Club cycle tomorrow: in preparation for the Mizen to Malin cycle, club members are organising a 150km cycle starting at 8:00am at the pool. They will be doing the Visit Nenagh A4 route plus a bit extra. There will be numerous turn for home points so don’t think you have to join in for all of it. See you in the morning.
Blarney CC Women’s National League Round 1 by Sinnead Oakes
Despite the seeming Baltic conditions on the start line, it truly was a perfect day for racing. With dry roads and no winds to contend with there really was no excuse to draw on. The route was a good deal tougher than the two races we girls have done so far this year with the first 25km or so of the 40km loop being described euphemistically as ‘rolling’. In fact all the climbing was composed of long reasonably significant climbs (think roughly first bit of Bollingbrook) with the descent being short and steep, plenty of sharp gravelly bends, potholes you could lose an elephant in and road reparative artistry that would strike terror in the heart of all carbon riding jockeys. It was great however to see so many women out racing with well over 40 on the sign in.
Not to be daunted we four headed off, mixing it up with Mna na hEireann (subclass, Rothar) with the aims of riding strong and testing ourselves.
For Majella this race was destined to be an especially novel experience as she headed out 6.5 stone lighter than last week aboard ‘Scottie’ on his maiden trip. This quickly proved to be a worthy investment as she glided effortlessly up the climbs chirping ‘well doll, how are we now?.
We were promised the first 10km to be neutralised with only 70km of a race but at 8km of pleasant ambling the lead car sounded and we were racing. Leading us out was Fiona Meade, the national road race champion who has just been offered a place on a pro team in the States. This is the essential difference between women’s and men’s racing – because there are not enough women racing then all the categories, from A2 or 3 down to A-donkey, we are all in the same mix together making it difficult to figure where you should be at.
On the first lap Rachel launched an attack on a climb but in the typical cat and mouse fashion of racing she was hunted down and reeled back in after a km or so. Not too many others tried attacking as the pace was pretty hot anyway. At the village of Bweeng we came out hard over the top and turned back to Blarney. At this point all four of us were safely up towards the front of the bunch and we quickly recovered on the first descent. Confidence was beginning to grow a bit by now as we were sussing out our strength relative to the bunch. Unfortunately the sharp twisty descent was the undoing of Majella who, in an act of selfless heroism, flung herself under Scottie to save him from unsightly scarring after she lost a back wheel cornering on a piece of gravel. Thankfully, Scottie is fine (the nation breaths a collective sigh of relief).
The 15km stretch into Blarney was a fast bit of road and true to promise Rachel and I together, under the pretence of mass attendance ( WTF?? apologies, in-joke) launched a little attack. Again, we didn’t get too far but it is great to test the legs and give it a go. Sinead K was absolutely cruising as usual with her biggest fear being that she was going to get either a) cold or b) bored. So back through Blarney and onto the climb for the second time but now we had to race all of it (they ignored my suggestion that we neutralise it each time!). This time things got a bit more interesting and our winter training was properly tested! After a few km Fiona Meade launched a very credible attack with another rider (didn’t see who) and quickly the bunch was strung out all over the hill. It was here that that about half the bunch got dropped for good. A small number of us including Sinead and Rachel quickly organised ourselves into an aggressive chasing group and we buried ourselves to catch them, and catch them we did and got out over the top, again safely at the front of the bunch.
Next time down the descent we were all taking it a bit harder, faster, braver, not willing to get dropped now after all the hard work on the hill. So just the flat ‘n fast bit now… there were a few more attacks again on this but none that really got anywhere, at this point we were racing at about 45kmph so no one was ever going to get away at that. Round the last turn and the last bend we were all right up where we needed to be when Fiona came past like a bullet, and that was it. None of us really got into the sprint (note, need to practice this) so no placing but we all finished in the top 10 or so places and got our first points in the Women’s league. We clearly have a lot left to learn but I guess that’s only going to come with practice. Roll on next weekend!!