August 26, 2013, by David Greenaway
The VC’s Life Cycle 3 Blog: Day 7 – Balbriggan to Bangor
We set out from Balbriggan after a comfortable night at the Bracken Court Hotel, excellent accommodation and good food. Susan Anderson, our leg rider who joined us yesterday, rode with us to Dun Laoghaire, leaving us at Holyhead to drive back to Nottingham. It was great to have you along, Susan.
Our first job was to get to Dublin, for a photo shoot at Trinity College. We started with a 10-2 split (Leeds, if they ever get into Europe, with their sneaky extra man?). It was a cool overcast morning and relatively easy cycling. Our only problem was we got lost in a housing estate, a case where common sense should have overruled Garmins.
We picked Trinity College as the location for our Dublin picture, partly because it is such a distinctive landmark, and partly because it is also a very fine University. As it happens we gate-crashed an alumni reunion weekend, so it was very busy. We were there early enough to take a break and on Chris’s recommendation went to the Buttery for a second breakfast.
Getting from Trinity to the ferry port at Dun Laoghaire was straightforward, which meant we were also there early and hanging around for an hour. When the time came for boarding we cycled on ahead of the cars and trucks.
The crossing was just two and a half hours, which, given the distance is pretty impressive. I seem to recall it taking about twice that time when crossing thirty years go. Again, the riders used the time in different ways: Penelope slept of course, and that became contagious with Chris, Karen and Kate following quickly; a few of us took the time to catch up on some work; and some just enjoyed a couple of hours out of the saddle. Andy seemed to disappear for long periods, probably to the lower car deck to check no-one was messing about with his special bike.
I have included a picture of Kate and Karen asleep on the ferry, not because it is an exceptional event or photo, but so Steve can capture it on his iPhone: Steve, as you look at it, Karen is the one on the right and Kate on the left.
At Holyhead, Susan departed and Roger Lewis joined the team. Roger is a distinguished alumnus and Honorary Graduate and helping transform Welsh rugby in his role as Chief Executive of the WRU and Millennium Stadium. He will be riding with us throughout our time in Wales.
I needed some blog time to avoid another 0520 rise ahead of a really tough day tomorrow, so Stefano, Nick and I took the fastest route possible to Bangor, along the A55. Because it is a fast trunk road, a few riders cautioned against using it. But by the time we left Holyhead, the heavy duty traffic from the ferry had moved on and the road was pretty quiet. It also had a great surface and a metre wide lane to cycle in.
Stefano set a fast pace and despite a stop en route, we were in first. Actually, Gavin who has just arrived to replace Sebastian (who leaves the Support Team tomorrow), rode, as did Ian, and they got in before us. But neither rode the full leg, so today’s yellow jersey goes jointly to Stefano and Nick who were in Bangor just before me.
Tonight we were joined by another leg rider, David Walker, Professor of Paediatric Oncology in our Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences and who completed Life Cycle 1. He will be with us until Cardiff.
We have now been on the road for a full week. With 560 miles covered we are at the halfway mark in terms of both time and distance. It has been a tough seven days, especially the first four which was a punishing way to start. Some riders have repetitive strain injuries to manage, the rest are just hurting in various places. Everyone is still focused on one day ahead and getting on with it.
Now we just have to do it all over again!
A few team matters to finish.
Quote of the day goes to Sebastian. On signing-off he said: ‘Early starts and late finishes and everything in between means it has been really hard work. But I still wish I was here for the second week’. Thank you Sebastian, you have been a terrific team member and done an outstanding job for us, especially in keeping our bikes roadworthy. Have a great climbing break in Wales.
Accomplishment of the day must go to Marion and Steve. Their week in the saddle is more than double what either had done before LC3. I know how hard each trained for this, and it shows.
Shock of the day: Stefano was called to Guest Services on the ferry to collect a garment that had fallen from his bag. And guess what it was? My missing Forest shirt. He was aiming to wear it for the Forest-Watford game. As you can see I secretly caught him kissing it when it was retrieved. Since it means so much to him, I am not going to ask for it back.
For the first time on the trip I am ahead on my washing, so none tonight. And, getting in a bit earlier means I have actually written my blog before bedding down. That means no extra early rise tomorrow. I can set the alarm for six, have breakfast and still get away with the others. Champion!
Professor David Greenaway