I was really questioning my sanity as I left the house on Sunday morning and heard a weather warning on the radio. At the same time it was flogging rain outside and blowing a gale. But I had committed to go and the clubs “new” team car was getting her Sunday race debut so I had a lift, in short I was running out of excuses. I am always telling guys to Harden The F&*K Up so it was time to heed my own advice.
On the journey down the weather was getting worse if nothing else, but as we cleared Cork City the weather was clearing as well, out entry to the sprawling metropolis that is Minane Bridge was delayed by the fact that there was a three blown across the road. But the sun was out I doubted it was for long but it was a positive sign.
Upon signing on it was clear that the Munster Peloton had forgot to take there HTFU tablets with breakfast, there was a very small field entered. It’s often the case with races on hard courses that lots of guys stay at home; how they hope to improve as cyclist by staying at home is beyond me. Instead of a 77mile A1/A2 race the race was run as a handicap event over 6 11mile laps. Iverk Produce Carrick Wheelers along with many other clubs had a small turn out. Tony Cullen was representing us in the A4 race, with Niall Og Dunn, Shem Cullen, Eoin Green and myself in the combined race. Gerry Hawkins was kindly doing duty as team manager for the day.
The A3’s got a 3 min gap over the A2’s and we in turn had a 3 min gap over the small A1 group. The A2’s rode handily enough out to the first climb Dennis Dunworth of Visit Nenagh was obviously feeling good as he attacked straight away we would not see him for another two laps. The first climb was rode at a crawl as we were straight into the headwind, we then had a small descent and a flattish section of small roads until we had a technical descent and hit the second climb of the cicuit. Mehall Fitzgerald was in our group and his few years off the bike have not dampened his descending skills he bombed down the descent and started the second climb about 10 seconds ahead of the rest of us! I rode up to him on the climb and no one followed me, we were on our own for a few miles. Fitzy was showing off his new Planet X which was adorned with Planet X carbon wheels, the front was 80mm and the rear 100mm hardly ideal considering the wind. Any time we passed a gateway he was being blown 1 foot to the left or the right, if a small rider like me was riding them I would end up in the Irish Sea!
We tipped along for a couple of miles but decided there was no point in killing ourselves in the wind and waited for the rest of the group, we also picked up Thomas Fallon who had punctured out of the A3 group, he would add a set of strong legs to our group. During the second lap the group never really got organised as lots of lads wanted to hide from the wind and some of those who chose to ride did not seem to notice what direction the wind was coming from and instead of riding in an echelon proceeded to put the rest of the group in the gutter!!!
Unsurprisingly we were caught by the A1 group at the start of the 3rd lap. When I say group I mean 5 riders!!! Must have being a fun first couple of laps back there. I loved the cheek of one rider who had being sitting on in our group once the A1 group appeared and went to the front he decided to move up and sit on their wheels, I wasn’t long about “gently” moving him out of the way. Unfortunately Eoin Green punctured out at this stage and to make sure he would have a really bad day he had a second puncture about 3 miles later. We also picked up Denis Dunworth at this stage and he went straight out the back door.
Onto the climb and Sean Lacey attacked but was going nowhere into the headwind, over the top he went again with Mick Fitzgerald and no one reacted. A few tried to jump across but no one had the legs to get across into the wind. Timmy Barry was proving to be a deterrent as well as we knew if we did too much we were going to be hopped and sure enough we were Ed Barry was just off the front of the group saw Timmy coming but couldn’t get on the wheel, it was an impressive show of strength as Ed tried to get on and Timmy kept looking around to make sure he didn’t as you don’t bring a passenger across when you have a teammate up the road. That was basically the race run for our group, we picked up a number of A3’s that had being shelled but the last two laps were basically run as a training run, taking it easy and chatting on the climbs and cruising along on the flats (there were no flats just bits that were less steep than the climbs) the race was so hard we actually ended up as the group going for 11th. Fair play to everyone who finished it was a hard day out that will stand to everyone.
Eddie Dunbar had a great ride to win the way he did, the shine was nearly taken off his day by crashing at the finish line when he threw the arms in the air, hopefully a valuable lesson learned. Shem Cullen did well to hang on to finish 7th despite having some mechanical problems on the last lap. A special word of congrats to Niall Og Dunne on finishing, Eddie Dunbar was not the only first year junior to show a big pair of you know what on Sunday.