My Ras Mumhan recovery on Monday evening consisted of having an Easter egg as my evening meal, no dinner just an Easter egg! I woke up on Tuesday morning feeling like I had being out on the beer the night before. The "off" switch was definitely flicked on for this week, the "on" switch has being on from Christmas so this week was treated as a rest week physically and more importantly mentally. So diet went out the window for the week and a grand total of two hours were clocked up on the bike. The Silver Pail today was to be the first day of the build up to the ras. Iverk produce Carrick Wheelers had Martin, Mike and Eoin Green joining me in the A1/2 race. It was good to see plenty of Carrick jerseys warming up for the A3 and A4 races as well, it was also good to see a few lads getting stuck in in the underage races.
There was about 40-50 riders in our race, a good sized field for a Munster race, we started off at 100mph as usual. I instantly felt my legs objecting after there week of rest and eating, I knew it would take a lap or so for me to come around and I was praying that the move would not go before that but of course it did. The move only went after a few miles, it consisted of the Aqua Blue trio of Olan Barrett, Robin Kelly and Keith Gator, who were joined by defending champion Paidi O Brien and Michael Fitzgerald representing the local Fermoy club. To be honest I thought I heard someone say there was nine riders up the road, I was getting it that hard for the first couple of miles I couldn't make out what was going on at the business end of the race.
Martin had being following the moves out the road so it was a pity he missed it, Mike was doing a bit of riding on the front so I joined him, Martin rode up beside me and as the gap was only 10-15 seconds at this point I told him to try and jump across but he said he didn't have the legs...I then realised we were in for a long day of chasing. As we as a team had missed the break we took the responsibility for riding straight away Martin and I did a lot of turns straight away and were joined by Richard Hooten of Visit Nenagh, at the end of the first lap the gap was a manageable 25 seconds and if we were joined by a few more riders in the chase we could have closed it out. Simon Ryan was making a return to the bunch after a head injury in Ras Mumhan but the bump to his head must have still being affecting him as he tried to jump across the gap on his own, Simon is a good rider but he is not going well enough to cross a gap like that on his own, his effort disrupted the riding and the gap ballooned out to over a minute, I was sure now we would never see the front of the race again.
We were faced with two choices 1 sit in the bunch and cruise around or 2 ride on the front and serve our punishment for missing the break. You don't improve by sitting in the bunch so choice two was the only option. Unfortunately Mike Lucey suffered a mechanical for the second week in a row and was out of the race. Eoin Martin and myself were joined on the front by Richard Hooten. Martin was doing very impressive turns but Hooten impressed me greatly by the riding he was doing his turns during the tailwind section had me cursing that I only had a 12 sprocket on. I always say that an 11 is only required in Ireland for the Ras and the stage races but I was proving myself wrong today. This was the pattern of the race for the next couple of laps as the gap grew out to over two minutes.
Out onto the last lap and Martin and Richard were still doing the majority of the riding, the riders who had being sitting on with the last 80 km started racing now and a group split off the front of the bunch. I still though there was nine riders up the road so was cursing them for racing as there were no prizes left but it turns out they were racing for 6th so fair enough. Although I would say the riders who had no team mates up front would have being better off riding with us on the first two laps as they would have had a chance of racing for first instead of sixth. That was the race run for us, results wise it was bad for the club but we got a hard 100k in the legs. Up front Paidi and Olan had escaped the other three, it would have being nice to see Olan win in his home town and after all the riding he has done for his teammates this year but its hard to get the better of the Banteer bullet these days!
The A3 race was marked by an early escape that stayed away all day, I gathered that the Carrick boys rode well together with Shem Cullen in particular doing a lot of riding trying to get the break back for the sprinters in the club but it was not to be with Lenny Foley getting 9th and Ray Cullen getting 11th. Paul Bourke showed his intentions in the A4 race by racing in shorts the cold wind hitting his legs certainly drove him on as he scored a great win, well done Paul.
The racing was not the only cycling event occurring today, unfortunately Tony Ryan passed away last week and his removal was this evening. There was a huge crowd which was great to see and a reflection of the high esteem Tony was held in. Tony though me a lot over the years he was always willing to give advice and tips to riders, he would not sugar coat it and would tell you the way it was, if you were a few kg over weight he would tell you, if your position was a bit out he would tell you, everything he told you was aimed at helping you improve as a rider regardless of what club or team you rode for. He ran our Sunday spin with military precision there was no half wheeling then or going too fast or slow Tony said the speed we rode into a headwind or with a tailwind and you didn't dare deviate from that speed. The Sunday spin has suffered hugely from Tonys absence over the last few years, he will be missed rest in peace Tony.