Saturday 5th of November 2016

Lullymore Play Centre

The venue was booked, the rice crispie chocolate cakes were made and all the crisps, sweets and fizzy drinks were bought. Darragh’s friends were invited to his special birthday party at Lullymore. Only his best pals from pre-school were chosen – Jann, Mary, Ger, Sandra, Derek, Paul, Karl, Pat, John, Vincent, Arek and Alan.

Darragh is such a big fan of Thomas the Tank Engine and he pedalled all the way on his favourite bike to Lucan where he was to meet all the other kids. Once all the children had arrived, they all cycled from Lucan to The Orchard where they were treated to breakfast of Liga and milk as they had a long day ahead of them at the Lullymore adventure park before the party began.

But, just as they were about to head off for the park, poor Little Pat was almost left behind. He was standing beside his tricycle, sobbing uncontrollably. He had forgotten to turn off his Spiderman web-spinning heated gloves and the batteries had died. Luckily there was a Guardian Angel on hand who re-charged and fixed the gloves.

But poor Pat was still too upset and he had a big tantrum so he wasn’t allowed to go on to the party.

The rest of the children cycled on to Lullymore and parked up their bicycles. Arek had a brand new red bicycle which he got off Santa last Christmas and didn’t want to park it beside the others.

They were allowed to run around the park and in through the trees. Mary was frightened by the Halloween displays which were still around the park and got a terrible fright in one of the little houses. The other girls helped her clean up………

Vincent and John held hands and enjoyed looking around the “Pets Corner” but didn’t spot any cuckoos. …..

Darragh disappeared with his friend Jann and they were later found in the party centre as he couldn’t wait to see his party table with the Thomas Tank Engine tablecloth and colourful plastic cups. Jan gave him a special present of a Thomas Tank Engine keyring.

Once Karl, Paul and Derek had finished playing hide and seek, all the children were gathered together and brought into the party house. Derek had 2 helpings of birthday cake while Karl spilled all his Fanta orange over his new orange jacket. The noise was deafening as they all played and chatted over the party food. But all too soon the party was over and they were brought outside and back over to their bicycles.

Darragh had a fantastic day and said that it was the bestest day of his life, ever ! But poor Little Pat was grounded (unlike his heated gloves). All the other children got home safely and went straight to bed as it was 3:30pm and they were really tired after all the fresh air and excitement. After all the excitement and birthday cake, Paul puked up again, all over his Rossi duvet cover.

The next party will be held at Tayto Park with free entry to the House of Horrors.

‘til then,

Be good.

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Some commentators say that the best “Ladies Day” event is at the Ascot races or even Cheltenham. But the CRRG Ladies are not to be outdone and, despite the cold and a rain shower, they turned out in force ..and in some style….at the CRRG Annual Spin to Carlingford on Saturday.

A record number of five ladies made the trip and were met in Carlingford by event organiser and world famous designer, Therése Perrier. Therése was accompanied by her dashing husband, basket-weaver and survival expert, JP.

While their chauffeurs parked the limousines and were treated to Lattés and apple pie, the ladies went shopping up Main Street. The locals took the opportunity to photograph the styles as the ladies strutted their stuff around the haute couture boutiques of Carlingford.

“Comfort, Warmth and Practicality” was the theme of this year’s show, according to organiser Therése. The ladies wore outfits from the most sophisticated designers, like Irishman John Richa as well as Coco Dainese, Ralph (L)Arlen Ness and the famous Alpine star, Versace.

Hats are so out of vogue at the moment and were replaced by beautifully crafted, hand-painted, helmet-style head pieces. “High heels are so 90’s and impractical” said Therése “so we’ve chosen to go back to the comfort and warmth of the traditional motorcycle-style boot with the trend of wearing them a few sizes too big”. “Even size 14 in mens’ boots are becoming quite popular” Therése went on to say.

The outfits were accessorised by matching gloves, including heated inner gloves, as well as scarves and snuggies and wolly socks.

It seems that the motorcycle jacket is also making a big comeback too, with models, Andrea, Anna, Ger, Jann and Sandra all sporting various designs in a range of seasonal winter colours from grey to blue and from charcoal to black. It seems that Goretex and Teflon are back with a BANG!

One of the models at the Ladies Day in Carlingford

The Ladies Day show was a massive success and all proceeds will not be donated to charity. The reformed 1970’s pop group, The Village People, provided the background music for the show and performed one of their big hits “YMCA” to screams of delight from the teenage girls in the audience.

The full range of clothing on display at the show can be purchased on-line at . Or you can send cash to event sponsor


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Saturday 8th of October 2016

The 1798 Commemoration Spin

It was fabulous weather for the time of year and so it was a great opportunity to re-schedule this trip which had been called off the previous week due to rain on the Saturday. Our two Wexford blow-ins, JR and Brendan, were dying to bring the group on a trip all around their adopted county of Wexford. Pat refused to have anything to do with a rival hurling county but we still had a great turnout of 11 bikes with 13 riders. Even Jim managed to get time off from fighting the fires which regularly occur at Dublin Airport.

We had a great spin down the popular N81 to Bia Blasta in Baltinglass for Breakfast (note the illiteration there). Marco was left behind and we had to wait hours there for him to catch up. During breakfast, two major ceremonies were performed and the locals kindly hung some green and white bunting outside where the bikes were parked, to mark the special occasion. Brendan was presented with his CRRG keyring but was too emotional to make a speech. Then it was JR’s turn and he was deservedly awarded the first ever CRRG Bronze Cross for his bravery at the minefield during the Curragh Raid the previous week.

After breakfast, Jim, Andy and Marco headed back, leaving 8 bikes with 10 people including Anna who was on her first spin with Kamil and the CRRG. JR took the lead again and did a great job at keeping the whole group together. As we filtered on the outside of the long queue of traffic going into Enniscorthy, a lunatic female in a Brit registered Fiesta went past hooting the horn at us ! Darragh didn’t pay any heed and continued to wheelie the Deauville at on-coming traffic (I’ll never call it a “Dull-ville again !!!).

JR took us up the narrow streets of Enniscorthy and on up to Vinegar Hill where we all parked in perfect formation (after we had gotten JR to straighten up Big Blue).

Paul had eaten a massive breakfast and wasn’t feeling the best and threw up all over the historic 1798 site. After a few photos and look around, we headed off again, this time to The Unyoke – a small café near Blackwater and actually (totally coincidental) the first place where Claudio had stopped when he arrived in Ireland back in May! We had tea and coffee outside in the sunshine. Kamil’s back tyre was fairly worn so he and Anna decided to head back and took sick Paul with them. Brendan headed off to his brother nearby for a free dinner.

The remaining 5 bikes and 6 riders (JR, Vincent, Darragh, Claudio, Sandra and I) went on as planned to Oulart Hill, not far up the road. It was well worth the spin up the donkey path to the car park! The monument to 1798 is unusual and really impressive and definitely well worth a visit . There are great views from the hill top. JR treated us to a few verses of “Boolevogue” and then went bushing.

After some more photos there (and Darragh handed JR back his bike keys) we headed off once again, this time for Boolevogue. The roads were twisty and narrow but much better than the earlier road from Vinegar Hill to The Unyoke. We were the only visitors at the Fr. Murphy Centre at Boolevogue. But the lady there was very nice and informative. We paid our €6 entrance fee and, after a history lesson from the nice lady, we had a good look around.

We were going to have another coffee there but time was moving on and Sandra and JR were going on and on about their whippy ice-creams so we pushed on for Ferns. Along the way, JR stopped at a junction in The Haggard (a one pub town). The local drunk came over to him, pint in hand, and muttered something in his best Wexford culchie accent. As we all drove past, I heard him shout something at JR and could clearly hear him end his “conversation” by shouting “ blah blah blah… fuckin’ cowardly bastard” ! Wexford people are so friendly. We stopped at a petrol station in Ferns where JR and Darragh blocked the forecourt while they went in for their long-awaited whippy ice-creams. It was getting late by the time they all finished their massive, double topping with twin flakes so we decided to head back via the N11. Darragh was purring along on the Deauville and we all stuck together until we approached Dublin and the start of the M50. Vincent was like Batman on his batmobile (complete with blue neon bat-sign) as he took off and I went with him as we both flew past cars hogging the outside lane. We made great time and were home just before 6:00pm.

It was a fantastic day and definitely one of the best spins ever. It seemed like we had visited a load of places (which we had!) and we had great craic all day long. The weather and the good turnout also helped to make it another memorable spin.

But it’s mid-October now and the weather is bound to take a change for the worse. But, hopefully, we’ll get in a few more spins even if it’s just a breakfast run or short spin.

‘til the next one,

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The Ireland Italy Axis

Commander Andy had planned joint manoeuvres between his CRRG Irish Brigade and the Italian allies commencing at 10:30 hours on Sunday 2nd October. His coded messages were received at various barracks across the country and his call to arms was answered by the loyal and brave volunteers. Cumann Na mBan was well represented by Countess Andrea and Mary Sandra Rice.

Commander Andy had planned a raid on the Curragh Military Camp where there was a large stash of weapons such as rifles, machine guns and revolvers as well as military vehicles. The group met at Lucan where Privates Ryan and Kenny had stood guard for hours watching the women dispatch carriers hurry past. Also present were 2 Italian officers, Claudio and Marco, as well as Irish volunteers including Corporal Darragh Dullville. After discussing details of the planned raid and the route which they would take to avoid enemy patrols, the raiding party headed off to a safe house in Leixlip for breakfast and to discuss tactics (or was that tic-tacs ??)

One of the Italian light tanks was unsuited to the rough Irish terrain and mandolin player, Captain Marco Corelli, was having difficulty controlling it. So a stop was required. Head Scout Alan found a secluded wooded area near Donadea which would provide cover for the group. Unfortunately, the area was mined and Alan got stuck in a mine field. His armoured personnel carrier was almost touching one of the mines and he couldn’t reverse either. With no concern for his own safety, Private Ryan rushed to his aid and they managed to manoeuvre the big machine out into safety. The rest of the group began to follow cautiously until Private Ryan spotted that they could lift an improvised road block which had been placed there and drive right past instead of having to negotiate the minefield!

While under the cover of the forest, Commander Andy decided to go over details of the planned raid again. While he drew a map on the grass and pointed out the target, his loyal troops listened intensely………

They had some of their rations there before pushing on to Clane and then Prosperous and Allenwood. They took the back roads over the canal bridges and along some winding country roads. The sun was shining and it was a fantastic day for a bit of shooting.

But suddenly, out of nowhere, a sniper’s bullet flashed by Claudio’ face, causing him to lose control of his all-terrain attack vehicle momentarily. His vehicle veered dangerously to the opposite side of the road before he regained composure and managed to get it under control.

This is the only known photo of Claudio available as he evaded capture by the Secret Service.
For this reason he was known as “the quiet fella” in Ireland.

Captain Marco Corelli’s tank was beginning to act up as the group approached The Curragh and he had to abandon his position and return to his safe house. The others were distraught at losing such a brave soldier but pushed on towards their target point. They met no opposition as all the enemy were still sleeping off their hang-overs after Dublin’s big win over Mayo in the All-Ireland & Italy football final. The Cumann na mBan ladies helped grab some machine guns and weapons while the others kept lookout.

Countess Andrea freed her long lost boyfriend, “Whitey”, who had been held captive in the Curragh for the past 15 years.

After they had loaded up their vehicle with all the weapons and ammunition that they could carry, they snook silently out of the camp. They decided to split up in fear of checkpoints and capture. Commander Andy headed back with Private Vincent while the rest took some back roads via Naas on to Blessington. Just as they were approaching Kilcullen, there was an enemy check point. Private Ryan told them that he was a Press photographer and luckily he had the perfect cover – his expensive 1910 Canon disposable camera. They were waved through the checkpoint and continued with no further incidents on to Blessington.

They stopped at their regular safe house there and had some more refreshments before heading back to Dublin, splitting up to evade detection as they neared home.

It had been another very successful raid organised and planned by the now famous rebel, Commander Andy. Every member of the troop got back safely, despite one or two scary moments. And it showed the great comraderie between the Irish and the Italians ( although we will never forgive Schillaci for what he did to us in 1990)….

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Saturday 10th and 17th September 2016

Castles & Crusaders

It has been several weeks since the last report of the exploits of King Alan and Guinevere and their loyal band of Knights of The Round Table.

King Alan sits at the great Round Table awaiting the return of his knights from their crusades in far off lands.

The great and noted scribe, Marcus Flatulus, has just returned from a crusade with the Eastern Army to Wales where General Derek and his commanders, Paul and JP, have successfully supressed a rebellion by the picts. The valley dwellers were no match for our brave conquerors though they did inflict some small injuries. Hopefully, Marcus Flatulus can now get to work on penning the latest stories from all the recent campaigns.

Meanwhile, intrepid explorer, Peter the Great and his squire Harold, are still searching for the Holy Grail in the furthest extremities of the CRRG Kingdom in the wilds of Scandanavia. And Sir Karl & Lady Mary Von Gygax have successfully returned to Camelot and are in fine spirits after their horseback tour of the European settlements. But the Knights are concerned about Sir Kamilahad Kokoszka who has been missing in action for months now, ever since the Northern foray into the frozen wastelands of county Louth. Rumours abound that he got a dose of the shivers after that foray and, after returning to his castle, had taken to his four-poster bed, still wearing his “onesie” suit of armour.

King Alan’s right-hand men, Little Johnners and Sir Vincelot were also unfit for action for a few weeks but the campaigns had to go ahead without their assistance. It was feared that Little Johnners also had a fever as he had gone a bit “cuckoo” and kept hearing loud BANG’s .

A few more Knights had to rebuild their own castles or repel rebellions so were allowed by King Alan to stay in their own lands. Along with King Alan and Guinevere, the few remaining Knights – Sir Paul Percival, Sir Andrew Merlin and Claudio Gawain – inspected their outposts at Roche Castle in Louth and were joined by Little Johnners and Vincelot at Kilkenny Castle.

Sir Andy Merlin consults the spirit world at Castle Roche

Claudio Stands Guard at Kilkenny Castle

Thankfully most of the Knights have now returned to Camelot, safe and sound from their foreign campaigns. King Alan plans to launch a few more attacks on enemy positions before the harsh winter sets in so will need to put together a strong army. He hopes to join forces with his long lost friend and ally, Sir Tristan-Darragh, and will be sending messengers to his other estranged allies in the hope that they will also join forces soon.

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Sunday 4th September 2016

Powerscourt Waterfall, Enniskerry, County Wicklow

Met Eireann have really been on the ball lately and their forecast for a miserable, wet day on Saturday was spot on. But we are now into September and with a bright, dry day forecast for Sunday, we decided to take advantage of any good weather we get from here on in. With so many away or working, it was left to Derek, Claudio (just back from Myanmar), Andy & Andrea (welcome back Andrea!) and Sandra and me to fly the CRRG flag.

The four bikes and six riders met at Texaco off Exit 11. Jason was to come along but he met up with a fellow traveller friend of his from Tipperary who was up for the big stick-fighting game in Croke Park and they went drinking all day instead. (they’re probably still celebrating….) Marco had also thought about coming along but a light bit of drizzle early on that morning changed his mind. And it was probably just as well because some of the roads which we took were certainly not intended for a Ducati sportsbike with slick tyres. And there was no word from poor Mark who is brain-dead after struggling for the past 3 weeks to write the Trip Report from the Rosslare spin.

Having just received his certificate of Wicklow Citizenship, Derek was dying to show us around his newly adopted county and led the group all day. Following the 1798 rebellion, Michael Dwyer had managed to evade his English enemies for years by hiding in the Wicklow mountains which he knew like the back of his hand. But he was no match for our very own mountain man, Derek, who must know every road, boithrín, laneway and path in Wicklow ! He took us via The Scalp (I hadn’t been there in years) and various back roads to Enniskerry and on to Roundwood for a fab breakfast in the Coach House.

After breakfast, Derek again took over, bringing us through even more tricky and narrower roads. He took us through some fantastic scenic spots along roads which an experienced mountain goat would think twice of negotiating. Despite the odd tricky corner, it was worth it and all four bikes arrived safely at the beautiful Powerscourt Waterfall in brilliant sunshine.

Derek got the OAP rate but the rest of us paid our €6 entrance fee, much to Andy’s annoyance. We had picked a good day for our visit as there weren’t too many there. Andrea pointed out that they were mostly foreigners ! It was roasting hot there and we had a rest right at the bottom of the waterfall. Claudio hadn’t had a bath or shower since heading off to Myanmar and took the opportunity to give his feet a good wash. We had no luck finding any Wicklow gold in the pools so, after a few photos, we strolled along the stream and over to the shop for some well-deserved “whippy” ice-creams and drinks.

Then it was off again for another fab spin up to the Sally Gap with even more great scenery. Andy got stuck behind some traffic at one stage so we slowed for him to catch up only for him to zoom past … on a bend ! Derek left us at the crossroads at the Sally gap and the five of us then headed on to Kilbride. The cyclists were a nuisance, blocking the road and riding three or even four abreast. But most motorists who were stuck behind them were very good, moving over to let the bikes past. Then we had the sheep to contend with as they wandered onto the roads and it was hard to know whether they were going to suddenly run across our path. After Kilbride, we took a slight detour and back-tracked to Baltinglass for a quick stop at the West Wicklow and some non-alcoholic beer.

It had been a great day in every sense – a good group, some great routes led by Derek, fantastic scenery and a beautiful venue. We all enjoyed the breakfast, the chat and the spin and were glad that we had taken advantage of the good weather. Plus Claudio’s feet didn’t smell any more.

Hopefully we’ll get some more good weekends and maybe even an Indian summer? ‘til the next one,

Ride safely,

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Saturday 27th August 2016

Clonalis House, Castlerea, Co. Roscommon

Clonalis House (Irish: Teach Chluain Mhalais), Castlerea, County Roscommon is the ancestral home of the O'Conor Don, who is a direct descendant of the last High King of Ireland, Ruaidrí Ua Conchobair.

Clonalis was constructed in 1878 by Charles Owen O'Conor as a replacement for an earlier house on the same site which was frequently damaged by flooding. Built of mass concrete, its design by the renowned Pepys Cockerell is of a mixture of styles drawing on the traditions of Italianate and Queen Anne Style architecture.

Its history reflects the turbulence of Irish history having once been occupied by the Irish Republican Army before it was shelled and captured by Free State Forces during the Irish Civil War.

Some 100,000 volumes are contained in the family archives and library of the O'Conor Don which are still held at Clonalis House, making it a valuable repository of Irish history.


We had another good turnout, with 10 riders meeting up for breakfast at Mother Hubbards – Derek, Paul, Mark, Vincent, JR, Andy, Pat, Sandra & I and new rider, Victor (originally from Egypt, though living in Ireland for past 3 years) on a lovely Triumph Explorer 800.

The weather was great and the forecast was good so a long spin was planned, heading to Castlerea and Clonalis House. I had told the lads that I had gotten a “special” deal on admission (€3.50 p/p instead of €7.00) so the misers were over the moon with the “massive” savings !! Unfortunately, the young tour guide later let it slip that admission was half price during National Heritage Week !!

We had an uneventful spin to Kinnegad apart from Victor sticking behind a Garda van with flashing blue lights which was going at cycling pace behind two cyclists who were part of a large charity cycle group along that road !! Those penalty points he got recently certainly have poor Victor spooked. JR chatted up a couple of the female cyclists as he tried to look cool puffing his vape riding alongside. Pat had to leave after breakfast to feed the chickens and cut Mick’s grass while he was away in Italy. So that left a nice group of 8 bikes with 9 riders for the spin.

It was fairly warm and JR decided to wear his brand new expensive Dainese Casual biker gear which looks just surprisingly like ordinary Dunnes Stores attire but is specially designed for the discerning biker who wants to look good while out motorcycling.

As Victor has only been on motorbikes for a year or so, we took it handy and managed to keep together with Derek doing a great job as Tail rider. We went via Longford and Strokestown, making good time and had to stop at the bridge over the Shannon in Termonbarry until the road was lowered back down for us ! I decided to bring the group to Ballintubber to show them the impressive castle there as it would be mentioned in the tour guide’s information later that day as it was once the stronghold of the O’Connor clan. That brought us through some lovely scenic back roads and back into Castlerea. Castlerea was a hub of activity for 1:30 on a Saturday afternoon! We must have spotted at least half a dozen locals out shopping…

The entrance to Clonalis House was not well signposted and we nearly missed it only for Sandra spotting the sign on the left. We did a u-turn and back in through the big gates and along a very impressive long drive up to the big House. Parking was excellent but we noticed Paul and Mark hadn’t arrived. Apparently, they had somehow missed the entrance and Paul couldn’t hear Mark beeping at him over the sound of the noisy, rattly Yamaha engine.

We had a fairly interesting tour of the House (but I think €7.00 would have been a bit steep) and the young tour guide was very good despite Derek and Paul trying to catch her out and asking loads of questions. We took a few photos while Andy tried to sort out Derek’s low beam.

We went on from Castlerea, stopping for coffee at Tulsk (hadn’t Gene Pitney got a song about there?... “I was Only 24 hours from Tulsk” ???).

Andy point blank refused to fill up at the local petrol station in Tulsk with a Paraffin/Kerosene/Agricultural diesel mix saying it’d ruin his fuel economy. Paul, Mark, Derek and Andy were in a hurry back so they took the Longford road while Vincent pushed on for Rooskey for a couple of bottles of wine and a Chinese. So JR, Sandra and I and Victor took the planned scenic route via Lanesborough and on to Ballymahon and Mullingar. There was little or no traffic and we got to Mullingar in good time whilst obeying all of the speed limits on each and every road*………. Yawn..

*I would ask riders to refer to Lesson 1 on the last Trip Report (Report 14 of 2016) about traffic signs.

We had to have the by now “obligatory” Whippy stop so we pulled into a petrol station just on the outskirts of Mullingar. The place was swarming with wasps so we didn’t hang about too long. We eventually hit the motorway at Kilcock and as we approached Dublin we waved goodbye to Victor.

It had been a long spin (400km+) but another great day out and yet another new venue visited. The weather was fab but JR was a little disappointed in his casual biker gear saying that he had felt a bit of a chill…… We hope that Victor also enjoyed the spin and maybe learned a little bit in the process.

‘til the next spin,

Ride Safely.

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Saturday 6th August 2016

Lesson 1 - Road Signs

This means that there is a roundabout ahead. It does NOT mean that you have to go around and around and around and ……………….

This example shows which direction to take at the roundabout. The arrow is a bit of a give-away. Each “arrow” points in the direction of the town(s) named beside it.

This example can usually be found at junctions. Again, the thing to remember is that the arrow ( “< “ or “>”) beside the name of the town is telling you whether the town is to your right or left. (It helps if you know the name of the town that you are heading to).

This type of sign indicates the approximate speed you should be travelling at. It is purely a “guideline” and doesn’t apply to motorcycles. You can also substitute miles for kilometres.

This is a petrol station (note the petrol pumps, large forecourt and cars stopping to fill up with petrol). This particular petrol station is in Ballyjamesduff and has a large MACE shop and food hall and is particularly easy to spot from the road.

Ballyjamesduff, County Cavan

We had great turnout on Saturday for the spin to the Cavan County Museum in Ballyjamesduff. Though I suspect that most turned up just to have a gawk at Paul’s brand new Yamaha FJR1300. There were 10 bikes with 12 riders – Jason, Vincent, JR, Pat, Pete, Andy, JP & Therése, Paul, Sandra & me and, last but not least, our very own “chatty man” himself, Martin, made a surprise comeback!

Despite all the great forecasts of brilliant weather and soaring temperatures for Saturday, we ran into some rain as we approached Navan. Foolishly, I had believed MetEireann and had worn my summer gear so I pulled into a petrol station to put on rain gear. I almost had a very serious incident putting on my leggings but all the lads came to my rescue and rushed to help…… Once they had stopped laughing and slagging, we headed off again and JR did his usual Magic Roundabout impression, trying to wear down the edges of his tyre to match the middle. Then, as we got out of Kells, three of the group did a disappearing act, getting lost in the vast metropolis, suburbs, busy city centre and maze of streets there (there’s Main Street, Dublin Road, Oldcastle Road and the road to Virginia so it was totally understandable). But thankfully all 3 caught up and we sped on to catch up with the leading bunch. Then, as we got to Virginia, Jason decided that he wanted to see Cavan town instead but I went after him and persuaded him to come back to Ballyjamesduff (“Come Back, Jason King, to Ballyjamesduff” I pleaded……).

While most of the group were already in the Town Diner, Andy was lodging a one-man protest about the conditions at the local eatery. Though it was several years ago, Andy hadn’t forgotten about the lack of mustard, the poor quality Latté or the time they overcharged him for scrambled egg on toast. He was eventually coaxed inside and was actually pleasantly surprised with the spotless interior, friendly service, good food and coffee, great selection and reasonable prices. He has since withdrawn his complaint.

After breakfast, Jason and Andy zoomed home while the rest of us headed to the Cavan County Museum. At the car park where the bikes were perfectly parked in formation, a family with triplets asked if they could take some photos with the little kids sitting on the bikes. Of course they immediately picked the 2 best bikes – the K1600 and Big Blue ! While the rest of us get some education looking at the exhibits in the museum, JR and Vincent went off looking for cuckoos and bushes. Martin entertained Pete while the rest of us strolled around.

JP and Therése had more parties to go to so they headed off. And Paul wanted to get back to wash the new FJR before he went to Croker to watch the Dubs so he also headed off after a quick walk around the museum. The rest of us decided to stop for a coffee at the big petrol station just outside the town before heading back. But JR and Pat failed to spot it and never noticed for miles that the other 4 motorbikes weren’t following behind. They eventually came back and we had coffee and whippy ice-creams there.

We had no further strays after that, as I took the group up some fantastic winding roads on to Oldcastle and Athboy. We took the very twisty road from Athboy to Trim and stopped for another chat at the petrol station there before heading home via Batterstown and on to the motorway. JR couldn’t resist and did one more Magic Roundabout circle as we got to Clonee !

Hopefully JR will have a new tyre before next Saturday and he might even get them to wash his bike for him. Martin enjoyed his day out and has already made plans to come along next Saturday too.

‘til then,

Ride safely.

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Saturday the 30th of July

Epic Spin to Leap Castle

Leap Castle is considered one of the most haunted places in Europe. The bloody history of the castle includes murder and massacre of guests and inhabitants. Leap Castle was built by the O'Bannon family and was the residence of the O'Carroll Clan in the 1500s. In 1532, the chieftain died and his sons were fighting for control. One of the sons murdered his brother, a priest, during a mass in the castle chapel. The chapel is called "Bloody Chapel" and the murdered priest is one of many spirits in the castle.

Another example took place in the late 1500s. The last chieftain of the O'Carroll Clan was at war with the Earl of Tyrone. He hired the MacMahon Clan to fight for him and then poisoned them at a feast held in their honour! The MacMahons join the other ghosts in the castle.

Yet another part of the history of the castle was uncovered by workmen in the 1800s. They found a dungeon, or "oubliette", behind and underneath the altar. A trap door led to the spiked oubliette where many skeletons of victims were found. Legend has it that prisoners were pushed through the trap door to fall onto the spikes to die of injuries or starvation.

Mildred Darby, an owner in the early 1900s, held a séance in the castle. She met a ghostly figure and smelled what she thought was a rotting corpse. She reported her experience in the occult journal of the day.

But the fearless CRRG insisted on visiting the castle and 9 riders turned up for the epic trip – Darragh, Paul, Mark, Jim, Claudio, Sandra and me and Gordon brought Isabelle for her Annual Outing ! We had to contend with a bit of motorway riding until we got near Portlaoise and stopped at Treacy’s on the R445. I had booked in advance and a table was reserved for us. Claudio was presented with the expensive key-ring and sponsored Emergency helmet-strap. There was a tear in his eye as he placed his KTM key onto the shiny new key-ring. Isabelle looked on with envy but she only has one more rideout to do before she gets her very own ! The breakfast was fab and set us up for the next stage – over the Sliabh Bloom mountains. The scenery was fantastic and all too soon we arrived at the Leap castle, bang on schedule (as JR would say).

Sean RYAN (yep, another one) welcomed us and allowed us to explore the castle while he entertained 2 blonde americans. The only ones who got a fright at the castle were Paul and Darragh as I had hidden and jumped out from behind a big wooden door in the dark and let out a scream ! We were later entertained by the owner playing a tune on his tin whistle while Isabelle did an Irish jig and reel. After paying our €6.00 each (and Sean had checked every single euro) we headed off, while Claudio wanted to show off his new keyring to a friend near Limerick.

We had a great spin, stopping at Birr Castle for Whippy ice-creams (as I had promised Mark he could have one if he was in good form). Jim headed on from Birr as he was “expecting”. After the refreshments, the rest of us headed on via the lovely N52 to Tullamore, Kilbeggan and Kinnegad. We had another stop at The Monastery Inn (JR’s favourite) just past Kinnegad but Gordon and Isabelle had to head on as he was working later.

It was a day of sadness in some ways. Poor Paul was on his last spin on the Jolly Green Giant …..but he picks up his new FJR on Tuesday 2nd August !! We all wish him the very best of luck with the new bike and many miles of safe riding.

But it was also a happy day for someone else. Although he only looks like a teenager (or so he tells me), big Jim is now actually a Granddad !! Congratulations Jim and many, many happy hours of child-minding ahead !!!!

I think everyone enjoyed the mixture of roads, the venue (which was certainly different and entertaining), the breakfast & of course the ice-creams but especially the chat and banter. ‘til the next one,

Ride Safely.

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Saturday the 23rd of July

Snow White and the Five Dwarfs

It was like something out of a Walt Disney film but with 5 instead of 7 little men. Poor Sandra had to put up with “Grumpy” Mark, “Happy” Karl, “Bashfull” Vincent, “Moaney” John and “Sneezy” me all day.

From the very start, the day had not started off well. McDonalds in Lucan had to remove the seating from the front of the building following loads of complaints from female joggers. Poor JR and Vincent were gutted as they sat on the wall from 7:00am waiting for the rest of us to show up. I reckon that was why JR was in bad form for the rest of the day.

On the plus side, Gordon had managed to join us. But he had to head off after breakfast. Mark also turned up unannounced and he was actually allowed to stay out all day. Karl arrived with his usual grin from ear to ear because he was heading off on his beloved Ducati for yet another long spin. The 7 riders headed off in nice sunshine and grabbed our tables in Mother Hubbards in what they now call “Andy’s Corner”.

After the usual great breakfast, Gordon headed off and the 6 of us headed on to Mullingar. Just as we approached Mullingar, the sky turned grey and the rain started. It wasn’t that heavy, but Karl didn’t want to endure yet another day in damp underpants so we stopped to put on rain gear. It continued to rain for a short spell as we headed on out the lovely R390 towards Athlone, before eventually the sun came out again and it started to dry up. With no thanks or acknowledgement, I guided the group flawlessly through Athlone and on towards Athleague on the R392, before finally arriving at the Derryglad Folk Museum. It was an interesting place, very similar to poor Seamus’ (R.I.P.) place in Kilkenny. After a good tour and paying our €6.00 per head, we had a photo shoot for Charlie the owner (Mark wanted to charge him €35.00 for the photo !). Charlie didn’t want any dirty motorbikes in the photo so we sent JR off up the road. We had a quick coffee there listening to Mark and JR complaining again before we headed on to Roscommon.

Sandra thought that a “Whippy” ice-cream might cheer the boys up so we stopped at a garage in Roscommon while JR headed on up the main street before re-joining us. Vincent’s old mate, Ross, from Roscommon came over for a chat and very kindly told us that, if we were ever stuck in Roscommon, to give him a shout……. The ice-cream did the trick and Mark cheered up a bit while JR spilled most of his on his jacket.

Ice-creams devoured, we headed off again in nice sunshine and had a great spin via Lanesborough and Ballynahon to Mullingar and on to Kinnegad. I chose to stop at the Monastery Inn but once again came in for a hail of abuse from the moaners. But some more treats like Latté and drinks kept them quiet for another while.

It was worse than bringing a group of 5 year olds out for the day. I had to contend with their moaning, their tears, their constant complaining about the venue, the route, the coffee stops etc. etc. and had to keep giving them bribes and presents all day to keep them happy.

Looking forward to the next spin though !!!!

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Saturday the 16th of July

The Sequel to the Sequel

We arranged to meet at Topaz, Clonshaugh, and head up the old R108 via Ballyboughal to The Naul for breakfast. Vincent was already there when Sandra and I arrived and he had a coffee waiting for JR. But JR was busy on the big blue Yamaha, jamming on in front of cyclists in the Tour De France (hate them feckin cyclists! ).

Then Pat arrived sporting a new French helmet – a black open-face helmet which did not meet with CRRG Safety Standards Officers.

Then the first of the actors arrived. After several years in Fair City, Jim had just finished filming his first major film - the sequel to Celia Aherne’s love story called, “GS – I love you!”.

We waited patiently for screen-idol and international playboy, Pete. After also beginning his acting career in Fair City, Pete’s latest movie is the box-office hit “Now You See Me”. We don’t know what happened to him at Topaz – one minute he was there, next minute he had disappeared. (maybe he is still in role play???). Despite pleading with him on the phone, Pete had gone back to his hotel and stayed there. Actors can be a moody lot…..

So Vincent, Jim, Pat, Sandra and I headed off to meet thespian and classic motorcycle enthusiast, Brendan, at the Seamus Ennis centre in The Naul for breakfast. Brendan’s 1932 BSA was far too quick for our little machines and he pulled over in a driveway just past Ballyboughal to wait for us to catch up ……

After a photo-shoot for “Movie” magazine, we headed in for a nice breakfast and chat. Brendan’s one-liners kept us amused and we all enjoyed the conversation. Afterwards, the rest of us continued along the lovely R108 to Drogheda while Brendan went for a quick sprint to drop the knee on the bends around Garristown.

The sun had come out and it was a fab day for a spin. Despite tractors, trailers with massive bales of hay, feckin cyclists ! and town festivals, we seemed to make it to Dundalk and Jonesborough very quickly. Pat took over and took us past the Ravensdale Hotel and up a steep mountain road before taking a right turn onto a “bóithrín” or narrow laneway. But it was tarmacadamed so the surface was ok. It was a fairly steep climb but with only 1 or 2 bad bends. And a few more feckin cyclists! We eventually reached the summit where MGM workmen had built a starship base in preparation for the new movie. We were able to walk around the site and the views were definitely “out of this world”. We learned that, for the film, the mountain is to be called the scary “Black Mountain”.

We eventually left the mountain and drove down a different path to Omeath and the very busy (as usual) Carlingford before stopping for coffee at Fitzpatricks. Coffee took about 20 minutes to arrive. Same thing happened at our last stop at The Snail Box near Ashbourne, only the manager, fair play to him, refused to take our money because of the long delay and gave us the tea and coffee for free.

The sun was still shining there as we chatted and drank our free drinks. But Vincent’s forehead was beginning to glow like a Star Wars light-sabre so we left the Snail Box and headed down the N2 to the M50 and home.

Another great spin, great new venue and good craic. It was nice to meet Brendan too.

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Saturday the 2nd of July

Although it was now JULY, the weather was more like April, with frequent and sometimes heavy showers. But Derek was dying to get his latest purchase out on the road for its first spin with the group and no amount of rain was going to stop him. The weather was too bad for our Italian or Polish units to come along and a few of the regulars, like JR, Vincent and Darragh, were off on scouting missions. So it was left to a handful of hardy riders to join Derek – Mark, Karl, Paul, Andy and Sandra and me. The 7 of us met at Lucan just as a shower hit. But everyone was in great form and happy to be out on the bikes again after last week’s spin had to be cancelled (again, because of the weather). We decided to head to Mother Hubby’s for breakfast and see from there what the weather was going to be like. This was the 2nd time we had planned to visit Derryglad Folk Museum, just outside Athlone, and it wasn’t looking good.

Derek was in a mad rush for a good hearty Irish breakfast after all those pancakes & maple syrup in America. The white Pan-European took over from Enfield and didn’t stop for trucks, on-coming traffic or double white lines ‘til it arrived at Mother Hubby’s with a screech of brakes! The rest of us weren’t far behind though and we found a nice table inside, away from the locals and plebs. Andy wasn’t very happy being placed at the top of the table though and it took a few stern words from Paul and an offer of 2 sachets of mustard to calm him down. Derek enjoyed his long awaited fry-up, even devouring Paul’s black pudding and Mark’s fried tomatoes on top of his own breakfast. Once he had licked all the plates clean, we all went outside but there were still a lot of black clouds about. The 2 Ducati Multi-Strimmers decided to head back and Mark went with them, leaving just Paul, Derek and Sandra and I to decide what to do. It was too bad for a longer spin to Derryglad so Paul suggested heading to Mullingar and taking the exit for Delvin and Navan and back via Trim. We encountered more rain along the way but must have been lucky to have just missed a couple of heavy downpours as there were lots of big puddles along the sides of the roads. They are nice roads with mostly good surfaces and a lot of twists and bends which would be enjoyable on a good dry day. But there was a lot of surface water and muck about so we took it handy.

When we reached Navan, we decided to head for Slane instead of Trim. It turned out to be a good decision. Just as we approached Slane, I spotted a sign for “Café & Tours” at the entrance to Slane Castle. We headed in through the castle gates and drove right up to the castle courtyard where the café is located. It was their first Saturday to open and there were tables and benches outside with large parasols. We sat there in the courtyard of Slane Castle having high-tea, coffee and cakes in the sunshine!

As we sat chatting, Derek began to recount some of his life story and escapades. I won’t go into detail (“What happens on rideouts stays on rideouts”), suffice to say that his entertaining stories made Casanova look like an amateur!

After a good chat and laugh, we had a walk around the castle and grounds. We decided to keep the tour of the castle for another day when we would have a bigger group. The café and castle will be open for the so-called “Summer” season.

Paul never mentioned that he is related to the Conynghams – the family who built the castle and have lived in it since 1701. Between Paul and King John, we certainly are among some class ……………………

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The Craic was 90

Saturday the 4th of June 2016

It was only fitting that, in this year of celebration of her 90th birthday, the CRRG marked the special occasion by a special spin up North.

The wise old saying “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry” comes to mind. Plans were carefully worked out all week. The route was picked out with finite precision, down to the very last mile. Hundreds of co-ordinates were keyed into the Garmin Sat-Nav the night before the spin. The breakfast venue was chosen for accessibility and speed of access. The meeting place was picked because it gave quick access to the motorway.

Even a time schedule was worked out. And Euros were exchanged for Sterling (JR managed to bring a fiver). Finally, strict instructions were issued to all to be on time, with full fuel tanks, helmets & gloves on and “ready to go” at 9:00am. But, alas, all was thrown into disarray when an unforeseen emergency situation reared its ugly head on the Saturday morning. Just as Karl was about to put on his gloves and head off, he discovered in horror that his Ducati Red, nail varnish had run. He had specifically chosen the colour to match his red LIDL women’s neck-warmer. But there was no way that he was going to miss this spin and so off he flew on the Multi-Strimmer to the Beauty Salon. They were just opening as he got there and a thorough sanding, filing and quick buffing soon had his nails looking spectacular. He was delighted with them but the emergency had left him – and the whole group - running half an hour late.

Darragh had also been running a tiny bit late but that was excusable as he was bringing Jann for her first spin with the CRRG – what a baptism of fire!! Kamil had come out of hibernation and the warm sunny weather meant that he was dying to go on another long spin. He had even packed his holiday clothes and sandals in the expandable side-bags on the big K1300S. JR and Vincent were also dying for the spin and had been at Topaz, Clonshaugh since 7:00am, drinking coffee but disappointed that they didn’t spot any joggers.

So the spin to the Giants Causeway and popular Loyalist towns had gotten off to a bad start. But the group made good time on the motorway with Pete looking very comfortable on his new R1200GS LC Black Edition. We soon reached The Front Room Diner, between Newry and Banbridge, and headed in for a good old Belfast Fry (not as good as a Big Irish). We were warmly greeted and had our group photographs taken for their Facebook page.

After the big fry-up, the group headed off to Belfast and took the fantastic Antrim coast road via Carrickfergus (I wish I Carrickferrrrgus..) and Larne. After a fairly fast run, Karl’s Ducati was in need of re-fuelling but JR had bombed all the petrol stations back in the 70’s so it took a while to find an open one. Along the way, one roundabout was adorned with a lovely gold crown, no doubt in celebration of the 90th Birthday girl.

The scenery along the Antrim coast was as spectacular as we had been told. The road surface was good also, with a lot of twists and bends and even some small tunnels. Luckily we only encountered a small bit of traffic as there are very few safe places to overtake. Then it was on and up over the mountain with some thinking that they were at the TT races.

We stopped at Ballycastle for ice cream and drinks as the sun had re-appeared and it was really hotting up. We met Les Behan and her pal on a fab black Yamaha FJR 1300 (this one was clean) and had a quick chat before heading on to the Giants Causeway. The place was packed with loads of tourists, especially Japanese. There were loads of bikes too, including Predator.

Kamil changed into his three-quarter lengths and runners while JR ran down the walkway towards the causeway. We caught up with him and took a few photos. Darragh and Jann posed for some more photos before we all headed back up to the Interpretive Centre with me beating JR in a race to the top. ………

We had another coffee there before heading on to Joey’s Bar in Ballyconnell. Karl called over to the Ducati Centre there while Vincent and I took some photos in the Memorial Park.

Then it was on via Ballymena Hi and from Antrim to Lurgan and then from Banbridge to Newry and back to Dublin. We went through some picturesque little places with loads of flags. Some were obviously eagerly anticipating the European Championship football in France as they had painted bridges and footpaths in red, white and blue. Vincent left us at Lurgan and had another good spin ahead of him as he headed like a bat out of hell over to Rooskey where he was already late putting on the dinner. Pete continued on the M1 as he was knackered after all his “handy” work in the garden during the week, while the rest of us stopped at the Service Centre at Castlebellingham on the M1 to re-fuel (the bikes and ourselves). We had a good chat there, watched by the Armed Response Unit and the Traffic Corps, before heading back onto the M1 and home.

It had been a long spin alright but well worth it. We had been blessed with great weather, great roads, fab scenery and fantastic company. I’m sure I speak for us all when I say “Welcome” to Jann and we hope that she enjoyed the spin and the company and will join us again.

All that remains for me to say is a very deep-felt “Happy 90th Birthday” to the great woman herself ……


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The Dirty Bakers Dozen

Saturday the 28th of May 2016

We have been down deep caves, up steep mountain passes, stood on 5,000 year old cairns, driven across ancient bogs, climbed round towers, visited ancient monastic sites, seen early 20th century artefacts, held genuine WW2 weapons, stroked birds of prey and even eaten 3,000 year old bog butter. But still some members are not happy and complain about venues and trips. So the recently formed CRRG Entertainment Division put on a few little extra shows on Saturday. It obviously had a positive effect as we had a great turnout of 13 riders on 12 bikes, including the latest member, Claudio “Omertá” – an Italian, living in Ireland and riding an Austrian bike !! (Unfortunately for Pat, it now means that he can no longer claim to be the only biker in Ireland who rides a KTM).

The Firemen from Balbriggan Fire Station put on a dramatic and very realistic reconstruction of putting out a fire in a burning Nissan Almera on the Balrothery road. The 2004 silver car had an old dishwasher in the boot which was billowing out thick black smoke. Then one fireman used a large pick-axe to try to prise open the bonnet (he obviously didn’t know where the handle/lever was inside the car that opens the bonnet). There was another great big cloud of smoke which almost engulfed the spectators and was particularly healthy for the ozone layer.

As if the group had not had enough excitement for one day, the CRRG Entertainment Division absolutely outdid themselves by organising yet another event on the way home. As the group approached Ashbourne on the N2, they were unaware that up ahead lay a surprise mock-up of a Garda roadblock and Diversion, complete with “Diverted Traffic” signs (though the stuck-on blue tape arrows were a bit false). Nevertheless, it added a good 20 minutes to the trip and brought the group through back roads and little villages which they normally would never have travelled. So many thanks to our friends in blue.


The day began with 9 bikes meeting at Topaz, Clonshaugh in brilliant sunshine. This was Claudio’s first spin with the CRRG and he followed Marco to Topaz, saying how beautiful the Northside was compared with the drab Southside. Marco had filled up earlier that morning but decided to top up the Panigale again for the long journey ahead. A group of Hardly Davidsons were also meeting there and were still there as we were leaving, probably organising recovery vehicles for their spin. Vincent had arrived at Topaz first and had warned them not to park in our patch. Inspector Mary had planned on coming for the spin but had been up ‘til 1:30am organising the Road Block event, unbeknown to the other members, leaving Sandra as the lone representative of the Ladies Branch of the CRRG.

We took the short motorway spin to Balrothery Inn where the North County Dublin Brigade (Jim, Mick and Pat) were already waiting as we watched the Burning Car show. Then all 12 bikes and 13 riders headed off for breakfast at the Monasterboice Inn. Mick took half the group on a “short-cut” through Drogheda, ending up half a mile behind the rest of us as Andy did a few loops of the rounabouts to warm up his tyres.

A table had been reserved by CRRG High Command and it resembled The Last Supper, though there was one obvious and conspicuous vacant seat beside Karl (Mary’s)…… Claudio settled for a little scrambled egg while the rest got stuck into the healthy options like egg & chips, Full Irish and bacon ‘n’ eggs…..

Jim had to head off after the breakfast to help clean up after the burning car display earlier and pick up a new dishwasher. The rest of us headed on and took the back roads to Dunleer, Castlebellingham and Dundalk, passing a “boy-racer” in a yellow Civil who had zoomed ahead of us on the back roads. Tempted as he was, Marco decided not to open up the Panigale. We went through a very run-down looking Jonesborough with Tri-colours flying and on to the Sliabh Gullion Forest Park. After a coffee (we had to pay using “old English money” and luckily Paul had some left over from his trips to watch Spurs being beaten ..again) and some “tasteful” jokes from the M&M’s - (Mark and Mick ) – we negotiated the tricky mountain drive up Sliabh Gullion. Despite a couple of awkward sloping bends and some loose gravel, everyone got around safely. It was worth it for the spectacular views but I don’t think that the Panigale was exactly designed for those type of roads.

On leaving the Park, I took the group for a (very) quick look at the picturesque town of Forkhill before turning back around and heading back through Jonesborough where I stopped for a few seconds to talk to an old friend. From there we went back via Dundalk, over to the usually busy and traffic-jammed Ardee and then a deserve coffee stop at Collon.

As we approached Slane, Marco had to fill up again. We pulled into a petrol station where Noel put on his Bord Fáilte uniform and very kindly guided an English couple (on a dreaded HD and the missus didn’t look at all happy sitting on the back for some reason) to their accommodation in Navan. Noel stayed with them for a couple of hours, explaining all about the British occupation and the 1916 Rising.

It should have been a straight and quick run home from Slane but we had Inspector Mary’s surprise Garda Road block in store. Once we got back out on the main road, we caught up with some traffic. The car at the back of the line of cars was a 131D, navy blue Focus, a bit dirty, no garage name on the back window, two people sitting in the front, a big aerial on the roof and had something stuck with suction pads at the bottom centre of the front windscreen. Unlike me not to overtake, instead I stayed behind the Focus for a while as we were coming up to the Ashbourne roundabout anyway. Some of you might already have guessed what that means……but not Andy and Marco who zoomed past me and the blue Focus on a continuous white line. But, lucky for them it was only Inspector Mary and a colleague driving back from clearing up the road block and they recognised the lads and didn’t pursue.

So we had a great day and hopefully all the riders appreciated the extra shows put on by the Entertainment Committee. They can’t promise anything as exciting on the next spin but will certainly do their best. All that remains is for us to give Claudio a very warm welcome and we all hope that he enjoyed the spin with us and will be joining us again.


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Wells Fargo

Saturday the 21st of May 2016

Out at the Kenny Pondorosa ranch, Vincent looked at the grey skies and wondered if his fellow cowboys would pull out of the long ride which they had been planning for that day. They had been told in secrecy of place way down South across the border into Wexico where there was gold to be had. A strange, lonesome rider on a big silver horse had told them one night in the saloon a while back about how he and his gang had come back from a raid on a rich Wexican rancher (try saying that with a few pints!!) with pocket-fulls of gold coins. Vincent’s foreman, Alan Ladd, had drawn a map of the location based on the stranger’s story. For fear that their plan might be revealed, Vincent and Alan only told the cowboys that they could trust – JR Ewing, Mark Wahlberg, Andy Garcia and Karl Maldon. But bar-maid and saloon singer, Sandra Bullock, had overheard the stranger’s conversation with the men that night and had to be included in the plan.

So plans were made - the route that they would take was carefully planned, their sturdy steeds were all fed, watered and washed and brushed (apart from JR’s as he only had time to wash one leg) and a meeting time arranged for early that morning outside of town so that nobody would see them setting off together. Everything was ready and the gang were looking forward to setting off and hopefully returning with saddlebags full of gold coins.

Unfortunately, the weather took a sudden change for the worse. Dark storm clouds rushed across the prairie, dumping heavy rain and even hailstones in its wake. It was not looking good for such a long, perilous ride through indian territory. It looked like they were going to have to postpone their adventure as Mark’s cabin in the hills was hit by a flash flood and demolished, Luckily he was sitting on the bowl in the outside toilet shed at the time and narrowly escaped but was badly shaken. Alan and Sandra were tempted to drop out too but were persuaded by Vincent to continue the journey. They met Vincent, Karl, Andy and JR over at the oasis where the weather was much better and so they decided to push on.

Karl had just bought a new horse – a spirited Italian breed – and was enjoying the fast pace as they negotiated hills and rocky outcrops on their way to the Wexican border. JR’s stirrups were too loose and he kept having to drag his feet along the ground, ruining his lovely cowboy boots. As the gang headed further south, the weather improved and they stopped in a little town called Gorey Details for a well-deserved breakfast and to rest the horses. They hadn’t got far to go now and a couple of the gang were feeling the strain and beginning to get nervous. It was all too much for Karl as he decided to head back home and said he didn’t need the gold anyway as he had just got his new horse anyway and that was all he wanted. Not wanting Karl to head off on his own in bandit country, thoughtful Andy agreed to accompany him. Andy’s horse was neighing all the time and was so loud that it might have drawn too much attention to them anyway.

That just left four of the gang remaining– Vincent, JR, Alan and Sandra – to continue the journey. They soon reached the spot marked on their map where the gold coins were said to be hidden. It was a massive ranch called Wells Fargo House. They entered and trotted up to the big house and tied up their horses. Letting on to the owner’s wife that they were poor wandering cowboys in search of work, they gained access to the kitchen of the house. Vincent spotted a red box along a corridor and, when the lady of the house left the room, he ran over and broke open the box. Sure enough, inside were several gold coins !!!!

They had just filled their pockets and replaced the red box exactly where it had stood when the owner’s daughter, a stunningly beautiful and slim young lady, came into the room. She seemed to take an instant liking to JR and insisted on showing them around the house, pointing at several priceless heirlooms belonging to the family. She watched Vincent closely, fearing that he might be tempted to take one, as he looked very guilty. But not for one moment did she suspect that the gang had already taken the family’s gold coins.

They were shown around several rooms by the young lady who was disappointed when JR refused to go upstairs with her to see the bedrooms. Eventually, they made excuses that they had to go and tend to their horses and quickly rode off up the avenue leading out of the ranch. To their shock, the owner was just returning home in his carriage and stopped them at the gate. Quick-thinking Alan told him that they had been speaking to his wife who had shown them great hospitality and had given them coffee and food. Alan thanked the owner and said “We never leave without paying”, as he threw him what the owner thought was a dollar.

As the gang sped away from the ranch and across the Rio Slaney into the distance, the owner put his hand into his pocket and took out the coin only to realise that it was actually one of his own gold coins ! But it was too late to get a possee together as the gang were by now too far away and riding into the sunset………

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St. Canice's Cathedral and Round Tower

Saturday the 14th of May 2016

Pat had refused point blank to set foot in Kilkenny. He bore too many scars and grudges from the years and years of the Cats hammering his native county in stick-fighting games in Croke Park. But the weather forecast was so good that this slightly longer spin could not be changed. So he took the wife, Ger, and headed off in a huff on the KTM (Kilkenny Tough Motorcycle) to annoy the French in Brittany instead.

Normally dependable Derek had just conned persuaded a buyer to purchase his beloved Wing and he had already replaced it with an ex-RUC Honda Pan-European. He was having the bullet holes filled and new launch pipes fitted so couldn’t go on this spin. Pete was busy back-packing, I mean bag-packing in Dunnes Stores for Charity (well, he’s out of pocket after buying the new GS LC!). Unusually, Andy was not available either as he was working on the bike trying to install some new gadget or other to make it go quicker or quieter. The poor workers among us – Jim and Colm – were….you guessed it!.....working!! And country lad at heart, Jason, was saving money on food, ESB and heating bills by squatting in his father’s place in Tipperary. There was still no word from Kamil who hasn’t fully recovered from that chill he got on the cold run around county Louth in March.

Nevertheless, we still had a great turnout of 11 riders on 10 bikes with Brendan making a welcome return on his fab Kawasaki GTR1400. It was fabulous day and ideal for a spin – sunny, dry and not too hot. And the plan of a bit of motorway riding first, then some nice secondary roads and finally some twisty, scenic roads on the way back before hitting the N81 worked a treat as we avoided most of the busy, congested roads brought on by the good weather.

Karl couldn’t wait to get going on a long spin on his new gleaming red Mustisatrada and was grinning from ear to ear as we sped along the deserted M9 and then the N78 towards Athy. Fair play to Darragh who earlier on was the only one who had waited for Sandra and I to catch up after we had stopped at the Saggart turn to ensure that nobody had missed it. (That has been noted in de book!). JR had cleaned one side panel on the FJR and wasn’t waiting around for anyone as he led the group to Athy. The hunger pangs were just about to hit as we arrived in lovely Castlecomber and stopped at The Lime Tree for a well-deserved breakfast. The owner was very hospitable but was not expecting 11 hungry bikers to arrive at once so service was only a tiny bit slow. Paul couldn’t wait any longer for his and grabbed my breakfast before it hit the table (that has also been noted in de book). Brendan had been up since 6:00am and this was his third breakfast so he stuck with scrambled eggs and black pudding and toast. Restaurant owners take an instant dislike to Vincent and once again he was nearly last being served. After a great feed we went outside for a phot-shoot before going the short distance to Kilkenny and St. Canice’s Cathedral.

JR was insisting on parking in a disabled spot and made a good point wondering how anyone in a wheelchair would get up that hill anyway. But, for the sake of courtesy, we persuaded him to park Big Blue with the other bikes on the footpath. The cathedral was very impressive and the girl on reception was very friendly and gave us Group Rates. We climbed to the top of the Round tower where we were treated to some fantastic 360 degree views. But the highlight had to be watching JR zoom up several flights of stairs after 2 young French students……. Mick took some great photos from the top of the tower while Darragh stayed at the cathedral texting his girlfriend. I was trying to educate the group about the tower and why it’s tapered when Mark piped up saying that the shape reminded him of something else which also tapers……………

Sandra and I went back into the Cathedral and lit all 300 candles for all the lads and lassies in the Group, but especially Mark, and said a few prayers that they’d all get better soon.

We left St.Canice’s and Vinny took us out of Kilkenny, avoiding most of the traffic and up via the lovely R712 to Bagenalstown. Then it was over to Kildavin via the Mount Leinster scenic route. We had a coffee stop there and afterwards Brendan headed to Gorey while the rest of us headed to Tullow and the N81. Paul, Mark and Mick headed home while Gordon, JR, Vincent, Darragh, Karl and Sandra and I made another stop in beautiful Ard Na Rí in Blessington, overlooking the lakes. I had to ask Gordon to cover his unsightly and highly offensive “VR 46” tattoo as there were women and children about. After a quick stop there and Sandra finished her 4th pint of Guinness, we headed back off on the bikes and home.

It had been yet another great day out and St.Canice’s is well worth a visit. We had the usual great craic as well as a fantastic spin on some great roads in brilliant sunshine. What more could you ask for?

‘til the next one,

Ride Safe.


PS We hope to have the forum and gallery up and running shortly

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De Dirty Dozen Do Deliverance

Saturday the 19th of March 2016

Legendary Mountain Man Colm had travelled north for many miles through the ice and snow to pick up the group of 10 explorers on the outskirts of the old mining village of Talla. Along the way, he skinned a few beaver and mink which he had trapped earlier, using the pelts to insulate himself from the chilling wind. The explorers had met at the last outpost in Talla before entering the vast wilderness and were not expecting the harsh conditions which they were to face on the long, perilous journey to Kill Kenny (a lawless wilderness, full of stick-fighters and named after an attempt to murder an ancestor of one of the explorers).

The experienced mountain man guided the group back down along old migratory tracks used for centuries by herds of bison. But the further south they travelled, the colder the weather became. City-slicker, JR, was feeling the cold more than the other explorers and they arrived at the remote homestead owned by eccentric blacksmith, Mary, just in time, as frostbite was beginning to set in. Her Forge was often used by Colm to stock up on supplies and the group were relieved to reach the warm refuge. Mary brought them into her cabin where a warm fire soon thawed out the weary explorers and food was provided by Mary’s nine daughters. Waiting for them at the outpost was Colm’s great, great grandfather, Aidan, who had come from A Tie, a native village way out in the wild west, to help Colm guide the explorers.

Finally thawed out, fed and rested, the group of 12 bade their farewells to Mary of the 9 daughters, threw her a few dollars for her hospitality and headed back out into the dreary cold. But there was no talk of turning back or ending the trek. Even Dutchy Holland put his discomfort to the back of his mind, smeared on some more sudocream and carried on without complaint. Big Pat had turned down the opportunity of playing rugby for his country, opting instead to join his colleagues on the expedition. Experienced mountaineer, Pete, had only recently come back from an expedition to the frozen mountain peaks of Switzerland so he thought that it was actually quite a warm day. Being experienced explorers, Alan and Sandra had planned ahead and had placed red-hot stones under their saddles and in their gloves so they were roasting (nearly too warm, in fact) as they followed behind the group.

Colm and Aidan led the explorers along some treacherous mountain passes, over narrow cliff paths and up steep mountain tracks used only by sheep, mountain goats and Ibex. A few of the explorers fell behind as loose surfaces threatened to give way underfoot. But excellent marshalling by JR kept the group together as he sounded his trumpet at junctions so that the others could follow the right path. Eventually Colm led them to slightly wider but bumpier roads. As they descended the mountains, some cabins and dwellings came into view so they knew they were nearing the goal of the expedition – the ancient Aztec settlement of Mullinz.

The mound of earth at Mullins is actually an Aztec temple which has been overgrown through the centuries and is now completely disguised by the grass which covers it. While Alan ascended the hill with remarkable ease, some of the explorers had great difficulty reaching the top and were completely out of breath, possibly caused by the high altitude. Karl and JR were too exhausted to even attempt the climb and decided to have a moment together instead. The group wrapped them in blankets and gave them hot drinks to help them regain their energy. Group photographer, Darragh, took some photos of the sites for National Geographic magazine. From the top of the temple mound, the explorers could see a large river not far off in the distance. They went back for Karl and JR and the whole group made their way through dense forest, passing a ruined city as they approached the river. A native was fishing along the riverbank but ran off when he saw the strange looking explorers approach. Or was it Mark’s not so tactful remark about what he thought about fishing that scared him?

After exploring the area, the group lit a fire and made some coffee and tea as they rested a while along the fast flowing river. A wild dog came out of the woods and went to sit beside the explorers but the ground was too cold for him………. A few more natives showed up but they seemed friendly enough and didn’t bother us.

By that time it was mid-afternoon stage so the group decided to try and get back before darkness fell and the tracks froze over (and for Paul to get the results of the football, soccer, hurling, MotoGP, Formula 1 and camogie). They made quick time as they navigated their way back, although JR was extremely lucky that Darragh was on hand to rescue him from getting totally lost. They had a quick stop along the river’s edge at Bun Clody before parting ways and heading back to their own hovels, ready for their next adventure.

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Stephenson's Pond, Louth

Saturday the 12th of March 2016

This was our 4th rideout and our first “long” spin of 2016. We had a good turnout – 10 bikes with 11 riders. Paul, Mark, Vincent, Derek, Andy and Sandra and I met at Topaz on the N2. Fair play to Derek who had to come all the way from NTMK but was still on time as usual. Paul had set the TV boxes to record the soccer, the rugby, the hurling, the camogie, the womens rugby, the Gaelic football, the motorsport and Fair City.

We took the motorway to Balrothery where we picked up Mick, Pat and Jim on his nearly new red GS LC. Mick has kindly donated a LIDL headset to charity so if anyone wants it just let me know. His estranged neighbour, Pat, had brushed the cobwebs off the otherwise gleaming KTM and was still speaking in Spanish after his recent months holiday there. Kamil had travelled from Navan so had met us at the Monasterboice Inn. Although I had e-mailed in advance to say that about 10 of us would be arriving for breakfast at about 11:15am, there was some still “confusion” before we were eventually escorted to the Restaurant part where 4 tables were Reserved. There was a further long delay before we all finally got served. Some us were dying of the thirst at that stage but Derek wasn’t happy about sharing the jug of water. He was eventually persuaded to part with it just as the food finally arrived. The food was excellent but the delay had left us running a little behind schedule as I had arranged to meet Karl and Mary at the Sage & Stone café in Duleek about 2:30pm on our way back.

After breakfast, Mark headed off. Unlike his bowel movements, that is becoming far too regular an occurrence and I don’t think his piles are up to a long spin any more. But his usual tact, diplomacy and conversational skills are badly missed on the spins. Jim also had to head off as it takes him 2 hours to strip the bike to get it in and out of the side entrance and he had visitors coming later. Andy had left Andrea at home painting and his conscience was eating away at him as he munched his chips and bacon with mustard and tomato sauce. So he also decided to head back, buying some jet black paint on his way for her to paint his “Bat Cave” television room.

The remaining 8 riders did a “figure 8” tour of county Louth, going from breakfast at the Monasterboice Inn on to Dunleer, over to Ardee and then through loads of back roads and small villages towards Blackrock and Dromiskin, near Dundalk. We took the coast road from Castlebellingham on to Annagassan and Clogherhead and back through Termonfeckin to Drogheda. Then over to Duleek and back via the N2 Ashbourne bypass. For many of us, it had been years since we had been through those towns and villages and I for one had never been on some of the roads which we took before. So it was a really enjoyable spin and different from our usual routes.

We had to be careful on the back roads though as the farmers had forgotten to wash down their tractors and trailers coming out of their fields and there was a lot of muck/debris on the roads. But, despite it being a Saturday, most of the roads (and villages) were deserted and we were able to take in some great scenery along the way.

The venue for the spin was Stephenson’s Pond, just past Knockbridge. After a brief moment of panic when we did a complete circle around the town of Louth, we found the right road to Knockbridge, realising that the signposts had been switched. That put us a little further behind schedule to meet Karl and Mary.

Stephenson’s Pond is a man-made lake built by the original owners of Stephenson House (the ruins of the house can be seen across the road). The lake and gardens were designed by the husband of Margaret Burns, a sister of the famous Scottish poet, Robbie Burns. For his work on the gardens, they were allocated a cottage and small plot of land and the cottage is now part of the centre. There is a €3 entrance charge per car but the smart lads in the CRRG as usual by-passed the barriers and took a pedestrian path up to the car park. After a coffee there, we had a walk down to the lake where Kamil swore he had seen some fairies running in through a Fairy door and some tiny red chairs and tea-cups which the fairies had left as they ran up the tree and closed the door behind them when they spotted us coming. Vinny fed the ducks and water hens some horrible poisonous berries while Sandra and I took a few photos (for the “new” Gallery – if we ever get it……!!!!.).

We headed on, with some great navigation from Vincent, taking in some great scenery around Annagassan and Clogherhead. At Drogheda, Kamil headed back to Navan while Paul, Pat and Mick headed on to Balbriggan. Vincent still had plenty of time for making the family dinner later so he, Derek and Sandra and I headed over to Duleek. The road from Julianstown to Duleek is fab – too good – as we sped past the entrance to the Sage & Stone and had to do a U-turn. We arrived just as Karl and Mary were about to leave! It was 3:30pm so we were an hour late which, considering the delay over breakfast, our slight detour, stopping to fill-up and the distance travelled, was actually quite good. After yet another cup of coffee at the Sage & Stone and a chat with Karl & Mary, the 4 bikes headed off on some good roads to join the N2, at the exit across from the Snail Box, and home.

It was great to get some good weather at last and some dry roads. It wasn’t even cold and most of us were roasting in our usual 5 layers of thermal gear. Even cold-hating Kamil was comfortable in his “Onesie”……

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The Rock of Dunamasse Pilgrimage!!!

Saturday the 23rd of January 2016

With the early morning sunshine and temperatures into the middle teens at the weekend, Jason awoke early from his winter hibernation thinking it was Spring already. He had already shed his big, black winter coat and his new, light coat was all shiney and cool. After having slept for the past few months, he was starving and left his cave at sunlight to forage for a much-deserved big breakfast. He felt fresh and renewed as he stretched and roared before heading off.

But nature had fooled him into thinking that it was going to be warm and sunny outside. After only a few miles wandering through the frozen wilderness of Tallaght, he soon realised that his summer coat was no match for the prevailing low temperatures outside. But it was too late now to turn back and go back to sleep – he was much too far from his warm cave. He pushed on, icicles sticking to his nose and mouth as he headed south to his favourite feeding grounds. His breath froze and his paws were getting frostbite as he approached the valley in Baltinglass National Park. He crossed the frozen river and found some shelter and leftover pig and feasted until his massive belly was full. Nicely warmed up and thawed out, he decided to head back to his cave where he will probably go back into hibernation and not be seen again in the wild until the middle of the summer.

But there are hardier creatures about. It was already the second spin of 2016 for the brave lads and lassies of the CRRG. Although Karl had only just returned from slightly warmer and sunnier climates the previous night, he still managed to get out on the bike for a spin. Mark, Derek and Vincent plus Sandra and I made up the Magnificent Seven. Poor JR had to drop out at the last minute, Andy had to undergo major surgery to remove a menacing eyelash and “a lack of communication” meant that Mick ended up stopping at all the Texaco petrol stations on the Southside before heading home. We had a change of plan following a democratic group decision and headed from Topaz on the N81 down to Baltinglass for breakfast in An Bia Blasta. I was roasting as we hit the lovely N81 and had to lower the settings on the heated grips and seat……… There was no sign of JR’s boxer bitch as we rode past Tallaght Stadium and Jobstown House.

It was an uneventful spin to Baltinglass and we took it handy as roads were damp and there was cow-dung (or was it bear dung?) and muck in places. After the usual great service and food in An Bia Blasta, Mark, Karl and Jason headed back up the N81 and home. But Vincent hadn’t been to the Rock of Dunamasse before (and Derek couldn’t remember it!!) so the four of us remaining decided to head there as planned. We took some nice roads via Castledermot, on to Athy and over to Stradbally. It started to spin rain as we reached Stradbally but we climbed the Rock of Dunamasse and had a look around, taking a few photos.

We went back via Monasterevin where we had a coffee and parked in front of a “No Parking in Front of Gate” sign. Well, Derek said that the sign only applied if the gate was closed…. We met a couple of local bikers in the packed Insomnia shop there and had a quick chat with them ……just so that we could grab their table when they left! It was raining a bit heavier as we headed off again but the 3 “wardrobe” bikes offer great protection from the elements and we didn’t get wet at all.

I hadn’t been on those roads in years and Monasterevin, Kildare and the other smaller towns which we rode through looked very drab and deserted. That may be down to the time of year, the bare trees and bushes and the grey skies etc.

The bikes were filthy after all the sh1te on the roads and needed a good wash. We were only home a few minutes when we had a really heavy shower. So we were fortunate with the weather and really enjoyed the spin.


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The First Rideout of 2016

After all the storms, downpours, winds and floods of December and early January, it was looking like we’d never get out for a spin. And it lashed rain most of last Saturday night too. But, thankfully, MetEireann got the forecast right and Sunday morning was actually bright and sunny, but chilly. Even most of the roads had dried out well but there were still the odd pools of water about. Karl and Mary drove right through the middle of a deep pool on the N32 as he hadn’t cleaned the bike in ages and it helped wash off most of the leaves and muck.

A good turnout saw 9 bikes with 13 riders turn up at Lucan. JR and Vincent had been there since 9:00am hoping to watch the lady joggers go by but they forgot that it was Sunday, not Saturday, and the joggers were all at mass. Everyone but Darragh was on time but he sent a text saying he’d be a few minutes late as he was washing his hair. But he brought along his sister, Caoimhe, who seemed to enjoy the spin and didn’t complain despite various people calling her “Ciara”, “Saoirse” and all sorts of other names. We hope that she enjoyed the spin, the breakfast, the company and the craic and will join us again for a longer run.

We set a good pace as we headed off to our trusted breakfast venue, Mother Hubbards at Kinnegad. Along the way, JR chatted up a few cyclists in skimpy tight blue lycra suits before he realised that they were men and he sped off to catch up with the rest of the group. There were a good few motorbikes already parked outside as we pulled into the car park. We met Brian there (who had come with us on the spin to Lough Boora with his wife, Georgina). Andy met his South African pal and tried to sell her friends loads of LED lights. We all had a good chat after breakfast before heading off on our separate ways.

Paul had enough of the cold and decided to freeze his ba**s off instead watching the Dublin stick fighters in Parnell Park. Karl and Mary headed home too as Karl had a load of washing to do and said that there’d be get drying out. The rest of us decided to make the most of the good weather and head on a bit further. We decided to head past Mullingar for a coffee in Bally Na Fad on the Longford road. Andy was still taking orders for LED lights and adjusting all their headlights and got delayed as the rest of us drove on slowly, waiting on Mick to catch up after taking an age to dress himself.

The owners of the coffee shop were delighted with all the business. The place had looked closed as we pulled in but a few other customers stopped soon after we arrived. Derek availed of the “Free Water” ( I would have thought they’d have loads of water there after the last few weeks and would be delighted to give it away !!!) but failed to get the OAP rate on the coffee. Andy was only leaving MH’s after fixing all the headlights on the bikes there so we told him we’d wait for himself and Andrea at the coffee shop. That meant JR had some time on his hands and he called an improntu First Aid course – for the Smokers only. He had learned a lot from his good pal Jim at the “First On Scene” course in the Airport and demonstrated several “life-saving” techniques on the ground outside the coffee shop. Mick suggested asking Caoimhe to partake in the demonstration but it was agreed that it might be too scary for her and frighten her off altogether, possibly scarring her for life.

As Mark1 had missed the spin and was still fast asleep in his bed at this stage, Mick took over as Group Comedian and told several jokes. As the old saying goes..”the old ones are the best”……! It was getting late as Mick finished his stand-up routine and Vincent wanted to get back to clean his bike so we headed off again, back via the N4 and then Kinnegad. Andy stuck to the motorway while the rest of us took the exit and on via Enfield to Kilcock.

It had been a great day out and, as Mick put it, it gave us all a lift and made us look forward to hopefully a good summer and plenty of spins.

Looking forward to the next one already,

Alan. Go to Top of Page

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