The final ‘race’ of the Nenagh CC winter league took place today in pretty horrible conditions. It was very windy out there and drizzly but at least it wasn’t cold as the temps for the day stayed in the double digits for this training session. There were just over 30 at the start line and it was great to see our friends from other clubs pop down to keep us company.
The conditions and the fact that there was a club triathlon training weekend taking place at the exact same time, meant that there were very few for the first two bunches. We made the decision to go with 3 groups and even at that, the first group on the road had only 3 in it, meaning the final two groups were pretty large. The quality of rider was excellent so if you weren’t on form you were heading out the back straight away.
The first group got a 12 minute handicap on group two, with a further 5:30 back to group 3. There was a very strong tail wind for the first 30km and this made for a lightning fast start. Plenty of cyclists got caught out by this and there was no way back into the group once dropped. The average pace for the first 30km was 47km/hr. All sorts of Strava records were broken between Nenagh and Roscrea. Half of the bunch were dying for the turn around to come just so the head wind would calm down the bunch.
At the turn around point the gaps between the bunches had dwindled a lot. There were two mins between group 1 and 2 and another 2 mins back to group 3. It was clear that the bunches were going to merge a little earlier than expected. The headwind slowed things down massively and allowed everyone to get their breath back and get some food in. We weren’t even half way and the legs were screaming and that’s with tough hills to come too!
Group 1 and 2 merged before Dunkerrin and the gap back to group 3 was reduced to 1:40 before the turn off to Moneygall. The left turn in Moneygall brought us onto the first hill of the day – Army Hill. The gradient isn’t too hard on this one so most people managed to stay in their groups and get over the top safely. On a recon of this route earlier in the week, three lads got 4 punctures on the descent where the local farmer had cut his hedges. Between the rain and a quick sweep we gave it the day before, the committee thought it would be alright. That wasn’t to be. There must have been up to 8 punctures on the stretch of road after army hill. Its like having tacks on the road. Apologies from the club if you were one of those who suffered!
On with the race, the next hill was after a right turn at Gortagarry. The hill here is short but steep. Unluckily for group two, group 3 caught them on the climb and Simon Ryan decided to hurt everyone by pushing a savage pace up it. Only a few held his wheel to the top. On the descent Seán Yelverton and Shane Scully found themselves with a gap out front. It took a while for the chasing group to regroup so the two lads ploughed on ahead. They were joined by Shane Kenney as they entered Toomevara and now the break was looking dangerous.
On the way over to Ballinamona the bunch started to reel the lads back in. With the big climb of Seáníns to come and the bunch getting close the three lads eased off and let the bunch catch. Immediately there were break aways off the front, with Kenneth Kennedy, Vinny Gleeson, Dan Hogan and Paul O’Connell putting good distance into the bunch behind. This was an ideal time to break for those that felt they might not get up the final hill with the mountain goats. With 2 Nenagh CC and 1 Mego rider in the break, there was no chase at all.
At the foot of the climb, the 4 lads up ahead were out of sight. The race kicked off for real at the bottom with Shane launching an attack on the very steep start of Seáníns. Shane and Seán Yelverton soon had a good gap on the rest and pushed on after the bunch ahead. Half way up the climb and the gap had been narrowed considerably. Kenneth and Paul had put some distance into Dan and Vinny who were soon passed by Shane and Seán. Coming up to the final tough pinch Seán and Shane made it onto the back wheel of the two lads in front.
Cresting the top of Seáníns, it was clear Paul O’Connell wasn’t too happy with his bike and he got distanced on the descent. There were now just 3 lads out in front, but with a head wind all the way back to Nenagh would they be able to stay out there? The 3 lads got into a nice rhythm and made a good pace back to Nenagh. Reports were telling them that the lead was well over one minute as they enter the last 5km. Now the cat and mouse was about to begin.
Nenagh CC messed up last week when 5 of them let Mark Callaghan take an easy win. This week it was two against one and the lads were determined not to screw it up this time. With 1.5km to go Shane broke first but Seán was alert and chased him down quickly. He went to go himself then but Shane held his wheel. The two lads slowed to a crawl and Kenneth was able to catch. Kenneth then threw in a break of his own and opened a nice gap as Sean was reluctant to chase with Shane shadowing his moves. Eventually Sean had to set off after Kenneth. Shane jumped on his wheel straight away but then disaster struck for Seán as his chain snapped with 500m to go.
This made the run in a formality with Shane catching up to Kenneth and the two lads rolled over the line together. It wasn’t long before a chase group of 6 or so crossed the line led by Dan Hogan, David Kyle, Mark Callaghan, Vinny Gleeson, Shane Kenny, and Paul O’Connell. The rest of a much depleted field crossed not long after. Everyone seemed truly wrecked from the training session.
The quality of this race was excellent so do not feel down if things didn’t go as planned. In Nenagh CC we like for people to not get overly excited when they do well but on the flip side do not get too disheartened when things don’t go well. You will always have plenty of good weeks and bad weeks. Also remember, you were racing against two teams that will be featuring in the Rás this year so it was always going to be a tough one. The season is a long one so don’t let a day like today get you down. Use it as fuel to motivate yourself to train hard over the next few months. Remember it’s a long season and the first race hasn’t even started yet!!!!
This is the last winter warrior ‘race’. Thanks to everyone that supported it and thanks especially to our marshalls for helping us out.
1. Kenneth Kennedy
1. Shane Scully
3. Shane Kenny
No top woman today as our only female entrant punctured out.
Saturday – we are back to our normal Saturday spins. ‘Thank F***’, says you! We want to try to get the old gang back out again so the pace and intensity will be reduced greatly. Make it your mission to be there next week.
Sunday – our racing cyclists will be heading down to the Lacey Cup for the first race of the Munster racing calendar. Hopefully there will also be a club cycle from Tescos.