Safe Cycling Session Corcagh Park

Last weekend I had the pleasure of joining the legal eagles of Ireland to fundraise for homelessness by participating in the Calcutta Cycle Sportive. It was a lovely Saturday morning and the atmosphere was electric. I finished the 50km cycle 40 minutes quicker than last year in two hours, eight minutes at an average speed of 23.3km an hour.

The next day I cycled from Blackrock to Enniskerry and ended prematurely in  Glencree. I was up bright and early at 6am like the day before, to get through the routine of pre-ride fuel food, many toilet visits and then trying to make sure the medication did not send me rushing to the toilet again. For some reason Sunday was a bigger challenge and on route to Blackrock, I thought I would have a toilet accident but thankfully the body began to behave as we neared our start point in Blackrock.

Being a Galway girl, adopted as a Dublin nortsider, I was unprepared for the uphill road climb from Frank Keane Motors to Stepaside I was struggling and it was only the start, the big bonus were the wonderful Paris2Nice Alumni who we joined for this training cycle who kept my spirits up and it began to get easier.

As we neared Enniskerry our coach Darren stopped us for a pep talk, to prepare for the Enniskerry hill climb. It was a tough climb but I mastered it with a struggle and motivational support from Tom. I settled down on the more flat terrain and enjoyed the stunning Wicklow scenery and mountain smells. Once again we had another stop and pep talk re the steep climb to Glencree. The pep talk did not do justice to what was ahead, and when we reached the place of peace and reconciliation in Glencree, I felt as far removed from peace as anyone could be. We had a coffee break and my mood began to lift, what amazing, motivational people form part of the Paris2Nice Alumni and I am beginning to look forward to spending seven days in France with them all.

As we are leaving Glencree and travelling up the exit hill, I was so relaxed and confident that I lost focus and forget the damn cleats, I wobbled and fell.

Looking back now, I think my pride was hurt more than my body but as I could not squeeze my hand, I knew I could not squeeze the brakes and cycle. I would love to say that as I soaked up the atmosphere of Glencree as I waited the hour and a half for my hubby to cycle back to Blackrock and then drive to collect me, that I was moved and touched by the beauty around me, but it was quite the opposite.

I felt self-doubt, loneliness, cursed my illness for this mad crusade I was on and the exhaustion from two early morning rises to deal with the food, medication and toilet routine. I wished I had not suffered muscle wasting from long bed ridden hospital stays and that my thighs did not require so much nutritional, GYM and cycle training to get to the level of fitness I required.

I was in pain, my wrist and arm were on fire and I needed ice. I knew I could not take anti-inflammatory’s as they could flare my colitis, so hopefully tiger balm would work when I got home. I was freezing and all I wanted was my bed and sleep.

The rest of the week was a mix of work travel and meetings, back on the bike and GYM confidence building sessions, first year exam preparation sessions with my son Cúán and being floored yet again by a sore throat, chesty cough, ear ache and fever. By Saturday I just wanted to sleep but the sun was shining and I thought of the mantra ‘no pain, no gain’. I got on the bike and clocked up 22 km but my earache from the wind got worse and was affecting my balance. Reason won out and I called it a day.

On Sunday, I went through the usual early morning, feed, mediation, toilet routine I needed to complete the ‘safe cycling’ course in Corkagh Park an obligatory pre-requisite to participating in Paris2Nice. The session involved learning the technique and rules of group cycling, taking corners, signalling and don’t laugh but how to remove and drink from a drink bottle while cycling, a necessity when you are on the road for five to six hours in the hot French summer sun. It was fantastic training session, thank you Aidan and Michelle. After three hours, I went home happy and confident to get into the swing of another pre-exam prep session with my son and a well-earned cat nap and Sunday roast dinner. 

It’s been a long week from Glencree to Corkagh Park and two weeks since I started back on the steroids. They have not yet begun to take effect for my colitis but I can see the ‘moon face’ beginning to appear and the mood is getting cranky. I wish the treatment effects were as fast to show as the negative side effects but I am always mindful that I am so lucky that there is a treatment and that while my illness is incurable, it is not terminal. I am alive; I can spend precious time with my family, work with wonderful colleagues, cycle and look forward to getting to know the inspiring Paris2Nice Alumni when we embark on our French Journey.

Life may be a bit challenging at the moment but as Stephen King says, “You can, you should, and if you’re brave enough to start, you will”.

Note to self, write to Corkagh Park about the lack of accessible toilets in the cycling training area. It was a constant worry during the training session and one that could have resulted in an embarrassing accident.

Note to the public, if an apparent healthy looking woman like me, asks for urgent access to your toilet facilities, please remember that inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is an invisible disease and PLEASE provide immediate access.

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On Thursday 12th September, we are hosting a continuing professional development event at Radisson Blu Hotel & Spa, Ennis Road, Burtonhill, Limerick.  The event topics are -


All proceeds from this event will be donated to Cycle4CrohnsColitis an initiative by Attracta O’Regan, supported by Beaumont Hospital Foundation and the Law Society Finuas Skillnet.