Charity Cycle: Malin Head to Mizen Head - Cutting through Ireland


With 115 miles in the bank, Dom took off from lovely Leitrim and sliced his way through the counties. Google maps is a wonderful invention but it has been known to take us all on a merry dance. On a dream vacation in Hawaii a few years back it took us directly into a rainforest and suggested we park at the bottom of the deep blue sea (for that story - read here). When it dawned on Dom that he was trapped in a slow-set with a goofy google he thought he would try and hoof it through a farmers field for a shortcut. You don't mess with Irish farmers, as Dom found out when the electrified fence he grabbed gave him a shock. Thank god for the padded Madonna style fingerless gloves cyclists wear - not just for roadside Voguing it turns out. 

In the final straits of Day 2, within 15 miles of his destination, Birr county Offaly, Dom got his first flat tire. He replaced it but his second tire burst 5 minutes later. I personally don't know how he fixed the tire in the first place what with another 100 miles under his belt, the electric shock, and those dainty gloves. Every long distance cyclist should know how to repair/replace their tires. Somewhere in the depths of my brain I technically know how to do it, but when I did the century cycle (100 miles) around Lake Tahoe in 2018, I'm going to be honest, my Plan A was going to be the 'Hiya Plan' - wait for a fellow cyclist to swing by and then accost them with a beckoning wave and a loud 'Hiiiiiyaaaa'. I never got a flat tire on that cycle but I did break a spoke and although I didn't enforce my Hiya Plan a young gent did stop and carried my bike to the pitstop for me (he may have been more concerned that I would damage my nice classic bike over concern that I would damage my vintage self).

Google regained favour with Dom by recommending a near by bike repair shop. It turned out to be a chap in a house that had pivoted from top mechanic in a local big town to bike repair dude from his country home. He was so taken with Dom's devilish determination to complete the charity bike ride that he refused payment and insisted the money go to the charity instead, that brought a tear to my eye. Kindness begets kindness.

Can I just take a second to say on top of cycling 100 miles a day Dom is continuing to run every day. I am currently looking into the bottom of my mug of missing tea and thinking 'Am I bothered walking all the way to the kettle to make a second one? Oh, the hassle!' Hey, we've all got our cross to bear. 

I should also assure readers that Dom has his Garmin watch Incident Alert function activated so (God forbid) he hits the skids or has an unscheduled stop I will be automatically contacted with his location as his emergency contact. I have no emergency contact to make me second cups of tea - just sayin.

After 106 miles (172km) Dom put his feet up in Nenagh county Tipperary. 

To add an update on Roisin, the painkillers were upsetting her tummy so she's gone painkiller free the last couple of days and feels Ok. She's definitely brighter in herself and the Fracture Clinic starts tomorrow. She's had her pals and cousins pop by, she has been nicely spoilt and could open a candy store. 

Day 3 will see Dom spinning from county Tipp to Macroom in the rebel county of Cork.

But enough from me, here are his notes from the road....

Mal to Miz reflections

Day 2

The next day started perfectly. The sky was a very un-irish cloudless blue, with zero wind around. Kieron waved me off from Ballinamore, and the next 30 miles were a dream. Wide, Flat roads which had been recently re-tarmaced. Essentially 'free miles' and I quickly got into my stride and started enjoying myself.

By the time I reached the Westmeath border, I'd even had time to appreciate some of the countryside wildlife. Aside from the ubiquitous cows, and regular horses who peer over hedges to see who is coming down their quiet track, I saw plenty of rabbits, a few foxes, and curiously, I noticed flocks of sparrows have a habit of flying alongside the bike for 2 or 300 metres, similar to the way you might get dolphins swimming alongside a boat.

All in all, I was enjoying myself so much, I decided to treat myself at lunch. I spotted the Athlone M6 services just past the halfway mark, and set to it. This is where me and Google maps fell out. I was directed to cross a six lane motorway (using a flyover) to the wrong side, through a private farm to a huge pile of tyres. "Crikey, McDonalds has really gone to the dogs, since COVID", I thought.

At that point, google was suggesting I cut through another two fields, and cross the motorway again (not using a flyover). In my head I thought I must have been missing a track, that google could see but I couldn't, so I actually tried wheeling the bike into the neighbouring field. Clearly I wasn't the first person to try this -the farmer had rigged up an electric fence which threw me onto the ground when I touched it.

Half an hour later, I found my way back to said service station, and got that McDonald's. Over lunch I chatted to a fella from leixlip and his Scandinavian wife. He told me he worked with someone who'd completed a Mal to Miz cycle a few weeks ago. Though he later told me he was working in Mental Health, and it was never clear if that person was a patient or not. Would it take a disturbed mind to try something like this? Or would the relentless miles send you to a bad place. I thought back to the electric fence incident and shuffled on quickly.

15 miles further on, I was cruising again, and even with the M6 detour, it looked like I could make an early finish, when disaster struck. I hit a stone and my back tyre burst. Obviously I have a spare, and I did my best to get that on, but I think in my hurry to get going, I must have pinched the tyre, because 5 miles later it went again.

At this point, I still had 25 miles to go, and even with a detour, I was 10 miles outside of Birr, Co. Offally. Google was telling me there was a bike shop called, "the old forge". I was still scarred by the attempt to get me to walk across a motorway, but at this point had little choice but to trust.

Painfully, I cycled the 10 miles to Birr on a flat tyre. With weight on the back, and riding on potholed back lanes, it made the bike tough to control, and I spent most of the 10 miles standing up.

Eventually, I hit Birr, and made it to the address where the bike shop was meant to be, and found… a row of terraced houses! Dark thoughts surrounded me, and I cursed the directions. How could I be so gullible as to trust them again?!

Then again… with nothing to lose, I knocked on the terrace house door. I figured I at least had a plausible excuse to ask directions. Maybe they could help me call a cab to Nenagh and I could regroup there and figure out a plan.

After a nervous few moments, the door was opened by… Gary, who runs the old forge bicycle service centre from his back garden (

Gary turns out to be the friendliest person you could ever meet. Chatting to me as he fixed the back wheel (and showing me what I did wrong) he told me he used to be the head mechanic at a place in Athlone, and although he runs an artisan dairy now, get could never quite give up bikes, so he does this as a hobby.

Gary had me up and running in no time, and suggested I fill up my water bottles from his kitchen. He refused to take payment for the tube and labour, and told me to donate it as sponsorship money instead. Like I said, the nicest person you could meet. He told me he also had a 7 year old who he took on 25-30 mile rides -maybe Rousin could start a club with them.

Speaking of cycling clubs. As Gary waved me off, a dutch guy passed me on his bike, fell into my stride, and got chatting to me. He told me Gary was actually the president of the local club, and a bit of a local hero. Pierre said he had 4 bikes (like any self respecting person from the Netherlands), and had done Mal to Miz 4 times.

He showed me the quickest way to the road to Nenagh, and directions from there on. He waved me off with good luck and told me to drop in on the club if I ever made it back to Birr.

Buoyed on by the compassion and comradeship, the last 25 miles to Nenagh flew by. Despite them being at the end of back to back centuries, I clocked some of the rides fastest times. Reaching Nenagh was sweet relief, although I noticed I am (a) severely sunburnt and (b) have a horrible pain in my big toes from pushing the pedals. Let's see how that goes… 150 miles to go.