Training is a funny thing. A few weeks ago I spoke to a friend who had completed the Mallorca 312 in flying shape. His longest training spin in preparation was 3 1/2 hours. He did work to a really good specific programme but I must admit that speaking to him relieved my own anxieties a bit.
In training I am never going to spend 16 to 18 hours on the bike most of which would be spent climbing. I had a 4 month training programme planned out when I committed to this project. Month one went well. Months two and three were a write off due to a recurring chest infection and multiple doses of antibiotics. So I found myself at month four with a bit of restructuring to do.
I knew where I needed to be and so I had to figure out how to get there. Last week was a big test and luckily I passed. I spent over 24 hours on the bike, climbed 8756 meters and covered over 650k. It looked something like this ;
MONDAY – Rest
TUESDAY – 50K with almost 1200m of climbing
WEDNESDAY – 160K with almost 1800m of climbing
THURSDAY – 72K with 1300m of climbing.
FRIDAY – Rest
And then came the Weekend
SATURDAY – 135K with almost 2400m of climbing in the company of the famous Ben Keane when we climbed almost every climb in the Comeragh Mountains – Mahon Falls, The Mama, The Nire (both sides) The Ragwell and of course Tickincor and Powers the Pot. This was a spin that took over 5 1/2 hours so I wondered how my legs would feel the following day.
SUNDAY – 5.30am the alarm clock went off. Check legs, all feels OK. Breakfast. On the bike for 6.15am. Do a quick lap of Ballymac before meeting the gang in Carrick for 9. Ballymac is Clonmel – Dungarvan – Carrick, a nice 100k loop.
Made Carrick by 8.50am so grabbed a coffee and refilled the water bottle before rolling over to meet the lads. Headwind back up to Clonmel before turning left. Happy days. 2 Laps of Ballymac is sometimes mentioned in hushed tones and it looked as if today might be my day to join the chosen few who have done it.
Millstreet was mentioned, that would be a few extra K, all the better.
At the junction came the realisation that Millstreet was off the table but the Coast road was now very much on it.
The Coast road stretches from Dungarvan to Tramore. it is spectacularly scenic, but on a bike can be spectacularly brutal. With the Carrick gang no quarter is given. If you are strong enough on the coast road you hang on. If not you are gone. Eyes look forward. Whats left behind is forgotten. The last time we came down here I managed to survive the coast but was one of the forgotten when I bonked on the way home. This was still a raw memory as we passed through Bonmahon. The realisation that I already had 80k more in my legs this time round didn’t help my confidence.
Nana and The Green Machine were cruising in the tailwind. The O’Loughlins, son and father, Michael and Martin who is just back from a bad crash were almost as strong as each other. The other O’Loughlins, brother and brother Mikey and Ger had already turned for home. The Kearneys, father and son Joe and Aaron were looking for action. The Bennetts have a gene pool that loves these roads. Last time the RAS came down the coast road Sam had the bunch lined out for most of it. Now his Father and Uncle threatened to do the same. Les was suffering the after effects of a late night at a good wedding. Not a good parcel to accompany you on the Coast road. The Magician was creating optical illusions by appearing and disappearing. (Someone even said that he was seen hours later in a different part of the county still on his bike) and JK was hoovering up road like there was no tomorrow. Jacko was looking more comfortable than ever seen before. Moto GP was still floating in the small ring, whilst I was just hanging in there going from wheel to wheel and launching myself at the front on the descents to allow a little sliding room when the road kicked up again.
The T-Bay sponsored cycle made its’ way onto our chosen route and provided an abundance of carrots to chase. Each was picked off with a voraciousnious not seen on the coast road since before Strava was invented. By the time we reached Tramore Vinnie Bennett would be the newly crowned holder of the crown having set the KOM time from Abbeyside in Dungarvan to Tramore itself. The rest of us were just seconds behind.
At 190k my bottles ran dry passing through the former home of chedder that is Kilmeaden. Luckily the newly crowned Vinnie was feeling generous and poured some electrolite from his chalice into my plastic bottle.
A steady ride back to Carrick and the reappearance of a beautiful shop with coke and chocolate and wine gums. Two large bottles of coke filled bottles all round as the back road with it’s Paris Roubaix surface became the chosen route back to Clonmel.
Now it was just The Green Machine, Nana, Martin, Moto GP, Jacko and I remaining. I must have been suffering on The Rosminians as two consecutive questions from Jacko on the steepest part of the climb went pretty much unanswered. Maybe it was my extra 30kg on him that made my answers a little brief.
Clonmel presented itself for the third time 7 1/2 hours and 235km after my initial departure.
Arriving in the door with the feeling that I could have done more was a good confidence builder for what lies ahead in under two weeks time.
My last big training spin will be the Comeragh Tour this coming weekend. After that it will be a few short ones to keep the legs circulating and then the Everest Challenge itself on May 30th.
Am I ready ? Yes
Am I apprehensive ? Yes
Will I do it ? I MUST