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Dublin: 7 °C Monday 9 December, 2019
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In the saddle: no rest for the wicked

The Irish fans on the road to Dunedin are feeling the burn as their charity cycle winds down.

Throughout the Rugby World Cup a group of Irish fans have taken part in the official IRFU Charitable Trust Cycle Tour of New Zealand. Wearing their official jersey - which you can buy here - they’ll criss-cross the country, following the team throughout the tournament. As they face towards the terminal destination of Dunedin, Paul Cahill gets us up to speed.

QUEENSTOWN PRESENTED US with our second rest stop of the trip, providing us two days, three nights, to recharge and recuperate.

However, due to that headwind on the way into Queenstown slowing our pace, our “rest days” started rather frantically, as we arrived into the hotel at half five, allowing us just 30 minutes to clean up and make our way to Pog Mahones to watch the Ireland v Russia game.

We felt up to the challenge of a quick turnaround and five minute walk, though given that we had just cycled 360km in three days, and we made it in time, even managing to fit all 30 of us into an already-crowded pub somehow.

There was a good atmosphere for the match and plenty of Irish around, including members of Queenstown’s transient backpacker community along with those of us who have travelled specifically for the Rugby World Cup.

Needless to say, the result had us all in buoyant form and the town had a festival atmosphere that night, to put it mildly.

The following day we all engaged in a variety of activities and extreme sports that we had signed up for in advance of our arrival, even if our enthusiasm had somewhat waned after the previous night’s exertions.

Among our group we participated in bungy jumping, skydiving, luge, skiing jet boating and even some extreme swimming in the freezing cold lake upon which Queenstown sits.

After our various adventures we all reconvened at another of the local highlights; Fergburger, Queenstown’s finest burger emporium and an establishment whose menu we circumnavigated considerably over the following 48 hours.

On Tuesday there was the option of wine-tasting or being left to your own devices. While a good few of our group braved the wine-tasting – covering 30 kilometres on mountain bikes the day before being back in the saddle, the lunatics – many of us chose the easier option of a lazy day’s rest.

Those of us that did choose the latter option had the pleasure of welcoming the newest member of our touring group to New Zealand; Mick “Gaillimh” Galwey arriving from Ireland via Auckland. The big man looked hungry so, naturally, it was straight to Fergburger for a feed. Needless to say, Mick attracted a fair audience from both passers-by and the many Irish staff in the restaurant as we brought him up-to-date on the trip so far.

He even managed to keep himself upright long enough to take in the Italy v  USA game on the TV (“U.S.A! U.S.A!”), despite clearly suffering from jetlag, before we all got an early night in advance of the final four days cycling to Dunedin and the Italian decider…the same amount of days the Italians have to recover from that aforementioned bruising encounter.

Help out the lads and get your official IRFU Charity Cycle Jersey here>

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Paul Cahill

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