Five Points

Oblique angle shot of bicycle locked to rack with Five Points cafe in background

Ride distance: 46km.
Beverage: 1 espresso (doppio)

Fittingly, the Coffeeneuring Challenge 2023 begins in the same place that every day begins for me, Five Points on the Harold’s Cross Road. Originally an independent fiefdom, Five Points was absorbed into the Borg-like 3FE empire a few years ago, trading the old blue livery for the current red. Though Five Points is no longer home to the best scones in Dublin, the espresso is reliably decent and the staff are reliably sound.

From there I head out through the empty Sunday morning streets of Terenure. This is rugby territory — improbably young boys are practising on the school playing fields, so small that when they line up to take a kick, the ball stands higher than their kneecaps. Older rugby fans are still in bed, nursing hangovers after Ireland’s win against Scotland last night. Just a handful of dog-walkers and serious runners getting the last few miles in before the Dublin Marathon.

There’s no breeze until I reach the bridge over the M50. Suddenly a blast of tropical warm air, borne on a middling south-westerly. Warmer than any day in the wet July just gone, unseasonably warm. Climate change-y warm. I stash my gilet and arm warmers in the saddlebag, should have trusted in the forecast, implausible though it seemed.

I take the back roads by Bohernabreena and Glenasmole up to the Featherbeds before dropping back down towards the city. A steady stream of cyclists with more stamina than me heading the opposite direction, Wicklow-bound. Two Garda cars parked up by the Noel Lemass memorial, where someone is setting up placards and loudspeakers; two more cars a little further down, Guards standing in the road eyeing approaching drivers with suspicion.

I swing around by Tibradden, past O’Connell’s Rock where two hundred years ago the Liberator delivered an oration to vast crowds. Hard to imagine walking up there from the city, yet few can have had horses or carriages to carry them. Cut left at Johnny Fox’s and over the last rise before the long descent all the way down to the river Dodder in Milltown.

I detour by the market in Herbert Park and ride home with two musettes full of apples hanging from my neck, Holstein Coxes and Tipperary Pippins from Llewellyn’s orchard.

Market stalls clustered around a small bandstand in Herbert Park
The bourgeoisie of south Dublin in their element: Herbert Park Market

Thoughts, hopes, exhortations?