Tour of Ballypatrick

imageThis morning we welcomed back Tom Dalton from his cycling exploits in Germany with great stories of his fantastic experience. Fourteen riders departed from Tesco car park at 10.05 am under the stewardship of Padraig Ryan and Darren Byrne. We hit off in the direction of Kilheffernan and embarked on a Tour Of Ballypatrick under the shadow of Slievenamon, on roads that were only familiar to Darren. The pace was very manageable as Irene O Brien led from the front and set the pace as husband David was flying the FLAG at home!!!! On our way home Kevin Walsh and Padraig Ryan led the group through Kilsheelan at a steady pace and all finished together back in Tesco Car Park. This club spin is ideal for anyone keen to improve their fitness and gain experience of cycling in a group. – Padraig Ryan.

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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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