Biting Back: Giro d'Italia may have missed a trick
Can't help thinking that the visiting ever since Saturday. I was in south Derry, at the invitation of another scrawler and his Free Associates of cycling. The aim was pretty simple – five climbs to be completed, without a cleat touching the ground.
The first was Coolnasillagh, a hill I have paid my dues to a few months ago when I came off the bike.
Only five miles in, the legs weren't warm enough to complete without taking some temporary respite after having clocked my heart rate at over 190 bpm for over five minutes.
The middle one was Benbradagh mountain. At 1,526 foot tall, it has a 30% incline, steeper than anything at the Tour de France this year. Like a noble horse refusing a fence, I hopped into the broom wagon for that one. Gotta choose your battles.
The Brown Knowes and The Birren were surmounted with ease, and dare I say it, a little class. But the final ascent loomed out of Derry like a transplanted Uluru; Slieve Gallion.
It's basically 40 minutes of suffering and lactic acid, with a biblical shower soaking us to the skin.
Afterwards as we basked in the endorphin rush and watched the final throes of the All-Ireland semi-final in Limerick, a friend texted me: 'Some game that lad.'
I texted back, telling him about what kind of heroics I had put myself through.
His reply came instantly: 'Wimp. Try hauling 600 bags of turf from Brockagh Bog in Tempo!'
Two things; 1) A farmer will always top your tale of hardship. 2) Wouldn't that be some climax to the Giro next year?