The McGuire Trio took on Tuscany (and survived cycling 400km)
We've cycled from Pisa to Florence and back again for Co-operation Ireland because it brings divied communities together in NI
Co-operation Ireland is a peace-building charity working to advance mutual understanding and respect between the people of Northern Ireland and of the Republic of Ireland to build a shared and peaceful future. It gives people the opportunity to meet and share experiences and opinions with those of a different religion or tradition.
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I am delighted to say that the McGuire trio cycled 400km and survived. And what a 400km it was - filled with great views, large hills, larger hills and wine !!!
It’s hard to put into words how pleasurable it was to join a fanatical bunch of cyclists who supported Co-operation Ireland on the ride. We breakfasted, lunched and dined together on local delicious Italian fare. We stayed in comfortable agritourism
accommodation and beautifully simple Italian hotels in the cities
Florence, Siena, Volterra (our highest peak at 980m), and Pisa. We were
up to greet the dawn and we saw some amazing sunsets.
Over the week a real team spirit developed with everyone looking out for each other and offering support and advice as and when required. (I required it a lot).
We had Bruce, Mike or Richard there to sweep up the slower cyclists to stop us getting lost (ooh it happened :-)). Pam and Mary to provide inspiration especially on the hills . And then our map readers extraordinaire Dennis and Aidan who plotted the complicated routes through the region.
We practised a little Italian and greeted every person we saw with a buongiorno, a ciao, or a buonasera. We loved to use as many P words as we could find, pronto, prego , per favore, or prosecco. Needless to say the latter was our favourite.
Our group was made up of catholics, protestants, presbyterians and some less religious types like me. We had lots of funny banter on the classic issues that are used to divide us and we were all united in supporting the wonderful organisation that is Co-operation Ireland.
Winnie at Co-operation Ireland organised the event and is a magician. Terry the chief fund raiser joined us on the cycle and kept us motivated, organised and smiling. I feel very lucky to have met and to have been part of this group and I thank them all for their patience, kindness, good humour and amazing character.
I’d like to say a very big 'thank you' to everyone who has so generously sponsored us and if you’re ever in the mood to help Co-Operation Ireland - it organises many events so keep your eye on the website.
I promise it will be an event to remember.