It’s been quite an experience. Barely 26 hours ago #TeamTQ turned up at Trim, Co. Meath and at 16.33 precisely Tucker was sent on his way to TS01 (Time Stage 1). Paul and Trish (Team A) were first in the follow vehicle, Alex and Roddy (Team B) going the 84km ahead near Dundalk to meet them there. Within 10 minutes the teams swapped over and Tucker was on his way again, Paul and Trish going ahead in the auxiliary vehicle, Alex (navigator) and Roddy (driver) now in the follow vehicle. The first big climb happened soon enough up into the Slieve Gullion. Absolutely no stopping and he powered his way to the top, and the long road down again toward Newry and on to TS02 at Moira. 153km in. It is, of course, now dark…. Our rider is inveigled to eat something – liquids are going OK at about 2 litres every 90 minutes of electrolytes and energy – but it’s the carbohydrates that provide the fuel.

 

The teams swap roles (follow / auxiliary) once more, but the next stage is 117km so we meet at Clough, swap over, and after once more trying to persuade our rider to eat and drink more, Team B follow him to the conclusion of ST03 in Coleraine – it’s was just after 0300, and Tucker has ridden 270 kms. Team C (Jon and Ashleigh) have been waiting, the teams swap kit between vehicles and the one and a half hour ‘rest’ period goes quickly. Tucker seems OK, focused but cold but doers get some rest in the back of the auxiliary van.

 

Alarm call 0455, everyone is up quickly but while sswapping over batteries and units for the rider / follow van intercom a problem is soon realised. Despite working perfectly until now – it’s clearly not working now. Tucker’s handlebar based GPS unit, which has the route plan downloaded, is proving ultra reliable but a big part of the follow team’s job is not just to forewarn of upcoming junctions, landmarks and other stuff – but simply to be ahuman presence and, hopefully, help maintain morale. That link has gone… and it all caused a bit of a delay but notwithstanding, Tucker was keen to crack on and with the sky beginning to lighten headed north, with Team C close behind, towards TS04 and the northern tip of Ireland – Malin Head. Total 368km.

 

Myself and Roddy headed off to the team’s next overnight (‘ha’) at Garrison on the shores of beautiful Lough Melvin. For some much needed sleep….

 

It’s 19.12 now, Tucker due in any minute. He will have gone through TS05 (Lifford, Co. Donegal – taking total to 466km) and to here it’ll be 583km. I’ve secured him an actual, real bed. Reportedly, he wants just another 90 minutes rest…. And then it’s Team B in the follow, with Team C in the auxiliary for the next 20 hours… and who knows how many kms…

 

Go to https://racearoundireland.com/live-tracking-from-blackblox to watch progress…