When you haven’t trained for a while the one thing that hangs over you is the first spin back with the group . It’s a lot like the leaving cert , you know you have to do it but you just don’t want to face it .
Throughout the winter I’ve been busy with family , shop etc. and my training hasn’t been prioritised enough so today was my leaving cert – my first day back out with the group .
I headed off down the road just after nine am on this mild but damp morning . The spray from the lorries passing bulmers would be nothing compared to the spray from the wheels in a group of cyclists . Just before Kilsheelan I saw the group approaching and turned on the road . As I rode along the hard shoulder one after another riders passed me by until I was at the back of a group of almost fifty .
My fingers were crossed for the usual Ballymac route but when we swung right at the mongarrif roundabout I knew ard gaoithe was on the horizon . 39 X 21 stay in the saddle , focus on the wheel ahead and bury yourself is what I was thinking as we rode past Tom Hogan motors . This was all forgotten 100 metres later when I reached for the camera to take a few shots and to make it just that extra bit harder for myself .
Passing the turn off for Orchardstown a cry went up to call a puncture within the group . Much like the bomb scare in Dublin last night it was a hoax , but the ensuing stall was enough for those who had gotten dropped to be able to rejoin the group as we approached Clerihan .
Coming into Cashel another puncture was called , a genuine one this time . Rather than turn on the road , like a good environmentalist concerned with saving energy and resources I just stopped and waited with Andrew , John and Gerry at the roundabout and had a few Jelly Beans .
By now the group had diminished with riders turning off at different points and as we headed across towards Killenaule more became detached until only about twenty remained .The hammer was down and the pressure was truely on as we ploughed on through wind and rain . Martin was in the driving seat and keeping the eight guys he had going through working hard at the front . Leslie’s spinning classes seemed to be paying off as he looked almost as comfortable as Sam who was cruising as usual . Vinny , Kevin , Decky , J.P. , Eddy , John and Geoff were all coping well with the high average speeds . The rest of us were just hanging in there .
Just before Killenaule I moved up to the front of the group and gave myself enough sliding room to ensure that I was able to be in the group going over the top of the hill . I didn’t fancy the thought of riding back into Clonmel into the wind on my own . The same plan was in operation going through Fethard approaching market hill but the red light came on as we hit the hill and when I stood on the pedals it felt as though I was pedaling in squares . Luckily for me Martin had to stop at the top for a puncture so myself and Bobby were able to roll on easily into Clonmel .
I walked back in the front door three hours after I had left and had to think about the climb up the stairs . I was now cramping and thinking the usual first day back thought ‘ I should have trained through the winter ‘ . As I stood under the shower for about ten minutes longer than usual I thought back to something Andy Roche the former Ras winner had gotten us to do when he rode with us on the worldwide cycles team in the 2005 ras . He encouraged us all to have an ice bath to help recovery . I decided that there was nothing for it but to turn the shower to blue – cold and ran the cold water all over my legs for a few long minutes . Almost immediatly I felt relief and my legs have been fine all afternoon .
Well that was it , the worst is now over . Another three weeks of pain and a few midweek spins should get me back up to a level where I can at least get around with the group in some bit of comfort , so roll on next week !