“Great week!” seems to be the consensus after the club’s big trip to France came to an end yesterday. 15 club members took on the epic cycling challenge that is La Marmotte. It has been many years since cyclists from Nenagh took part in this Alpine Challenge and it is pretty obvious that cycling standards have risen a lot in town since the last expedition. All 15 club members finished well within the time limit (with plenty achieving the gold standard time) and most looked like they could go for another lap. The consistent hard work put in by the club over the last few months and years has paid dividends. Everyone that crossed the finish line in Alpe D’Huez should be extremely proud of their efforts. This trip was a big success that will live long in the memory. After doing the men’s Rás twice, Rás na mBan, Junior Tour, Rás na nÓg, Mizen to Malin, and now France for the 2nd time, the question is – what the hell are we going to do next year?
Writing a report takes quite some time so we are going to break this one in two. On a trip like this, you learn a lot about yourself, your club mates, the race, the area etc. This trip was no different. Here are some of the observations we made…..
Eating & Drinking to Excess: you would think that a cycling trip abroad would result in more calories being burnt than consumed; however you would be wrong. I don’t know which was the bigger achievement, Gary doing La Marmotte or Gary fitting this burger in his mouth!
Will Rymer got to put his homemaking skills to good use over the week in France. He will make a lovely house husband one day once he gives up that dentistry lark.
Who could have guessed that Pat would have such a fetish for eggs? “Would you like an egg?” was his holiday catch phrase. Apparently eggs go with everything now. He must have brought a hen over with him from home. Once Pat had mastered cooking eggs at altitude there was no stopping him. Unfortunately for us, the combination of eggs and Kenneth didn’t go down well and we were forced to listen to him tooting La Marseillaise all week. He has quite a tooting range in fairness.
When in France, do as the French do = eat smelly snails. I think this is what the waitress wanted us to do with these devices?
The main food of choice for La Marmotte (apart from eggs) was pizza. Believe it or not, Gary managed to finish off all those pizzas.
Flora & Fauna: Marmottes are apparently large squirrels. They are also the butt of many a joke, from marmotte wrestling to marmotte milking we ran the full gamut of marmotte jokes (you had to be there really).
Vultures were flying high over the Gallibier sensing some cyclists about to keel over. They were in a frenzy as Pat made his way up the hill. You could almost hear them hissing “that piece of meat should have gone with a 32!”. Gary got attacked by a swallow / sparrow but as nobody saw it, it didn’t happen. Strangely, we happened to come across two little Tasmanian Devils as well; thankfully Mike put them back in their pen before someone lost a leg. Shane and Gary managed to scare each other into turning around early during a forest run, they speculated that there were probably boars, wolves and black bears all around them and it was time to leave. Each morning we woke to the sound of bells on cows and goats in the fields behind us. Must be fair annoying having a bell attached to you 24/7. I would imagine it would be hard to make cow friends with that thing clanging around all day and quite a bit of bullying (pardon the pun) goes on. We also came across an elephant taking a leak.
Passport Photos: if you ever want to see the benefits of cycling check out everyone’s passport photos on away trips. Will Killackey was practically accused of trying to impersonate someone else by passport control. Nobody would have guessed that Lego Head below would have turned out to be one of Ireland’s best sportive riders!!
Descending: as you might imagine, the Alps are quite different to the Arra Mountains. Nevertheless, the Portroe posse had a clear natural advantage in the high mountains. Hours of descending Port Hill without brakes, trying to squeeze around Win Macs corner were ideal prep for descending the Gallibier.
Spectacular Views: Anthony got a little bit more than he bargained for when he asked a passerby to try and get a nice scenic photo of him on the summit of the Gallibier. The ultimate photobomb!
Make the winning move count! we had a classic example of ‘how to do’ and ‘how not to do’ a winning move. First up the winning move – John Gleeson and Will Rymer were locked in a titanic struggle for dominance throughout this race. Things were all together at the top of the Gallibier but nice guy Will waited for John at the bottom of the descent. Fast forward to the final climb of Alpe D’Huez. Will was feeling the heat and half way up the climb John seized the day by leaving Will in his dust. There is no room for nice guys in the Alps. John later commented that they were in the Dead Zone so he had to cut the cord.
Now the ‘How not to…..’. Coming into the final ascent of Alpe D’Huez, Jurgen had fallen a little bit behind the lead Nenagh CC group of 5 riders. The ‘race’ looked over for him; that was until he saw the group pulled in at the final food stop at the foot of the climb. As quiet as a marmotte, he changed direction and went straight for the climb looking to seize the day just like John did. Unfortunately for Jurgen, he is not quite as sneaky as John; plus marmottes are not actually all that quiet so he was spotted making a beeline for the final climb. The sirens went off and the chase began.
Formula 1 Pit stop strategies: Donnchadh had the ride of the day mainly due to his no stop pit-stop strategy which he slyly kept to himself. While everyone else was sunning themselves on the grass eating jellies, ham and cheese, Donnchadh was eating up the road. 3/4s way through the Gran Fondo he was still well out in front.
There is always one: when out for a club meal, there is always one club member that makes things awkward. Jurgen takes the gold medal this time but had Donnchadh for a rival throughout. When 14 club members say they are going straight to the main course try not to be the one that says “actually, I think I will have a starter……” cue groans from all. Donnchadh needs to learn the French word for plain – as in ‘plain burger’. He can’t just scrape out the things he doesn’t want like the rest of us, oh no, he needs to communicate that if some unwanted item appears on his plate there will be blood. It took him 20 minutes to order this cone, I am only surprised it wasn’t vanilla flavour.
Lives: don’t play card games with the Kennedys. In fairness, Matty did warn us, but we ploughed on ahead anyway. We learned that Claire never has a clue what is going on, Will is too scared of making mistakes, John is a cute hoor and Plumber is immune from losing lives and is prepared to wage jihad on anyone that doesn’t adhere to his rules.
Chunk Going Under the Knife: there has been an ongoing transformation with one of our club members over the last few months. Le Chunk, has been transforming from a water based / jelly fish / whale like creature to upright land mammal with a backbone. Unfortunately for him, the transformation was not complete and if he was to be able to climb the toughest climbs of the Tour de France he would need gastric band surgery. The surgery went well and we are delighted to report that Chunk beat Kenneth up the final climb of Alpe D’Huez. Kenneth immediately retired from the sport in disgrace.
Scumbags no matter where you go: scumbaggery seems to be a universal feature. No matter where you go you will always find local scumbags looking to upset things; it doesn’t matter how peaceful and tranquil the area is. The little town where we parked up for La Marmotte seemed idyllic but on our return to our car after the event we found the driver side window smashed in and 7 gear bags stolen from the boot. Thankfully, nothing too valuable was stolen.
Not Nice Guy Matty: when nice guys snap it ain’t pretty. On the plus side, getting left behind after a descent forced Matty to htfu. Cruel to be kind.
Bare Chest Cycling: you can only get away with this out foreign. Not a pretty sight.
Finishing medals make nice coasters
Tell us more about that time you did the Rás Kenneth….
Full Marmotte report will be published tomorrow……….