Cyclists pedal 1,949km to Poland14/06/2012 - 13:39:25
After 1,949km, sore knees, backsides and heads, nine men have made it to Euro2012 on bikes.
The intrepid Pedal to Poland fundraising cyclists arrived on the Baltic coast last night and cycled into Gdansk today a little worse for wear after toasting their success.
The group have raised about half their €50,000 target through online donations.
Matthew Boyd, the instigator with dodgy, arthritic knees, shook as he stepped off his racer outside the city hall.
“It started off as an idea in the pub, Fallon’s in the Coombe in Dublin. We knew the team were going to Poland and I said sure we can cycle it,” he said.
“The initial thought was on the second pint and by six pints we were signed up. We wanted to get 11 on the team but we could only get nine.”
There was one serious incident last week when one of the group clipped the back wheel of another and brought down five men – a lack of concentration, according to his injured pals.
Luckily they suffered nothing more serious than grazed knees while claims that army medic Gavin Hanley suffered a hairline fracture to an elbow were shot down by other team members.
“He was doing one arm press ups last night,” Shane Nestor said.
The team all described the close living arrangements as the single worst experience of the trip.
“Sleeping at night with the mosquitoes and these fellas. Some of the snoring was just deplorable,” Mr Nestor said.
“When men have been together for a long time they do some terrible things. Some of the war movies come to mind, think of 'Platoon', 'Full Metal Jacket'.
“Advances being made in the middle of the night, that kind of thing. Most fellas are naked going to bed and then they move.”
The team also included Mr Reliable Conn McCluskey, Stephen McArdle, Football Association of Ireland official Darren Carey, brothers Ross and Gareth Mumbley and the elder statesman Declan Arthur.
Mr McArdle, a teacher who wanted to complete the journey to promote the Headstrong charity, said that despite their epic adventure and all the publicity they were still three tickets short for the match against Spain.
“If there’s anyone out there with tickets we could do with them,” he said.
Army man Hanley said the worst day’s travelling was coming through Holland in the early stages.
“The weather was very bad and we had to stop. One of the lads was blown off the bike and the other boys were being pushed all over the road. It was too dangerous,” he said.
The group left Ireland two weeks travelling via Wales, England, Holland, Germany and into Poland.
One of the team suffered badly swollen knees after fluid started to gather while the only other visible mementos of the epic journey were scabs on legs and arms and weather beaten cheeks.
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