The Challenge

No matter how much you like your job , your family life or your dog or cat , life can sometimes become mundane . There is only so much of anything that can be done regularly before we loose our enthusiasm . And we all need a bit of enthusiasm in our lives .

We all need a challenge to stoke that enthusiasm and to make us feel alive .

The late Bobby Power understood what a challenge was , both on and off the bike . The relentless determination that enabled him to achieve so much on the bike also gave him the strength of character to spend much of his final days on this earth ensuring that the Carrick Wheelers Challenge , which was his brainchild would be the ultimate challenge for any cyclist willing to put in the time and effort to train for it .

Like a few other cyclists I was unsure about entering the event . I understood a little too well just what level of fitness and suffering would be required to complete the route and kept on putting off entering whilst a part of me hoped that I would ‘accidentally’ forget to enter before the closing date .

Cian Power put paid to that plan whilst we were sitting on the wall outside his Parents home 3 weeks ago when he informed me that he would be taking his fathers place in the organising of the event and that it would be run in memory of Bobby . I logged on that night and entered .

Like a teenager trying to cram for the Leaving Cert I trained as much as I could for the past 3 weeks and managed to hit the start line in reasonable shape .

The event itself delivered upon all of it’s promises . The climbs were brutal , coming one after another . We were still within sight of Carrick when Tullaghought reared up in front . The O’Gorman brothers and the bould Butler set a nice steady tempo and it felt like it was only just finished with when the gap of Rathlarish erupted before us . How something so steep exists in relative anonymity is puzzling but it will be anonymous no more . Kilcash brought a touch of the exotic with Alpaca ( llamas ) on each side of the road at the summit . More than one person was overheard asking if they were seeing things . Supporters like Joe Hahessy and Sean seemed to be everywhere at once , usually on the steepest part of each climb with words of encouragement for all . After the never-ending brutality of Tickincor the rain on top of the Nire added to the misery of pain , but it was still enjoyable pain ( there actually is such a thing )

On the descent my glasses fogged up and I could not see a thing . I slipped them down and thanks to my shortsightedness could see even less . Something hi-vz yellow up ahead turned out to be John Dempsey and the clan . I pulled in and dried off the glasses and was soon on the way again with words of encouragement pushing me along .

The welcome sight of such a variety of tasty foods and hot drinks in Rathgormack were as nice as any 3 star Michelin meal to weary riders . With the Brunnocks , the O’Donnells and the Powers on hand Gordan Ramsey wouldn’t get a look in .

The sun came out as I hit the summit of Seskin trying to hang onto the Comeragh CC train , and with it came the wind . Turning right in Mahon bridge as we passed Michael and Martin O’Loughlin who had also been manning the junction at Seskin , the road was hard but coming out into the open on Mahon Falls the breeze became a hurricane . This is where cars seemingly roll uphill , but the only illusion taking place for me seemed to be legs that could pedal no more which still kept turning .

The descent was fast and dry as was my water bottle just as I approached the Happy Hugh water stop in Kilmac .

Nicky Butt was out at Carrolls cross with words of encouragement and the mention of a ham sandwich and this drove me on to Portlaw .

Big Joe pointed the way to Curraghmore and soon I was bouncing along , slipping and sliding , hurting but smiling inside . I rode the cobbles of Roubaix in April and the latter part of Curraghmore is as close as you can get without a plane ticket to Northern France .

The smooth Tarmac on the road outside felt like smooth velvet and my speed picked up as I could almost see Carrick once more .

The banquet that awaited at the finish made it all worthwhile and the little treats like the Tunnocks tea cakes and cadburys roses were just what the doctor ordered after the fresh sandwiches and scones washed down by a nice hot cup of tea.

The work put in by Cian , Larry , Martin , Paul , Rory , Leslie , John , The Power family and all of the Carrick Wheelers and their team of Volunteers would have made Bobby a very proud man .

Bobby Power was a tenacious competitor and someone who would never shy back from a challenge . Second place was not an option . A man who used his head as much as his legs to win on the bike and a gentleman off the bike . He was also someone who gave a huge amount back to the sport he loved , and to the young riders starting out . For an event to bear his name it would have to be something very special .

‘The Bobby Power Challenge’ is worthy of it’s name .

4 thoughts on “The Challenge

  • June 7, 2011 at 9:48 am
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    Well said Barry,
    Glad i did it. Powers the pot was like something out of a horry movie and Mahon Falls for me was just awful because of the wind.
    Along with 2 punctures it made it a day to remember.
    Thanks to all invloved!

    Reply
  • June 7, 2011 at 5:56 pm
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    Hey Barry, nice write up on the event! Definitely one of the most challenging days on a bike I’ve had. I’ve seen your GPS data pop up on Garmin Connect. Why don’t you upload it to Strava so that you can see how your performance on the climbs compares to the rest of us who use Strava. Go on, go on, go on, go on, etc., etc.

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  • June 8, 2011 at 10:00 am
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    Great day indeed! Brilliant bunch of lads doing it. Great support from everyone in carrick wheelers. Motorbikes! Marshalls! The food was fantastic. I’ll be back next year and hopefully we’ll have many more people giving it a lash. I thought I was tom boonen for a second going through curraghmore. Reality soon set in. A rear puncture. Aaah well. I’d do it all again tomorrow.

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  • June 8, 2011 at 5:39 pm
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    As tough a day on the bike as you,d ever want . But a great job done by all in Carrick esp the marshalls and the food stop people- good atmosphere. Special thanks to Susan in the support van, helped me at the bottom of Slievenamon and many others judging by the amount of punctures in Curraghmore.

    Andrew, Naas

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