Saturday 6th March Arklow - Dublin 77km Done: 2488 km. To go: 400 km Weather: Lovely
So just 400km, or 250 miles in English money. to go, with five riding days left - and a rest day - as the Americans say (God knows why) - do the math.
Murrayfield is now the last stadium to visit after we rode in to Croke Park today. We were joined by Paul Wallace, who did a 'reverse Dominguez', joining half way through the stage, and riding to Dublin. By any stretch he is a legend, part of the Wallace dynasty (all three brothers were Lions), and no question one of the key players in the legendary Lions team that won in South Africa in 1997. Hard to believe that he was a prop - especially after being next to Jason Leonard last week.
Anyway. Why Croke Park? Well it's almost named after me - in Gaelic 'Páirc an Chrócaigh', which is even closer - and it's been hosting rugby while Lansdowne Road is refurbished. In fact neither Paul nor Lawrence ever played there. Massive place (82,000) but has a small terrace at one end - Hill 16. You've all heard of Michael Collins and Bloody Sunday - well this is where the police and the British opened fire on the crowd during a Gaelic football match in 1920 killing eleven spectators and Tipperary's captain, Michael Hogan. Enough history - but that's why it was such a big deal when England played rugby there - and as I recall the national anthem was respected.
Readers, in a perverse way I am glad normal service has been resumed on the hotel front. This lot were having it too easy. We are in the Holiday Inn in Dublin City Centre. This would be like Clapham as the centre of London. In the shower the hot water went off mid shower, and I mean completely off. The lift has been programmed by Benny Hill.
Lot of fines last night. The guy who banged his head on the sign saying 'mind your head', the captain of industry (can't be named) who failed to pay his extras (only one item, adult movies), Ed and Nicky who took four hours to drive 50 miles, and went to Wicklow instead of Arklow, and poor Andy, here with Nintendo, who fell off four times on his first day on cleats. One captured on video - you can see his mind working - 'Pulling over to kerb. Leaning slightly to left. Removing foot from cleat. Applying brakes. Oh sh*t, wrong foot. Bang'.
I shouldn't say this but even more gentle terrain than yesterday, through a strong headwind. All the way up the coast, past the rugged Curracloe Beach in Ballinesker where they shot the amazing opening sequence of Saving Private Ryan.You can see why they chose it - yes, the tax breaks. Through Wicklow, Greystones and Bray - picked up Paul Wallace - and then the sharp little Killiney Hill that did for a few. More inductees in the Thora Hird Stairmaster Hall of Fame tonight. Then along through the docks, across the Liffey, and into Croke Park. And countless tumbles ( Jeremy in the car park) - mostly the sort of stuff you see in the auditions for Dancing on Ice.
Aussie Dave decided to ride today and regaled both Joanna and I independently with a detailed account of his ride, including 'catching Lawrence'. We have ridden 2,500kms and not mentioned our days. Does anybody care? My fault for asking I guess.
Hello magazine used the group shot from Twickenham but I got cropped. Guess 20 years of marriage can do without that curse, even at this late stage. Our little group up to ten now, having been joined by Simon Brydon - the former boss of cycling.tv - who decided Team Kimmage was just a bit too hot and we have 'Mel and Shel' bringing some much needed glamour.
I have to mention Bonzo's crew - the Chuckle Brothers. There, done it. They asked me to but had no stories at all. Oh yes, they all fell off at some point. Why are they not called the Dog Doo-Dah Band? This allusion could go anywhere, but there is a touch of the Neil Innes about Antony di Lorenzo aka Bonzo.
And finally goodbye to Freddie Flintoff, back to Dubai. He joined us at Twickenham and would have to be a candidate for top tourist, I suspect Lawrence feels about him much the way he did about Paul Wallace in 1997. The Sims will miss him - he filled the pivotal 'all rounder' role in Greg's virtual cycling family - and was feted across Wales, but I guess that makes sense when the England cricket team is of course made up from players throughout the UK. And South Africans.
Off out in Dublin. Doors to manual.
PS We need tickets for Murrayfield, so if you hear of any let us know. We'll pay.
Andrew Croker is part of the core team accompanying former England rugby union captain Lawrence Dallaglio on every leg of his epic 2,770km Cycle Slam which started on 12 February in Rome. They're riding between Nice, Paris, Twickenham, Fishguard on to Rosslare and finally Edinburgh. The aim to is to raise £1M to be shared between Sport Relief and the The Dallaglio Foundation. You can support the Cycle Slam at www.dallagliocycleslam.com.