I decided I better let my boyfriend off taxi duties for once and make my own way to work where possible. “Why don’t you just get a car?” everyone asks me - Because cars don’t grow on trees people, that’s why.
I was invited on Ocean FM radio at Collooney industrial estate and thought I’d make use of the old bicycle that was being rudely ignored in the sheds. The day before I was due in the radio station I thought it was best I take a trial run at this journey and see how long it would take.
As always I go head first in the deep end of everything - pools, ditches, trouble, you name it!! So without stretching or thinking about anything, up I get on the big man’s bicycle and away I go. The gears had attitude and worked whenever they felt like it. The extremely high seat that I’m sure is made out of cement has been renamed ‘wedgie’. The middle bar of the bike which is never comfortable to fall on if you’re a man OR a women, scared the life out of me. It’s because of this bar that I had to fall off my bike sideways into the ditch when stopped, instead of just forward off the seat to stand on the ground. Who falls UP a hill on a bike? I must have looked like I didn’t understand gravity yet.
The first twenty minutes was pure torture and not in a ‘50 Shades of Grey’ way, but more like a Nazi camp way. My destination was 90% uphill with the first temptation being a shop or a hill. I refused to fall at the first hurdle, mainly because I fell four times in the ditch already but I’d had enough. With full force I tackled the hill at Ballintogher and was rewarded with complete beauty in the surrounding views. No matter where you wander in Sligo the scenery is unbeatable!!! Breath-taking mountains, abandoned castles in flooded fields and wiggly tailed little lambs delighted to be alive – if they only knew.
I’ve only ever seen old men on their bikes going as slow as me. I had thought they were just being nosy. In fact the height of my seat did actually give me a good view of everything and would be a great way to be an unsuspecting spy. But I just found it unbelievably tough and couldn’t go any faster than the speed -13.
On this journey I found the most useless gate of all time. Like who put it there? If they weren’t drunk and it wasn’t dark, what on earth were they thinking? I will always think of this gate and be confused.
One thing I love about the houses around this neck of the woods, is that the most normal looking houses throw a pair of horse head statues on the driveway pillars, just to create the illusion that they live in a mansion.
On one of my happy downhill slopes, I was gliding by a field of sheep and I noticed them all looking up at me as if to say “She has our fuzzy white hair and our dirty bum - She must be one of us”. Each one of them was bleating and running towards me. It was as if I was their leader and they were worshiping me. Well I stopped (fell sideways off the bike) to enjoy the attention, I didn’t want to see a crowd go to waste. I did a five minute gig. I think it’s safe to say they loved it!! They all had the same laugh “Baaaa Hahaha”. In stitches they were.
I also bumped into these two lads at the side of the road. I couldn’t believe it. They were wearing balaclavas in broad daylight. So I plucked up the courage and asked them were they in the RA and they said nothing. So obviously they were!!
Eventually after an hour I had reached my destination, only to turn around and head home again. Thankfully it was 90% downhill this time and now I knew how long it would take me in the morning to be on the radio in time.
When I got home after two hours of tough cycling, not having been on a bike in fifteen years, I ran straight to the mirror to check out my buns of steel. Unfortunately it was more like your typical old man’s bicycle bum than J-Lo’s.
The next morning, training done, I set off on my journey to the radio station. This expedition was a challenge to say the least. As soon as I left the house the chain came off. I’d know as much about fixing a bike as I do about Mongolian politics. Thankfully the gods sent a wee angel to help. A kind young boy from the village eventually got the bike going again, but at this stage I was ten minutes behind schedule and needed to cycle faster than I had done yesterday. This was tough as my bum was still in agony from the two hour ‘wedgie’ I had previously suffered.
Then came the sideways rain that hit my face directly and invited a strong gale force wind along with it. The perfectly applied make-up on my face slid off somewhere around the Ballygawley crossroads. Unbeknownst to myself half my face had black grease wiped along it from holding the bicycle chain. The aggressive wind and rain added twenty minutes on to my uphill trek. I honestly would have been quicker in a boat!
God love radio host Francie Boylan opening the door to an angry drenched Black Sabbath look alike. “I looked alright leaving the house” I said, but I could tell by his face he struggled to imagine it. My twenty minute interview was changed to ten minutes. Luckily I speak faster than a farmers auctioneer and got twenty minutes crack out of young Francie.
The best thing about that morning for me was the beautiful black retriever dog I got to play with for a few minutes on the way home. The dog of course didn’t realise realised he was the best part of my day. This I like to think is the same for many of us. It’s quite possible we have all been the best part of someone’s day at one point.
And there we have it folks, with every journey in life we will have ups and downs. When we put the effort in to an uphill struggle, always remember, at least we have the spin downhill to enjoy.
Written by Niamh Marron.