unapologetic indulgence.

Before a ride, multiple times during a ride and always, always AFTER a ride.

If you’re out cycling with a club, group or a buddy, be prepared for a nice stop at a cafe along the way. Good chance for a break during a long spin and it can be a welcome rest before heading off again. The caffeine is a helpful boost too – just ask Floyd Landis who infamously downed 15 cappuccinos in one sitting 😉

If you think cyclists are a very serious lot, think again. For a lot of cyclists, the coffee stops are the best part of cycling. I was once out with a small group of cyclists and it was pissing rain so I tabled the idea of forgetting the cafe stop and just cycling straight through to the end.

“Then what’s the point in all of this then?” said four disgusted faces.

 

2. Cake

Yes, actual cake. Butter, sugar, flour, eggs, whipped together and slathered in icing.

You might be forgiven for assuming all cyclists starve themselves and probably stick to a bare americano  or espresso on their coffee stops but no. Nearly every cyclist I’ve ever encountered will go for a pastry,  slice of cake, scone, whatever – without hesitation.

Most reckoned they’ve burned the calories and need a few more to fuel the next part of the ride. Most would be right. Granted, I’ve never been out on a ride with a grand tour rider but I like to think they eat cake too 🙂

Similar to a cyclist’s feelings on coffee stops, I get the feeling that most view the cake situation along the lines of sure, what’s the point in a long spin if there’s no cake?

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Cake honestly tastes much better when you’ve worked for it.

3. Wind

Nobody tells you about the wind. Nobody.

OMG, the friggin wind.

Before I started cycling, I ran. As a runner, I thought I was one with nature and the elements, frequently returning home from a run knowing exactly which way the wind was blowing and being in a position to compare wind strengths from day to day.

Now I look back and realise I knew nothing. Within the first 20 seconds of a ride, I’m immediately calculating which direction the wind is blowing from, estimating wind speeds and working out wind gusts. You feel the wind so much more when you’re seated up on a saddle and though I’m no expert, I expect the fact that you’re moving much faster on a bike than say, you would be while running means that there is a much greater wind resistance and it’s therefore a much greater factor.

The wind is huge in cycling and it can make your ride or… well, just make you want to dump the bike on the side of the road and curl up into a ball. No exaggeration.

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I cycled through this pretty little village of Dunsany today. Not relevant really, just pretty!

4. Social Bunch

Cyclists are the best. One of the reasons I love being a cyclist now is that I feel like I’ve joined a some kind of very cool secret society.

You go out for a spin and you spot a cyclist coming in the other direction. Never met him, never even seen him before, but I look up, give him a little wave and a smile and he likewise, lifts a hand from the handlebars and waves back, giving a respectful nod of the head.

This happens all the time with nearly every cyclist I come across on the road offering a smile, wave, respectful nod and sometimes a few words of hello. Not to sound naff, but it’s really quite lovely. Particularly nice at those moments when you’re feeling tired, bored, soaked to the skin or just otherwise want to turn around and go home – an encouraging greeting from a fellow road warrior can give you a nice little lift and spur you on a bit further.

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I don’t know what this face is, but I never know how to pose for a selfie. I may need training.

5. Chamois Cream and Underwear

I’ve saved the best till last.

What no one wants to talk about but what you MUST know about. Ignore this intell at your peril.

Most cyclists do not wear any underwear when they cycle. Two reasons – you can see the lining of the underwear under the lycra cycling shorts, which some find unfashionable/ unseemly. Secondly, wearing underwear can exacerbate the saddle sore situation…

When I first started cycling, I never had any problems with chafing or skin injuries anywhere on my body. Alas, when I started to crank up the frequency and duration of rides, I quickly became acquainted with what are commonly known as “saddle sores.”

Leg up, leg down, leg up, leg down… over and over and over again for 3+ hours, rubbing back and forth over the side of a saddle. Add a good splash of rain and sweat and you quickly have a recipe for skin abrasions. While on the saddle, you might feel a slight discomfort, but actually this is not the worst – what is worse is what comes afterwards.

Stand in a hot shower with fresh saddle sores and you’ll know all about it. Very similar to chafing injuries from running, except these ones are on your heiny and on the inside of the upper leg.

Because of the location of saddle sores, they can be very slow to heal because you cannot very well avoid sitting down completely. And if you’re like me, you’ll be back on the bike a day or two later again and more than likely end up re-aggravating the injuries once you start pedalling away again.

It’s a nasty circle, but the good news is that it can be avoided – mostly. Get yourself a jar of chamois cream, slather some around your shorts and may you never have saddle sores again!

I use Udderly Smooth Chamois Cream (with shea butter) which retails for about 10 euro (on wiggle.com). I only ever need to use a small amount owing to the coconut oil – like consistency, which means you get quite a lot of lubricating for quite a small amount.

Blistering Sunshine, Biblical Downpours and Irish Summers

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I write this from a position from which I confess I may not be able to move from for quite some time. In a very supportive, yet comforting sitting room chair, sheltering from the biblical rains that continue to pummel down from an overwhelmingly pessimistic sky. To cut a long story short, I went for a long ride this morning and got soaked.

It rains a lot in Ireland.

This is not a new concept to me. I’m Irish, I get it.  In fact, I’m quite sure my Irishness makes me part human, part rain. However, the last few weeks in Ireland have been nothing short of stunning with absolute clear blue skies and tear-inducing sunshine that occasionally shines on our fair green isle as a kind of tease, to remind us of the weather we could be having all the time, if it weren’t so prone to the wet stuff.

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This was the sky from my garden at 7.30pm one weekday evening.

Take yesterday, for example. Hottest day of the year so far at a balmy 26 degrees celsius – beautiful. Today, not so much. This morning it was lightly raining, with the weather forecast lady promising “rains will clear”. No Lady, the rains did not clear. As I cycled my way up to Dunshaughlin, Ratoath and did a wee tour of Meath this morning, the rains in fact got significantly heavier and steadily worked their way up to being what I would class as an out-and-out solid downpour.

It’s almost as if the universe was having bit of craic with us today – See here now Irish people, a few days of sunshine and here ye were, getting all cocky and carried away with yourselves thinking ye be living the life of Reilly. Now, let’s be putting ye back in your place!

I was like Forrest Gump walking around Vietnam.

First, the rain came the front, like teeny darts to the face, despite the extra peaked cap I had added to my headwear this morning. Then the rain seemed to come from the side. And then, there were times when the rain seemed to jump up from the ground. Mushy socks and swimming pool shorts soon became the dress du jour.

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Apologies, I don’t mean to moan.

Really, I don’t mind rain that much, as I said, I’m well used to it at this stage. And sure once you’re wet, you’re wet. What was a real kicker though, was when I picked up a puncture 50km from home and it was yes, still spilling down. It’s tricky enough to change a puncture by the side of the road, but when your hands are soaking and you’re trying to fiddle with little nuts and bolts, it’s not funny. And you just know the people driving by are thinking “Who is that crazy girl messing with her bike on a day like today?”

Irish summers are typically temperamental and utterly unpredictable. Once you reconcile yourself to this fact, you’ll never stress again over Irish weather. Me, I am at peace with this fact but I’m also an inherent optimist so despite my intimate acquaintance with the facts about Irish rain, I will always ALWAYS believe that maybe the weather forecast peeps have got it wrong and maybe the sun WILL come out tomorrow.

My country, I love you. But enough with the rain already.