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A 772k cycle then back to work in vaccination centre

AN Ultra Cyclist spent most of last week cycling over and back across the country.
Kenny Gillespie from Braade, Kincasslagh, set off from the most westerly point in Ireland, Slea Head on the Dingle Peninsula on Saturday morning and made his way to the most easterly point, Wicklow Lighthouse, before riding back again.
Gillespie (41) completed the 480-mile, or 772km, ride, which included 6,400 metres of climbing, in a time of 38 hours and one minute.
The father of two is a paramedic with Medicall Ambulance Service, a private ambulance company, in Letterkenny. For the past eight months he has also worked at the LYIT vaccination centre.
This morning he starts work at the new Covid-19 vaccination satellite centre in St Columba’s Community Centre, Burtonport.
Now six years into his ultra-cycling career, he likes the thought of pushing the body a bit further.
“The mission last weekend was to see if I could do it and, to be honest, I felt as good in the last ten hours as I did at any other point during the race,” he said.
Kenny was one of seven cyclists who took part in the inaugural Team Joe Barr 770km cycle which was open to individuals and two-person teams.
Kenny’s wife Martina and friends Rosaleen and Maureen formed the support crew to cajole him around the route.
“We set off from Dingle at 9am on Saturday and I got back there just after 11 on Sunday night. Martina, Rosaleen and Maureen passed the food out the window and made sure that everything was ready for me when needed. They were great. They also had the tablet in the car to make sure I was going in the right direction,” he said.
Kenny has completed the Donegal Atlantic Way 555k Ultra Race on three occasions (2017, ‘18 and ‘19) so he’s well used to ultra-races that go through the night.
“I didn’t do any ultra races last year so it was nice to get over the line on Sunday night. I would like to do a 1,000k event at some stage but it’s probably a little too early to be chatting about it now,” he said.
Apart from two fifteen-minute ‘power naps’, Kenny was in the saddle for almost 38 hours.
“I kept going as much as I could but I stepped off twice when I found myself falling asleep on the bike. Those two naps did me the world of good.
“The weather wasn’t too bad but we were cycling into a light headwind for the first 400k,” he explained.
“When things got tough and I was at a low point I would think of all the people back home who sent me good wishes. The local Caisleáin Óir hotel were also very good in providing sponsorship in the lead up to the race. They really backed me,” he said.
Another welcome boost was seeing his children Amy (13) and Kenny (10) as he arrived back into Dingle.
“My cousin Elaine brought them down. I didn’t know they were coming and I got a lovely surprise when I saw them and their banners as I was cycling in Kanturk. It was a big boost at that stage,” he admitted.
“Overall, it was a good experience. There were ups and downs but it’s important that you always take the time to enjoy it,” he added.
A talented footballer with Keadue Rovers in his youth, Kenny enjoys nothing better than getting on the bike and taking in a full lap of the county border and coastline.
“I wouldn’t cycle any more than 250k at any given time. It’s not all endurance stuff. I also do one and two hour sessions as well as interval work. I’m a bit stiff today but I’ll be back out on the bike before I start vaccinating in Burtonport on Thursday.
“There’s a bit of life in the old dog yet,” he laughed.

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