A Successful weekend for clubs youth riders.

Clonmels ever improving youth riders Daniel Browne (3rd in the under 16 event)and Jack O’Donoghue (5th in the U 12 event) had another successful weekend in Camaross Co. Wexford, with both medalists in their respective events in the Wexford Wheelers – Frank O’Rourke Memorial Races. Well done to both !!!

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A tough but rewarding race

IMG_2833The Visit Nenagh Classic is widely regarded as one of the toughest and best events in the calander. Anyone who shuts down the main street in a town to let us race our bikes through it deserves support in my opinion and so,with that, it was off to Nenagh! Settle in this is a long one!!!

Visit Nenagh Classic 19th April 2015

I must admit I was looking forward to this race. It is billed as “A taste of the Belgian and Dutch classics” and the route has everything. It is an 80km loop filled with wide open roads with roundabouts and street furniture,narrow fast decents and climbs both long and sharp on various types of road surface. Thankfully after dealing with rain and severe wind over the last few races the weather could not have been better for racing, the sun was out and almost no wind. There was a huge turnout for all races and there was a real buzz around before we set off.

We set off from the Abbey Court Hotel and hit through the town out onto main roads towards Ballina. The pace on for the first 20km is electric. No settling into this one as we average over 40kph. I do my best to keep as far front as possible but it seems everyone has the same idea, the group compresses at each roundabout and its a full on sprint to hold on coming out.You get a feel for the group at each race very quickly and this group was out to race hard.

We take a sharp right off the main road and onto very narrow and winding roads towards Birdhill. I loose my place a little but at that point I am not that worried as the group is riding very well together. The road is up and down and with narrow bridges and oncoming traffic it is a real test to keep pace, keep place and keep calm. The main long climb of the day starts at Dolla at the 45km mark and it goes on for 5km with the steepest part reaching 9%. I knew this was where the final group would be selected and I had to be up there, I’m far from a climber but seem to be able to survive once the climb is steady and not over 10%. Unfortunatly for me disaster struck just 1km away from the climb where a crash blocked the narrow road completley. I push my way through and bury myself to try and catch on to the main group. It takes a huge effort but somehow just before we swing hard right onto the climb i get back on.

My heart is racing at this point. 5km of a tough climb ahead and I’m breathing heavy already. I pick a wheel and a gear and pace myself up the climb. If I’m honest it’s anger at myself for getting caught up in a crash that gets me over the first few km’s. Looking back at the race stats we average 29kph over this climb.Amazing pace, it hurts, it really hurts and it finally takes its toll on me as the 150 metres to the top sign appears the road shoots up to that 9% and I see the group disappear away from me. Dropped. After all that effort and with only 150 metres to go. Its amazing how much time you can loose in such a short distance. As I reach the summit I see the group ahead vanish around a corner, it’s such a horrible feeling. I have a 4km decent into Templederry to get back on.

You spend lots of time training for climbing, training for endurance and for sprinting but decending is often neglected. It is an art and a skill and not one I am great at to be honest and the decent is an interesting one to say the least.I lock my eyes onto the bunch and push as hard as I dare, meeting a car on a bend on the way down doesn’t help my confidence. Thankfully, as i’m just at my limit, a rider from DeRonde van Cork comes by me to help with the chase, all help is good, and a familiar face from Slievenmon is a welcome relief also. Somehow we get back on. To this point I still can’t believe it.

Thankfully, at the end of the decent there is a little rest in the group. Time to drink and fuel up and even a little time to chat. It doesn’t last long though as at 60km we are all sent up a really narrow little dusty road with grass in the middle. It’s such a good race route, just when you relax after such a huge effort we are climbing again for 1km but this time with the end in sight it’s really enjoyable. I must admit the final 20km are some of the most enjoyable I’ve spent on a bike this year.With such a hard day behind us and the finish in sight we rocket towards Nenagh at 60kph plus. With a group of about 30 riders I feel I’m on for my best finish yet. There is a sharp left which leads us into the final 500 metres on a closed main street. There are plenty of people out on the streets,all cheering, including my wife who is here to see me racing for the first time,I sprint as hard as I can,it hurts so much. I cross the line in the top 20.Gasping for breath. Exhausted but happy.

Without doubt the toughest but most rewarding race I have done to date. One minute I’m staring at a group disappear the next sprinting to the finish. You learn a lot when you are up against it and I thank the Visit Nenagh Classic for that. — Keith Colville.

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A flat course.

imageA flat course is a tricky thing. The strain sneeks up on you and gradually the pace wears you down, add to that the fact that a flat course seems to keep the large bunch together, if the pace doesn’t get you, there is a fair chance a kamakaze rider will!

Silver Pail GP Fermoy 12/04/2015

After the Easter break it was off to Fermoy Sunday before last. As ever the weather dominated the conversation on Saturday night and Sunday morning. It was really windy and raining heavy as we left Clonmel so, with a flat course, I expected this to be a super fast and tricky race. I haven’t yet raced on wet roads, incredible as that seems for this country but after a winter of training in the rain and dark I felt confident that I knew how things worked, or more importantly didn’t work, on a bike in the wet.

The course was simple, a lap of 20 km and we would do three.From the start we blast downhill to a sharp 90 degree left turn. Plenty of shouts of “keep your line” and “braking braking” as we reach it.This was a very vocal group! We ease around the corner onto a little incline but surprisingly the pace doesn’t rocket up as normal. Maybe due to a slight crosswind, or the greasy roads, but the early pace was relatively easy.If I’m honest I don’t like this so much. Even towards the front there was plenty of braking. A large group of A4 riders does not flow well and bump and knock off each other followed by plenty of tutting and shaking of heads.It was going to be one of those days.

Inevitably, before we have finished the first lap on a dead straight part of the main road, a crash.For some reason on a little incline the pace slowed to my right, catching out riders behind and with not enough time to react the sound of thousands of euros worth of bikes hitting the road follows.Thankfully the only screams to come were of anger and not pain.We pass the line to finish the first lap, two to go,two to stay safe.

One of the many great things about racing is you begin to recognize faces. Each week you have the same teams and people giving their all. One of the benefits of this is you begin to know the solid and predicable people.Riders that wont slow when they take a bottle,or wobble when they reach for some food. I spot one and spend the second lap on his wheel feeding and saving energy for the last lap.The pace gradually increases and now each sprint out of a corner stings a little more and each gap becomes a little harder to close. It wears the legs down and by the time we reach the last 1km there is a large group of about 40 riders heading towards the finish at speed. Plenty of shoulder to shoulder action and some incredibly stupid moves up on the right hand side to gain places. I try to move up on the inside left but I get blocked and its ends that we all roll over the line as one.

Looking back now it was a day to learn, a day to bring on the “match fitness” and more importantly a day to stay upright.With all those achieved its on to the next with hope of better weather. Huge respect for Danny and Corey for competing in the youth classes again, they got the worst of the days weather but finished well. – Keith Colville.

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