We missed spring by a day. Instead we opted for a Sunday which turned out to be a “soft day thank god sort of day,” when the clouds clung to Mt Leinster, punctured by it mast, and down came the rain. We pulled ourselves once more up over Carrigduff and its traffic calming signs, clicking down gears, soft mist fogging up my glasses, asses out of the saddle, me Liam and Mike, wondering where the hell did spring go, yesterdays promise, like a false start, hidden now behind a mass of grey cloud. Us almost annoyed, feeling cheated, full of “should have” questions….should have gone out yesterday when the sun shone, the skies blue the Racing 795 forum packed with tempting invites, to mountain bike Kilbrannish hill, to jog to the windmills, to road spin to Tinahealy and even walk in the woods, or better still join up with Frank who was heading west towards Galway….ah yes we on this damp cold morning, wrapped up and clicking gears trying to keep pace with Mike in full flow, we should have known better, and gone out yesterday…
But alas yesterday we were distracted, Liam went with the hunt (its far from gentry he and his piebald pony was reared, but I wasn’t gone to tell him that) And I spent the false spring day, cutting and chopping and loading sticks…and remembering Pa…Hard to believe that it’s over a year now since he passed, I knew him longer then I knew my own father..A big man a constant in our lives. And here I was chopping and cutting..the job he once did for us. Taking pride in his work and his tools and most of all his garage, his work shop, his sanctuary….. Now on opening the iron framed door of his beloved garage…it lets a low thunder rumble as it trips over a stone, demanding our respect, as he did, slowly revealing its hidden treasures like Pharaoh’s tomb. Here his spirit still lingers, the smell of diesel and dust, the dark tidiness of its hidden nooks, his potpourri of tools and gadgets, of recycled jam jars filled with washers and screws and nuts and hooks…clamps and clasps, ropes and wires and spare parts of broken bits, hang, cobweb shrouded, now, from crooked nailed hooks. Garden tools cleaned and sharpened and all now retired in roof slats. All now silent with his finger tipped touch on everything.. Here in this shrine, his spirit still lives, lingering in the silent rafters, watching, waiting. .
Its hard to believe thirty years have passed since I first drove from Dublin to Bunclody with sweaty palms and Van Morrisons Moondance in the tape deck in a battered old Toyota corolla that roared when you hit forty miles an hour, to meet him for the first time…..Its hard to believe a year has passed since..since…. like us today, this spring day he spent his last day, chopping and splitting, cleaning out one of his sheds of teak window frames, chainsaw roaring, cutting, chopping, bagging winter kindling, delivering them to his daughters. At days end he tidied his shed, sharpened and oiled his chainsaws, sweeping his floor and packing everything back in its proper place, sealing up his garage,…..Before heading off down to the Moss House for one last feed of pints… Ah how we miss him now.
And so we clear Bunclody heading towards the Myshall pump, on through Garryhill and its swimming pool in a barn, skirting the mountains, slipping down through its valley past Danny Nails and stories of bone setting cures and bottles of home made tonics, that cleared out your bowels in thirty seconds flat.
Wexford Co Council, put up brand new cycle route signs, tempting you in the direction of costal villages and towns, Curraghloe, Kilmuckerage, Courtown and its cast of Love/Hate Dubs….But that’s all they did, is slap up signs on routes that you would need a mountain bike to navigate through the battered eroded roads that had a surface like the moon, washed away by run away streams of ditchless land….
So on we push this Sunday morn, hoping to do 60k, chasing Mike under pressure to be home. Stopping in Borris for a banana, and a saddle sore chat, 30k from home we consider crossing back up over the nine stones, losing our selves in the clouds, but dismissed it as quick, too early in the season for madness like that we laugh. Instead opting to stay close to the edge of the mountain through Ballymurphy, Kiltealy home of the Duffery and site of a world war 2 bombing that was blamed on the Germans, and home through the Half Way House,,,,
But yesterdays work of cutting splitting and loading crept up and took its toll, as limbs began to ache …”It must be an age thing”, I complained, and Liam was too fked to answer. And as we pull into the square, busier now then it was two and a half hours ago. With only 60k done, I’m beat, and glad to be home….. Well aware that I’m a million miles off the legs required to complete Edinburgh-London or a fourth Wicklow 200 in June…Still we have the Club duathlon to look forward to next week, and there’ll be no holding Mike back that day.