Toughest day on the bike without a doubt. Mizen to Malin was bad but this stage was brutal. Temperatures plunged, the hail shower after hail shower came and the wind whipped into us = absolute misery. There were multiple abandonments from cyclists today who just couldn’t control the bike anymore due to cold and numbness. Luckily for Nenagh CC all 5 of us stayed upright and finished.
The morning started off ok. The rain had stopped and the sun threatened to break through. No need for any heavy gear (we would pay for that later). Today’s stage started and finished in Kenmare. It was the toughest stage today with 5 very big climbs to get over. Again, tactics were to get through the race; the result and finishing places didn’t matter.
The first hills came after 15km so the pace was high to the foot of the first climb. Lauragh and the Healy pass come in quick succession so you just have to keep moving through the group or you will get caught when the splits occur. The boys worked hard on the hills. First over was Shane who climbed well, going from the back to the front on Healy Pass and winning KOM points for 5th over the top. Next over were Kenneth and Mike who were clinging on to the back of the front bunch. A little further down were Gary and Dan.
40km further on in the cycle the front bunch had about 70 in it, with a break of 6 two minutes ahead. Kenneth and Mike were caught in a split in the crosswinds and found themselves in the first chase group. Gary and Dan were in the second chase group.
Just before the 3rd big climb of the day, Shane got himself into a breakaway of 5 riders. They worked well and over the next 30km they put over a minute into the bunch. They began catching some of the cyclists that were dropped from the front break. A few others riders also broke from the front bunch up to the break. This led to a bigger group that didn’t work well together and with 30km of the 140km remaining the lads were caught.
From then on it was all about survival as black clouds rolled in and the heavens opened. All 5 lads suffered badly but at least Shane was on the road for Kenmare with the finish coming on fast. Those that were a few minutes back suffered more as they were out in those freezing conditions the longest. Shane finished in the front group. Mike and Kenneth were in the next group. Luckily for them, Shane had the camper warm for when they got back. Gary and Dan came in looking a sorry sight soon after.
40 minutes of violent shivering was endured before some warmth came into our bodies. When conditions get this bad you don’t really care what position you finish in; you just want to get home. The important thing is that we live to fight another day. Unfortunately for us, Sunday looks like being another bad day for cycling down here in Kerry. Cold temps, showers and strong winds are on the menu. Woohoo, can’t wait.