With the country basking in glorious sunshine most sane people were heading out for a nice picnic with the family. However for the brave(foolish) racing folk the Barrow Wheelers GP in New Ross was the main port of call this past Sunday. Having never been to New Ross before it was all new terrain for me. Coming towards the town from Mullinavat I was beginning to get slightly worried by the hilly terrain. Having not bothered to study the route for the race I was secretly hoping that we wouldn’t be taking on the climbs I was driving over.
Finding the sign on location proved difficult as I drove around New Ross slightly lost. When I finally got to the sign on I was greeted by quiet a small crowd. With the Ras ongoing the best A1/A2 riders were away for the day. It was nice to race with just shorts and jersey for once. Peter and Damien were the only other TCTC riders taking part today. We were all heading out with the A3 bunch for 4 laps of the 25km circuit.
So on to the race. We rolled out just after 12:00 with a short neutralised section which took us through the town and across the river. My worst fears were realised when I looked at the route, as we were heading out across the hilly side of New Ross towards Mullinavat. The group pulled up for the start at the base of a steep hill. That’s not good. Starting a race on a hill. Cue panic stricken looks around the group as everyone clicked into the small ring. A Barrow Wheelers racer was asked ‘How long is that hill’. ‘Not too long’ replied the Barrow Wheeler, forgetting to mention what was about to follow.
We soon headed off up the hill with a lot of worried looks spreading through the group. To say the circuit was tough would be an understatement. The first 10km contained not 1, but 2 climbs which can only be described as torture. The group took it pretty steady on the first climb of the day. With over 100km to cover there was little will to drive the pace on. The 2nd climb was steeper than the first and began in a similar way to the first ramp on the Wolftrap. A fast decent met by a wall. Cue rapid shifting to the little ring. On the 1st lap Peter un-shipped the chain on the climb. He had to stop to put it back on but still managed to catch up with the group. The first ascent of this climb completely decimated the group with a good few riders never regaining contact.
With the 2 climbs done the group slowed down as everyone got their breath back. The remainder of the lap was mostly downhill back into New Ross. Their is a God after all. So with 1 lap complete and another 3 to go I didn’t know if I could hang in there. At one stage a rider called across to a mate, ‘I wish this was only 3 laps’.
The front of the A3 group contained a large number of Junior riders. Weighing only about 9 stone these lads tormented everyone all day. Birr’s Thomas Fallon was ever present near to the front alongside a Carrick Wheeler. On the 2nd lap a group got away on one of the climbs. A group of 5 containing myself and Peter chased back on after a battle. This effort was probably not worth it as the larger group soon got back. A small group had pushed on ahead and soon built up a lead of 45 seconds.
By the 3rd lap the group was getting smaller and smaller with a lot of lads dropping out. The heat was starting to get to me and my water supplies were getting low. Fair play to the organisers as they had a water stop set up near the summit of the climb. I managed to grab one and poured most of the bottle over my head. What a relief.
Carrick Wheelers had a rider in the break so the rest didn’t do a tap in the chasing group. The pace increased on the hills again and I dropped back a small distance. I managed to close this and settled back with the rest of the group. By the end of the 3rd lap the break was down to 15 seconds and looked like it was doomed to failure. Some great disruptive riding by the Carrick lads on lap 4 brought the gap out to 45 seconds by the time we hit the climbs. Derek Byrne from Laois put in a dig heading over the climb for the final time. I was feeling alright and tried to get a break going. My efforts were thwarted and when a break did get away I missed it. Derek managed to bridge up to the break and ended up in 5th place. Myself and Peter finished with what was left of the main group.
So that was probably the hardest day on a bike this year and the New Ross circuit is definitely one of the tougher ones. The climbs really broke up the race and it was every man for himself. The heat was also brutal and it was like an oven on the climbs. The marshalling was top notch and the water station was a life saver. So a big shout out to Barrow Wheelers. Hopefully this will stay on the calender and riders will continue to support it.
For pig iron the total climbing for the race was over 1,500 metres. To put that in context the Wicklow 200 is a mere 3,000 metres.
Garmin Stats:- Distance – 107km, Avg Speed – 33.4km/h, Total Ascent – 1516m
Can’t seem to find any pictures of woe and suffering on the inter-web.
The Vets were racing in Summerhill on Sunday with an 80km CP. Having been recently upgraded Paul was out with the semi scratch group E along with Ollie, Mick and Aidan. Eddie set off first with Group A who were in turn chased down by all the other groups. Paul reports that Group E set off at a lung busting average of 27mph for lap 1. There was a bit of handlebar chewing by certain riders(Yes Aidan) before the pace finally settled down to a more sedate 25.5mph for the remainder of the race.
The Summerhill circuit is pretty flat and with Group E going great guns it wasn’t long before all the remaining groups were caught. In fact the E’s were going so well that the scratch riders in Group F failed to make contact before the finish. The TCTC contingent were well up in the sprint for the line with powerhouse Aidan McNamara finishing strongly to take 8th place. Paul reports that he mistimed his own sprint but still managed a fine 14th. Ollie finished one place higher in 13th spot. Mick finished with the rest of the pack.
In the overall league Paul is the best placed rider inside the top 25 with Eddie just outside. Well done lads. Keep it going.