The 2013 racing season started in earnest last Sunday with the West Coast Wheelers 85km handicap event. The race is based around Loughrea and includes a nasty climb around Derrybrien. I did this race last year and managed to finish 3rd in the A4 event. As an A3 this year I was feeling a little apprehensive as my training hasn’t gone to plan so far this year. As always the first race of the year tends to be a nervous affair with everyone trying to figure out where there forms at.
Myself and Ollie travelled over to Loughrea together and met up with Peter and Mick who were already in position. Paul picked up a chest infection during the week so he was out. Mick decided to do the A4 event even though his recent transformation from super domestique to spindly climber perfectly suited the proposed route. The A3/A2/A1 event included an ascent of Derrybrien along with 2 laps of a 15km circuit which brought the race distance up around the 85km mark.
The weather was particularly nice with the sun making a welcome appearance. It was however pretty chilly with a stiff enough north easterly blowing. With the chill in the air bib tights and long sleeves were a common sight with only the very brave going with shorts. We warmed up by heading out the Gort road for a bit before heading back into Loughrea. Young Tomas Fallon was lining out in his lovely Vacansoleil gear having recently signed for there junior squad. I can’t say I was delighted to see himself and several sprightly looking juniors lining up with the rest of the rag tag A3 bunch.
With 12:00 approaching we rolled out to Kilcreest for the 12:30 start. The A3 bunch was about 60 to 70 strong and we had a 4 minute advantage over the A1 and A2 group. The early stage of the race was tense enough with the traffic and narrow roads causing a few slightly hairy moments. The Commisare’s warning about crossing the white line was barely followed and the bunch played chicken with a few buses and cars along the road. Having raced here last year I sort off knew what to expect. After the left turn before Gort the bunch started getting a bit tetchy and the speed was up. We hit the climb at around the 20km mark and the bunch blew to pieces.
Now with my lack of training I was expecting a hard race but I didn’t expect to be in trouble as early as I was. The hill was a real struggle. As I tried gamely to hang on my legs just tightened up and I slowly drifted down the bunch. Ollie and Peter disappeared up the road along with most of the A3 bunch. I latched on with a few of the other A3’s who also got shelled and just as we crested the KoH mark the A1/A2 bunch caught us. I was feeling like s**t and knew that my race might come to an early end on the heavy roads heading across Derrybrien. I managed to hang in with the A1’s and A2’s for a few k but soon enough the attacking started and I hit the wall. I think I was dropped with only 30km on the clock which was pretty disappointing to say the least.
With the groups flying up the road I settled in for a nice easy spin back to Loughrea. No hanging on for dear life with snot hanging down your face. With the weather been so nice I enjoyed my gentle tootle around the Galway countryside. People think that cyclist get to see some nice landscape but to be honest when your racing you don’t tend to see to much only the rear wheel in front of you. The views around Loughrea were pretty stunning and the lake looked a little like New Zealand instead of humble dreary Ireland. Anyway enough about geography my race was a bit of a flop and its going to take a few more races to get my mojo back.
Peter and Ollie hung on gamely to the coat tails of the bunch and managed to make it around with the main group. West Coast Wheelers put on a great event with plenty of marshals and a good feed at the end. As I didn’t expend much effort I left the carrot cake for more deserving folk.
Next week its either the crash fest Cycleways Cup in Navan or a tough Cycling Pursuits Cup down in Broadford. Keep tuned for more adventures of the struggling A3.
With a good crop of Junior riders in the Club at the minute it won’t be long before we see some line out with the seniors in the A3 events. John O’Donoghue lined out for TCTC in the Junior Race today in Loughrea. John has been riding well this season and his good form continued today. John report that the race has a fast average of 35km/h around a windy circuit. In the final John managed a great 4th place. Hopefully this is the start of a long and successful racing career. Well done John.
A Group Report
Back in the land of Tullamore the A group took a less travelled route. Our routes sometimes get a little repetitive but whoever held the gps on Sunday took in a few of the lesser travelled areas. I’m not exactly sure what direction the cycle headed but the main destination on the out leg was Borrisokane in good aul Tipp. I suspect the group headed down through Birr and then across to Borrisokane following the route the Wolftrap often take during their annual club ride. The return trip went cross country towards Cloghan before returning through the Blueball and then back to base.
Thanks to Brian Monaghan for the garmin data. Distance – 77.6 mile, Avg – 18.8 mph, Climbing – 2,077 ft