The Carrot

Each bank holiday weekend in Ireland AA road-watch inform motorists to be careful on the roads due to the increase in the volume of traffic . Usually there will also be a traffic warning about a cycle race taking place and motorists will be advised to drive with caution around that particular area .

The 3-day has now become a major focus for all Irish racing cyclists . At Easter there is the ‘Gorey’ and Ras Mumhan in Kilorglan and the Tour of the North . The May bank holiday sees The Tour of Ulster and The Corkman in Kanturk . The June bank holiday has the Ras Dun na Gall in Donegal and the August Bank Holiday has The Suir Valley in Clonmel .

The cyclists themselves enjoy the racing and the buzz of riding a stage race . For many the Ras is a step too far but all of these ‘mini ras’s ‘ afford the average cyclist the opportunity to experience the thrill of riding for a place on the GC ( General Classification ) .

There are always a number of Jerseys to contend for along with the elusive Yellow that everyone sees on the Tour de France . Very often there will be a separate jersey for the leading second or third category rider . Then there’s also the mountains and the points to contend for , along with the stage winners jersey . Not all races have all of these jerseys , but there are always a number of competitions going on within the race .

Some race organisers go all out to create a very professional race with rolling closed roads , photo finish equipment and podium girls . Others tend to have a more relaxed attitude and trust that everything will fall into place on the day .

Both types of race organisation have their place as the more professional set up will prepare riders for The Ras and the more relaxed version will be less intimidating for C’s who are riding their first stage race .

A recent example of the more relaxed version produced some fine examples of what might be termed ‘the Bloopers’ of Irish cycling .

At sign on , one rider asked for a race manual to be told that ‘ we’re not into that sort of thing at all ‘ .

The 3 1/2 mile time trial turned out to be 5 1/2 miles with at least one rider managing 8 miles . How ? you may ask was this possible . Well , this is what transpired ;

The race organisers picked a point on the road to finish the TT , but found themselves without any finish line . They had neither emulsion or gloss white paint . They had no tape in the car so an alternative had to be found . A quick search of the area and the car returned only one possible option . A carrot was produced and a plan was put into action . By dragging the carrot across the road a faint orange line was produced and the remainder of the carrot was laid out pointing at the ‘finish line ‘ .

It was agreed that maybe not all of the riders would spot the line so a chequered finish flag was suggested . However there were not many chequered flags in the area so an alternative had to be found . It was decided that one of the officials would remove his jacket and wave it up and down as the riders approached the finish line .

This , too , worked up to a point although at least one rider who looked up as he approached what he did not realise was the finish line , to see a guy waving a piece of his attire thought that the spectator had been watching too much Eurosport and kept on going . It was only when his bike computer read 8 miles that he decided that he must surely have passed the finish of the 3 1/2 mile tt and he sat up , turned around on the road and headed back to where he had come from .

Irish cycling depends on volunteers . People who are willing to leave their families on bank holiday and normal weekends to help run a bike race . Without them there would be no racing . Whilst most riders would like things to be as professional as possible , professionals get paid , volunteers do not . Very often the races that you will remember are the ones that are slightly quirky . Sometimes it’s best to just enjoy each race for whatever it turns out to be .


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