Des Hanlon Race report – Sinead Kennedy
Myself, Majella and Sinnead travelled down to this race expecting lots of pain, torture and murder as Keith had told us to expect. Keith seemed very mentally scared by this race by all accounts hence his visit to Loughrea this year (sorry Keith!!).
It could not have been a more beautiful day for a race. We arrived down in just enough time to sign on, get ready and do a warm up. We met up with all the Nenagh lads before the race and it seemed that there was a good chance of someone scoring points today. My goal was just to finish safe and with a good work out so it was a success on both counts!
Lots of pre race nerves were being felt by the large group all gathered at the start line. Majella even commenting that she would prefer to be pregnant than at the start line of this particular race….ah ok Majella… nerves can bring about the weirdest of conversations.
All the men’s categories started pulling out leaving just roughly 30 women left at the start line. I was very happy to get moving at that stage. Waiting around to start can sometimes be the hardest part. My one and only race tactic for the day was to be as near to the front of the bunch as possible coming into the first big climb as I knew there would be massive splits within the bunch (and to allow myself leeway to lose a little ground). This climb came around the 20km mark.
The start of the race was quite calm. It seemed everyone was taking it easy and conserving their energy for the hard climbs that lay ahead. I was continuously trying to make my way to the top half of the bunch but always managed to end back up down the back after a few minutes.
There was a descent just before we turned left into the brick wall that was the start of the first climb. My one and only race tactic did not materalise and I found myself at the back heading into the first climb with Majella for company. As soon as we started climbing there was lots of changing gears and people slipping off the bunch getting dropped. Starting so far at the back I found it very hard to get moving and got dropped from the main bunch along with Majella. We quickly settled into working the hill well however and found ourselves in a bunch of about 10 other women by the time we got to the top. Just as we were nearing the top of the hill we could see Sinnead glide over the top with quite a small lead bunch and that was to be the last we saw of her.
Once we got to the top of the hill we quickly got organized and started working together to try and close the gap. We picked up another two ladies that had made it up the hill with the lead bunch but had a minor accident that made them lose contact.
The route was constant drags and hills. I had decided after getting dropped from the lead bunch that I would work as hard as I could within the group I was in. In races up to this my objective was just to try and sit in with the bunch and finish so I decided today was the day to try something different. I worked hard in the group and kept rolling over strong. As we made our way through the many drags and mini hills we began to lose people and eventually there was only 4or 5 of us left working together with a few more sitting in at the back. At this stage with only a small few working I knew we would not see the lead bunch again.
Just as there were many hills there was also many descents and sharp corners to maneuver and to put it mildly Majella and I are like grannies on the descents and no comment on the cornering efforts!!! The descents were super fast on small roads. For some reason I just decided to let myself go on the descents and managed to separate a little from the group with 3 other girls. Unfortunately this is where I lost contact with Majella as she struggled harder than me with the descending yesterday (probably landing in a ditch the week before on a descent didn’t help!)
Heading into the last hard and long hill I continued rolling over with the 3 girls I had semi broken away with. The girls were now tiring on this last but really long hill. I managed to unintentionally separate from them (kudos to the winter warrior training) and by the time I got to the top I was by myself. I saw an Orwell Wheeler cyclist (who I now know as Monica) a little bit ahead and shouted at her (desperate measures and all that!) that we work together and try and stay away from the other ladies coming up the hill behind me. Again we started rolling over and worked well together. With 10k to go we picked up Junior Laura Cooke from Limerick CC who had just been dropped by the lead bunch and the three of us cycled hard back into town together.
I was super happy to see the finish line and even happier when one of the ladies told me that Sinnead had came in 4th overall keeping Nenagh CC in the headlines. Well earned on a really tough day of racing.
All in all a good day for the Nenagh CC ladies – we were happy with our work rate, happy with our hill climbing and finally all happy to have finished well up in the top half of the numbers.
And finally to finish…
Today was race 4 for me. I know there is vast improvements to be made but happy with the progress made thus far. Speaking for Majella and I, I think what we have learned so far is – 1. We need to get a better position in group 2.We need to get better at cornering and descending. Finally the biggest lesson we are learning is not to travel with Ms. Oakes or you will have to wait around an extra couple of hours after each race for the prize giving!!! In saying that she did share her winnings on the way home in the form of ice cream s and drinks!
Thanks as always to the lads for the time and effort and training they put into us. We do appreciate it.
Looking forward to the next race already…