Entries for this years 160k and 100k Sean Kelly Tour of Waterford are now sold out and plans are well under way to make this years event the best one yet. With over 400 volunteers involved in the event and a full year spent preparing, everything possible is done to make it an enjoyable and rewarding day out for each and every cyclist. But what can the cyclists themselves do to help themselves get the most out of the day ? Well, here are a few suggestions from experiences gathered over the years :
1 – Get there in plenty of time. Ideally pick up your jersey and goodie bag the day before which will make for a more relaxed start to the day of the event itself. On Sunday morning try to be in Dungarvan at least an hour before your chosen event is due to start. This allows for enough time to find parking and to make your way over to the start line in plenty of time without having to rush or panic.
2 – Do what the stewards and marshals ask you to do. Each and every person there in a high viz vest or event polo shirt has given up their weekend to help you have the best day possible. Smile and say thanks. It really does mean a lot.
3 – Go to the toilet beforehand. There will be plenty of portaloos outside the sports centre. If a que is formed but you notice that everyone seems to be going to the same two portaloos whilst the other 18 seem to be occupied by people in there so long they will probably have piles, go over and check that there is actually someone in there. Each year a que forms whilst many portaloos are vacant but everyone is so mannerly they don’t bypass the que to check.
4 – There are water or food stops approximately every 25k so don’t worry about running dry. It’s really important to drink enough during the cycle so be sure to top up at each food stop and in between if necessary. For the 160k the last water stop after the final climb of the Mama in Kilbrien is often a welcome sight.
5 – Don’t take your shoes and socks off at the food stops. The homely atmosphere of the food stops really does make some people feel right at home. Some have been seen to take off the shoes and socks and spend over one and a half hours at the foodstops. This is not a good way to make it around the event. Ideally ten to fifteen minutes is enough to get your food and a cup of tea or coffee, sit and have a quick chat before heading off again. Even after a fifteen minute stop it will take a few kilometres to get going again. After a one and a half hour stop with the shoes and socks off, you will never get going smoothly again.
6 – Tyres – Every year I have a groundhog day experience. Between the top of The Pike and Leamybrien I pull over to assist someone looking forlornly at their rear wheel. Before even stepping out of the van I am picturing them as a child on a mountain bike or a BMX. They have just discovered that if you get up a bit of speed and pull the rear brake lever as tight as you can, a long black snaking mark of rubber will be left in your wake as you experience the sensation of ‘pulling a skid’. Well, it is hard to do on a racer but these guys somehow manage to arrive at the Sean Kelly Tour with a rear tyre having so much rubber worn off that there is a six inch strip of yellow canvas showing. The canvas is hairy because that too is almost worn through. The conversation has been the same each year ;
Me ‘That tyre is fairly worn, have you had it on long ?’
Them ‘Only a few years now, I was trying to get the last bit out of it and change it after today’
‘Did you do much training for this event ?’
‘I did a massive amount’
‘Well, I suppose it might be an idea to match your equipments preparation to your physical preparation’
‘I suppose you’re right’
‘Were you with a club or group of friends ?’
‘I was, there is a gang of 20 of us came down for the day’
With that I know that for the rest of the day I will be seeing this lonely figure cycling the remaining 150k either on his own or in small groups of 3 or 4 who break up on every climb. He gets to the food stops just as his friends are pulling out and tells them to go on without him. His day is less than it should have been because he tried to get the last bit out of a tyre.
It is also good to know what type of wheels you are using. One time, I stopped and bringing along a new tube with the track pump I glanced down and said ‘Oh, you’re using tubulars’. The reply came ‘What’s a tubular ?’ This happened because it was a second hand bike and this was his first puncture.
7 – Challenge yourself on the climbs if you are feeling good but go easy on the descents. Ideally you should not go into the red on Tickincor on the 160k, as it arrives early and you will need something left in the tank for the challenges to come. Use the lowest gear you have on your bike and be sure to change down before turning onto the hill itself as the first two hundred meters are the steepest. People may go past you at the bottom but you will catch most of them again by pacing yourself on the 3k climb.
You might be a great descender but the guy that you are passing doing double his speed may swerve out in front of you just as you approach so take it handy and be vigilant and prepared.
8 – Don’t throw away rubbish like gel wrappers or water bottles. There are plenty of bins at every water and food stop. Gel or energy bar wrappers can be stuffed up under a jersey. The Comeragh mountains are an area of unspoilt beauty so don’t be the one to spoil it by being a ‘litter loodar’.
9 – Enjoy the day. The atmosphere is electric. Absolutely everyone you meet is in exceptionally good form. Eamon Duffy will make you feel like a Tour de France winner as you cross the finish line. You will be cycling with the fourth greatest cyclist of all time. A Global superstar and hero to millions of cycling fans. For many, this day is a highlight of their year that fills them with a sense of pride and accomplishment that gets them through the winter months ahead. Be sure to leave Dungarvan with a smile on your face.
I look forward to meeting many of you there, either at the start or at the finish. .