For the Dublin Sri Chinmoy Centre, a cycling trip to some far-off corner of Ireland has become an essential event in the annual calendar
Previous trips had brought us to counties Donegal and Galway; this time we were originally headed to Mayo, but there was a last-minute change of mind: weather-wise, this has been one of the worst summers on record, and the weather was suposed to be particularly bad this weekend, so we thought it best to head down to the 'sunny south-east' where the weather has traditionally always been best. The prospect of running a 10k race that was being held down in Waterford sealed the deal (some of us are training for the Self-Transcendence marathon which we will do in August when we visit New York), and so on the Friday evening we were down in Waterford city, bikes at the ready.
It was raining torrentially in Dublin when we left, but thankfully it had cleared off by the time we reached Waterford and we could enjoy a scenic half-hour cycle to the seaside town of Tramore. The next morning after meditation we were all off for a dip in the sea, followed by some cycling along the beach - we were doing a slow-cycling race, when all of a sudden we heard this deafening bang: Martin (who was winning the race) had suffered a complete tyre blowout! Worse, there was no bike shop in Tramore, and the bus wouldnt let him take the bike back to Waterford. Martin, undeterred, merely sain "I'm just going to wait for the next big van to come along. Sure enough, ten minutes later a big white van pulled in an generously let Marting stick his bike in the back. Colm cycled back in order to join him, whilst the rest of us made our way to the small village of Dunhill, where the inaugural Anne Valley Race was being held to raise funds for the Chernobyl Children's holiday fund.
We were soon rejoined by Martin and Colm. Shane opened his kitbag to find there was only one runner in it - thankfully Ambarish had a spare pair he could use. The race itself was a great experience. We were running through some of the most beautiful scenic countryside you could imagin. however it was also one of the toughest - three major climbs and the sun was pretty hot too! However we all had a good time. (That's Shane holding the Munster Cup which the Waterford hurling team had won the previous week and which happened to be around the vicinity at the time.)
After the race (and a quick puncture repair to Shane's bike) we set off again along the coast road to Dungarvan. We had reached the village of Bunmahin when the rest of the the group noticed Shane had no pannier bag! It dropped off somewhere along the road, so Shane went back to look for it, and couldn't see it anywhere. Later, we were back at the accommodation pondering our options, whn a knock came at the door. The next door neighbour was out in the car and had seen his bag, and was just knocking at all the guesthouses to see if anyone owned it. In addition the owner of the place where some of the other boys were staying had actually driven back down the road to go and look for it - it's amazing what some people will still do for other people they've never even met...
On Sunday, we were joined by Gary and Vinny, making seven of us in total. It was time to turn away from the coast and into the mountains - but not before one last dip in the sea. The particular spot we chose was covered in seaweed - I told Martin people actually pay good money for seaweed baths round these parts but he was having none of it! The cycling itself was pretty taxing at times, a long series of uphills and downhills, but a lot of fun nonetheless. We capped it off with a cycle over the Comeragh Mountains, and then down to the village of Rathgormack to stay in the local hostel. We were absolutely blessed with the weather this week end - all along the forecast was giving ominous signs, but the rain held off until we were almost home. We really liked this hostel, it doubled up as a community centre with an indoor hall which soon bacame host to a couple of impromptu games of indoor football! This evening Martin put his culinary skills on display and treated us all to a scrumptious pasta dish. Every Sunday we usually have a group meditation in our centre back in Dublin, so whe turned our place into an impromptu meditation room and had a very nice meditation just before bedtime.
The next day after meditation and breakfast, we headed to the nearby Comeragh mountains for a spot of walking. We were fairly soon in open country which meant many people soon got their feet wet - but it was worth it when we came across this beautiful lake, where we could sit by the side and drink in its silent beauty.
Then it was time to go back. We hightailed it to Waterford city, taking shortcuts through some beautiful country estates. Waterford is definitely an underrated part of Ireland, and we feel it is definitely worth another visit sometime.