From the lows of Broadford to the highs of Clonard (Ras Naomh Finian)
Two similar days, two parallel courses…. two different race experiences.
After five months of consistent and intense training, Sinnead Oakes, Sinead Kennedy, Rachel Clancy and myself decided to take on Broadford as our first official road race of this year. The week leading up to Broadford, I was nothing but a bag of nerves. Why??? Was cycling in a large bunch going to intimidate me, I would not have thought so as I am use to cycling in groups of 40 or so on club races. Was it the course…..flat and easy, doubt it! Was it the distance, absolutely not at 56km. Yet it was a combination of all these…along with my own expectations.
I started the race with my teammates along side me…..but finished it on my own. After only ten minutes into the race, my legs were burning, my breathing was heavy and I had lost all focus. I was shot like a bullet out the back….that’s when Broadford ended for me. I did however complete the race distance…but never experienced the adrenaline or high that the race guys in the club had described to me.
For the rest of the week it bothered me that I could not hang on with the bunch. I started to doubt myself. My teammates, along with club members, tried hard to reassure me that it wasn’t my lack of ability, but just pre race nerves. But deep down, nothing convinced me. I asked my teammates would they do another race with me, but it would need to be a ‘sneaky race’. They agreed, Clonard would be our next.
After sign in, we did a 20 minutes warm up which I feel is important. During warm up, both women brought to my attention where I needed to position myself in the bunch according to wind direction. This was welcoming advise I abided by. Over 30 women lined up for the 44km race. When the whistle blew, I was determined to position myself somewhere in the middle of the bunch…let the women suck me along….and so they did. Clonard for me was going to be all about learning and observing…so from tactics, listening/reading the bunch, drinking regularly to positioning myself in the right place…I learnt you don’t necessarily need to be the strongest, or fastest cyclist…just be cute, determined and stubborn. I finished well at the top of the bunch, with my teammates along side me and I am on a high ever since.
However, I know too well, there will be other bad days, so bottling the highs will get me through the low days.
For all female cyclists who might just read this report and may have one time considered racing, what’s stopping you!! If you have persistence, determination, vision and nerves of steel you are more than half ways there. I admit training can be intense, and long hours on the bike can be sometimes unappealing, but the good feeling you have when you return from a training session, and spending time with your club mates, is just so worth it. The club will not only train but support and encourage you along the way. So why not start with our club cycles on a Saturday morning plus the Nenagh Summer Leagues which will re-commence on Thursday 9th April….
Next race for the ladies: Blarney, Co. Cork – Sunday March 15th.