Pat Colgan Report
A great crowd of 180+ cyclists took part in the 2012 Pat Colgan Charity Cycle yesterday. The weather gods were happy for once and we had a lovely day for the cycle. There was 3 separate cycles on the day with a 120km, 80km and a 40km family cycle. As expected there was a great turnout from TCTC with a good crew present from local clubs which is nice to see.
The 120km group ended up with over 80 cyclists taking part. Seamus was acting as chief police man with an unenviable task of trying to control the group. The 80km included a big B group contingent and several C group members. A portion of the 80km group took in the 2 big Slieve Bloom climbs so fair play to them.
The 120km crew rolled out first with a supporting fleet of Civil Defence vehicles and motorcycle marshals. With the sun beaming down we headed out towards Mountmellick at a steady 30km/h. With such a big group it was difficult to keep an even pace and there was a couple of hairy moments down the back. The main road between Killeigh and Mountmellick is always tricky and overtaking cars were a bit of an issue. There was a small coming together at the rear when a touch of wheels led to a crash. Hopefully the faller is alright. As is always the case the ripple effect is very evident at the back and several times we were reaching for brakes as the pace ebbed and flowed.
There was a short rest stop outside Mountmellick prior to the assault on the Slieve Blooms. With such a large group of mixed ability the ascent of the Cut and Wolftrap always disperse the riders. As expected there was a surge in pace once we hit the base of the cut. Thankfully Laois County Council have resurfaced the first portion of the climb which was very welcome. Now instead of potholes we had to contend with loose chippings. With a south westerly wind blowing the climb was into a bit of a headwind which strung the group out. A strong core of around 9 or ten riders formed as we climbed. As expected Derek Byrne took off halfway up and that was the last time he was seen. Peter Gillespie soon jumped ahead in pursuit. I tried to get across but soon started flagging and rejoined the small group. Damien got itchy feet sitting on so he jumped ahead to take 3rd at the top.
We descended as a group and soon got the up and overs going before the start of the Wolftrap. The initial slopes of the Wolftrap hit you like a brick wall and it was soon every man for himself. All conversation soon stopped as we slowly climbed the steep ramps. I prefer the Wolftrap to the Cut so I ploughed along with both Derek and Peter sitting a hundred metres ahead. We passed a good few from the slower groups as they made their way up the Wolftrap. Onto the descent which since the council resurfaced the road resembles an alpine climb. I managed to hit a swift 70km/h on one section which is always a good rush. A couple of us soon caught up with Peter and Derek and we rolled into Kinnity and the sanctuary of the food stop.
The food stop in Kinnity was incredibly well stocked with food and drink. Thanks to everyone who helped out on the day and there certainly was plenty of food to go around. The group reformed during the food stop and we all left together. Normally the section between Kinnity and Birr is taken reasonably steady allowing the faster guys to make their way to the front. This peaceful act was totally shot yesterday and a few of the stronger cyclists who shall remain nameless (you know who you are) headed to the front and dropped the hammer. I wasn’t really expecting such a move and soon found myself a good bit back from the quickly disappearing front group. Not wanting to get left behind I went full gas to catch up. Luckily I was joined by 3 other cyclists including Gay Lowry as we time trialled our way onto the back of the quick group. We finally caught up and got our breath back.
Heading into Birr the group now resembled an MIL League race with quick up and overs pushing the speed to 40km/h plus. Seamus ran out of yellow and red cards and soon resorted to physical acts to instil a bit of decorum as the group negotiated Birr town. The pace calmed down after Birr and stayed this way until close to Tullamore. It is unknown if Damien still has a job this morning as he defied the peace and went for a typical long range attack from Fivealley. He soon resembled a dog on a leash as the group left him dangling out front for about 10km until he was swept up outside Kilcormac. The pace soon began to rocket as we headed for the Blueball which normally marks the sprint start. Collie Brady fired the first volley heading through the Blueball and I just about hung on. The pace soon whittled the group down to 10 riders and it was a case of hanging on for dear life as we flew up the drag at Bunaterin. I was hanging on at the back and losing ground until big Jim Maguire gave it big licks to get the 2 of us onto the rear of the group. The group remained together for the final run in along the bypass towards the Harriers.
I ended up with 127km on the Garmin with an average of 32.7km/h
Thanks to all the volunteers, motorcycle marshals, Civil Defence and the Tullamore Harriers who all helped with the organisation on the day. I hope all visiting cyclist had an enjoyable experience and we look forward to seeing you all next year.
Note: There was a front wheel found in the Harriers Car Park after the event. Contact Seamus in Buckley Cycles on 057 9352240 if its yours or belongs to someone you know.