That was one of our more uneventful stages. Everyone made it safely through the cut-off time and we are sitting down now in Dungarvan having a cup of tea, well pleased with ourselves. Things were looking pretty dodgy this morning before we set out. Shane had spent the night puking up Jumbo Salted Peanuts while Kenneth had the pleasure of listening to that lovely, soothing retching sound. Shane O’Neill was missing his room-mate and bag of nerves, Michéal O’Shea. All he had was a lock of curly hair to remember Michéal by.
Here’s how the day went……
The last time Shane ate a full bag of the salty Jumbo Peanuts he was sick as a dog for a whole night. The salt in the pack would cause his stomach to react badly. They are fair nice though, so after stage 5 Shane tucked into half a packet (being very sensible). Combine this with the salt and vinegar crisps and salt on the dinner and he was in trouble – self-inflicted as usual. At 10 o’clock, the fun began. Over the next 4 hours the whole dinner and packet of peanuts proceeded to be regurgitated. As Shane had gone through this before, he wasn’t worried, ‘I will be grand in the morning, just need to let this pass’. 23 pukes later and a 5 hour sleep and he was right as rain and feeling good. This is not a promotion of the benefits of Bulimia.
The other two boys left in the race weren’t feeling the best this morning. The legs were a bit dead in both and there was some worry about the stage ahead. If we could just get this one out of the way then there would be just 2 stages left; sure you can almost see the finish line from there. There was also increased worry about the marshals. After yesterday, we were not very keen to get another mechanical and risk being out of the race. As bad luck would have it, didn’t Kenneth go and get himself a lovely puncture in the neutralised zone. This actually worked to his advantage as the race start was delayed till he was sorted. If he got the puncture 1km later he could well have been out of the race.
Today’s stage didn’t look to hard on paper. The climbs seemed quite manageable but it didn’t really play out like that. The hills just kept coming; the course was constantly up and down on narrow roads. Plenty of people were struggling early but the 3 Nenagh CC lads held on in there. At the 90km mark of this 160km stage we were all still in the main bunch, however the hills encountered over the next 20km would cause a lot to lose touch including Kenneth and Shane O’Neill. Both lads got themselves into a nice chase group of about 20. They were able to ease back the effort and save energy. There wouldn’t be any real issue with missing the timecut so it was easy cycling.
Shane Scully had a better day of it today. The legs were feeling as fresh today as they felt on stage 1 – not hard when you spend 5 days in the grupetto! As the hills came and went, Shane moved up through the field and each time there was a split he was on the right side of it. On the big climb of the day, what was left of the main bunch split in two. This time Shane wasn’t in the front group. His group of 50 kept cycling fast in pursuit of the bunch ahead. Coming into Dungarvan they had lost about 4 minutes to the main group. Not a bad day at the races at all.
Today was the first time our team car was called up to the bunch to give out water/food. Mike Browne has taken on the role of chief water bottle dispenser. Up till now we have all been too scared to go out the back of the bunch to get stuff from the cars. The pace is very high so we are all focusing on just holding wheels. As there was an early break out front today, the pro teams just sat on the front and rode at tempo to bring the break back. This meant fewer surges and that allowed on brave member to call the team car up. Bit by bit we are becoming less of an embarrassment in the peleton. Although Kenneth did manage to crash and take a wrong turn today. Some day we might get everything right. Tomorrow?
Tomorrow’s stage is a very hard one with a lot of categorised climbs and at 155km it will be very hard to make the timecut if we are out the back early. If we manage not to mess things up, it is very likely that we will finish the rás. Not long to go now.