My plan is all set to work out flawlessly, I think, seconds before the start of my worst photography endeavour since My Pieta House Failure.
I have my gear set up, my camera settings perfected, and an umbrella over my head well in advance of those doing the Shan route passing by.
I got up early enough this morning to get the shots. Oh yes-sir-ree I did! I’m what you might call a cute whore. I’m ahead of the posse and I believe I’m going to get the money shots for sure! But I don’t.
I see the cyclists pedalling towards me through the kind of rain which may not have been seen since biblical times when yer man Noah built the ark and all the animals went in two-by-two.
I only have one chance at this shot of the first pack of cyclists, and I press the shutter button halfway to auto focus on the pedalers, and my worst nightmare is realised; the frame goes completely blurred.
With lightning reflexes the likes of which you might expect of a commando on the battlefield, I realise that raindrops on my lens have caused the focus issue and so I extract a tissue from my pocket, wipe the lens, and crack off a few urgent shots as if my life depended on it. And they are a blurry, hazy mess.
When the last of those doing this route have whizzed by, I head over the road from Moycullen to Spiddal as I know two of today’s four cycle routes are going this way.
I develop a cunning plan of parking the car and poking the lens out the window so as to avoid my screw ups of earlier by keeping my gear dry.
I wait patiently for about three quarters of an hour and then realise that my lens is completely fogged up under the UV filter I have over it, making photos impossible. I try, desperately, to screw the filter off to wipe the lens beneath it but it feels like it’s stuck with superglue. I twist so hard I get a blister on my finger, but it will not budge.
Then, the cyclists whizz past and for a moment I almost have a very unmanly urge to shed tears. I’m one of these modern men who isn’t afraid to express his feelings, you see.
Realising I have wasted several hours of the morning for a combination of blurred shots and ones I couldn’t even take, I manage to calm my brain and I think about what one does when a jam jar lid is stuck. One uses a rubber glove! Eureka! But I have no rubber glove! Then I think that maybe a shop in Spiddal has one, so I head there.
At the Texaco in Spiddal, a young lady at the counter presents me with a dirty old glove with a rubber palm that they use for the coal. The UV filter comes off like a charm.
“I love you,” I tell her in a manner which befits the emotion one should always express to a divine woman who one feels has saved their soul. She smiles and I hit the road heading back towards town and the finish line, via Barna.
Along the way I manage to pull over and shoot a few cheerful looking cyclists and it is almost as if their positive energy goes through my lens, penetrates the blood vessels in my eyes, and enters my blood stream in a most uplifting and invigorating manner.
Back at the finish line, located at The Galweigians RFC grounds, soaked to the bone, but soldiering on regardless, I resolve to photograph every single cyclist that crosses the line and I capture a great many of them before my camera battery goes on the blink.
Crossing the line I see all the things that make life worthwhile; that give it meaning; like romance, resilience, friendship, and, above all, triumph.
The smiles on the cyclists were the only sunshine that was to be had in Galway today, but they were as radiant as any sun on the most idyllic summer’s day.