Monday : Cycled the 2.5k to the shop in the morning. Spent the day catching up on repairs from the weekend. Cycled home in the evening by the riverbank and through the Town park 3.5k
Tuesday : Cycled to work. Built a few bikes which had customers waiting on them via the cycle to work scheme. Cycled home for lunch and then popped on speedplay flat adaptors onto my new Orbea Orca and cycled it back down to the shop with my gear on my back so that I could go training after work. Closed up the shop at 5.30, got changed as fast as superman and headed out to do some sprint training. 20 min warm up, then a 2 min effort on a Strava section. 10 more minutes and it was down to business. 6 x 200m standing start sprints with 5 on the flat and 1 on a hill similar to what I am expecting for the race in Limerick on Sunday. By sprint number 4 I could taste the bile in my throat and was close to throwing up but a thought struck me – Sometimes you have to do the training that you hate in order to be able to ride the races that you will love – and so I finished out the last 2. Really struggled to get up the hill home with two jelly legs, but felt satisfied with my evening. Was also really impressed with the stiffness of the new bike when sprinting. At first I was concerned that it was a bit spongy as it really soaked up much of the harshness on a rough road, but as soon as I put full pressure in a 53 x 15 from a standing start I was amazed how well it transferred the energy to propel me forward. I went from liking the Orca to really loving it.
Wednesday : Cycled to work. Busy day in the shop with repairs but still managed to get out the door by 5.30. This time still in my work clothes on the hybrid complete with carrier and mudguards. Headed up the mountain road and turned right up by the lay-by. Another Strava segment and I pushed it on to see how I could do in my work clothes. Ended up 5th fastest by the top just as the rain got heavier and darkness bagan to fall. Dropped down Powers the Pot and turned right for Rathgormack as the rain continued to fall. My work cargo pants were getting heavier and heavier as they soaked up the water. Pitch dark turning left at Daruas cross headed for Carrick on a Hybrid in the lashing rain and I was happy. If it rains on Sunday it won’t be any worse than this. Through Carrick, out passed the Circus and headed for home with the wind on my back. Even the rain began to ease. Passed Ray on the way into Clonmel as he was heading home after his cross-fit class. Put my cargo pants on the scales when I got home to find that they now weighed 1.4kg. Slept well that night.
Thursday. Busy all day in the shop and had to stay on late to get repairs and new bikes ready for collection at the weekend. Had planned to do some interval training but then as time passed I changed the plan to the turbo. By the time I got home and did a few jobs along with a few chapters of James and the Giant peach and Bears big day out I was too lazy to head out onto the turbo. Hoped that this wouldn’t cost me on Sunday but did do 30 mins of stretching and foam roller.
Friday : Spent the morning in Dungarvan at committee meeting for the Sean Kelly Tour. The organisation of the event goes on all year round not just the two days of the event itself but everyone on the committee is great to work with and that makes it very enjoyable. Be sure to pencil it in on your calendar August 24th for the family 10k cycle and August 25th for the 50,100 and 160k events. Managed to get a 40 minute window in the afternoon to get out to test wheels on my new bike. As the Dura Ace 9070 Di2 groupset is so new I wanted to find out which of my current wheels would work with it. I was delighted to find that my Fulcrum Racing 1 two-way fit with an 11 speed campag cassette worked perfectly. The Dura ace 11 speed cassettes are just shy of €300 so the fact that the groupset works with campag 11 speed opens a huge range of options for both training and racing wheel set ups at budgets to suit all needs. Drove to Limerick on Friday night to stay with Ciara’s family for the weekend.
Saturday : Wanted to do a 2 hour spin so where better to do it than to ride the 10k out to tomorrows race course in Caherconlish and do a lap to check it out. Took note of corners, wind direction and where it could change enough to affect the race. Did 2 sprints at full gas up the to the finish and found exactly where the sign on was going to be located. I even checked where would be a good place to park the car. Saw the unmistakable Ritchie Clifford of Limerick CC out marking pot holes and sweeping the corners along with Shane O’Hara’s dad. Being in Limerick when Ireland were playing France in the Rugby necessitated a trip to a pub to watch the match. 2 pints of Guinness were followed by a sparkling water.
Sunday : Won the race !
Some photos of which can be found on www.irishcyclingphotos.com taken by the very artistic Karen M Edwards
Sure I can’t just leave it at that
Arrived an hour before the planned start time with enough time to sign on and get ready without having to hang around too long. It was very cold and raining but all I was thinking was that it wasn’t half as bad as Wednesday night plus there was daylight !
Lined up at the front and stayed there for the first 6k which was neutralised. Met Billy Reidy from Athea who raced against my buddies Anthony and Dick O’Gorman in the past. Another man on the comeback trail.
When the flag dropped I launched a bit of an attack to get things going. Today was not a sportive. I looked around to find Neil Power from Dungarvan on my wheel who told me that his brother Ronan from our local Skoda dealership had told him to watch me in the race today. Those Car dealers know everything.
We had a crosswind from the left heading out towards Bruff, then a block headwind over to Herbertstown before turning back in the direction of Caherconlish where it was a crosswind from the right and I had noted this part of the course the day before as a good place to attack. After 4 or 5 k lined out in the gutter with the wind coming from the right legs would be getting a bit dull. Attacks were coming and going and I tried a few but about 5k out from Caherconlish I saw a guy from Visit Nenagh opening a gap and jumped across. He was strong and we worked well together but only had about 100m as we approached the village at the end of the first lap. At the left turn there was a slight backlog of lead cars and in the confusion I looked back passing the Church to find my visit Nenagh companion being replaced by a Limerick CC rider, Owen O’Donoghue who was looking strong. We drove on up passed the finish line and with the tailwind on the twisty road opened up a gap of about 15 seconds. Owen was strong and seemed experienced and whilst we worked well together the bunch was never far behind. After Ballyneety another Visit Nenagh rider Kevin Moyles jumped across to us.
Three was much better than two as we turned into the headwind section with the bunch still very much chomping at our heels. We were managing to hold off the bunch as we came out onto the main road at Herbertstown again and Kevin did a few strong turns. On one drag with about 5k to go if he had put us in the gutter and gone 2k faster I knew that I could not have held on, and wasn’t sure about Owen either. Luckily Kevin did not realise this and we were still together as I led into the final corner with the bunch now just a matter of meters behind us. Coming out of the corner Owen attacked and I jumped straight onto his wheel. I was expecting this move as a local rider will always be very keen to win their home race. Passing the school I glanced left and to my horror saw John Brosnan from Killarney. We were caught almost in sight of the line. My plan had been to launch my sprint 200 meters out which was doable considering the tailwind but that had to change now. 250 meters out I decided that it was time to go and to try to hold off as much of the bunch as possible. I took off in a 53 x 15. 150 meters out I saw Ciara and the girls along with more family and I dropped it down from the 15 to the 14. If I was going to lose this race in front of my kids it wouldn’t be for the want of trying. 50 meters to go and I couldn’t stay out of the saddle any longer. I had to sit and try to keep the gear going. I glanced around expecting to see a few riders coming passed but was delighted to see a gap of about 10 bike lengths. I was ecstatic. I was going to win a race in front of my kids. This moment was what all the dark wet nights spent flogging myself up and down the back roads of Clonmel and Carrick was all about. I threw both arms high in the air and savoured every second of it. I had forgotten how good it feels to win a race but now it all came flooding back.
5 year old Kate ran up and gave me a big hug and said ‘I knew you were going to win Daddy’. I’m glad that I proved her right.
On down to the millennium hall for the nicest warmest bowl of hotel style vegetable soup that I have had in a long time. Plenty of soup and delicious sandwiches were on offer for not just the riders but all the families too. Local people giving up their Sunday afternoon to feed a bunch of weary cyclists and their families is something that should never be taken for granted and I thought that it was a really nice touch when Limerick CC presented the local ladies with a fine big bunch of flowers.
I was presented with the M.Fogarty Ras Luimni perpetual cup by Liam Hickey who had a few uncles who lived around Clonmel and raced against Tom ‘Chops’ Kiely and Don Clarke.
The A3 winner Cathal Moynihan was presented with the David Hourigan perpetual cup by Davey’s brother Ger. The last time I raced in Caherconlish was as a junior when the late great Davey and myself ended up in the race winning break. The biggest gear a junior could ride at the time was a 52 x 15 and that was the only gear that I saw Davey use that day. Two up sprints can be a bit of a lottery and that day I managed to get by him to take it by half a wheel on the line, the only time I ever beat him in a race. It was great to see his memory being honoured today and anyone who wins that cup in the future can be proud to have their name etched on a cup bearing David Hourigans name.
Sean Lacey won the A1/A2 race in fine style once again. He is up each morning at 5 am to drive to work where he gets two hours training done before work and 1 hour after. There are no short cuts to cycling success !
Limerick CC pulled out all the stops today to run a great race and their team of volunteers who stood out in freezing rain for the day were very much appreciated by all the riders.