By Michael Brady.
The seed was sown after seeing last year’s event, my brother Noel did the 2021 Mayo Ultra 300k so I felt if he can do it then so can I! The Brady’s are a tad competitive and I have a reputation to keep… So I originally had it in my head to have a go at the 650k route as I fancied the challenge. But as the event came closer I had to rethink my plans as I ended up getting the wretched Covid. The first few spins back after it was, as they say, a learning curve or maybe even a bit humiliating! Imagine, the lads had to push me home, they even took pictures of the incident that went viral…
And so to plan B. I needed miles and loads of them. I heard of a local group doing Mizen to Malin over the May bank holiday and I said to myself “bingo” that fits the bill perfectly.
A few rushed spins in the weeks before and I felt I was ready, then a bit of cajoling and I convinced two more creators to join me from Covey land.
The Mizen to Malin 3 days was a great experience as I had never cycled this route before, it’s is hard to believe considering all the challenges I’ve completed.
In the week coming up to the event I received quite a bit of slagging. Why? I don’t know, I’d say they don’t know the #No 1 Covey.
I am not really into gadgets. Heart rate, power, and cadence are all great but I feel I know my body best and always work off feel.
What might catch me out was the navigation around the route, I bought a Wahoo roam last July for a two-day trip from Westport to Cobh, and I got one of the lads (Padraig Marrey event organiser) to upload the route, all I had to do was press start.
Day one worked perfectly as four of the guys decided to cycle with me down to Killaloe, by Christ day 2 was a different scenario! Marrey thought it would be very funny to send me off on a tour of Tipperary and North Cork over every hill and down every boreen in the place. Even better, it lashed rain and my phone died. Talk about character building… There were moments I thought I would never make it to Cobh but I did despite the boy’s effort. They say who needs enemies with friends like this..!
The weekend before the race I did two recce days over parts of the course I wasn’t familiar with. This was invaluable as I was now more confident about the route.
On the morning of the event I rocked up to the Mariner Hotel for the start, my missus, Sharon was there to help with any last-minute bits and pieces. Just before the off, it dawned on me that for the next 300k I will be on my own. I hate time trialing with a passion, give me a big bunch and I will motor away all day, “what the hell am I doing” I sighed to myself.
I was the last of the unsupported 300k riders away from the start line, I wasn’t sure if this was a good or a bad thing!
Out around the Furnace lakes, I caught sight of a fellow competitor, a few km later I caught and passed him with another carrot just in front, by the time I got to Keenagh crossroads I think I had passed three of the starters in front of me. The wind was on my back, sure I was flying…
Off up around Crossmolina and on through Moygonagh, onto Ballycastle where I planned my first water stop. It was not that well planned as I had to cycle off-course uphill through Ballycastle to reach the filling station, sure it’s only a few hundred meters. Loaded up and headed directly West passing by the Ceide Fields and the lovely North Mayo coastline. Man Mayo is beautiful when you get the weather!
The only turn I was unsure of was the turn at Bellanaboy at the Corrib gas plant, this brought me on a road I was never on up around Pollatomish but it was spectacular.
Then the fun really started as I rounded the peninsula heading south for Barnatra and Carramore lake, the wind was unreal, not as much as a blade of grass to hide behind.
The next 50k was the longest of my life. I built 5 houses, knocked 2 more, and everyone who owed me money was lined up and shot… I said to myself at Ballycroy “that’s it” all the bikes I have are going straight into a skip when I get home. I’m going to burn all my cycling kit and that’s it, no more cycling! I am going to play something else, anything else. Why am I doing this, cycling 300k talking to myself like this? It’s F’ing crazy!
Get to Mulraney and at least I can eat or drink something nice…
I reached Mullraney, Christ that was torture of the highest order. I mean I cycled the Alps, Pyrenees, and everything in between and my own backyard was what I found the hardest.
I was hoping to tuck into a lovely chicken sandwich. Shite I never packed it. I did get a nice cup of tea and a few bits and it brought me around. I was surprised to see so many hanging around, they all looked beat. “Tell me more” I taught!!
I headed off around the Corraun Peninsula and that bloody chicken sandwich was filling my every thought… All I could think of was a chicken banquette, chicken toasties, chicken lunch box, chicken, chicken, chicken…
I started to see Minaun ahead and that changed my tune pretty rapidly. I wondered if I had the gears, would I have to walk. I never walked a hill in my life. Would this be the first time? I saw a few cyclists ahead, can’t beat having a few carrots to catch.
I made it to the top, but just about. If I never see that climb again it will be too soon! I flew down the hill like a rocket and passed a cycling friend of ours Darragh Delaney from Claremorris, I thought to myself that catching Darragh means I am going well…
Darragh caught me again on the way down into Keel, I was telling him I would love a chicken sandwich of some sort… He said he might have a plan as he was meeting his missus at the Keel campsite for some grub.
I couldn’t believe she had chicken Pannini’s ready for us. I scoffed them down with a strong mug of tea and just like that the PASSOVER was finished. Sorry, Darragh, I couldn’t be hanging around. I had an Ultra to finish. “Fuck them”… sorry…
Up and over the hill into Keem and I looked out onto the beach, it looked like one of the participants i saw earlier on the start line and he seemed to be meditating on the beach, sand or something… Man, that’s a new one… I let out a roar at him to get back on the bike and start pedaling, you can’t be staying here all evening. What do they be thinking ….
Back over the hill again, why would they have us coming to two dead ends? I though this is F’ing madness, no wonder your man was meditating, knowing he had to climb back out again!
Flying down the hill into Dooagh with the wind at my back and knowing there was about 60k to go. Life was good. This torture was going to be over soon and I would prove the doubters wrong…
I had no expectations of getting a big result. All I wanted was not to finish last. I rolled into Westport still in brightness and boy was I glad it was over!
The greeting at the finish line was here is Micheal Brady still the #No 1 Cove was kinda funny, meeting some of the other participants and hearing their tales confirmed mine, that it was a day of self-thought and penance!
Looking back I’m glad I did it, having an event in your hometown that you can take part in is brilliant, life is short, grab it by the horns and always try something new. Sure what have you to lose?
For a change i didn’t nod off .!!
I am an Ultra finisher….