This weeks race took me to Roundwood for the Noel Hammond Memorial where I was the only Tullamore CTC rider. Having never raced the circuit before I didn’t know what to expect. Roundwood is labelled as the highest village in Ireland so I had a feeling there would be a few hills to contend with. The day didn’t start smoothly when I got lost heading towards the Sally Gap. For some reason I thought a trip over the Gap would save a bit of time but the GPS doesn’t know a boreen from a motorway. With the Sally Gap eventually found I arrived in Roundwood an hour before roll out.
The weather on Sunday was more like February than April with the car reading a nippy 5 degress in Roundwood. A strong northerly wind was blowing and it was bloody freezing. Cycling in February was warmer with leg and arm warmers a must. There was a distinct lack of bare legs all told with even Connor McConvey (An Post Rider) wrapping up for the race.
The A4 race would be 2 laps of the circuit for a distance of around 45km. The roll out was not until 11:45am and by the time we eventually started I was shivering with the cold. With a strong wind blowing the race was shaping up to be a tough battle. The first couple of km’s were neutralised and we finally got under way just outside of Roundwood. The bunch was a little nervous with a strong wind blowing riders all over the place. Deep section wheels were not the order of the day as we hit a strong cross wind while crossing the reservoir. The route then headed south towards Ashford where a strong tail wind helped drag everyone along. That soon turned to a headwind as we headed back along the N11 where the speed fell off a cliff as no one wanted to sit on the front. The long drag up the N11 seemed to last an age until the route finally swung left and headed off the dual carriageway. The big climb of the day followed after 18km with an ascent of Callowhill. The climb is about 3km long at an average grade of 5%. On the climb I was going fairly well and heading towards the top there was only me, a Swords rider and a guy from Orwell left at the front. Heading onto the descent we knew that the 3 of us would never survive on our own for the 2nd lap with the headwind blowing, so we eased back and waited for the bunch. We were duly swallowed up on the descent by the entire bunch. Having gone well on the hill on lap 1, I was happy enough to sit in and wait for it again in the final lap. A few attempts were made off the front into the headwind but they were all cancelled out by the bunch.
I got myself into a nice position about 5 back heading into the climb for the 2nd and final time. I eventually hit the front not far from the bottom and kept a steady pace up the climb. About halfway up I glanced behind me and again there was only a couple of guys on my wheel. I pushed on a little harder and soon enough I put some distance into the rest of the bunch. Going over the climb I had about 25 metres on the rest of the bunch.
So this is it I thought. Time to put the head down and hope the line comes before I die a death. Heading back onto the main road I hit the headwind again and began to slow. A quick look behind behind, still a good few metres of a gap to the next rider. 1km to go, about time, 500m. Finally I hit the last downhill, round the corner and there was the line. No need to panic now, no one was near me and I rolled over the line, arms aloft, for my first win in open racing. Of course there’s no pictures of me anywhere on the net so I can’t milk this any more and I can’t show off my celebration.
With the win I now have 14 points in A4, so I’ll be upgraded to A3. That’s the end of shorter races and I’ll be bringing tales of torture and suffering for the remainder of the year.
Garmin Stats: Distance – 42.9km, Avg. Speed – 32.0 km/h
Peter was away racing up North on Sunday so I’ve yet to hear how he got on.
The Vets were racing in The Curragh on Sunday where they had an 80km Chase Pursuit (CP). For anyone who doesn’t know what a CP race is. Groups of increasing ability are let off with a handicap over the next (stronger) group. The aim is for the weaker groups to work together and stay away from the faster groups. Typically the race will eventually come together as groups tend to wait up for the stronger groups behind. On Sunday the Vets race turned out exactly like this. Eddie, Mick, Ollie and Paul turned out for the TCTC on Sunday with Eddie away in the purple group, followed by Paul in the whites with Ollie and Mick away with the 2nd from last group.
Paul reports that the racing was very tough with some hard headwind and crosswind sections. The Curragh circuit is tough with an ascent of Boston and Dunmurray hill on each lap. Having raced it earlier this year I know how difficult the racing is. Paul spent plenty of time near the front, however with the wind the group was unwilling to give it everything. On the 3rd lap, 3 scratch riders powered past the white group. Paul jumped on their wheel and hung on for dear life. Ollie and Mick soon caught Paul’s former group. Unfortunately Ollie punctured soon after, ending his race early. Up ahead Paul was hanging on to the black groups tail. With no other white group riders to be seen Paul was heading for a nice points haul at the end. On the final lap Dunmurray Hill spelt the end of Paul’s effort to keep with the stronger riders. Paul finally crossed the line ahead of all the other white group riders and picked up 5 points for his days work. No other TCTC riders finished in the main group. It was a tough days racing and well done to everyone racing.
With the wind blowing hard the A’s stayed away from the mountains and headed north for a spin around Westmeath. 9 hardy souls turned up for the spin which headed off towards Athlone into a hard crosswind. Once in Athlone it was time to turn and face into the headwind. The group headed on towards Glasson, turning and heading across to Ballymore. The group finally headed on to Mullingar and finally getting a helping tailwind towards Rochfortbridge and back to base. Seamus ended up with a 100 mile spin along with the Ironmen, Shane Guinan and Brian Monaghan.
Didn’t get any reports back from either the B or C group so if anyone has any details forward them on to me.