“Ain’t no mountain high enough
Ain’t no valley deep enough
Ain’t no river wide enough
To keep me from Portballintrae!!”
You may not know this, but these lovely words were written by the wonderful Ashford & Simpson for the Oblivion Tour (but then Diana Ross did a ‘butchered’ cover/colour version of it that for some inexplicable reason ended up in the charts, and the cheeky little minx made hug amounts of money from it)
Anyway, there’s no point in being bitter (although we would heartily discourage you from buying any of the hugely successful Diana Ross LP’s for that reason).
But the Oblivion Tour had made it to Portballintrae!!
However there have been many issues and traumas along the way, and this list just catalogues a few of them:
- We left Enniskillen 4 minutes behind schedule and as anyone will know, it is essential, nay critical, to have a plan and stick to it!
- It rained.
- Vlad, the Transylvanian, had a major mechanical malfunction – and also had an issue with his bike! But thankfully, the day was saved by Speedo, who turned up with his tool in his hand and was able to use a piece of stick, some goat entrails, a small Pot Noodle carton and one medium sized pebble, to rebuild Vlad’s gearing system, as good as new. (Editor note: this ‘boy wonder’ is becoming irritating – need to find something he’s not good at and focus on that!)
- It rained heavier.
- We tackled some very big hills and made mincemeat of them. Lumpy, damp mincemeat that took a long time – but mincemeat nonetheless!
- We arrived exactly as directed by our new ‘Garmin 1 Million’ at the Omagh Bus Depot. We would have preferred the nice picnic spot or cafe we had been thinking about, but the bus depot was fine – and sunny – so we stayed there and mixed it with the local taxi drivers, understood some of what they said, made some further bike repairs and had coffee. If you’ve never been to Omagh, you should go, it’s lovely! Then we left Omagh.
- Then it really started raining.
- Then we climbed some bigger hills. It is interesting how when you cycle alongside people on a steep-ish hill and try to chat to them to pass the time, they will tell you that they can’t breathe and therefore don’t want to talk – then when you tell them that they are nearly at the top with virtually hardly any more hills left to do, so it might be worth getting a bit of a move on, they have more than enough breath to tell you how much they hate you!! Oh well!
- When we finally got to the highest point on the Sperrin Mountains, it rain agin – and this time it rained so hard that one of the Tourists had to take ‘her’ glasses off so she could see.
- Lunch was a phenomenally welcome event. Our crew had found a Community Centre in the (previously) quiet little village of Park – and the lovely lady responsible for the Centre opened it for us and let us use her loos, set up the lunch gazebo and 4 course lunch in the grounds, and make our cappuccinos with her kettle – given all the hills and rain, you will never know how much we are in debt to the lovely, un-named lady!!
- We had our lunch in the first sunshine we’d seen all day. Then Jane got stung on the tongue, though it is unclear what it was doing out that far!
- Then we started our descents.
- It rained even harder.
- Then as we started our first big climb of the afternoon, the skies cleared and we were again riding in body hugging waterproof jackets in the hot late summer sun – but the spectacular scenery left every Tourist speechless. In our humble opinions, there are few places in the UK that are as beautiful!
- As we dropped down from the peaks of the hills and headed for the coast, moods lifted, photos were taken, moaning reduced (a little) and the ‘big’ guys in the group came into their own for the first time. Gravity makes it easier for those that have big bones to hurtle down the hills faster than those that are ‘normal’ boned. And so it was the slow-metabolism guys that flew downwards with their tucked streamlined racing body position, tummies resting on crossbars, feeling like the kings of the mountains – great to watch!
- We met Desmond Austin of the Portrush RNLI (see A Great Story) who escorted us in to Portrush (disappointingly not with motorbike outriders for some reason) and hosted us for a very welcome cup of tea in his private quarters. The Tourists agreed unanimously to give a £50 donation to this wonderful cause.
- It was very sunny!
- Saying goodbye and leaving Portrush was not easy. There is a very confusing one-way system, so watch for that when you visit!
- Dunluce Castle gave a flavour of what the North Atlantic Coast of Northern Ireland had to offer and as the BayView Hotel came into vie, there were many very happy Tourists.
- It got better when cousin Gail and her new husband Geoff organised for copious quantities of Guinness and nibbles to be served on the grassy area looking out over this most stunning of scenes. And a very nice lady
- Dinner was a sorry affair. The food was great, the wine was more than acceptable, even the company was bearable – but every few minutes a few Tourists would disappear to go outside and try to find a way of capturing the sunset on cameras that are just not able to capture such spectacular views – felt like it was worth trying though!
- So, 235 miles done and only 87.6 miles to do tomorrow. Guinness time!!
- But bizarrely, the conversation has already turned to what we are going to do for next years Tour!
- Unsure, because it is already clear that there really ain’t no mountain high enough to stop these charity-driven lunatics!!!!