WW1 proved to be a war to remember. Fair play to all those that took part today. The conditions still weren’t ideal, with a strong wind blowing + the odd shower, but everyone was keen to get back on the road for this fun Christmas race. We had a good turnout, with 32 on the start line out in Toomevara. After missing the last month of official club cycles, it was a relief to see people hadn’t sworn off cycling for life. After the obligatory group photo we divided into our groups and Bertie Sherlock got us all on our way.
There were 4 groups on the road with the handicaps at 0, 8, 12 and 14 mins. The aim was to have all the groups merging before Moneygall and this was exactly what happened. The pace out to Roscrea was lightning fast due to a strong tail wind. The rás group averaged 46km / hour to Roscrea and had made large gains on the groups ahead. The pace in the other groups was also very fast with a few cyclists getting dropped on the way to Roscrea. As it is an out and back route, they were all able to turn early and join back in.
The cycle out to Roscrea proved to be a shock to the system but things were to get harder as we turned back into the head wind. The pace dropped immediately and everyone had to really dig in. After the hill coming out of Roscrea you could see all 4 groups on the same part of the road together. It was clear that all the groups would be merging soon. Groups 2,3 and 4 all merged together at the same time coming into Dunkerrin. Now the real race could begin.
There was still 26km of racing to go and most of that into a head wind. With this in mind, there were few willing to break from the bunch. The speed of the bunch slowed and with that the breaks started. Shane Scully was the first to go and he opened a gap. Battling into a wind solo is not easy so he soon started to wilt. The first bunch were caught and passed just before Moneygall. At this point, a group of 4 bridged over to Shane consisting of Kenneth Kennedy, Benny Delaney, Brian O’Neill and Will Rymer. They continued to push on and were soon joined by Con Kennedy. A few were lost from the break too. This break was finally reeled in after Moneygall.
The next break occurred soon after with Eoin Woolley, Dan Hogan, Kenneth Kennedy and Shane Scully off the front. This break was short lived and as the bunch came up to the incline before Toomevara everyone was back together. In the past, the incline up towards Toomevara has been a pivotal point in the race with many winning moves being made here. Today proved no different.
The bunch were starting to tire and many cyclists had already gone out the back. From the reduced bunch, Shane made a break but it was the move from Mike Browne which blew the race apart. Mikey ramped up the pace and dropped everyone bar Shane off his wheel. Mike continued to drive a ferocious pace and soon opened up a sizable gap on the bunch behind. Exiting Toomevara, the gap was heading towards 30 seconds. Mike was clearly feeling great and Shane had his work cut out staying on his wheel.
The miles ticked down one by one and with Mikey doing 80% of the work out front, the lads maintained their advantage. It was soon clear that they were not going to be caught. In the bunch behind the chase was being led by Dan Hogan who was doing the lions share of the work. Matty Kennedy was also putting in strong efforts at the front. Breaks started going from the back bunch and a few lads managed to get away in little groups. They were racing for 3rd place now as the two lads up ahead had the finishing line in sight.
Mike Browne rightfully took the victory on the day. He was the class act out there and is starting to show how good he can really be. Nobody was surprised by his efforts. Let’s hope it translates into top performances in 2016. Shane came in on Mike’s wheel for second place. Next over the line for joint 3rd position were Dan Hogan and Matty Kennedy who both came in together after escaping from the bunch in the last few miles. The first lady home was Sinéad Kennedy.
The final average pace for the winners was 39km / hour with the total race distance clocking in at 30 miles and racing time 1 hr 15 mins. Mighty stuff. The pints will be well deserved tonight.
Thanks: to Bertie Sherlock and Eoin Sheehan for helping out at this race. Fair play to the both of ye!
Next Up: WW2 will take place early in January. Official club training is finished until Jan 2nd. There will however, be plenty of unofficial sessions taking place over the holidays – check out facebook and Viber for updates.