Marion Conquers Dingle Challenge

Marion Goodall braved Storm Hannah and took on the Ride Dingle Event (April 27th) .Marion is part of our Leisure Licence initiative 

Read her event report in her own words below:

“7 weeks ago, excitement and fears were on the agenda. Today, the Dingle Ride seems already far away.

Before the event, I kept the training going mixing long distance rides (50km and over) with hill repeats to build some muscles and prepare for the dreaded Conor’s pass. I also took the habit of adding some workouts to my commute home with a mix of hard and easy efforts. 

Two weeks before the date, I saw a nice increase in my bike fitness and was for once able to follow my better cyclists friends on a weekend training ride. 

This boosted my confidence and I approach the challenge happy that I had done the work.

Thursday 25th, 2 days before the event, the weather forecast was not looking good. Storm Hannah was on its way and due to arrive on the Saturday, day of the challenge. “Damn it, with my luck this is going to be cancelled.” I thought and so did all the ladies going with me on the trip. In total, 7 souls looking to cycle 55km or 120km of the hard Kerry roads and complaining that the weather wouldn’t let us. 😆

In the end, the organisers of the Ride Dingle event did what any sensible person would do and they rescheduled the ride for the Sunday which looked much better weather wise.

Not ideal for me; I had planned to recover on Sunday before driving back home to Dublin. But this wasn’t going to stop me and my friends. We kept our plans the way they were and travelled early on Friday in the hope to avoid driving in the midst of storm Hannah. We got in Dingle just on time. The winds picked up 10km before our destination and the bikes on the rack were moving a little bit too much for our liking. Thankfully, they were really well secured.

Finally there but with one day to spare: One day to worry, plan, look at the route again. One day to deliberate about how hard Conor’s pass was. That once we were done with it, the rest of the route would be easy… In brief, despite enjoying an extra day before launching myself into this challenge, Saturday felt really long and at the same time really short.

In the evening, I set up about packing my nutrition for the day (some gels, 2 bottles of electrolytes, some honey and sesame crackers…) and preparing my bike: checking the brakes, gears… Then off to bed in the hope that I wouldn’t be too nervous and would sleep easily which I actually did. The wind had died off and it actually was a better sleep than the 1st night. Not as much noise. 

Sunday 6am, the alarm rings, I am up in a minute for once. No need to snooze the alarm. I get dressed and force myself to eat a big breakfast which I am not really used to. Too heavy, it doesn’t sit well or else it is the nerves. We pack the bikes on the car racks and head to Dingle. We park a little bit before the town centre and before I know it we have cycled in the middle of the crowd and the DJ is counting down 8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1 Go… I only had time for a couple of pictures before heading to the 120km journey. 

It is bright and slightly warm, looks like it’s going to be a beautiful cycling day I think to myself. And it was. 

The first 55km fly by. My friend and I end up riding together not too sure where the rest of our group is. We pass the first food stop but don’t feel the need to stop so we push on. The views of the coasts are beautiful. It makes for a very relaxed first half. We reach the 55km food stop just after 10am. At this stage, we are ecstatic. We have done 55km and we don’t feel like it was that hard. We get some food (oh my, the orange flapjacks are delicious!) and get a text from one of the other girls from our group. The others won’t make it to the 2nd half of the ride (some never planned to) and she is nearly at the food stop. We decide to wait for her. Once she is ready to go again, we set for what we thought would be the biggest challenge: Conor’s pass.

Conor’s pass is long, very long. It is a huge drag. It is hard on the legs, hard on the lungs. I am sweating and I want to stop but I focus on the fact that once at the top there is a huge downhill. After what feels like forever, I get to the top. What a view…wait no, there is no view. We’re in a cloud. Nothing to be seen further than 2 meters. Ah well, I actually don’t really care at this stage, I made it. I cycled to the top. Now time to go down.😀 

The roads are slightly wet so brakes are required more than I’d like but what a downhill. A minute into it and I get out of the cloud to have an amazing scenery. Dingle is really a spectacle. The hard work put in to get there is totally worth it. 

The rest of the cycle to the 90km food stop goes fast. We arrive there before 12.30 and enjoy a nice break with more flapjacks and tea. God I never thought I’d be so happy to drink tea. 

A couple of minute rest and we are back on the road again. This is when the going gets hard. Straight out of the food stop is a hard, steep climb followed by a drag. Not as long as Conor’s pass but on my tired legs, this feels way harder. It takes a lot out of me. The confidence I had before we headed again at the 90km mark fades away. My legs are jelly and I am worried. I keep spinning the legs but it is becoming hard. My back is seizing and getting real sore. 

We misjudged the last part of the ride. From Camp onwards, it is a hard cycle which for 30 odd kilometres will only feel like going uphill. My head is not in a good place.100km in and I have to work hard to motivate myself. 

“Only 20km to go. That’s nothing. I can do this. Would be stupid to quit now.” 

10km to go and all I want is to hail a taxi. I am alone, my friends are a little bit ahead of me and I feel like my body is going to break. I am exhausted but I keep looking at my bike computer and concentrate on the kilometres left. “Only 7 left. That’s just going to work. Common, you got this.” Then, I pass a building I recognise and I know exactly where I am. I get a burst of energy from it and am back on track. I can now see Dingle. I am met by another cyclist. He seems to be in a similar state, half over the moon to be done, half lost. He ask me where we have to go once we reach the town. I tell him I suppose we are to go where the 55km finished but that my plan is just to follow the marshals instructions. Before I know it we are in the middle of Dingle and I can hear the crowd and the music from the finish line. My head goes everywhere. I am so happy I could cry. 

I did it. Me! Someone who couldn’t cycle more than 20km a year ago. Me, who was scared of going downhill and who was puffing like a heavy smoker at the top of every hill. 

Suffice to say, I cross the finish line with a big smile on my face. I find my friends, time for some celebratory photos, some well deserve food and the japanese hot tubs (they do feel amazing on the legs). 

Now on to the next challenge…”

 

Name: Marion Goodall
Discipline: Road
Age: 35
Event: Dingle 120km Ride

Click Here to Read Marion’s Event Preparation: