JASON Ryan has got to know almost every back road in West Clare in recent months. The Kilrush man, who is a retained fire fighter in the town, has been partaking in four hour early morning training stints as he prepares for a five day, 2,100km (1,350 miles) cycle around Ireland.
The cycle starts at 3pm in Trim on Sunday and is due to last five days. Jason, who is fundraising for the West Clare Cancer Centre in Kilkee and the Clare 250 Cycle, is confident that he is in physical shape to cycle up to 500km daily.
“I’ve been out most mornings, nearly every morning, for the last couple of months. I’ve been clocking up between 80 to 100km at least four mornings a week. When it was brighter I was heading out at 5 or 5.30am but for the last few weeks it has been about 6.30am,” he told The Clare Champion this week.
Once he leaves his Henry Street home, Jason generally heads for Knock village, on towards Kilmurry McMahon before taking in Kilmihil, Cooraclare, Cree, Doonbeg and Kilkee. Then he has his breakfast.
“Some mornings I’d head up into North Clare. On the odd Saturday I do a long spin of up to 150 or 170km. I go on my own because in the cycle I’ll be by myself anyway,” he noted.
He doesn’t spent long preparing for the training spins. Almost as soon as he’s out of bed, he’s on the bike.
“I’d have a bowl of cornflakes, fill up my two bottles and I’m gone. I’d bring a bag on my shoulder with a couple of spare tubes and a pump.”
Eleven cyclists are expected to take part in the gruelling cycle, which takes in Northern Ireland before returning to the Mid-West via Donegal, Sligo and Galway.
“We’re making our way up to the Giants Causeway and then over to Malin Head. We’ll come down into North Clare and down towards Spanish Point and Cree. I got permission and I’m going to take a detour into Kilrush and go back up to Cree. I’m hoping to be in Kilrush on Tuesday evening or Wednesday morning. I’m going to try and average about 500km per day. If I can get to Kilrush by Tuesday evening, I’ll be on target to get in within the five days,” he said.
“It’s a challenge I’ve always wanted to do. I said while I’m doing it, I’d try and raise money for cancer care. “I have set up a page on my charity.ie for anyone who wants to donate to the West Clare Centre.
Also if anyone wants to donate to Clare 250 they can log onto their site and make a donation. It’s something I wanted to do for 10 years or more, cycle around the coast. I was going to do it earlier on in the year but I had a couple of bugs. I saw this event advertised a few years and I said I’d give it a go. I asked herself (Ann) and she said ‘you’re mad but do it.’ I’d say it’ll be a once off,” he laughed.
His support crew will be Patrick Ryan, Robert McMahon, Shane O’Sullivan, Peter ‘The Cat’ Keating and Paudie Cussen. “Peter might lighten things up with some jokes. Mark Bell and Martin Danagher, from the fire brigade, might take over from Kilrush and give the lads a break,” he said. He is confident that if he gets a puncture, he’ll have no problem sorting it out.
“I wouldn’t be as fast as most lads but I’d have it done in less than five minutes,” he said of his puncture repairing technique.
Whatever about the odd flat tyre, Jason is fairly confident that he’ll keep the pedal to the mettle from Sunday afternoon. “Hopefully I’ll be able to manage it,” the genial Kilrush man smiled.