Ultra-cyclists dig deep in Wild Mayo
Fifty ultra-cyclists from around the country arrived in Westport to take on the routes of the Wild Mayo Ultra.
With a choice of three routes, most of the participants opted for the shorter distances of 300 and 200 kilometers.
Five toughened Ultra men took on the notoriously hard 650k route.
Ultra-cycling is an event where participants have to navigate a set route using either the route map or the route downloaded onto a GPS device.
The aim is to get around on your own steam as best as possible, they start three minutes apart, maybe catching a glance of a fellow participant as they catch or pass each other.
There are two categories, supported (having a backup car stocked with everything one might need) and unsupported (on your own). Planning and pacing are crucial for Ultra racing, the last thing any endurance athlete wants is the dreaded bonk where you run out of energy.
One of the competitors, Tony Keane from Achill did the 650k route completely self-supported on a bike that weighed a ton!
Ultra-cycling events will take you to places that you never knew existed, on the bike you travel the road less travelled and in your head you go to places never experienced before.
All the K.s tick by your body and mind get near breaking point, all sorts of emotions are felt through the event.
When each of the cyclist leave the start line outside of the Mariner hotel, Westport they go on a journey of self-exploration. Ultra cycling can be a day or days of toing and froing, struggling with that nonstop chatterbox voice in your head, the body responds to the mind’s thoughts, when you feel good you are motoring when you feel poor the speed drops, it’s a roller coaster of a ride.
At the start, you are full of positivity with no fear, a few hours in, all sorts of wild thoughts go through your head. You start to realise how far you have to go and how slow you are moving, this is going to take ages. There is always a friendly face and a shout-out from the locals to keep one going. You eventually come around and positivity starts to kick in, now you realise that you can do this!
With the wind in your sails, you head for the FINISH with Pride, joy, and relief; emotional thoughts fill your head during the last few kilometres. The Finish line is a huge release, hearing the words “Congratulations you are an Ultra-Finisher” the torture, the emotion, the pains and aches gone in an instant, euphoria takes over, loved ones congratulate you, then and only then do you know it’s has been worth it all as you will have memories that last a lifetime.