On our 5-Speed Viking racers we set out on our endeavor
The local Alpe D’Huez, myself and my friend Trevor
There was no Lycra in them days, no power bars nor coach
When both of us were Kelly and both of us were Roche
On the foothills of the mountain the conversation stopped
And we were now competing for fear of getting dropped
Side by side or not just quite, Roche slowly pulls away
Tomorrow might be different; it might be Kelly’s day
Breaking through the precipice and dropping like a stone
Phil Liggett in your ear and ice-water in your bones
Once or twice we tumbled and sure God must have been near
Cos we’d go like Hell the next day without knowing, without fear
Now the roads are full of bikes and my poor knees are shot
But they wouldn’t know the half of all that me and Trev forgot
Topping up your water from St Brigid’s Holy well
Crawling home in bits and telling no one that you fell
Even in 1987 when Stephen Roche won the Triple crown there wouldn’t have been many recreational cyclists on the back roads of Longford.
But one rare sight would have been that of two lads on 5-speed racers heading for Ardagh Mountain, Cairn Hill or maybe even the Hill of Molly. If you were feeling adventurous then the mighty Sliabh Ban itself wasn’t safe.
To go with our sub-par machinery we would sometimes complete the rig-out with some sub-par outfits. All in the name of emulating the great Roche and Kelly. And we tore around the roads with no concern for the danger that no concern brought.
I eventually got myself a blue 15-speed Ammaco, carbon fiber frame and all and there was no stopping me. While most teenage lads dreamed of Croke Park or Lansdowne Road, i dreamed of l’alpe d’huez and the Col du galibier.
Myself and Trev went out to France a couple of years ago and eventually climbed up the mountains we first became aware of over twenty years earlier. Slower than we would have imagined but still all the more familiar for it.
And you could hear Phil Liggett again as you rounded the turn down to where the finish line would have been. And you couldn’t help but try for a little sprint even though you were utterly banjaxed. That was a good week too but that’s not what this poem is about.