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160409 GC collecting in Galway

Friday, 8th April 

About a month ago, on the second weekend of April, about 200 cyclists got up very early on a Friday morning – it’s still been dark outside. They all got ready to make their way all across Ireland from Maynooth to Galway – 200 kilometres through Irish countryside, on bumpy roads and hopefully surviving the funny moods of Irish weather.

Even though we’ve been training for this particular weekend since January and everybody told me several times, that I will be fine, I was pretty nervous Thursday night and relieved when I could finally start cycling the next morning. However, this special morning started already quite interesting. With everything packed and settled, bike checked and ready to go, I left the house around 5am. Unfortunately, I couldn’t even leave my street until I already had a puncture in my back wheel – so I walked instead. Besides breakfast and all the vans driving our luggage, our wonderful support crew also included mechanics and I was lucky enough that they were already there. So while I registered and had breakfast, my bike was all checked and set up again :)

Around 7am we finally left Maynooth and started our first stage to Galway. The cool and dry weather in the morning was a great start in the day and made it a lot easier to kick off the whole event. But since Irish weather loves its surprises, we couldn’t get through the day without a little bit of everything – wind (against us), rain and even some sun.

In total we had five stages to cycle, each between 30 and 45km long, and at each stop there was time to relax, fill up und food and drinks and find energy for the next stage again. Due to a flu before and some other things, I only thought of doing 3-4 stages each way, just to make sure I don’t push it too hard. In the end, I felt well and just kept on cycling so by the end of the 4th stage, I was sure, I’m gonna do the whole 200k that day.

160408 arrival GC Galway 2016someone took a group picture of us crazy cycle people – we made it!! 😀 (credit to Galway Cycle Society)

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Tess and me after our arrival in Galway – exhausted, but happy!

Finally arriving in Galway on my bike around 6.30pm that day, was one of the best feeling ever!!!
It’s totally unreal and amazing at the same time, when you realise what you are actually able to accomplish in one day. Celebrating that with about 200 other cyclists who did the exact same – just incredible and hard to describe! 😀

 

Saturday, 9th April

To cycle all the way from one coast to another and back again is not just an event for people who love cycling a little bit too much but it’s also a great charity event. The 29th Galway Cycle was dedicated to Down Syndrome Ireland and we raised money for a new education programme, they are about to realise now.

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a room full Galway Cycle newbies – and we all finished it! :)

It’s well worth the good cause and to support all the good work they are doing, the Saturday of our Galway Cycle weekend is not just a day off the bike but also time for raising and collecting money on the streets of Galway. :)

In the afternoon we finished the collecting with a nice little parade and another group picture (title image also kindly from Galway Cycle facebook page). In total, we raised more than 100,000 Euros for Down Syndrome Ireland – thanks to everybody for the great support!

Sunday, 10th April

Time to go home again – bright and early (without loosing an hour due to the switch to summertime) we started our journey back from Galway. The weather that day was even worse, since the wind was right against us almost all day and there was even ice on the streets in the morning.

Much less of us were actually cycling compared to Friday and due to the weather people dropped out more often. I didn’t plan to do the whole way back in the first place but it went well for about half the way and I kept going. Unfortunately, I had a little fall and had to take a break. I was doing okay and very lucky that the fall wasn’t bad so after I could get back on after the next break. However, the wind got me as well and in the end I only got back on again for the last bit to cycle into Maynooth.

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on the way back at the end of the 4th stage.. and it’s even sunny – the wind was tough though!!

Nevertheless, the whole weekend was really great and I loved the atmosphere among this big group of people becoming a huge family – looking after one another and sharing an amazing experience! 😀 It’s been a real pleasure and honour to be part of this group – thanks to all who were part of this weekend and make this happen since 29 years already! Thanks to the marshals, who keep us safe on the roads, the support crew, who cared for our food and drinks, the ambulances, mechanics, buses and many more for realising this event – and last but not least a special thanks to the committee for all the preparation and organisation they put into this the months before already :)

Next year, it’s gonna be 30 years and even though I won’t live in Ireland anymore by then, I might consider to come back and join you for another crazy weekend cycling for a good cause and having the best craic 😉


Looking back on this weekend now, a month later – weeks in which I couldn’t cycle as much as I wanted to because of work and studying – I realise again, how much this weekend made a difference for my time here. During my time here, I met many, many people and found a lot of new friends :) However, in college, though, most of them are international students from all over the world, who already left or will leave Maynooth again. But joining the Galway Cycle gave me the opportunity to get to know many Irish people and offered another connection to this country and its culture. Thanks for giving me another reason to come back to Ireland 😀

Also after already traveling Scandinavia and knowing her while, it’s been really good to have my Canadian friend Tess with me on this journey again! Glad, you joined me for this and looking forward to show you Germany!

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Anna-Lena Oehmann

I am studying Musicology and British Literature at Bonn University in Germany and will spend my year abroad at Maynooth University near Dublin.