Friday 3 February 2023 Dublin: 12°C
# Rough Ride
In the saddle: tough climbs and tall tales lead the way to Knight's Point
Paul Cahill sends in the latest from the road as the IRFU Charitable Trust Cycle Tour soaks up the sights of South Island.

Throughout the Rugby World Cup, a group of Irish fans will take 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.

Paul Cahill is in the saddle with Friday’s update.

FRIDAY SEES US back in the saddle refreshed after a day of rest and a well-deserved trip to Franz Josef’s hot pools, which helped relieve both our aching muscles and mildly hungover heads.

Cycling these distances is an entirely new experience for most of our group — some don’t even possess a bike back home — so the first three days were a real learning experience for many.

However, today we feel more confident mentally, more conditioned physically and ready for the 145 kilometres to Haast. With the sun shining on stunning New Zealand countryside, we’re ready to roll.

After 10 kilometres to warm us up, we entered into the first of three ascents that measure in or around three kilometres each, which back-to-back feels like a long time climbing.

Ultimately though we are rewarded with exhilarating descents down winding roads, framed by picturesque rainforest, and soon the hard graft is a distant memory, whisked away as the wind whistles by our ears.

Tough climbs and tall tales

Following a much needed coffee break on the far side of these ascents, we set off into 60km of fairly flat road towards lunch.

For the first time on the trip so far we travel as one unit, two people abreast, with the front two changing at regular intervals signalled by our nominated captain (and most experienced cyclist) Dave Moore whistling intermittently. This method makes the kilometres fly by with ease, while the rotation allows you to get to know everyone better.

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It also allows you to make stuff up, tell someone you’re cycling beside, and see how long it takes for it to spread through the group! If one was so inclined…

The 50km after lunch were dispatched at speed, with everyone comfortable with their bikes at this stage and willing to push themselves that bit further.

Two final ascents were tough work after 130km, but the view at the top of Knight’s Point made it all worth while: tree-lined cliffs cascading into a bright blue sea, lit up by glorious sunshine. Not to mention the final descent of the day, the road’s gentle bends rendering the brakes obsolete!

Our guide Andy claimed it was the finest days cycling he’s ever had and, hyperbole or not, it was hard not to believe him.

Read the rest of the team’s updates from the road here >

Expert view: Kidney should have played a completely new team

The Happy Camper: Every cock will crow…

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