All pain, some gain
By the time this blog post is published, I'll hopefully be in the last few days of my Cycle Ireland journey to raise funds for Cian's Kennels.
486 kilometres: some of which have been a breeze, many of which have been a slog, most of which have been completed only due to my begrudging optimism (a 30k ride? It's only a 5k, six times, really).
During my rides, I've learned many things, but FAR more than I wanted to about the sport of rugby. It just so happens that, with the World Cup on, my favourite podcast have been doing a slew of shows devoted to the ins and outs (and offsides) of the game. Now, don't get me wrong, I enjoy watching rugby. But I don't particularly understand how it all works and I never will.
My Californian relatives were over for the Ireland v South Africa match. They said it was like American Football mashed together with wrestling, which I think is pretty spot on. They then wondered why it wasn't more popular in the States, because (and I quote) "it's violent enough."
Did they understand it? No. Could I or the rest of my family explain it to them? Absolutely not. They have a scrum to win the ball and how they win the ball is a total mystery - let's just leave it at that.
So I can't say my rides have been hugely entertaining as of late, but speaking of sports, I've picked up a new one - Badminton! I reckon every time the season changes I dive into a new hobby - it's becoming chronic at this point.
But let me tell you, it was the best craic I've had in ages. Badminton is THE sport to unleash all your pent up emotions - you can smash that shuttle as hard as you want and it'll still drop limply to the middle of the far court. My training partner eventually told me to "try hitting it as hard as you can" and I had to be like, Mark, believe me, I AM. It just doesn't translate.
Either that or I'm weaker than I'd like to admit.
In any case I had such a blast I even fixed up my racquet with new grip tape on Sunday morning, while still in bed, using my one good hand. It turns out I slightly overdid things. To the point where holding a toothbrush or lifting a mug of coffee with my left hand was staggeringly awful. I guess I thought that because I could play a bit of tennis I wouldn't have any beginner pains. My God was I wrong.
Grip tape lookin' fresh
After getting a "you played well" text from the coach (which, realistically, he probably sent to all 20 of us), I decided the extreme pain in my forearm was no price to pay.
It did make riding my actual bike a bit tricky though, so I decided to stick to the gym bikes where I wouldn't have to worry about steering. To erode the boredom factor of stationary cycles, I joined a few spin classes.
If you've ever done a spin class, you know the drill. It's sheer pain heaped on top of a nice base of prolonged suffering, and for some ungodly reason we all can't get enough of it.
Despite all this, I have to say I'm damn proud that I've stuck with this challenge and am not too far from my goal of raising 500 euro for Cian's Kennels. To everyone who's donated or offered encouragement, you've really warmed my heart.
It's all too easy these days to have low expectations of humanity as a whole. But whenever I truly look around I see so much positivity. I see people supporting each other and banding together to do great things.
I wouldn't be here doing this without you guys. Thank you bunches and bunches.
I'm off now to do another wretched, miserable, painfully boring cycle - only 100km left to go!
Over 'nd out,