Myself and Peter headed across to the Mullingar 2 Day this past weekend which was hosted by our near neighbours Lakeside Wheelers. This race consisted of a 105km stage on Saturday followed by a short Time Trial on Sunday and finishing with a 85km road stage on Sunday afternoon. Its great to have a race close by as normally we have to travel up to Dublin or further for the racing fix.
Stage 1, 105km Road Stage, Saturday Afternoon
In keeping with the summer so far the weather wasn’t the best as I headed across to sign in early on Saturday
afternoon. Luckily the rain cleared by the time I arrived at Race HQ in Mullingar RFC grounds. With sign on complete it was time to chill before the racing began. I met up with Peter and we cycled the 4km down to the race start area. The A3 race had a good field of about 80 riders which meant plenty of wheels to hide behind. There was a great turnout from Lakeside Wheelers as expected along with a number of Shannonsider’s.
Our race start was delayed as the A4 and Women’s race had yet to come to a conclusion. The riders in these races had borne the brunt of the weather from seeing the state of their kit. Anyway we eventually kicked off at around 2:30pm. I have to say that the racing was very well supported. We had numerous motorcycle outriders, 2 lead cars and amazingly a neutral service van. Normally when you puncture in a race that’s it, but there was no excuses for mechanical drop outs during the 2 day.
Stage 1 would take us out towards Castlepollard and onto a big loop of Lough Derravaragh through Coole and Multyfarnham before returning through Crooked Wood. This lap was tackled 3 times in total and even though there was no major climbs the terrain was rolling. The conditions were quiet windy and there was a stiff headwind towards Coole village. There was a load of attacks off the front but no one was getting away from the big bunch.
Myself and Peter were doing a great job of patrolling the back of the bunch. There was some mad riding by some of the young lads especially a junior from Drogheda who was weaving all over the shop for both of the road stages. The crazy riding typically ends in tears and this happened halfway round on lap 2 when there was a crash in the bunch on a section of narrow road. Luckily we weren’t going too fast at the time at I was able to pick my way through and chase back onto the rear of the group.
Going into the final lap there was still no break up the road which is unusual. Eventually 2 riders escaped somewhere on lap 3. I didn’t see them escape but the group certainly slowed down. I got a rush of blood to the head at one stage and went to the front where I proceeded to pull the group along for a km or 2. Realising my foolishness and my suddenly increasing heart rate I soon dropped back into the middle of the bunch before I blew up. Riding in the wind was not for me. Coming through Multyfarnham for the last time we got a time check of 1:30 to the break. With only 10km left it was looking dodgy for the group to catch the remaining breakaway riders. The weather gods frowned upon use and it absolutely pissed rain on the final run in. Flying down a descent at 50km/h plus in the wet is pretty hair raising when you have no breaks. Luckily everyone stayed upright as we headed towards the finish.
The finish line was situated away from the loop. We had ridden down it earlier but I never really studied the run up to the line. Having ridden most of the race in the bunch the legs were feeling good and I decided to give it a go in the sprint. Peter hinted that the St. Tiernan’s rider beside us was a pretty good wheel to follow. We turned onto the finishing straight at Crooked Wood with 2 km to go. If I had of been awake at the start I would of noticed the hill leading up to the line. I’m normally pretty handy sprinting uphill. However I was caught a bit too far back when the sprint for the line started. I managed to work my way up through the group pretty quickly and hit clear road with 200 metres to go. The gasket almost blew with 50 metres to go but I managed to hang on for a top ten finish. The St. Tiernans guy got 4th in the end so he’s one to look out for in future races. Peter came in safely with the bunch.
The break had managed to stay away with the stage been won by Marcel Koch from Phoenix CC. The bunch came in some 45 seconds behind the stage winner.
Stage 1 Stats: Distance – 110km, Avg Speed – 38.4km/h, Total Climbing – 788m
Stage 2, 3.5km TT, Sunday Morning
Having never done a multi stage race before I was unsure how my legs would react on Sunday morning. As I had a low race number my TT start was fairly early on Sunday morning. This definitely didn’t help my time as my legs were still stiff and I only had a small window in order to warm up. The more dedicated riders were warming up on turbo trainers near the start line. As I am pretty crap at time trials I was not expecting any miracles. The course was short at only 3.5km but had a couple of sharp lumps to negotiate. I was off at 8:50 am so I made my way down to the start in plenty of time.
Anyway long story short my time was pretty average at 5 minutes 47 seconds. The lumps really slowed me down and I lost a load of speed trying to power up the steep rise. The leading A3 time was 5 minutes dead which was only 20 seconds of Ryan Sherlocks time in the A1 time trial. Not too shabby.
The leader on GC stayed the same but I plummeted down the list. Need to improve my power output for these short efforts.
Stage 2 Stats: Distance – 3.3km, Time – 3:47, Avg Speed – 34.5km/h
Stage 3, 88km Road Stage, Sunday Afternoon
Having completed the Time Trial before 9 o’clock I had a lot of time to kill before the final stage began at 2 o’clock in the afternoon. So I headed home and fuelled up for the final stage. The stage started and finished in the same place as Stage 1 but the loop was slightly different. Instead of heading straight to Castelpollard we turned towards Collinstown before working back west to Castlepollard. The stage was 88km over 3 laps of the 26km circuit.
The marshalling and support teams were again brilliant and the neutral service van was required several times during this stage. The pace at the start of lap 1 was pretty high with numerous attempts to forge a breakaway. With the top of the standings being so tight it would take a great ride from the Pheonix CC guys to hang onto the yellow jersey. In fairness to the yellow jersey he chased down a load of breaks on the opening laps. As with the first stage breaks were finding it hard to gain any advantage. A Lucan rider went off the front numerous times but was brought back every time.
The windy conditions seemed to hamper the breaks especially when they were faced with a headwind. With my legs in poor enough conditions I wasn’t in any shape to even attempt a breakaway. The roads were a very rolling throughout the lap with a couple of short little climbs to break up the pace. The surface was poor in places and this seemed to cause a few punctures.
Peter suffered a puncture on lap 2 but some swift assistance from neutral service saw him quickly rejoin the action. The efforts of the yellow jersey wearer seemed to take affect and he suddenly appeared at the rear of the group. Luckily breaks were having a hard time staying clear so he was under no real danger. A break finally got up the road during the 2nd lap but they were always within sight of the bunch on the straighter roads.
Heading onto the final lap my legs were starting to feel the effects of the 2 days of racing. I managed to stay in the centre of the group where the accelerations out of the corners was less of a factor than at the rear. The yellow jerseys team mate came back for him during the 3rd lap and brought him up to the front very efficiently indeed. With a long headwind section to face the breaks advantage soon disappeared and they were swallowed up with around 10km to go. The guys in the break were pretty annoyed that they were chased down but what did they expect. Tough luck guys.
With my legs feeling heavy I was in no shape to fight for a high placed finish. The run in was the same as Saturday and would of suited me if I was feeling good. I gave it a go anyway but cramp put pay to that effort and I rolled in alongside the yellow jersey wearer who was also spent. He managed to hang on for the overall win so well done to him and his team mates who worked hard all day chasing down everything. Peter finished well up in the group.
Stage 3 Stats: Distance – 88km, Avg Speed – 38.6km/h, Total Climbing – 822m
So that’s my first multi stage race completed. Lakeside Wheelers put on a great race. Safety was certainly paramount and the marshals kept an eye on all the junctions and stopped traffic at the finish which is a great help. Definitely one of the best organised events of the year so thanks to all involved. I’ll hopefully be back next year and would certainly recommend this race to anyone who’s interested.