St. Patrick’s day in Ireland is all about Parades, Mass, Shamrocks and hang over creation, but in Carrick on Suir and within the cycling community for the past 59 years St. Patrick’s day is all about ‘The Paddy’s day race’. Over the years many of the country’s top riders have been first across the line and many more have finished the race with a much clearer picture of where their form is at.
As usual Iverk Carrick Wheelers put on a fabulous days racing for all the competitors with super slick organisation thanks to the ever-present team of volunteers headed up by Paul Lonergan. The Tea, Coffee, sandwiches, home-made cake and malteasers were in abundance after the race thanks to Tara O’Donnell and her team and there seemed to be a full buffet to choose from no matter how many people kept coming back for more.
Last year it was Irish professional Stephen Halpin who took the spoils whilst this year it was former An Post sprinter and all round hard man Paudie O’Brien now the team leader of Planet Tri, who once again had the opportunity to display his famous one hand victory salute. Simon Ryan of Visit Nenagh made Paudi fight hard for the win whilst Michael Lucey gave the promoting Iverk Carrick Wheelers something to cheer for by rounding out the podium.
The A3 race was won by the very impressive Dylan Foley who soloed to another fantastic victory. His Nicholas Roche performance team manager Philip Finnegan must be really delighted with how well this new development team is able to consistently deliver results. The one and only Dennis O’Shea of the big little bike shop in Killarney was next home followed by Eoin ‘The greene machine’ Greene who once again came up with the goods by rounding out the podium for the promoting club.
The A4 race turned out to be my third and final race as an A4. Starting the race I only needed 2 more points for the upgrade so a target was set. The pace was fast and furious from the gun with many riders trying their luck but the headwind combined with the eagerness of the chasing peloton meant that no breakaway was allowed to stick. Strong riding by the likes of Donncha Galvin, Steven Vauls, Shane Power, Paul Smith and Graham Loughman amongst others never managed to split the field by very much and it looked to be coming down to a bunch sprint as we passed the 5k to go sign. That was when a few Clonmel CC jerseys appeared near the front which was great to see with the likes of Brian Dennehy and young Jamie Blanchfield riding their first race and being well up in the action.
Rounding the final corner facing the hill up to the finish as the bunch wound up for the sprint I waited until a point that I had picked out on the previous Tuesdays training spin to launch my sprint and kicked as hard as I could. That morning 5 year old Kate had asked me to try to finish the race as fast as I could so that we wouldn’t miss the parade. I promised her and her big sister Laura that I would try my best. With both of them standing right at the finish line I went as fast as I could and managed to make it to the line first and give them a two-handed wave.
Mick Crowley from Blarney riding for Planet Tri took a strong second and Killarneys’ Patrick Clifford took a very stylish third which he seemed to enjoy, just ahead of Waterford racing clubs classy Paul Smith in fourth. Kevin Sheehan from Bandon CC took fifth ahead of Shane O’Neill of the professional set up that is Team Aqua Blue. Iverk Carrick wheelers had two riders up in the placings with young Conor Hennebry aka ‘Phillipe Gilbert’ edging out Paul Bourke whose father Billy I raced with many moons ago.
I was delighted and the kids were delighted. Them on two counts, I won the race and they would get to see the parade.
As I move on from A4 looking back at what I learned from what some riders do and what others don’t could be summed up as follows ;
1 – Wash your bike (helmet and shoes if necessary) the day before the race.
2- Shave your legs. Not because it will be easier to clean cuts if you fall, or to make it easier to get a rub from your masseur after the race. Do it as a sign of how serious you are about racing not touring.
3- Practice sprinting. To get out of a corner quickly you have to sprint. To make an attack and escape the bunch you have to sprint. To get in the results at the finish you have to sprint. Being able to do a 140k training spin will never win you an A4 race but being able to sprint might .
4- Don’t shout. Some riders in any A4 bunch will not have been in a bunch at speed before. Shouting at them if they switch or wobble will only make them more nervous and wobble even more. Everyone who pins on a number deserves respect !
5- Keep going right to the line. Don’t look around during the last 200 meters of a race. Focus only on that thin white line up ahead and get there as fast as you can. Every week places and points are lost by riders looking around too much.
6- Know the last 3k. If possible do a few sprints on the finish straight before race day and find out what point you can launch your sprint from where you can keep it going right to the line. This can also be done during your warm up on the morning of the race.
7- Go up hard and over easy. If you are in a breakaway or just going up and over at the front do your turn and as soon as you pull over start lowering your speed. The guy coming up behind wants to help, don’t try to kill him. Also as you start to head back up the line call ‘last man’ to the guy ahead as you pass him on the way back up so that he can jump straight onto your wheel and keep the momentum going .
8- Enjoy the race. Try your best, leave nothing on the road and be satisfied heading home knowing that no matter what position you finish in you gave it 100% !
A fantastic addition to modern racing is the selection of photos that are available each week. Some of which can be found at ;
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Roll on Carlow and the A3’s