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CRRG Season



  1. New Riders in 2016
  2. New Machines in 2016
  3. 2nd Annual Spin to Rosslare
  4. New Website Up and Running
  5. Rideouts in 2016
  6. Trips Planned for 2017
  7. Badges
  8. Emergency ID Helmet Straps
  9. Tips for Group Riding
  10. Photo Gallery


Another year has passed and it’s hard to believe that the CRRG has now been going for 7 years. Loads have happened during that time. The type of motorcycles we ride have all been transformed from 600 or 650cc street bikes to mostly 1200cc or more big touring bikes or adventure and sportsbikes. And whilst most of the original crew still remain, we have had loads of new riders join us. Many of them have been with us for years now and some of the more recent riders have become regular attendees on rideouts and now form part of the “backbone” of the group. Over the years, we have visited well over a hundred different locations with, hopefully, something to suit everyone. From castles and old abbeys to museums and Heritage or Folk parks. From beautiful parklands to Historic houses and from ancient caves to military displays. Our rideouts have taken us all over Ireland, over mountain passes, up narrow “bothríns”, across bogs and down narrow, twisty country roads. Some of the scenery in Ireland is on a par with any of the most beautiful places in the world. We just need some decent weather. And thankfully we were mostly lucky with the weather again this year, getting out for around 30 spins in mostly good, dry weather. We have feasted in loads of different cafés and restaurants too. From roadhouses to thatched cottages and even petrol stations. The “breakfast” stop is always a big part of our rideouts. It’s a chance for a chat and to catch up with friends we haven’t seen in a while. Or to check out the latest new bike purchase. We all have our favourite venue but it’s great to say that we have always received a warm welcome wherever we have stopped. Hopefully we will all continue to enjoy many more years in the group and get to visit many more venues, whether they be new discoveries or repeat spins. Or maybe a few trips abroad as the CRRG broadens its horizons !

As in all walks of life, there has to be someone to organise and arrange things for groups of people. Whether it’s birthday parties, family gatherings, football teams going to play a match, or just a casual get-together, someone has to plan the event and contact all the others with the arrangements. Otherwise, nothing would happen or it would just be total confusion! Venues have to be researched to check opening times, admission charges or possible Group rates. Places have to be booked, arrangements made and routes planned. But in this age of technology we are lucky to have the internet with e-mail and mobile phones to make it so much easier and almost instant to communicate with each other. Thankfully, most riders are really fantastic at getting back to me but others need a bit more coaxing!! It really is just a matter of common courtesy . We all know that it only takes literally just a few seconds to reply to an e-mail or text message. Please remember that there are now over 30 people in our group and it makes organising a spin so much easier if everyone replies quickly. So make it your 2017 resolution to respond to e-mails about CRRG spins as soon as possible! Thanks. Now, here’s a review of the 2016 season…..

1. New Riders in 2016

We have had 8 more new riders join the group during 2016 – four of each ! (men & women that is!). I wonder will we have a Ladies Branch of the CRRG forming soon (Cumann na mBan) ? We have now had 9 lady pillion riders join the group so maybe Mark will design a special section on the CRRG website for fashion and shopping tips….???

A warm welcome to the 2016 newcomers Caoimhe and Jann who Darragh brought along, Anna who joined Kamil, Ger who accompanied Pat, Noel (JR and Brendan’s marshalling mate), Arek (Andy’s introduction) and of course our second Italian, Claudio, who has taken to the CRRG like mince to spaghetti.

We were also joined on the spin to Clonalis House in Castlerea by an Egyptian, Victor, who may have found the pace a bit much as he is only riding bikes about a year. After we had looked after him for the whole day, it was disappointing that he never even sent a message just to say “thanks”.

Since joining, Claudio has become a “regular” rider with us and has been out on a good few spins. He seems to be enjoying himself, mixing well with the group and improving his English !!!!. He also seems to be coming to terms with the “Dublin wit” and has a good sense of humour! His photography too is top class and he has entertained us with some fab photos not only from the spins but also from his sailing trips and exotic holiday locations.

Jann had a baptism of fire as her first spin with us was the epic trip to The Giant’s Causeway (I compared that to my first time ever on an aeroplane – a long trip to Melbourne!). And Darragh wasn’t saving the horses on the way back! But she enjoyed the spin and was out again on the back of the fab-sounding ZZR for the “Ladies Day” in Carlingford before finally getting in her 3rd Rideout on the spin to Lullymore in November.

Anna only joined us late in the year but she is already settling in nicely and has been out with us on a few spins already. We look forward to showing her more of the beautiful venues in Ireland in 2017.

Andy’s recruitment drive finally paid off and he introduced Arek to the group. It’s a pity though that it was so late in the year and the weather has stopped us getting out for the moment. But hopefully he enjoyed his first outing (to Lullymore) with us and we will have lots of places to show him in 2017. Everyone was impressed with his lovely red 2015 Aprilia Caponord – looks like a cross between a BMW XR and a Ducati MS …and it goes like the clappers too! And maybe his wife, Ivona, will be joining him (and Cumann Na mBan) too in 2017 !

However, on the down side, a lot of the “older” members have not been out on too many spins in 2016, some only managing less than 5 or 6 spins for the whole year. And previously regular and enthusiastic e-mails have dwindled to hardly getting a reply. But, with work, family and other commitments it can be very difficult to find the time to get away from it all and just head off on the bike for a spin with fellow CRRG members. So hopefully that’s the reason and that it’s not a case of people getting bored with the group and they’ll be able to come out a lot more often in 2017.

But it’s always good for any group to introduce some “new blood” and it was great to see the above 8 new riders join this year and at least 7 of them seem to be enjoying the spins. Andy is doing a great job as “CRRG Recruitment Officer” and has another couple of prospective new members in his sights!

If anyone else knows of anyone who might fancy coming along and joining us, feel free to invite them along. You can give them my contact details or I also have cards printed with CRRG details which you can hand out.

The 2016 Keyring Presentations !!!

Three Spins and You're In...!!!

Claudio's Presentation at Treacy's Bar near Portlaoise.

Isabelle's Presentation at the Forge (but no sticker)

Brendan's Presentation at An Bia Blasta, Baltinglass.
Brendan gets his CRRG keyring while JR is dead jealous...

But the first ever award of the CRRG Bronze Medal for Bravery soon cheered him up!!!

Aidan is chuffed with his presentation..! (at Mother Hubbards)

Darragh presents Jann with her keyring & Emergency helmet strap at The Orchard, Celbridge.

Ger makes a fantastic speech at her presentation…..

2. New Machines in 2016

Naturally enough, it goes without saying that Jim switched (AGAIN !!) – opting to try the LC version of the BMW R1200GS this time out. And in a lovely red colour too. Speaking of red motorcycles, Marco got his dream machine – a new Ducati Panigale 1299 in Ducati Red. Paul eventually took the plunge and traded in the trusty Jolly Green Giant for a lovely new 2016 Yamaha FJR1300 in September.

I traded in the 2004 Kawasaki (not a Suzuki !!) KLV1000 and got a spotless 2008 Triumph Sprint ST 1050 up in Charles Hurst in Belfast. And Pat got a lovely silver 2008 Pan European - just for Ger! Aidan decided he wanted more comfort and swopped the GS for a spotless 2010 R1200RT. Finally, late in the year, Mick decided it was time for a change and sold the trusty FJR to buy the “Silver Lady” herself – a lovely 2014 Triumph Trophy.

Best of luck to all with their new machines and safe riding.

Derek tries Marco's Panigale on for size...

Jim's GS LC

Pat's (Ger's) Pan European

Paul, the proud owner of a lovely new Yamaha FJR 1300

My commuter - 2008 Triumph Sprint ST 1050 (the old Kawasaki is in the skip behind the bike)

Aidan's Spotless R1200RT

and Mick's immaculate Triumph Trophy SE

3. The Second Annual Rideout to to Rosslare!!!

Last year, 2015, marked the 150th Rideout since our first spin in 2009 and we marked that momentous occasion with our first convoy to Christy and Ger in Rosslare Strand. We hoped to make it an annual event and so, in August this year, we arranged our 2nd Annual spin to Rosslare.

We had another fantastic turnout of 16 riders on 13 bikes as well as a support vehicle driven by JR. The weather, thankfully, was kind to us once again. Mary and her staff provided breakfast at The Forge, near Bunclody. I had reserved in advance and we were very well looked after as usual.

It was fantastic to see such support for Christy, though I think that the lure of a fine FREE feast provided by Ger and her fellow caravan parkers was what tempted so many to come along !!

We had arrived much earlier than the previous occasion so we had a good bit of time to spend with Christy. There was a minor blip in the proceedings when all the others scarpered off and left 3 bikes behind, wandering all over Rosslare trying to find the park. Only for the help of the thoughtful support crew member, JR, they could have ended up in Cork.

Despite the brilliant report of the full trip by novelist and Irish historian, Mark, the “Pre-Christy” venue of Our Lady’s Island was actually quite interesting (if some people had bothered to take a short stroll away from their bikes).

I’m sure everyone is looking forward to 2017 and another great spin on the 3rd Annual Rideout to Rosslare! It is a great chance to get the whole group together even for just the one occasion during the year. Many riders make a special effort, some even taking time off work. So do try to make the next one – plenty of advance notice will be given. And, next time we will ask Mark to choose a venue…………

4. New Website Launch

Mark deserves a lot of praise as he undertook a complete overhaul of the website. It has been re-named “Country Roads Riders Guide” and is intended as a source of information for all motorcyclists touring this country or looking for places to visit on day trips. There is a list of 100 interesting venues to visit as well as suggested restaurants/cafés to stop at along the way.

We still have our own gallery for photos from the spins in 2016 as well as the dreaded but much liked “Funnies” section.

It was great to have the website back up and running as it provides us with a space to publish the weekly Trip Reports as well as some other “Special” reports.

Mark kindly provided me with a “Blog” section and a new feature for 2016 was the “Interviews with riders”. From the few interviews already published, it has proven to be very well received and some of the replies to the questionnaire are interesting, sometimes funny, surprising or even totally unexpected. I hope to keep sending out the questionnaires, not only to riders, but also to the pillions as well.

If anyone wants to publish anything at all bike-related, whether trip reports, bike reviews etc., just let Mark or myself know.

5. Spins in 2016

We visited many more new venues in 2016 (highlighted in the list below). Among them were 4 museums, 7 castles, 4 historic houses, 1 megalithic site and 10 scenic spots. And only 2 churches/abbeys !!!!

One of the best was the “1798 Commemoration Spin” – all over county Wexford in the warm sunshine of a fab October day ! We had a big turnout of 11 bikes (13 riders) for breakfast in Baltinglass. Then 8 bikes went on to Enniscorthy and Vinegar Hill. After a coffee stop at the lovely “Unyoke Inn”, three more bikes left but the 5 bikes (6 riders) who went on to Oulart Hill were treated to a very special venue. We capped it with a stop at the Fr. Murphy Centre and “whippy ice-creams” at Ferns before a dash back up the N11.

Another great spin was the trip to Black Mountain in Dromad, county Louth. Thanks to Pat who found the spot and managed to remember the laneway up to the summit. The views from there were absolutely stunning and you have a 360 degree view of Louth, Down, the Mournes, Sliabh Gullion and out to the Irish Sea. It helped that it was a glorious sunny day too.

Another enjoyable trip was the visit to St. Canice’s Round Tower in Kilkenny. We had a big group too and loads of craic. It was something I had always wanted to do – climb to the top of a round tower. (it is one of only two round towers in Ireland which you can climb). And again, it was a fabulous sunny day.

The visit to The Giants Causeway was another one crossed off my “bucket list”. It is also a favourite spin for many of the group. It was a long spin but easily done in a day. And taking in Joey Dunlops Bar on the way back was worthwhile. We will definitely have to do a repeat trip “up North”, but this time take in the Carrick-a-rede rope bridge, Dunluce Castle and maybe a few other places.

I think we all enjoyed the scary visit to Leap Castle ! We had another great turnout for the fantastic spin over the scenic Sliabh Bloom mountains. And the tin whistle playing made the trip. But the best part was hiding in the dark and jumping out on poor unsuspecting Darragh and Paul !! I’ll never forget the look on their faces….

Looking at the “hits” on the photo albums for 2016 in the Gallery, St. Canices Round Tower has had a lot of views with the Northern venues also proving very popular for some reason – Sliabh Gullion, Giants Causeway and Black Mountain.

But as well as trips around Ireland, there were a good few riders who chose to venture further afield. Pete and his buddy, Harry, did a marathon 8,000km round trip to Scandanavia. They went via the UK and visited Norway, Sweden and Finland, stopping at the most Northerly town in Europe. Karl and Mary really enjoyed a slightly more leisurely (and warmer) spin through France and Northern Spain. And Derek, Paul, JP and Mark had a great overnight trip to the valleys of Wales.

The top riders in 2016 (apart from Sandra and me) were Vincent (23) and JR (18). Andy slipped down a few places from previous years with Paul overtaking him for third spot. Although Claudio only joined us in May, and has had far too many holidays this year, he still managed a very impressive 10th place on the leader board.

List of 2016 Trips
(New venues highlighted)
1 Breakfast run to Mother Hubbards 10/1/16
2 Rock of Dunamasse 23/1/16
3 Belvedere House, Mullingar 27/2/16
4 Stephenson's Pond, Louth 12/3/16
5 St. Mullins, Kilkenny 19/3/16
6 Lough Crewe Cairns B/H Mon. 28/3/16
7 Roscommon Castle 16/4/16
8 Altamont Gardens & Russborough House 23/4/16
9 Charleville Castle, Tullamore 30/4/16
10 St. Canices Round Tower, Kilkenny 14/5/16
11 Wells House, Wexford 21/5/16
12 Sliabh Gullion Forest Park 28/5/16
13 Giants Causeway 4/6/16
14 Avondale House & Glencree 18/6/16
15 Slane Castle 2/7/16
16 Black Castle, Wicklow Sunday 10/7/16
17 Black Mountain, Dromad, Co.Louth 16/7/16
18 Derryglad Folk Museum, Athlone 23/7/16
19 Leap Castle, Clareen, Offaly 30/7/16
20 Cavan Museum, Ballyjamesduff 6/8/16
21 Our Lady's Island, Rosslare and Christy & Ger 13/8/16
22 Clonalis House, Castlerea 27/8/16
23 Powerscourt Waterfall, Enniskerry 4/9/16
24 Castle Roche near Forkhill 10/9/16
25 Kilkenny Castle 17/9/16
26 Trip to WALES 17/9 & 18/9 (Derek, Paul, JP & Mark)
27 Curragh Military Museum & Donadea Forest Park 2/10/16
28 Vinegar Hill, Oulart Hill, Fr.Murphy Centre 8/10/16
29 Carlingford 23/10/16
30 Multyfarnham Friary & Fore Abbey 29/10/16
31 Lullymore Heritage & Adventure Park 5/11/16
32 Hill of Tara & Bective Abbey 12/11/16

6. Trips Planned for 2017

Unfortunately, for one reason or another, in 2016 we still never got to visit a few places on our list. If anyone has any venue they’d like to visit (or re-visit), feel free to make a suggestion. Here are just a few places we hope to get to in 2017…

  • The Titanic Centre, Belfast. OR HMS Caroline (new attraction – a restored WW2 light cruiser battleship)
  • Ulster American Folk Park, Omagh (well worth a repeat spin)
  • Parke’s Castle, Leitrim
  • King House, Boyle ( and Boyle Abbey)
  • Arigna Mining Experience, Longford
  • Tour of Slane Castle
  • Another spin along the Antrim coastline

7. Rideout Badges

As a special treat for the more regular riders, I commissioned some embroidered badges. The badges were awarded to riders who had completed a certain number of rideouts and were divided into the following 5 categories:-

170 (or more) rideouts (guess who got that one !!)
100 (or more)
70 (or more)
50 (or more)
30 (or more)

The patches can be worn on polo shirts, fleeces or baseball caps – whatever you like (though it would be great to see a few more invest in the CRRG polo shirts and fleeces). You only have to be able to sew – if not, ask Karl who is the group seamstress…..

If you didn’t receive one, don’t worry! Just come out on more rideouts in 2017 and reach the target of at least 30 rideouts!

8. Emergency I.D. Helmet Strap

I spotted these on early in the year. I thought that they were a great idea and it got me thinking that we had no way of contacting any rider’s family should we encounter any emergency. So I enquired about them and explained that I needed them for a motorcycle touring group and got a fantastic deal as I was buying over 30 of them! I got them for only €2 each although they are on for $8.89 each!! I think everyone should have something like this on them when out for a spin.

Vincent later suggested that we should hand one out with the keyring to new riders so, between us, we bought another 10 straps. Already, Isabelle and Claudio have been the proud recipients of a “Vin-al” sponsored helmet strap each!

A few people who had asked me to order the straps when I was putting in the original order never collected or paid for them. So I have a few of the original order left and anyone who wants one can have one at the same price I paid (only €2.00).

9. Tips for Group Riding

"(Just a refresher course!! No harm in reading again!)

1 Remember to fill up with petrol before a spin.
2 Wear proper protective gear (rider & pillion) and ensure
that your bike is mechanically fit for a spin - including tyres, brakes etc.
3 Bring your own Emergency ID & Contact details (helmet strap or other)
4 Ensure you are road legal - Licence, Tax and Insurance etc.
5 Bring tools, puncture repair etc - just in case! (I always bring jump leads and a basic First Aid kit too). And your mobile phone.
6 You should bring rain gear too – this is IRELAND!!!
7 Have contact details for the other riders in case you or anyone else gets lost! Some riders have headsets so make sure you have their numbers.
8 Know when & where to meet, and have an idea of the planned route and the venue.

Tips while on the road......

9 Don't follow like sheep! i.e. Don't assume that, just because the rider in front is overtaking, it is okay for you to follow. He might have time to overtake and get back in before oncoming traffic, but YOU mightn't !
10 Constantly check your mirrors for other riders. Signal other riders if you need to stop for any reason.
11 Absolutely NO overtaking other riders on the INSIDE.
12 No overtaking riders who are overtaking or about to overtake.
13 Respect other road users and acknowledge good drivers who make way.
14 Ride within your own capabilities - there is never any pressure to either speed up or slow down.
15 Warn riders following behind you of dangers/obstacles on the road.

2016 Gallery Photos

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