I’m going to steal a phrase that Wade used in his intro to the Roadtripping New Zealand piece: “proximity syndrome”. Ireland is only an hour’s flight from my home in the north west of England but I’ve been there so few times. I’ve ridden my bike there once before, but only saw the inside of a peloton and several hotels while suffering on the Milk Rás back in about 2003.
Many of my mates had waxed lyrically about the lovely scenery they’d encountered on past trips to Ireland. But the memories of being cold and of suffering overpowered even the slightest tingle of interest. For me the guaranteed promise of sun further south always won the battle when deciding where to ride.
But when I got an email from Wade asking if I fancied a few days on my bike, clocking up some miles (or kilometres depending if we were in the north or the south of the island) on roads the Giro peloton would be tackling, it was a no-brainer. This was the opportunity to undo that proximity syndrome, to actually see what I’d missed by not racing on the front of that peloton back in 2003.
My cycling buddy for the trip was to be seasoned roadtripper Szymon Kotowski. Szymon had inspired me (and many others I hope) with his Roadtripping Norway piece last year. The man snapping the shots for our trip was to be Belgian photographer-extrodinaire Kristof Ramon. I knew his stuff and was excited to meet both he and Szymon in person.
As on any trip it’s that first hour of contact that helps the team to bond, so while waiting for Szymon to land at the airport, an incident involving burritos, a girl (who perhaps drank too much) sat down with us and decided that our chips were hers, saw Kristof and I learning a little about how each of us acts in a rather awkward situation.
Let’s just say that confusion filled the Mexican restaurant and, perhaps unsurprisingly, we didn’t end up eating the rest of our chips.
There we had it: the bonding exercise done and dusted, a talking point for the night cemented, and a lesson learnt with regards to what could happen if we went off the rails with one too many of the local beverages.