Ras Naomh Finian
With my recent poor form I needed to get some racing into my legs. One of our neighbouring clubs Clonard RC have run this race for the past several seasons and the organisation has always been top drawer. I awoke on Saturday not feeling exactly brilliant. The wind was blowing pretty hard from the east but the rain was holding off. With Clonard been so close it was a relaxing drive to the sign on. Mick was the only other TCTC rider in the race and we both signed on to the A3 event which I think had the largest turnout of the day. Paralympian Medal winner Fran was kitted out in her new team kit for the Aquablue squad. She went off with the A2’s.
After a short warm-up to wake me up we lined up for the A3 event. The A2 race set off first with a short 1 minute advantage over a small enough A1 bunch. Our A3 race set off a few minutes later with the A4’s following behind. Mick was giving his new machine a baptism of fire in its first race out of the box. With a stiff tailwind blowing us down the old N6 the speed was swift to say the least. The big group made it hard to move up with some dodgy overtaking going on as we passed through the roundabouts in Kinnegad. The route is a straight forward out and back from Clonard to Kilbeggan and returning to Clonard.
I managed to tuck myself into the middle of the group and stayed there for most of the outward leg. The KoH on top of Ginnebaun Hill was more like a group sprint such was the strength of the wind that pushed the bunch along. A quick glance at the speedo as we approached Kilbeggan put our average speed at 47km/h. This speed was soon to be a thing of the past. As we turned in Kilbeggan we hit the full force of the block headwind.
Having found myself up towards the front I stuck my nose out for a couple of turns. The wind was horrific on the front and no one wanted to do any sort of a turn never mind launch an attack. The speed on the way back was slow and the bunch was a little all over the shop. Constant breaking and sprinting was getting a little annoying so I moved towards the back and just sat in for the ride back.
The constant faffing about finally led to an inevitable crash. The speed was very low but still the crash brought down a fair few. 2 lads seemed to get a bad slap and were left in a heap. The ensuing effort to re-attach myself to the group was not what the doctor ordered. Having finally regained contact there was another crash, not as serious but I had to chase back on again. At this stage we were making our way through Kinnegad and within 6km of the finish. In previous races the speed shoots up but with the headwind no one was working. A couple of lads tried to breakaway but they didn’t make it to the line. The sprint was messy enough and after my chase back on I didn’t bother contesting.
Stats for the race were: Distance 66km, Avg 38.3 km/h
The Curragh remains a favourite training route for the club during the year and the Newbridge GP runs over a lot of the same terrain. Having survived in Clonard the day before I headed to Newbridge not quite knowing how I was going to fare. The wind that was strong on Saturday now resembled a near gale and it was also freezing. I don’t know if I can take much more of racing in the cold. It really is a pain in the proverbial. I travelled over to Milltown with Paul and we met up with the rest of the lads before the off. With it being so called I wasn’t interested in doing much of a warm-up so I faffed around a fair bit.
We eventually got ourselves ready and did a light spin down the hill. TCTC had 6 riders in the A3 race which is one of the biggest turnouts yet for a race. The beginning of the circuit started close to Milltown this year compared to the previous start on the Curragh. This knocked a couple of k’s off the overall distance. The A3 race was 4 laps of the Curragh circuit with a climb up Boston Hill and Dunmurray Hill on each lap. The hard men in A2/A1 had 6 laps to negotiate. Lining up before the start local hard man Joe Fenlon missed the start of the A1 bunch. I’m not sure if Joe managed to regain the 1’s but it wasn’t the way to begin.
After a brief respite we were let off and the for the first portion of the lap the wind was on our backs. With Saturdays efforts in the legs I was feeling very sluggish to begin. The cold wasn’t helping and I was starting to think this could be a rough day. Going over Boston Hill the first time nearly brought my breakfast back up. Legs, wake up legs need to get going here. The descent off Boston Hill was swift but after turning left heading up Dunmurray Hill the wind was awful. Crosswind from the left. Everyone was tucked over on the wrong side trying to find some shelter. The poor Commisare was constantly warning the group getting everyone to move over.
I managed to hang on and my legs finally warmed up for the 2nd and 3rd laps. Every time up Bostin Hill more lads fell off. Unfortunately Paul dropped off having put in a hard shift. Ollie and Damien were motoring near the front. Mick managed to get into an early break and was going well. Myself and Peter were making up a huge amount of ground on Boston Hill every time. Breaks were finding it hard to escape the bunch but the 3rd time up Boston Hill the elastic finally broke a 10 lads broke away. I was too far back to get anywhere near them and this is something I need to work on. The break had some strong lads and they soon put 30 seconds into the bunch. Ollie was travelling well at this stage but unfortunately his chain broke and that was that.
Heading into the final they still had 30 seconds. I tried to push it on up Boston Hill but a sudden cramp halted all progress and I sat down and pedalled up. The rest of the lap was academic as the break was away never to be seen. We rolled in some 40 seconds down and headed back to Miltonw for a welcome cuppa. The race was really tough with the wind causing carnage and the A3 group was well whittled down by the last lap.
Stats for the race were: Distance 64km, Avg 34.8 km/h