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Maria & Brett's HUGE Trip 06-07-08-09-? ok, so the Socceroos lost in 'that' penalty against Italy; Adriatic summers aren't long enough (bliss!); and we found that you should never use the term "Eastern Bloc" when talking to a Czech (Central Europe, please).

Motorbike trip around Ireland for charity

IRELAND | Monday, 5 May 2008 | Views [2265]

This would make a fantastic album cover for a 5-piece band. Any takers??

This would make a fantastic album cover for a 5-piece band. Any takers??

Maria: Back in November last year we had the pleasure of meeting Aidan and Noel from Ireland at the Valencia MotoGP.  Not only did the guys (a) get me drunk before having to meet Brett for dinner, (b) raise a lot of money for Down Syndrome Ireland (DSI), and (c) drink the hotel bar dry (I guess you wouldn’t expect anything less from a couple of lads from the emerald isle!), but they also invited Brett and me along for the annual DSI 1000km ride around Ireland in May.  Before we knew it May had arrived and all we can say is that we had an absolute craic!

Brett: Ok, so I was attending on behalf of my company as we had donated the major prize for the weekend and riders who raised over 3000 EUR were in the running, but it wasn't all work.

We managed to sneak away to Dublin for a couple of days before the ride began, to hang out with some of our friends from our TESOL teaching course that we did in Sydney. Citizens of the world, Majella and Alys are known to us as Global Professional Housesitters and it was only pure luck that we met them on a stint in Sydney as they prepared to head to Canada (for a spot of teaching and IT work) and then onto Ireland.

Hugs all round as we said goodbye and donned leather suits (well, I did) and headed off the next day to meet a bunch of burly blokes at Joe Duffy's 2-storey BMW shop to pick out our bikes for the weekend. Talk about kids in a candy shop on Christmas Eve - Paddy style!!! One by one, 8 of the men (most of them marshals for the weekend) were handed the keys to beautiful BMW bikes that would be their ride for the weekend. Let's see how much rubber's left by the end of it!

Maria: What happened next was one of the highlights of the trip for me - it took all of two seconds for Brett to appear at Joe Duffy's before the scream (Nice one Dayglo) "look at the yellow power ranger" rang out across the showroom. Poor Brett was now stuck with the power ranger nickname for the rest of the trip. It was hilarious! Ahhh the quick wit of the Irish.

We were lucky enough to be given a BMW 1200 RT for the weekend thanks to the never ending generosity of Aidan and Joe Duffy's.  I personally would've preferred a Ducati (next year Aidan?!) but I guess beggars can't be choosers! ;)  I must add however, that as a pillion the BMW was bliss.  Comfortable..ahem..heated seats, side handles and a back rest. All that was missing was the espresso machine. Some might say that we should've just hired a car but by the way Brett was riding I can tell you it felt like I was on the back of a Suzuki 1000 GSXR!

Over the course of the weekend I began to understand the passion these guys have for their bikes.  It's such an exhilarating feeling that can't be matched and to do it for a great cause makes it that much better.

For anyone out there contemplating a bike trip - DO IT!  It's a great way to see a country (or countries) and to meet its people.  The DSI run 08 will stay with me for a very long time not only for the ride but for the amazingly wonderful people we befriended.

A big thank you to Aidan for organising such a memorable weekend and to Noel and Gemma for welcoming us into their home.

Brett: I was especially keen to get to ride around Ireland on this trip. Not only would we get the chance to ride through some of the most spectacular scenery on stretches of road (and a lot of twisty bits!) that you could only dream about, but we were privileged to be in such good company of charitable souls who just love their motorcycling to bits.

Of all the riding that I did in Australia the most memorable part of it was the camaraderie. This is by no means unique to Australia, but transplanted in countries all over the world. I just knew it would be special to be part of the Irish riding community for just a weekend. And the Irish invented what’s known around the world as road racing – where races take place on real roads that are closed for the weekend, not in specially designed private circuits.

So it was a tragic blow to the whole Irish road racing community – and to the group I was riding with – when we learned that racer Martin Finnegan (#45) was killed in a road race at Tandragee at the same time that we were riding along the coast nearby. His bike had seized, throwing him off into the crowd. Although the mood was dampened when we all pulled in for drinks that night, it changed to one of solidarity 2 days later when we joined the 80km procession which followed the hearse that took his body from Armagh (north-east coast, Northern Ireland) to his parents’ home in Lusk, north Dublin. Riding 2-abreast and escorted by motorcycle gardai (police), the column of bikes stretched back over 8km as we traveled at speeds of about 80km/h. You can’t imagine the number of bikes that turned out to commemorate Martin’s achievements – or simply to try and come to terms with his passing.

We were also privileged to meet Robert Dunlop on this trip – brother of race champion, the late Joey Dunlop. Here's a video of us arriving in huge numbers with police escort: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jumohE6Rv5Q

However two weeks after we shook his hand and felt the genuine modesty radiating from his wide-grinned smile at his late-brother’s “Joey’s Bar” at Ballymoney, he too was killed in a spookily similar way.

Clip from BBC: http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/motorsport/motorbikes/7405075.stm

It was a serious reminder about the risks involved in road racing – but you can’t take away from these guys how much passion they have for the sport. We certainly felt this when we got off our bikes after flying through some twisties with Dermott and Arthur, putting the BMWs through their paces in supersport conditions in the far north-west of the Republic on some amaaaazing country roads. Dermott summed it up as we gathered in the bar for 3 pints of Guinness, one after the other – with the same pace we’d had on the bikes that afternoon: “that was quite possible the best ride I’ve had – in over 25 years of motorcycling”.

It was hard to hang up the leathers, say good bye to our newfound friends and return to Prague – and work – the next day.

We’ll be back.


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