It was a smashing morning for the 3rd race of our club winter league. This was by far the toughest day as the total length of 76km and the ascent of Seáníns blew the bunches apart in the final quarter of the race. There were 28 cyclists at the race which we were very happy with considering the late call on having this race. Only the cancellation of the race in Loughrea made this possible. We also welcomed riders from Mego, Aqua Blue, Newcastle West CC and Kilmallock. They increased the quality of the race and at this time of year that’s what we need.
There were 4 groups on the road today with the handicaps at 0, 9, 15 and 20. The length of this early season cycle meant that each group set out at a more realistic pace. The strong head wind all the way to Roscrea calmed down anyone that was getting too excited. Reports coming back to HQ say that all bunches worked well together. Group 3 had a 5 minute head start and they worked well together and at the turn around the gap was reduced to around 2:30.
Once the groups turned at Roscrea, the tail wind resulted in the speeds being ramped up with plenty of Strava KOMs being broken on the way back in. The gap between groups 3 and 4 only came down 40 seconds or so on the way back to Toom. The back bunch were rolling over very well and everyone was doing their turn, but they could never get the other group in sight.
After Toom there was only 2 groups left on the road. The pace of both slowed a little as they turned at Ballinamona cross for Seáníns. People were looking to save their energy for the tough ascent. At this stage, group 4 were uncertain whether they would be able to reel in the large bunch ahead.The clunk clunk of gear changing was a sure sign that we had reached the foot of the climb. The first 2 minutes of the climb is a small ring job and if you are tired at this stage then you are going out the back.
Going up the first tough drag, the back group could finally see the back markers of the group ahead. They settled into a nice but comfortable pace up the hill and one by one the group ahead were being reeled in. There was a lot of pain on the faces of everyone at this stage. It was time to dig in. The pace of the rás group increased after the half way point on the hill. This had quite a damaging effect on the group, which had now whittled down to just 4 left.
Shane Scully, Mike Browne, Dan Hogan, and Mark O’Callaghan crested the hill together and pushed on quickly down the other side. However, there were still two lads from group 3 out ahead. Con Kennedy and Denis Allen still (how the hell are they both in group 3 when they climb that well!!!) had a 30 second gap but with the 4 lads chasing hard it was going to be hard to stay away. The 4 lads finally caught the 2 ahead coming out of Toomevara. Both lads managed to jump in the bunch so now there was 6 cyclists ahead with 6 miles to go.
Back behind, there were small little groups all over the road. They chased hard but were outnumbered by the 6 up ahead so were always going to lose ground. Luckily for everyone there was a nice tail wind blowing all back to Nenagh so we made it back in double quick time. With 5 Nenagh CC lads and 1 Aqua Blue lad in the top 6 it was advantage Nenagh CC as the group got to the 3k to go mark. Dan and Shane threw in digs for Nenagh CC and tried to work over Mark Callaghan, but Mark was having none of it and made a huge burst of his own with 1km to go. Nobody was on his wheel so he got a nice gap straight away.
Dan Hogan and Mike Browne chased hard but with Shane tiring they didn’t quite have the man power to close the gap fully and Mark stayed away for a well deserved victory. Dan Hogan came in just ahead of Mike for 2nd. Nenagh CC have a lot to learn about finishing off a race!! There were four ladies in the women’s race today with Sinéad Kennedy coming home in first place. This was a race but it was also just a bit of fun so there were plenty of smiles all round at the end.
It was a Valentine’s Day massacre out there for many but give yourself a pat on the back for doing it!!
Photos and video to come.
Thanks as always to Bertie Sherlock and his deputy Stallion for marshalling.
1st Mark O’Callaghan
2nd Dan Hogan
3rd Mike Browne
1st woman Sinead Kennedy
Next-up: WW4 – next Saturday at 10:30 – the final race of our winter league will take place next Saturday. Once again the route will be a long, tough one but there will be some small changes to the route so take a look at the route map when it is published later in the week. One more league race and we will be ready to start racing. Next week’s race is open to anyone who is looking for a serious workout for the season begins. Spread the word.
Don’t be stressing: if the race today didn’t go your way. It’s still very early days yet. This race will have little bearing on how your season goes. There are months and months of training and racing ahead. Everyone has good days and bad days. Don’t go ripping up your plans because you feel you got things wrong. Knuckle down and work hard and you will get there.