Never mind the Ned Flanagan the Lacey Cup marks the start of the real season, one of the few races of the year to have one complete loop involving whats rarely seen in Irish races; long climbs, both big ring jobs more suited to sending guys out the back door as opposed to riding away from guys but a great early season test.
Rising at 6:30 to travel to Kerry none of this was on my mind less so when i stepped outside to be greeted by a very light dusting of snow on the car and minus 1 temperature. It took until after 10 am for the temperature gague to go above zero but it was a beautiful day with strong sunshine, some guys took this as a sign to wear shorts but i was not feeling that brave and was well wrapped up. IVERK Produce Carrick Wheelers had El Presidente Mr. Rory Wyley on the start line joined by Sean McIlory, Sean Hassey, Mike Lucey, Shem Cullen, Vinny Maher, Andrew Ahearne and new signing Nial Óg Dunne.
Its an interesting time of year to check out the new bikes and club kits. Blarney look like they are a team of Dutch national champions who support livestrong. the Visit Nenagh kit is a huge improvement on last years. The Planet Tri kit did not impress me seeing it on line but looked well in the flesh. Barry Meehan from worldwide cycles was blinding riders all around him with the amount of illuminious yellow on display!
As always the race was a handicap with the huge group of A4's being sent off first, followed a few min later by the A3's then the A2's including myself and a min on so later the A1's were set off. The A2 group did not ride well together and were caught very quicky by the A1's. The first climb was quickly upon us, the first effort of the year and a lot of guys would have being hoping for a favourable response. In the end we tipped up it handly enough with the Aqua Blues firing guys up the road but it was obvious that they were riding for Sean Lacey so there was no need to worry unless Sean was up the road in there company.
Down the descent we were starting to mop up some A3's there was still a huge bunch ahead visible in the distance. There was still a never ending amount of attacks coming from our group but nothing was sticking. Onto the coast we caught the main group and at this stage there was only a few riders up the road. Racing was going to start in earnest now. A few groups were going and coming I went once with Lacey but the legs were not giving good signals once I hit the wind.
Before Castlemain we got a time check of 1 min 15 it was obvious now that we would decide the race between us, I was feeling ropy enough but still rolling through, Olan and Mick were still doing big turns at 48 kph Sean was going through at 44 I was doing the same but was doing short turns at the red light was flashing. Dylan was riding through on ocassion but no one minded a junior on a 14 sprocket missing turns.
Onto the climb and Sean and Mick set a steady tempo, Olan went south early but from km1 he had being riding selfleshily for the team if there was a man of the match award he would be getting it. I was ok with the tempo the two boys were riding at I was over threshold but could stay there, if i had being a good sprinter the hammer would have being dropped more but Sean knew 99 times out of 100 he would beat me in a gallop. 2 k from the top we got a time check of 40 seconds, still enough to keep us safe, Dylan must have panicked a bit as he came to the front and turned the screw a small bit, it was just enough to send me over the edge I was 80 meters off the back going over the top. I gave it full gas on the descent the legs were twinging with cramp a bit. I took a few looks over my shoulder to make sure i was ok, into the finishing straight thats just under a kilometer I was telling myself just over a minute of an effort and its all over. Looked around with about 400 to go to be greeted by the sight of the chase group bearing down on me, I tried to dig deeper and deeper but with 200 to go they passed as if I was stopped.
F*^k I thought, this race was not a goal I was riding training wheels and had done four hours the day before but it would have being a nice result to start the season with. Iverk managed to squeeze two into the top ten Mick Lucey got 8th and Andrew Ahearne got 10th which was a good result for someone making a return to racing after two years of working in the UK.