We did it!!!

Posted: January 15, 2013 in Uncategorized

Since 2007, Pole Position Travel.com has been hosting an auction of motorcycling memorabilia in aid of Down Syndrome Ireland at the Valencia round of Moto GP, raising thousands of Euro in the process. As my daughter Robyn was born in 2005 with the condition, I have attended every year to lend my support. Last year, whilst having a beer at the auction, and with a microphone in my hand (never a good mix), I foolishly suggested I might ride down to the event in 2012. Waking up the next morning with a slightly less than perfect demeanour, it begun to dawn on me that maybe looking at a map or something might have been a good idea before I decided to volunteer myself for the challenge as for a start ferry times are much different in winter time not to mention that it gets dark rather early in the latter months of the year!

Once home, my good pal Alan McCaffrey got wind of what I had set myself up for and duly volunteered (much to my amazement) to join me on my one man crusade. The trip fast became something akin to ‘Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure’ as we decided it would be cool to ride from Valentia Island in Kerry to Valencia as it tripped off the tongue so easily and lent itself so well to a poster campaign. No sooner had we mentioned it online than my brother in law Stuart Carrick joined the crew, closely followed by ex-racer AJ Hutchinson. Word started to spread quickly and next to volunteer was Guy Robbins from http://www.yourshortfilm.com who wanted to film the challenge and so our merry band was now five, a figure I was quite happy with as it was still manageable. Within days I received a message through Facebook from racer Paul ‘Toby’ Tobin volunteering his services and his car as a back-up vehicle. Now whilst I knew our challenge was no ‘Long Way Down’, I did see the merits in being able to carry spare kit in the car so took Toby up on his offer but within a day he had a ‘co-pilot’ when another friend, Eoin Gorman asked if he too could come and help in the car. This was all taking place over the summer, and whilst having a family break in Cork, I received a call from a chap by the name of Conor O’Leary wondering if he and three friends (Tadhg Barry, Tony O’Connell and Mark Nugent), all from Cork, could join in. As with all of the others, I told Conor that this wasn’t going to be an easy undertaking, with long days in the saddle and no time for sightseeing and that every participant must cover their own costs as well as fundraising for DSI, but in typical ‘rebel’ form, the tougher I made it sound the more they wanted in. Thus what went from a ‘Lonesome Dove’ to the ‘Magnificent Seven’ was now Ireland’s answer to ‘Ocean’s Eleven’!

Day 1: The first day got off to a 6am start as I picked up Eoin, Toby, Conor and Tadhg from a hotel close to my home to escort them to DSI’s offices for a send-off. I had asked for the DSI office to be opened for us, which was no problem, but what I had neglected to ask was for the main (electronically operated) door to be opened, so we had a great chat in the car park for half an hour whilst waiting on the timer to kick in!

I had stored some auction items in the office as well as some essentials like first-aid and breakdown kits so once loaded, and after a quick photo call with DSI President Clare Leonard and CEO Pat Clarke, we were finally underway as the lads took great delight in slating ‘Mr Organised’.

From the get go we knew we were against the clock so it was the straightest and quickest route to Valentia Island. We stopped off for a hearty lunch in the Bridge Bar in Portmagee (which my little sister Yvonne generously paid for: thanks sis) before crossing the bridge to the Island itself for a photo to prove we were actually there, although it was hard to see us in the mist and rain!

On the way down to Valentia we had gotten caught up at numerous road works as Kerry County Council were rightly using the off season to repair the roads, as such, Tadhg suggested we use a short cut over the mountains that he knew. Tony had subsequently joined us on his immaculate Kawasaki ZZR1400 and I am quite sure he had a look of panic on his face at Tadhg’s suggestion but unperturbed we took off in pursuit of Tadhg and his ‘magical mono-wheeling’ BMW R1200GS (“it was the clutch slipping officer”).

BMW Motorrad Ireland had kindly agreed to loan Alan, Stuart and I three R1200RT’s which they and I agreed would be perfect for the trip, that is perfect for the routes I had meticulously plotted but far from perfect for the ‘roads’ that our guide had decided to take. Apparently in Kerry asphalt is brown and should have a foot of grass growing through the centre of it and every corner should have tractor diesel and gravel on it to make it more ‘interesting’. I lost count of the amount of slides I had but I genuinely felt sorry for AJ on his borrowed Honda Blackbird and Tony on his aforementioned ZZR, definitely not roads to have a surplus of horsepower on. Thankfully, and a tad luckily, we all made it to the other side unscathed before we skirted Cork City en route to Rosslare after meeting our last member, Mark, in Dungarvan.

After 750km we pulled onto Irish Ferries’ ship the Oscar Wilde where once the bikes were tied down and our bags dumped in our cabins, it was straight to the bar for a beer or three to tell some lies about how great we thought Tadhg’s short cut really was!

Day two: None of us went ‘too’ nuts in the bar the previous evening so most of the gang appeared relatively early for breakfast and afterwards, with nothing else to do to kill time, competitions were held in the ships video game arcade, suffice to say never have an argument with Stuie when he is holding a 12 gauge!

Irish Ferries were kindly supporting the challenge, and as such Captain Stephen McCraith summoned us to the bridge for a guided tour. Stephen told us that the Oscar Wilde is 27 years old or so and that much of its technology is outdated but to us lot it was like the flight deck of the space shuttle with more buttons and screens than you could shake a stick at, we even had a pod of dolphins skipping along in front of the bow, brave dolphins, especially when they let Alan take the helm!

After our tour of the bridge it was back below decks to get some lunch and to get the bikes ready for disembarkation at 5pm. Irish Ferries had yet again extended their support to us in giving us priority disembarkation, allowing us to be first off the ship and thus not getting caught up behind the gaggle of articulated lorries on-board. This was going to be vital as we had to be in our hotel before midnight which was some 570km away in Niort.

The run to Niort was pretty uneventful with the exception of some French speed camera’s flashing us a welcome, again I am blaming Tadhg for this one, and we arrived at our lodgings at 10pm. I’d love to say we got a warm welcome from the staff but it seemed they didn’t share our enthusiasm for daft challenges in the middle of winter, nor did they appreciate Mark’s beautiful Yoshimura exhausts on his pristine ZZR1400, can’t quite understand why myself. Anyhow, after a glass or two of one of Belgium’s finer beers (Leffe) it was off to bed with another 7am departure beckoning.

Day 3: This was always going to be the ‘killer’ day with approximately 1,100km to cover before 7pm but still I wanted to throw my phone through a window when the 6am alarm went off after what seemed like an hours sleep. Thankfully we were greeted at breakfast by a pleasant manageress……not! Not sure what the deal was with the staff in this particular hotel but they had very obviously skipped the class on customer service, this ‘lady’ very nearly soured my cornflakes!

Once on the road, the group soon settled into a good steady rhythm and speed, not the easiest thing with nine bikes, and we made great progress until we neared Bordeaux and discovered that the French councils had decided that November was a great time to dig up all their roads, just like their Kerry cousins.

After a quick fuel stop to top up the bikes and to grab a quick sandwich, Tadhg, Conor, Tony and Mark told the rest of the crew to press on as they needed a bit more time to digest their food due to them being much more ‘mature’ than the rest of us.Time was always going to be an issue on this leg of the challenge, so all stops were literally going to be of the ‘splash and dash’ variety, but we did agree to stop on or near the Spanish border to take a photo. As such we pulled into a layby on top of a mountain to get some shots verlooking the valleys linking Spain and France. The ‘stragglers’ obviously forgot about our arrangement and no sooner were we stopped than I could hear the rumble of their bikes coming through a tunnel beside us as they passed us, unbeknownst to them, at a fair rate of knots!

The roads just after Irun to the outskirts of San Sebastian may be dual carriageways but as they are carved through the foothills of the Pyrenees’s and the Cordillera Cantábrica mountain range, every few kilometres has you riding through ever longer tunnels, not to mention the elevation and camber changes, amount of turns or the fantastic road surface! To say that we had a ball on this section would be a gross understatement, and even though my poor RT was heavily loaded with hard panniers, top box and a tank bag loaded to the max, she positively purred (can a ‘Twin’ purr?) while my grin just got bigger and bigger.

Passing San Sebastian we swung south towards Pamplona and onwards to Zaragoza where my GPS decided it needed to see the sights of the town instead of taking the ring road around the city. I am afraid to report that the GPS was to be disappointed, as whilst the part of the city down by the river is stunning and ‘old world’, the part we saw looked like something left over from the Soviet Bloc!

Back on the correct road, we continued south through the ‘Sistema Ibérico’ mountain range that follows the mighty river Ebro almost to the Mediterranean Sea, climbing to over 1,200mtr where we rode through some clouds. As I was admiring the stunning views I noticed a hazard light flashing on the dash of the RT, unfortunately it was the tyre pressure warning light telling me I was losing pressure from my rear Bridgestone so I signalled to the rest that I was pulling in. On closer inspection I found a nail that quite literally could have been used in a crucifixion due to the length of it and I was quite thankful for the tyre pressure warning system on the bike as I dread to think what may have happened had it torn the sidewall, especially with the weight attached to the bike (not mine cheeky!).

I had packed a puncture kit on the bike so had the offending article removed and the tyre repaired in no time and as Stuie was carrying a portable compressor (that he nearly knew how to use! what is it with men not reading instruction booklets?) we were soon back underway, albeit after checking the pressures in a garage a little further on. With full tanks, and my repair holding up nicely, we pressed on towards Valencia, dreaming of a well-deserved beer.

Darkness fell with a little over 100km to cover which wasn’t ideal when entering a city the size of Valencia, in Friday rush hour traffic, but thankfully my GPS decided to behave and but for some lunatic on a scooter riding at 10kph in the middle lane of the motorway, the journey to our hotel was uneventful. As we pulled up at the Ibis Hotel (our base for the weekend), two of our friends from back home, Joe and Alan were waiting for us with very large, and very welcome, beers in their hands (we have since asked for them to be beatified).

That evening we all attended Pole Position Travel’s annual auction where GP rider James Ellison and Ryan Farquhar of road racing fame were two of the speakers (I say speakers but Ryan seemed to struggle to speak, must have been the jet lag). Thanks to the generosity of the gathered crowd over €13,000 was raised for DSI & Riders for Health as people bought, amongst other items, signed helmets from Valentino Rossi (cheers Bridgestone & AGV Ireland), Guy Martin (which Mr Farquhar ‘signed’ also), Niall Mackenzie, a fabulous signed and framed Marco Simoncelli poster and signed road racing photo books from well known photographers Derek Clegg and Derek Wilson.

After covering in excess of 1,100km, the sensible and obvious thing to do was to have an early night…but we didn’t! Instead we ended up having one of the funniest nights of my life that involved the Spanish branch of the Freddie Mercury appreciation society, far too many beers and a lost pair of shoes, unfortunately I can’t divulge any more info as ‘what goes on tour…..’

Day 4: We all decided to sleep late rather than attend qualifying for the Moto GP and instead took the short taxi ride in to the centre of town to grab some lunch. Due to the tight schedule of the trip down to Valencia we had neglected our need for photos and video so after lunch we mounted up once more and headed for the harbour which is actually part of the F1 circuit. As is normal when you produce a camera of any sort and a bunch of motorcyclists, one or two decided to show off their party pieces, needless to say, these won’t make the final cut but the locals seemed to appreciate ‘their’ efforts.

A steak dinner was the order of the day (night) and we hooked up with Eoin, Toby and the rest of the crew for dinner in the town, a dinner made all the funnier by the fact that the aforementioned ‘Dynamic Duo’ were a tad inebriated after watching a rugby match in an Irish Bar. Toby delighted us with tales of the famous (in Cork) Irish sprinter ‘Eugene Bolt’ whilst recanting every single ‘Sminky Shorts’ animation made to date (check out Youtube if you haven’t heard of them). After dinner ‘most’ of us headed back to the hotel for a nightcap so we would be relatively fresh for the Moto GP.

Day 5: As I said in the previous paragraph, ‘most’ of us had an early-ish night, however three of our crack commando’s had stayed ‘on-duty’ all night and arrived for the 7am coach departure looking more than a tad dishevelled. Credit to them, they made the coach, whereas in similar circumstances I think screaming race bikes would be the last thing I would want to listen to but they soldiered on manfully.

Eoin learned two very valuable lessons at the circuit that morning, number one being that when I tell you it’s a ‘dry circuit’ even the beer that is on sale is alcohol free, and two ringing your girlfriend at 6am Irish time is never a good idea.

You already know the results of the races so I won’t bore you by rehashing them but suffice to say that we are all looking forward to Marc Marquez bruising egos, and fairings, in the Moto GP class next season.

The rain that had threatened all day at the races finally arrived that evening so we grabbed some taxi’s and asked them to bring us to a good steak restaurant. Unfortunately for them the one they had told us was ‘fantastico’ was also ‘very’ closed, so after a brief confab amongst themselves, they dropped us outside another premises that at least had lights on, a good start we thought! Unfortunately whilst the restaurant lights were on, it would seem that the waiters’ lights weren’t and what followed was like a scene from the outtakes of Fawlty Towers with more than one ‘Manuel’. Main courses arrived before starters and steaks that were ordered well done arrived looking like a good vet could revive them, but it all added to the ‘craic’ and a great night was had by all, even if some went home hungry.

Just as the evening drew to a close, and it looked like the fun was coming to an end, myself and three of the crew hopped in a taxi that was driven by a gent from Nicaragua who tried to convince us that he was in fact related to Fernando Alonso, or at least was worthy of a drive in F1! Spanish roads are notoriously slippy in the wet but this seemed to spur our driver on to even greater feats of lunacy as he spun up the wheels and slid the car around the near gridlocked Sunday night traffic, needless to say the only tip he got from us was to get some counselling (at least I think that’s what Eoin said to him).

Day 6: This was to be day three reversed with the same mileage but the four Cork lads opted for a later start with a view to overnighting in Bordeaux. The remainder opted for the butt numbing 1,100km ride to Niort, or further if we could do it. Our cause wasn’t helped when a combination of my GPS having a hangover and my (legendary) short fuse saw us making a wee detour in the direction of Madrid! Cometh the hour, cometh the man, and Alan stepped up to steer us back on route, saving my GPS from a watery and premature grave in a Spanish ditch (strangely both Alan’s and my GPS’s were identical and I programmed both, go figure!).

In no time at all we found ourselves once more climbing back into the mountains as we edged northwards towards San Sebastien and eventually La Belle France. I hadn’t actually realised just how mountainous Spain is, apparently it is Europe’s second most mountainous country with Switzerland being the first. As the roads climbed ever higher, the temperatures noticeably dropped sharply to an indicated 4˚, but with strong winds blowing across the now snow-capped peaks, it felt much nearer to freezing, especially as Captain Clumsy here had neglected to close the vents on my Street Guard Three suit and had packed my heated vest in my top box which now adorned Stuie’s bike as we strived to protect my repaired rear tyre. Needless to say I froze my proverbial’s off until we reached our first fuel stop some 250km further up the road (because my pigheadedness meant I wouldn’t pull over and admit my stupidity) but the vastness of the mountains and the barrenness of the land in the centre of the Iberian Peninsula kept me focused, as did the buzzards and birds of prey that circled effortlessly overhead on the thermals, seemingly waiting on the temperatures to bring about my demise!

After the fuel stop, and after I had grabbed my Inox heated vest from the top box and closed all the vents on my suit, we pushed on to the historic town of Pamplona for lunch. Pamplona is of course famous for the ‘Running of the Bulls’ so it seemed fitting that we stopped at Alan’s favourite Scottish Restaurant for some beef….McDonald’s, classy or what! In fairness, the Golden Arches menu was infinitely more palatable than the ‘fare’ served at Spanish petrol stations/rest stops that could best be described as freeze dried road kill……with cheese!

Toby and Eoin meanwhile, having not had me as their navigator, had made great time in the car, were actually ahead of the bikes and had a leisurely (two hour) lunch in San Sebastian. Eoin being a man of the world told Toby that he would handle the ordering in his finest Dunshaughlin Spanish. Having told poor Toby that he had ordered a veritable gastronomic feast for them, two fried eggs on toast duly appeared, his awesomeness knows no bounds it would seem and apparently David Attenborough is recruiting him for his next sub-saharan adventure!

After lunch we continued on, crossing back into France and pushing on towards Bordeaux where we came across the road works that had slowed us on the way to Valencia. The traffic God’s still had an ace to play however, and we soon came upon what proved to be a 20km tailback as two articulated trucks had decided to play dodgems with one ending on its side whilst the other climbed an embankment before flattening half a forest, and they say the French are environmentalists! Credit to the other truck drivers, rather than block the two lanes of the already gridlocked motorway, they all pulled in in unison to allow the traffic to flow, couldn’t see that happening on the M50!

Darkness descended once more as we filtered through the traffic on the ring road surrounding Bordeaux and with tiredness creeping up on all riders, and with the car having caught up with us, we chose to stop over once more in Niort, in the same hotel as previously, we never learn it seems. “Grumpy” greeted us once more upon arrival, with all the charm of a death row warden but we ignored her winning personality and headed for the steak house next door, it seems in France “absence doesn’t make the heart grow fonder”.

The steakhouse was actually Wild West themed and it was quite amusing to be served by a French speaking cowboy, it felt a tad surreal, kind of like a badly dubbed Spaghetti Western, but with Eoin and Toby once more holding court, the laughs made up for any short comings. The food was good though and was further improved by the pitchers of Kronenbourg 1664 that quenched the thirst of our road weary travellers who longed for their beds back in France’s equivalent to Alcatraz.

Day 7: After checking that the ‘Rebel County’ contingent had made their base in Bordeaux and were safe and well (they stayed in a posh Chateau whilst we broke rocks in our penitentiary), we gathered ourselves together and headed for Ouistreham on the north coast of France.

The whole idea of doing the big mileage the previous day was so we could visit some of the places made famous by the D-Day landings in June 1944. Having visited them before with my family, I wanted to show the lads ‘Pegasus Bridge’, the scene of the first allied landings almost 70 years ago and of course immortalised in the movie ‘The Longest Day’. Pushed for time, we rode along the coast through tiny inconspicuous villages that overlook the now famous beaches of ‘Gold’, ‘Sword’, ‘Juno’, ‘Utah’ and ‘Omaha’ en route to the American cemetery overlooking ‘Omaha’ beach at Colleville-sur-Mer.

The last time I tried to visit the cemetery I arrived just as the gates closed but on this occasion we arrived with an hour to spare, but in truth we could have done with a full day. Words cannot describe the feelings that come over you when you walk into the cemetery and see lines and lines of white crosses (and Stars of David) in immaculately laid out lines as far as the eye can see, many of which have written on them ‘A comrade in arms, known but to God’, especially after walking through the museum which features massive cinema style screens showing footage of the landings. The tour is made more poignant by a monotone voice calling out the names of all the fallen as you make your way through the various displays. I don’t do politics, so you won’t hear me debating the folly of war, but to be unmoved by such a sight is to be inhuman in my opinion. There were seven very quiet and thoughtful lads leaving the memorial as we headed back to the bikes as darkness once more started to envelope the Cotentin Peninsula, quite apt I felt considering our surroundings.

All that was left to do was to head for Cherbourg to meet up with the “Four Amigo’s” before once again boarding the Oscar Wilde for the journey home. At this point my body finally called time on me and delivered a migraine that would fell a charging rhino, so after a bite to eat I took to my bed about 11pm, the rest of the lads upheld our honour however and kept the bar staff company for the ‘evening’, proper troopers!

The run from Rosslare was boring to say the least (although I did still manage to take one wrong turn), but we were all glad to get home to our families in one piece and to finally park the bikes up. When all funds are in we will have raised in the region of €20,000 for DSI with not a single cent of cost on the organisation as even the design and print of our posters was done FOC (thanks Derek in Resolve Design and Carl in Tr3bble Print). I must thank our very generous sponsors and supporters, BMW Motorrad Ireland, Irish Ferries, Vanfleet Transport Ltd (VTL), The Jellybean Factory, Pole Position Travel.com, Kennedy Orthopaedic, Joe Duffy BMW, Keary’s BMW, Lynch Medical Supplies Ltd, MG Healthcare, Wheelworx, Axis Group, The Signlab, O’Mara Medical Supplies, Adelaide Insurance and Red Bull, without whom we would not have raised so much badly needed funds for DSI and of course to the general public for their on-going support.

I must also thank the V2V4DSI crew who took part: (in no particular order) Paul ‘Frank the tank’ Tobin, Eoin ‘Free wi-fi’ Gorman, Tony ‘Sminky’ O’Connell, Stuie ‘Disco’ Carrick, Alan ‘I don’t do mornings’ McCaffrey, Conor ‘Cheese’ O’Leary, AJ ‘The Hutch’ Hutchinson, Mark ‘Yuuup’ Nugent’, Guy ‘Token Brit’ Robbins and Tadhg ‘Mono wheel’ Barry, a better bunch of lunatics one could not hope to meet, I have never laughed so much in my life as I did over the course of our wee adventure!

We have plans to do a similar challenge in 2013 although first we have the small matter of http://www.revup4dsi.ie in May, but foreign shores are beckoning once more so watch this space.

Aidan.

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So with just over two weeks until the mega trip from Valentia Island to Valencia, and with the crew confirmed, I decided (Aidan told me to) to write a wee ‘who’s who’ about the various characters taking part. It also gave us a chance to find out a bit about each other, as some of us have never met, never mind ridden in a convoy together! So to give us some peace of mind as to who’ll be sharing this huge task, a few basic questions were put to each of the participants.

 

Aidan Lynam was the one who came up with this bright (???) idea; He is the proud father of daughter Robyn who has Down syndrome, and he has been working with Down Syndrome Ireland since 2006. He has been riding bikes since the dawn of time (he’s as old as the dinosaurs and apparently Fred Flintstone was his crew-chief) and is also a test rider for a number of Irish motorbike magazines. Despite having been on numerous European test rides, this is the first time Aidan has travelled on a trip like V2V on the continent. In his own words he has “scared myself silly on a lot of European race tracks and met God on the side of a hill in Ronda once too”. Let’s hope he leaves his faith at home the week we’re away from the green isle, I’m sure the BMW R1200RT will see him good on the 8 day adventure. When asked what he’s most looking forward to his answer was one that you’ll hear a lot in this article “The craic on the road”. Aidan is a seasoned- traveller to the circuit of Valencia, as DSI and Pole Position Travel work together to raise funds for the charity at this Moto GP event every year as well as helping to organise Rev-up4DSI every year, not to mention the thousands of kilometres he racks up every year on home shores.

 

The first of our Cork contingent is Mark Nugent. Mark came back to the world of two-wheels 5 years ago and with 6 bikes in the past 5 years, he’s changed bikes more times than Aidan has had hair styles! He’ll be one of two riding a Kawasaki ZZR1400 on this trip and has plenty of European mileage under his belt in the past 4 years. He’s travelled abroad to countries such as Germany, Switzerland, Austria and Scotland and hopes to tour Italy next year. While Mark has no ties to Down Syndrome Ireland, he’s no stranger to charity work and has raised funds for a Cork based charity by the name of The Cope Foundation.  Mark has never been to a Motogp before and with the help of 30 other Irish bike crazed fans who we’ll be meeting at the event, he’s sure to enjoy the experience.

 Next up we have one of the racer’s of the group, none other than AJ Hutchinson. While time might be against us on the trip let’s hope AJ takes notice of the speed limits and doesn’t think he’s in a race. AJ will not be riding his beloved Kawasaki ZX10R on the trip mainly due to its fuel range; instead he will have the use of a Honda Blackbird, loaned by a very good (and trusting) friend. With many years on the Irish racing scene onboard a Triumph 675 and Suzuki GSXR1000, he has also dabbled in the UK scene, competing for a year in the Triumph 675 Cup. We’re sure AJ can mix up his experience on the race track with the FIM Rallies he’s done in such countries as Spain, Holland and Germany. AJ has always been a friend of the biking community that is associated with DSI and has carried DSI stickers on his racing bikes to help raise awareness for the charity. He too is looking forward to the laughter and slagging between amongst the group but is also hoping to pick up some helpful racing tips from Spanish rider Jorge Lorenzo and co as he watches them in the flesh for the first time.

Paul ‘Toby’ Tobin is the first of the backup crew on the trip and will not be on two wheels, instead choosing the comfort of four, even if at this point he doesn’t know what wheels he’ll be driving. Paul is well known on the Irish racing scene, as he competes in the Irish Mini Twin class on his Kawasaki ER6, taking 3rd place in the Southern Centre Championship this year. Even though he has no road wheels at the moment, Paul does have plenty of experience on European roads having travelled to many Moto GP rounds, some as far back as 2005 when he travelled to Barcelona. He does have a horrid story from one of his trips but that should be held until we’re on the ferry back to touch down on Irish soil as we wouldn’t want to tempt faith! Paul will have to leave his wife and 6 year old son Scott behind, but we’re sure it won’t be too long before the bike crazy young man is following Dad to the European race tracks.

Guy Robbins will be our camera man for the 8 days and we reckon he’ll soon regret the day two years ago when at the Irish Motorbike Show in the RDS he told Aidan he’d love to help out with Rev-up 4 DSI (DSI’s annual Ireland based motorcycle challenge). As we all know Aidan is never one to refuse support when it comes to DSI. Guy will be doing his best to impersonate two other fellow BMW riders (Mr Ewan McGregor and Mr Charley Boorman) when he takes his GS1200 on the road trip. When asked about previous foreign riding experience, he had to be told that Ireland didn’t count as ‘foreign riding’ (he’s our token English contingent!). He did however once go round the coast of Scotland on a Vespa…. one wonders why? Guy is most looking forward to Sun and Sangria which comes as a surprise as it’s a road trip in November and the 7 am starts might not go well with the Sangria’s… oh well, to each his own!! Guy has been to the Moto GP in Estoril earlier this year, he tells us it was a stag party and is all a bit of a blur. We’re starting to see a recurring theme here Guy?!

Next up is Tony O’Connell from, in his own words, the ‘Peoples Republic of Cork’. Tony is on the second of the ZZR1400’s. There must be something in the water down in Cork to allow these fella’s time away from wives, partners etc, as Tony also has plenty of European miles under his belt. Only last year he spent time with pals travelling through France, Spain and Portugal on his trusty Yamaha FJ, once again on behalf of The Cope Foundation, giving the rest of us an understanding that these blokes are good at heart. Let’s hope the wholesale seafood businessman doesn’t acquaint himself too well during his first Moto GP trip with me (Stuart) as I don’t react too well to seafood! (No kidding! Aidan)

Alan McCaffrey aka “Kaos”- let’s hope that chaos doesn’t follow him on this trip. Alan will be riding one of the 3 BMW R1200RT’s kindly loaned for the trip by BMW Motorrad and not his day to day bike, which is a 2004 Kawasaki  ZX10R (he claims the original and best ZX10R). Alan is well accustomed to the RT as he has done many a fundraising event with Aidan in aid of Down Syndrome Ireland including the Tour de Munster and the NUI Maynooth Galway Cycle this year. Alan’s claim to fame was in 2008 when he was part of the Irish team to win the Cannonball Bike Run in Morocco. We hope he doesn’t look to reacquaint himself with Morocco and remembers to stop at Valencia this time. Alan’s ties with Down Syndrome Ireland are quiet strong as he has an aunt and a cousin who both have Down syndrome, this explains why he donates such a large amount of time and energy to the cause as It must be hard dealing with Aidan on a day to day basis!

Conor O’Leary is the third of the Cork contingent travelling on two wheels to Valencia. Conor will be on his Honda Crosstourer and is no stranger to travelling on the roads of Europe as he too has taken part in the Cope Foundation yearly trip. Conor works as a stone mason and headstone maker and is a real biker at heart, carving up huge mileage throughout the year, usually over forty thousand kilometres. This trip shouldn’t make him break into a sweat, although he too is well aware of the challenge of the thousand plus kilometres that Friday and Monday have in store for the group. When not travelling huge distances in Europe, the Cork man likes to keep his biking skills refined by going out with the BMW Groups on Tuesday nights from one of the V2V sponsors premises, Keary’s BMW Motorrad in Cork. Conor is the third of our Moto GP virgins and is sure to enjoy the circuit which allows you to view up to 90 percent of the track from our selected seating area.

The second of our very ‘supportive’ back-up crew is Eoin Gorman. Eoin will not be taking his Honda CBR600 on the trip instead opting for four wheels, which the rest of us are very thankful for, not a slight on Eoin’s riding skills, just we are all wary of his habit of filling his bike with diesel! Not only will Eoin and Paul be there for us if we should need to call on them, but more importantly they’ll be bringing some of the amazing items up for auction on the Friday night in aid of DSI,  signed items such as a TT Helmet, T-Shirts and photographs. As mentioned earlier, Pole Position Travel has teamed up with the charity for a number of years now to raise funds and awareness outside of the Irish community. Eoin is in for a little surprise, as when asked what he’s most looking forward to he replied “seeing Aidan pay for something”, err sorry Eoiny, it’s an 8 day not 8 week trip!! This isn’t Eoin’s first trip to see Valentino and crew as he’s been to neighbouring Barcelona and as far away as Philip Island in Australia.  

 

Tadgh Barry is the last of our ‘Peoples Republic’ representatives, Tadgh will be travelling on his BMW GS 1200 and once again is part of the crew that has supported the Cope Foundation in recent years, as well as the Tuesday night group that like to tear up the wonderful roads that Cork and surrounding counties have to offer. Tadgh is no stranger to Moto GP and has been to a number of rounds which include Barcelona and Estoril. Tadgh recalled on one such trip, a somewhat not so funny story of having to send one pal home on the aeroplane as the gent took too much of a liking to the local beer and was unfit to travel on the motorbike! I’m sure all were able to laugh after they returned. Guy, please take note, go easy on the Sangria’s. 

 

Last up and let’s hope not on the road too (Thanks Aidan!) is Stuart Carrick, aka me, the joker of the group or more generally the butt of Aidan’s jokes. I am also (for my sins) Aidan’s ‘BIL’ (Brother In-Law), not to be confused with ‘BFF’, thus making me Robyn’s Uncle. I won’t be riding my Honda Fireblade, instead choosing the comforts of the third BMW RT on the trip. My first experience of fundraising for DSI was back to 2007 when Yvonne (Aidan’s little sis) and I rode my Honda Fireblade around the Emerald Isle with the Rev-up4DSI crew.  My friends all call me Stuie (‘Slowie’ to those that ride with him: Aidan) and I have been to a number of Moto GP rounds, Philip Island in Australia back in 2004, Valencia twice (2008 and 2010) and Misano in September of this year. I too am looking forward to the craic but also the boat trip, you may have seen me showing my excitement in the promotional video!

 

So that’s all the crew, as you all already know, we are all covering the costs of our challenge from our own pockets so each and every cent that has been donated to date is going straight to DSI to further the supports they offer to their member families. All of the crew would like to thank you all for your generosity and we hope you will follow our adventures on Facebook and Twitter as they unfold.

 

Stuie.

Aside  —  Posted: October 22, 2012 in Uncategorized

I can’t believe that three weeks from today, we will bid farewell to Dublin as we set off on our challenge! It only seems like weeks ago when Alan volunteered himself to keep me company on what was initially supposed to be a low-key event, things really have a habit of spiralling out of control when bikes and bikers are involved, don’t they!

We had a meeting this week (the Leinster posse that is…and Guy, our token Englishman) in DSI HQ, where too much tea was drank, Stuie ate all the biscuits, lies and profanities were swapped, but most importantly, it finally sank in with us all exactly what we have signed up for!! Looking at maps of Ireland, France, Spain and routes sheets showing the daily mileage totals, we realised that in summer it would be a challenge and a half to complete 2,500km in only 2 1/2 days (it’s actually about 30hrs) but with winter arriving, bringing dark evenings and mornings along too, we know we are going to have our work cut out for us…..and then we have to about turn and do it all again!!!! Day 1 is spent in Ireland as we head to Valentia Island from Dublin before then riding to Rosslare (hopefully after a cuppa in the Donedeal HQ in Wexford, time permitting) and the day’s total is in the region of 750km. On day 2 we arrive in Cherbourg at approximately 5pm local time and Irish Ferries are seeing to it that we will be first to disembark so that we can get on the road to our hotel in Niort, some 500km away.This leg will be tricky as it will be dark but hopefully dry; as dark, wet and unfamiliar roads are something I don’t appreciate for obvious reasons. Day 3 is a long one with over 1,000km to cover before 6pm so that we can be in time for Pole Position Travel’s annual opening party/charity auction, this is always a great night with great food and plenty of drinks. There is a distinct possibility of V2V4DSI riders being found asleep at their tables during this…..and that’s before my speech!!

Of course we then have to come back and the return journey kicks off on Monday 12th November. We will finalize the routes for this part in Spain as we will know if we are able to, or indeed want to, do another 1,000km+ day. I personally hope we can as I would like to spend our final day (Tuesday) visiting the D-Day beaches in Normandy but we shall play that one by ear as they say.

I have just spent an afternoon ‘stickering up’ the two remaining BMW R1200RT’s in Joe Duffy BMW, thanks to the crew there for all their help, encouragement (“Aidan, that ones crooked”) and all the cups of tea that kept me going! There are some new logo’s to be added due to more sponsors coming on-board but more about that in a separate post.

Those that have been following the build up to the event will know that Alan, Stu and I set ourselves the rather big target of raising €8,000 between us, which we all knew would involve a lot of graft. The past weekend saw Stu and I, along with John and Eamon from the Dead Ducks MCC, peddling Jelly Beans courtesy of The Jelly Bean Factory at the Leopardstown Classic Bike Show, raising €552 for V2V so a big thanks to all the show committee and the general public for supporting us.

We also got some great news last week when Kennedy Orthopaedic confirmed their support for the event with a rather large donation. When added this to our total we are now in excess of €15,000, all of which goes to DSI and their ongoing work supporting their member families. We can’t thank the guys enough!
That’s it from me for now but on behalf of all the V2V participants and all DSI’s members, a huge thank you to you all for your support. As someone once said “If it was easy, they would all do it”.

Aidan.

Breaking in the workhorse

Posted: October 12, 2012 in Uncategorized
Tags: ,

After getting to ride the R1200GS for this years Tour de Munster, Alan was eager to have a chance to get re-acquainted with the R12ooRT he’ll be using for Valentia 2 Valencia. So it was with no small amount of delight he was recently handed the keys to a brand spanking new RT (with only 4km on the odometer from the mechanics shakedown run) and given strict instructions to run it in gently to avoid problems with the V2V run in November.

First order of the day was to get the tyres scrubbed in, cue a 120km spin to nowhere in particular, just gradually winding on and increasing the lean angle to try and remove the chemical preservative that tyre manufacturers coat their rubber in to preserve it while it sits on the shelf. The RT wears a pair of Bridgestone 021 touring tyres and even from the get go, they heated up quick and held firm. The RT can seem like a big bus to move around, but once you’re moving, its incredibly flickable.

Handing back the bike 3 days later with an additional 1400+ kms on the odometer, Alan had slipped back into RT-mode and is now chomping at the bit to be let loose in France and Spain, quote “Its the right tool for the job, they’re a great machine, but people write them off without even trying one, over the last 3 days I’ve done, motorway miles, open sweepers with heavy lean angles, technical twisty routes where the bike is on its side more then it is vertical and even a few back roads that I’d be less than keen on tackling on anything but a GS12 but the RT did it all with zero complaints, what a machine, can’t wait for V2V now!”

Neither can we Al! Only 26 days to go!

Anyone travelling with Irish Ferries over the coming months may notice a familiar sight while waiting to board as they have graciously offered to display our V2V Promo Video on their digital display screens, along side posters and counter top signs advertising the run.

Irish Ferries are also generously allowing us to place collection buckets at their retail counters in Dublin and Rosslare Port in the lead up to the event itself, considering the amount of customers that will pass through these ports, the funds raised should get us well on our way to smashing our fundraising target!

We really have lucked out with our sponsors for this event, people have gone above and beyond the call of duty to help us and we appreciate it so much! The V2V Team are falling over themselves with ideas and events for the next few months, make sure to keep up to date with our latest news by following us on Twitter under @V2V4DSI  and on our Facebook page and before you know it, we’ll be boarding that Irish Ferries boat, bound for Spain!

Alan and I got the opportunity to get re-aquainted with BMW’s Boxer engines when we helped out on the recent Tour de Munster 4 day 600km(ish) charity cycle. DSI was, for the third year in succession, the beneficiary so we were only too happy to tag along again to see where we could help. Two of our Dead Ducks MCC  club mates (Arthur and Wayne) accompanied us and BMW Motorrad Ireland were kind enough to loan us some bikes so we had enough Boxers to start our own Olympics team!

The torquey nature of the Boxer lump is ideal for slow speed manouevering and for pulling up steep climbs whilst keeping the cyclists in your mirrors at all times, yet there is always enough power to pull away when they start to catch you on the descents. Now whilst on the Valentia 2 Valencia challenge in November the speeds will be much higher, the comfort, weather protection, fuel range & economy of the R1200RT’s will hopefully get us to Spain and back without any of us walking like John Wayne!

Over the coming month’s we will all be getting together to do some longer spins around the Emerald Isle to get everyone prepped for the long mileage days and of course most importantly, to get us all used to riding together too. Stuart has gone and bought himself a new bike to get himself back in tune with all things two-wheeled. AJ has just come back from the ‘Riders Rally’ with his buddy Myles Sheehy who rode the 1100km on a 50cc moped, raising over €1,000 for DSI in the process (still not sure if he is an absolute hero or just certifiable). Guy is busy prepping his trusty R1200GS in between his filming duties at http://www.yourshortfilm.com (have you seen his latest V2V4DSI offering?? http://vimeo.com/47194493 ) and having panic attacks about the mileage! Dave Sharpe looks like he may actually bring a pillion (not sure which one of them is the craziest) whilst Paul ‘Toby’ Tobin is busily sourcing a van for himself and latest recruit Eoin Gorman.

You will notice I have mentioned yet another new recruit to the challenge. Eoin Gorman is a crash repair specialist from Dunshaughlin, Co. Meath and has been responsible for repairing my race bikes for the past number of years (the guy must have been brilliant at Lego) as well as being a volunteer fireman. Eoin took part in his first ever Rev-up4DSI motorcycle challenge in May where he became known as ‘Ireland’s smallest Diesel Smuggler’ after a wee mishap in a petrol station. He has decided to ‘ride shotgun’ with Paul in the car/van, hopefully it’s a diesel! 🙂
I’m about to take my long-suffering wife and kids for a week’s break…….wonder could we all fit on the RT???

Aidan.

Ps: don’t forget to chjeck out the promo video http://vimeo.com/47194493

 

 

 

Promo Video is Up!

Posted: August 13, 2012 in Uncategorized

Get your popcorn out, the V2V promo video is up! Click the link below to have a look and let us know what you think in the comments. Guy from Your Short Film has done a great job, especially considering the difficult task he had working with Adian, Alan & Stuie, 3 more useless actors you will not find.

Share it, tweet it, blog it, basically spread the message far and wide, the more coverage we get the better!

If this is a taste of what’s to come we can’t wait to see the final documentary of the trip itself!

Valentia 2 Valencia Promo