At 8.28am only a couple of Pleasure cyclists had gathered at the Mill, but by 8.35am 14 had arrived. The team had a good mix of raw recruits and old hands, the raw recruits displaying a mix of nerves and enthusiasm as they attempted to reach the 2nd rung of the ladder towards their goal of a tough 100 miles; while the old hands provided the support and encouragement.
A sure sign that spring had arrived was two of the team turning up in shorts. Grown men shaving their legs under any circumstances is an unnatural act, but to have shaven legs and a smooth tan on a Pleasure Team run, gives cause for concern.
At 8.40am the team rolled out. Damien Bell, Malachy Nixon, Mark Cullen, Brian McAllister and a few others all working nicely together setting an even tempo as we passed through Pomeroy, Sixmilecross and into Beragh. The whole team just seemed to click and work naturally together; easing back on the hills and taking a few seconds to regroup at junctions. The result was that we stayed as a tight group the whole way to Omagh, and pulled in at the shop in Killyclogher.
At Killyclogher a variety of culinary delights from sausage rolls to chicken wraps were sampled. During this rest period a group photograph was organised, but proceedings were somewhat delayed as 2 unnamed new recruits had to ‘fix their hair’.
Refreshed, we headed on, out past the Dun Uladh Center and on towards Carrickmore. By now the new recruits were beginning to feel the miles and the pace. While the Master attempted to keep some control at the front, Martin Talbot dropped back to the rear and did an excellent job at marshalling the team.
From Pomeroy on the road became a little easier and the new recruits got a chance to recover. As we neared home, two of the new recruits Colm O Hagan and Patricia McKeown started to force their way to the head of the team, showing that they, like the rest of the new recruits were now well and truly on the second rung of the ladder.
We reached base exactly 4 hours after leaving it, and this included a 30 minute stop. The Pleasure Team’s next run is another base training run of 35-40 miles before attempting the 3rd rung of the ladder which will be an 80 mile circuit of Lough Neagh: a landmark cycle for any cyclist in this area.