A poem by local writer Lewis Keating about Mayo’s most scenic cycling sportive, the Giro de Baile Cycle.


I have finished three weeks of bike training, got a lovely red bike on done deal,
between Aldi and Lidl, I got all the gear, I look like a pro on the wheel.
My jersey is aerodynamic, with panels of red, blue and black,
it’s got Festina emblazoned upon it, with pockets for food at the back.


With my Garmin computer on the handlebars, I’vè got strobe flashing lights, white and red,
special shoes, special gloves and repair bag, and an Aldi blue helmet on my head.
I arrived in the town of Ballycastle, that small town where I love to go,
Their Giro De Baile is legend, right there on the north of Mayo.


The historic re-enactors were present, the red coats and the blue coats of France,
the Bally boys shoulder their pikestaffs, old-time history was there at a glance.
My first time to see Oompa Loompas, Mister  Jamaica was doing DJ.
The Taoiseach in track suit and trainers, was sipping a hot cup of tay.


I was registered and paid up my money, before we set out on the hike,
I was given a number to pin on my jersey, and another to fix on my bike.
The redcoat fired a shot from his old 22, the fast bikes set off at a pace,
you would think it was Giro D’Italia, to see all those bikes in one place.


We cycled along by Downpatrick Head, this cycle was no problem to me,
I enjoyed to be cycling along the high cliffs, and the colours of the mighty blue sea.
It was soon that I came under pressure, when I faced into steep Flagbrooke  Hill,
they say you never forget your first climb, I assure you that I never will.


Changing gears and pedalling like a demon, terrified that the bike might just stop,
my confidence was gone and so was my breath, before I got over the top.
It was lovely to see Kilcummin of Humbert, the beach out at Lacken is grand,
as we passed like a big sweating snake, an aeroplane touched down on the strand.


We flew down the hill to Palmerstown Bridge, a cannon gun poised there to strike,
with a mighty loud bang and billows of smoke, I nearly fell off of my bike.
A pit stop in Killala, and Crossmolina, Bangor Erris and Carrowmore Lake,
there were seven more places to go through – can’t do it,  I`ll pull up the brake.


Someone panted out words of encouragement, I kept pumping it out left then right,
we eventually passed through Belderrig, the Ceide Fields now were in sight.
How I struggled up that street in Ballycastle, in sheer agony more dead than alive,
the people were cheering and clapping, as I rolled on that line to arrive.


It took me some time to recover, I was certain my end had drawn near,
I clocked in my time, was thanked for my efforts, and invited to cycle next year.
We were given great food and hot showers, but I still think I am going to retire,
there’s a red bike for sale on done deal, that damned saddle is going in the fire!

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