Mick Byrne (200km) Randonee

By Alan Donoghue

It’s taken me a week of therapy before I could write this! The Mick Byrne 200! Besides Hell, what is it? Well, it’s apparently the hardest 200 sportive on the calendar. The route profile looks like a cardiograph. It’s basically the Wicklow 200 without any flat bits. You either are going up or you are going down. It’s 100k of ascending and 100k of descending! A stroke of genius by evil route planners.

Who are these planners? Sorrento cycling club and in particular Paul O’Donoghue. I can’t say enough good about Paul’s events! An absolute gentleman, unbelievable cyclist and master organiser. He runs a lot of the Paris Brest Paris audax qualifier events. Fantastic routes, well marked and great food. Really good days out with my favourite being the Ardattin 200.

So who does it? Well self haters I imagined! You know the type! People who like to cycle through the night! Bobby Newport for example! Nope! Not just self haters but it’s real men I later discovered!

I signed on last year but wussed out the week before. This year I was going to rescue my male bits from my wife’s handbag and do it! I was going to attach them and stand up with pride like a man! Ok a very small man, dressed in lycra much like a Mexican wrestling midget but inside I was going to be manly!

My appendage and I signed on and hit the road! Oh no! Hills yes but wind, oh my God! Another day in gale force headwind! Now when you weigh less than a feather wind is not your friend. Couple that with deep section rims and you have a human kite. 80% of my energy went into remaining stationary, 20% went into whinging and moaning. By 50k I wanted to hand back my male appendage! It wasn’t big enough anyway to anchor me down.

I hooked up with 2 very nice gentlemen (both who were training for the race around Ireland for the 2nd time. 2,500k relay race in 4 days. That makes Bobby look sane!) Like a gift from God there on the road was a sign for the 100k route! If I was on my own, would I have got down on my knees and kissed the yellow painted sign? Probably!

Over Sally Gap and home! How hard can that be? Well nobody told Sally Gap that Winter was over. Gale force wind and driving ice rain. The only good thing about the rain was that my new friends couldn’t see me crying. Awful! Just awful! As I said before sportive torture is just to get away from the wife but I didn’t marry Kathy Bates!!!! My wife is quite nice!

So did I still feel manly? Eh No! Straight home and handed back my bits to my wife! I later leaned that one of the entrants had just finished the 400k in Cork with Bobby the night before. His sister drove him to Dublin where he slept in the car and then did the 200! See, a real man!!!!!

It really is a great event despite my moaning and very well organised. Just a pity about Irish weather!

So next year we will try again!