Yesterday Clonmel Cycling Club ran yet another very successful series of races . The circuit chosen was good enough to be a National Championship circuit , and as Ray said all week ‘ The strongest rider on the day would win the race ‘ . The days racing began with the underage riders testing out the new circuit . The Under 12 race was won by Michael O’Loughlin whose father Martin was hoping to make it a double in the combined race . Dylan O’Brien won the under 14 race whilst Luke McGuire took the under 16 event .
Next up came the Combined race , that is a race where C category seniors , Veterans , Juniors and Ladies are all lumped in together . I even decided to enter this melting pot myself , but more on that later .
The main event was the Elite A/B category race where the local hero put in a terrific performance . With the race doing 7 laps of the Marlefield circuit , and the start/finish line being only 100 metres from the house where he grew up , there was an added amount of pressure on Ray yesterday .
The people of Marlefield were out in force to support their finest sportsman . Ray has won just about everything on the domestic scene as well as some very impressive international results and is recognised as one of the best Irish cyclists of the post Kelly/Roche era . ( I know I am a little biased but I don’t think that anyone would disagree ) . There was a fantastic atmosphere on the barrier controlled uphill finish straight which was added to by the people of Marlefield who brought tea and sandwiches from their own homes out to the spectators .
With local children chanting ‘come on Raymend ‘even when no cyclist was in sight it was easy to see who they wanted to see on the podium . Ray did not dissapoint when with 1 1/2 laps remaining he launched a blistering attack . Two riders managed to get across to him, current man on form Brian Kenneally and another strongman Mick Hennessy from Fermoy . The trio rode well together but it was Kenneally who took the spoils on the day . Ray entertained the crowd as he crossed the line in third position whilst doing a wheelie. The local kids roared their delighted encouragement of ‘Good man Raymend’ .
Meanwhile , in the combined race I found myself rediscovering many different forms of pain that I thought I had long since forgotten . There is a big difference between ‘Bike fit ‘ and Race fit’ , which I soon discovered . First time up the dump hill I thought that my legs were going to seize up . By the time we had gone through the start/finish and on up by St. Patricks well I thought that I was going to Vomit . It was time for a quick conference with myself to come up with a plan to get to the finish in one piece .
Plan A was to be first into the bottom of each climb and then to ride up at my own pace . Ideally , by the top of each climb although many riders would have passed I would still be in the bunch . This is called ‘sliding room’ and actually worked pretty well . Like a Green Party advocate ‘energy conservation’ was paramount so to make my way back up to the front of the bunch after each piece of sliding also required a little planning . Up the middle is the most sheltered , but also the most dangerous way . Up the inside is good if there is a stall and a gap . Up the outside is only for use when latching on to another rider who might tow you up to the front . All three were employed .
The racing was hot and heavy with many attacks shooting off the front early on . At one stage as I looked at Martin O’Loughlin having a go I wondered to myself what I was doing here . He recently trained 40 hours in one week ( The tour de france is usually won in 88 to 90 hours over three weeks ) . My average weeks training would be much closer to four than forty .
On the third lap Leslie O’Donnell (Dan Morrissey ), John Murphy (Fermoy) and Martin Phillips (Limerick) attacked heading out the main road . With 3 strong riders from 3 strong teams this looked like a very good move indeed . A number of riders tried to bridge the gap , but to no avail . The gap grew slowly to over a minute which , as we passed the start/finish for the penultimate time looked to be enough .
I was really struggeling at this point and as we passed patricks well for the final time , my sliding room diminished with the ever reducing size of the bunch , my elastic snapped . I was 30 metres off the back as we turned onto the main road for the final time . Then I noticed what was left of the bunch swell out on the road as there was a stall . I dug deep and managed to get back into the safe haven that was the bunch .
There now remained 2 climbs . Dump hill and the climb up to the finish . My goal for the day was to finish in the bunch . If I could make it over Dump hill , the group would be so strung out on the final climb that I would still be in contact .
As we approached the sweeping left hand-er that led into Dump hill for the final time I noticed that a rider on the front had been a bit cagey on the corners earlier in the race . I went around the outside and did not touch my brakes . This got me a few precious lengths that may see me over the hill still in the group . I dug deep once more and just managed to latch on as we went over the top .
Up ahead John Murphy ( who rides the Etape each year ) was taking an impressive victory ahead of the Limerick strongman Martin Phillips and Carricks Mr. Consistency Leslie O’Donnell .
Meanwhile we were approaching the final corner up the hill at speed with 7 prizes still up for grabs . A few riders were dangling off the front but it all came together on the final climb. I was on Martin’s wheel entering the corner . A good wheel to be on if you had good legs, which I did not have . He powered on up to finish fifth just behind David Walshe of Wexford Wheelers . I trundled on up the hill accomplishing my mission of a bunch finish in my first race in over 3 years .
I had forgotten just how hard racing is , but as I sit here today with sore legs full of lactic acid I have that sense of accomplishment that follows on from doing something less ordinary than most Sunday civillians .
Here are the garmin details of the race ( missed a bit at the start ) : http://connect.garmin.com/activity/4350917
Jonathan Ryan has some great pictures and a video of the race here : http://www.flickr.com/photos/vanhelsing65/sets/72157617256734641/
Danny Carroll has a more detailed report here : www.clonmelcc.com
With only 13 weeks remaining until this years Etape du Tour Sean O’Leary of www.trail-seekers.com organised a training weekend in Kenmare Co. Kerry for some of the participants . Base camp was the Kenmare bay hotel where Sean had booked a number of the newly built attached holiday homes . The very best of local Kerry Cuisine was sampled each evening in both ‘An leath phingin eile ’ and across from the Hotel itself in the Brooklane hotel . Even a substantial amount of sunshine had been organised by Sean so top marks all the way .
As ever when joining an unknown ( to myself) cycling group for the first time there is always a certain amount of apprehension . Will they all be flying with twice my amount of training done ? What will the climbs be like ? , What sort of speed will they be averaging ? . These are always the questions that flow through your mind as you near the meeting up point .
DAY 1 – The meet up !
As the 2 o’clock start time loomed , introductions and handshakes were taking place between 2 sets of guests of the hotel , and a relaxed atmosphere prevailed . One set of guests were clad in body hugging lycra and were astride their gleaming machines in the centre of the car park whilst another set of guests nearer the entrance were clad in body hugging chiffon and pinstripe suits as they headed for a wedding . Both were happy to see the sunshine overhead .
With Sean’s wife Breda and daughter Tara doing back up we were soon on the road headed for the village of Kilgarvan - Jackie Healy Rae country . Sean , ever the efficient tour guide scheduled a stop in order for us to get a look at Healy Rae park . In the past I’ve cycled around Central Park , Hyde Park and now I can say that I’ve cycled into Healy Rae park , all twelve square feet of it . A swift about turn and a left hander soon had us on a deserted country road which the local TD had overlooked in the rural resurfacing plan , or else the surface was designed to act as a deterrent to outsiders . Either way Sean soon had us all safely through the shale , gravel , boulder section and onto the first climb of the day up out of the Borlin Valley . This was to be the first test as to how everyones’ training was progressing and all seemed to pass with flying colours . Sean was feeling a little tired at the top and decided to implement an early recovery plan .
As we descended the other side a number of riders punctured and phone contact was temporarily lost between scout (Sean) and posse (Breda) but this was soon rectified .
Then onto the picturesque town of Glengarrif before the second climb of the day up towards Caha Pass and the tunnel road . As soon as the road began to rise an attack was launched from the main group . Brendan , a Mussel farmer from Bantry Bay took off up the road never to be seen again before the top . One or two riders set off in pursuit but all to no avail . The next time we saw him he was stopped at the top sipping water without breaking sweat .
A headwind slowed our descent back into Kenmare but all had done enough to create a good appatite for the evenings meal . The hotel is only a 3 minute walk into the town centre and this was just about right for weary legs in search of fresh air . As the food was digested and the days cycling was recapped the group as a whole were gelling well together . By 11 pm. most heads had hit the pillows as Day two’s ninety miler loomed a few short hours away .
DAY 2- The Big Kahuna
A typical distance cyclists attitude to breakfast was order of the morning in the restaurant of the Kenmare Bay Hotel . The full Irish smell was very appetising but muesli and porridge with plenty of toast and croissants were what you needed . Keep eating and get it into ya , all of those carbs will be needed later .
The roll out had us heading towards Sneem for a few miles before turning inland and across the axis of the Iveragh Peninsula . The first climb of Ballaghbeams pass once more saw Brendan cruise over the top . Some spectacular scenery which had to be viewed was a good excuse for anyone lagging behind . Next up came the Ballaghsheen pass which was once again tamed by Brendan .
A lunch stop in Caherciveen was very welcome before the final climb of the day up Chuimachuiste . Some hot and heavy pace setting was already splitting the group when one of the four ‘Iron men ‘ from Kilkenny bounced of the ground . No sooner had Brendan Muldowney hit the deck than he was back up again . A quick realignment of a rear hanger and he was on the road once more .
A brief regrouping at the top and all were back on the road again . A strong headwind combined with some very hard rolling roads made life difficult for those with heavy legs and a group of six forged ahead . Pat Tobin , Liam Lysaght and Brendan Muldowney , all Kilkenny men along with Ivan O’Gorman from Limerick and Patrick Pratt from Mallow and myself all rode well together on the tough roads through Sneem and back into Kenmare . Suffering no ill effects from his earlier introduction to the tarmac Brendan Muldowney attacked with 2k to go and was first man back into Kenmare .
Within a few minutes all riders were back at the base camp and a new fashion trend began to emerge in the leisure centre . Whilst surf shorts are common in swimming pools , it was cycling shorts that prevailed in the jaccuzzi and swimming pool as weary legs were encouraged to heal themselves .
Before dinner Sean gave us a display of pictures and a dvd of previous events . Some of the pictures were very interesting especially the one of a sink for 1995 francs . Sean also gave a very informative talk on training and preparation for the event itself . Another great meal and bit of craic saw most resting up by 11 pm . Most that is except for the hero of the day , young Muldowney , who celebrated with a few honorary podium girls who were impressed with his tenacity in taking victory after the fall .
DAY 3 – The long goodbye
All legs were stiff and sore after the previous 2 days efforts so a nice steady pace was order of the day as we headed out towards the Tunnel road once more . After about 10k a calf could be seen on the road off in the distance . As we neared it grew into a cow and eventually a bull . There were one or two red jerseys in the group so we approached with trepidation. Sean has had a few bad experience with bulls in the past and a gate seemed to be heard rattle as he moved to get out of harms way . Luckily the bull was lazy and didn’t pay us much heed . The pace seemed to liven up shortly after though .
The tunnel road is a long gradual climb and most of the group crested the top pretty close together . A quick drop down into Glengarriff and a few more short sharp climbs before we saw the turn off for The Healy Pass . A puncture slowed the group and a quick tyre change had all flowing again . The zig zag nature of the climb looked spectacular with the line of cyclists all making their way up . The spectacular scenery over the top was a reminder of why so many tourists flock to this area each year .
A steady ride back into Kenmare saw the group as a whole arrive together back to the hotel . A few quick showers and all roads home were undertaken with a great sense of satisfaction . A great deal had been accomplished this weekend and all were looking forward to the Etape . Sean, Breda, Tara and Eoin all made each of us feel very welcome and a part of their relaxed easy going family. They will be fantastic to travel with in July .
SEANIE SAYS :
Below are just a few of the many suggestions made by Sean over the weekend ;
Try to get one 100 mile spin in each week between now and The Etape .
Have gears left over . Use at least a compact ( 50 / 34 ) and an 11 or 12 -27 . Try to always have a few gears left in reserve .
Get your bike serviced a few weeks beforehand , not the week before . This will allow you time to sort out any niggles that may have been missed .
Don’t try anything new over there . Energy drinks etc. could cause a stomach upset if you have not tried the product beforehand .
A few people also asked me about bike washing so here is link to how to wash your bike properly ;
Here also are the Garmin details of each spin over the weekend ;
Day 1 : http://bit.ly/8eiWX
Day 2 : http://bit.ly/19u4nz
Day 3 : http://bit.ly/M0F5k
All pictures of the weekend can be found here : http://www.flickr.com/photos/64631229@N00/
Leo Dillon also sent along the following :
Keep training everyone !
No two days standing behind the counter of a bike shop are the same , and no 2 customers are the same . Our youngest customer to hand over their euros at the till was a 3 year old girl who bought her own bell , with plenty of confidence and self assurance . Our oldest customer is a 93 year old guy who still rides his bike every day .
There are many inspirational cyclists out there . We have Sean Kelly , the inspiration for a generation of Irish cyclists just down the road .
The late Jane Tomlinson who cycled across America whilst in the late stages of her battle with Terminal Cancer is another cyclist whose bravery and dignity should never be forgotten .
Our 93 year old customer is another truly inspirational cyclist .
He was in the shop last Saturday and as we were chatting I was amazed at what he told me .
5 years ago at the age of 88 he took a Ryanair flight to Germany and cycled around Germany and along the banks of the Rhine for 2 weeks .
He still cycles up to 20 miles per day . Many 23 year olds would not be able to do that .
He has rheumatide arthritis and said that for sure he would be in a wheelchair if he were not cycling .
He is sprightly , very sharp and nimble . Most people would guess that he is in his mid-sixties , when he is actually 30 years older .
He is the best example of the health benefits of regular cycling that I have ever come across .
When I was building up my new Viner Maxima I once again became infatuated with every type of new technology that was available for bike builds . In my humble opinion the Maxima frameset is the pinnacle of what is available at present . Marcel Wust did seem to concur during his test in Pro cycling magazine .
I was torn when it came to groupset choice . I have been a longtime fan of Shimano’s reliability and functionality . Mechanically their products are superb . And to top it all of the new 7900 Dura Ace groupset has internally routed cables which I had been wishing for all along . However Campagnolo introduced the Super Record groupset which has carbon everywhere . The frameset is made from the finest carbon available and the campag looks so good I was really tempted . They are both Italian which is another factor . Then came the realisation that the Campag had ceramic bearings and I was hooked . Super Record it was .
Next came the wheels . Deep section carbon would look fantastic , but I wanted to build the bike so that it would be usable every day , especially on July 20th for the Etape . Full carbon rims do have braking issues in the wet even using swiss stop pads . They are great for racing , but for training and sportifs’ they are not ideal . Carbon wheels with an alloy braking surface are a good option and are more practical for Irish roads and I was seriously considering a pair of Mavic Cosmic Carbon SLR’s until I recalled a review of Hutchinson tubeless tyres . Almost all cars now use tubeless so it makes sense that they would work well on a bike . Not all wheels are tubeless compatible so this was now a consideration . The choices were ;
Campagnolo Shamal Ultra 2-way or Eurus 2-way
Fulcrum Racing Zero 2-way
Shimano Dura ace 7801
The Campag groupset immediately ruled out the Shimano wheels . That left the Campag and Fulcrum wheels . The Campag Shamal Ultra’s were first choice due to their weight advantage 1395g per pair , but the colour would clash with the bike as they are either grey or gold .The Fulcrums were next up at 1425g but on a practical level were out of stock at that time and are €300 more than the Campag Eurus 2-way . At 1550g they are a little heavier but are very strong . The colour matches the bike nicely and they are a really well built wheel . I choose the Eurus .
With little effort I fitted a pair of Hutchinson Fusion2 Tubeless tyres . It took less time than fitting a standard tyre and tube set up . I inflated them to 100 psi . I normally ride clinchers at 120 psi . I have now used them 10 times and have over 750k on them and here is what I have found so far .
Because you can ride them at a lower pressure they are more comfortable . Normal clinchers at 90 – 100 psi would be susceptible to pinch flats . As there is no tube this is not an issue . Another problem with clinchers at this pressure would be increased rolling resistance where the wheels would become to feel ‘sluggish’ . This is not an issue with tubeless .
One morning I was out with the group as we descended Colligan hill . I was in the middle of the group and was being sucked along . I hate using brakes when there is another option as I feel that I am wasting energy so whenever I find myself riding up near the wheel in front I veer out slightly , catch a bit of wind , slow down and move back in again . This did not work . Whilst everyone around me was pedalling I was floating along rolling the pedals backwards to keep the blood flowing . As I was running up on the wheel in front I veered out as usual but did not slow down . I sat up high to catch more wind , like a sail , and still I was moving faster up alongside the rider in front . I was left with no option but to use the brakes in order to slot back in to my place in the line .
I have done that spin hundreds of times with all types of wheels and bikes . I have gone down that hill in a group on Zipp 404′s , Mavic Carbon Cosmic’s , Reynolds Stratus dv’s with Vittoria cx tubulars among many different types of wheels and never before have I experienced such a ‘free’ ride .
Out of the saddle the wheels feel like deep section carbon wheels with tubulars fitted.
Today I decided to really put them to the test . We don’t have any cobbles like The Forest of Arenberg in Paris Roubaix . But what we do have is the Curraghmore Estate . The roads within the estate are pretty rough and were used by Sean Kelly when he was at his peak . As I entered the Estate I stuck it in a big gear , loosley gripped the tops of the bars and sat back over the saddle and tried my best to get a puncture . I failed miseably . The tyres glided over the stones and potholes . The whole bike was super smooth . I should have felt my teeth chattering but it felt as though I was still on smooth tarmac . It was a good test of frame , wheels and tyres . All passed with flying colours .
The one flaw that I did notice was on my very first spin as I looked down over the bars there seemed to be a slight wobble . I even stopped to check , but the tyre was seated properly . What it was is the overlap of the different compounds on the tyre . They are not perfectly straight so this can be a little disconcerting at first . It is only a minor issue but one to bear in mind on your first spin on tubeless .
So what happens if you do puncture ?
Simple , you can either use a can of Hutchinson co2 sealant or pop in a normal tube and ride it like a clincher .
At present only Hutchinson offer tubeless tyres but Continental are working on their own version and the An Post Sean Kelly team have been testing a prototype specialized tubeless system .
Here are some other reviews of this new bicycle technology ;
This morning as I threw my leg over the bike at the back door looking at the orange hue of the sun rising over the Comeraghs I inhaled a deep breath of crisp air and thought that this was a great day to be alive . And what better way to get it off to a good start than by heading out for a 40k spin before work .
Within 5 minutes I was riding along deserted country roads enjoying the peace and quiet . After a while I had to cross the main road at Barn , but even this was pretty traffic free . However , just as I approached the next junction I was jolted into the present moment as my life flashed before me . A car came tearing around the sweeping bend so fast that it was on the edge of the road , 30 feet in front of me , on my side of the road . The driver flicked the car and made it back onto his own side before reaching me .
Well , these things happen so I continued on with my spin . The rest of the route via Grange and Newcastle was unusual . Sometimes , having a ‘close one ‘ will have zero effect , other times it makes you stop and think . I found myself looking around me more and noticing a lot more . At one point I could see the Galtee’s , The Knockmeldowns , The Comeraghs and Slievenamon . The sun was an orange ball in the sky and I had the wind on my back . Life was good .
On my way home on the Cahir road roundabout a truck stopped about 4 feet short of the white line as I was going around giving me lots of room and a clear indication that he wasn’t going to pull out in front of me , as often happens . The driver seemed very ‘cyclist friendly’ and as the ‘Irohaul’ ( haulage company based in Mallow Co. Cork ) truck passed me on the bypass I even noticed a cyclists caution sign on the rear . Top marks to this company for being so proactive in sharing the road .
However , at the very next roundabout , I had a very different experience . As I was approaching the junction a big yellow truck accelerated so that it would be alongside me as I entered the roundabout . The driver pushed the cab of his truck ahead of me and I begun to decelerate as I could see that he was not looking in his passenger mirror to check where I was . Now , I am big on a bike and I was wearing a yellow helmet , yellow gear head to toe and I was on a yellow bike . Feck it , I was like big bird on a bike . This driver however , seemed intent on making big birds extinct . Exiting the roundabout he moved right across in front of me and his tires brushed the footpath in front of me . I found myself entering a 6 foot vee between a truck and a 5 inch kerb . Having 20 years of experience stood me in good stead as I was anticipating a manoeuvre of this nature and was just about able to stop in time .
The driver of the 08 TN www.wesellstone.com (or www.wesellheadstones.com as it might be called ) truck was totally oblivious to how close he came to making my wife a widow and probably couldn’t care less .
Perhaps a campaign to name and shame companies whose employees put the lives of cyclists and other road users in danger might be an idea . If companies were black listed so to speak and their bottom line was affected they might have more interest in ensuring that their mobile company representatives have more respect for the lives of other road users . If this saved one life it would be worth while .
What do you think ?
Hi Barry, I was very annoyed to hear about your near miss with one of our trucks. Today, the transport team in We Sell Stone.Com and I are going to have a look at how we deal with this situation in We Sell Stone.com. We will look at possibly getting stickers on the back of the Trucks Hows My Driving ? The driver of that incident will be reprimanded and it will not be taken lightly. We apoligize for the distress caused. We do not take safety lightly in We Sell Stone. Com over the last 12 years we have invested a lot of time and money in making sure our Quarrying &amp; Distribution business is one of the safest in our sector. We will make sure that we learn from this. Thank you for your patience. Regards. David Kinsella
I think that this is a very positive and proactive response from the company and a good example of the power of the web !
One weekend recently , a group of leisure cyclists from Cork decided to visit Dungarvan Co. Waterford for the weekend and ride parts of the route of the Sean Kelly tour . They were well organised and had even gone to the trouble of printing off the route map online . ( soon this will not be necessary as permanent route signs are due to be put in place within weeks )
The group of cyclists were enjoying their cycling and were making good use of their map until they reached the rural spaghetti junction that is Mahon Bridge . The group came to a halt at the junction and were attempting to figure out what road to follow to remain on the route and face the climb of Mahon Falls .
Luckily one of the group spotted a cyclist approaching and decided to flag him down . The thinking was that this guy must probably be a local and should know which way the route would follow .
The local cyclist , all decked out in green with An Post logos prominently displayed gladly came to a halt in order to assist his fellow cyclists .
It was only then that the group realised that the cyclist they had summoned for assistance in guiding them on the route for the Sean Kelly tour was none other than Sean Kelly himself . The fourth greatest cyclist of all time gladly pointed the group in the right direction after standing in for a few photographs and having a chat with the group .
A good weekend for the group became a great one and the legend of a humble superstar that is Sean Kelly grew once more .
Setanta Ireland are showing a programme called ‘Wheel of Dreams ‘ on Tuesday night next 7/4/09 at 10 pm . The show will revolve around the Carrick Wheelers cycling club and will include footage of events such as The Sean Kelly tour . There will also be interviews and profiles of local legends such as Sam Bennett , Bobby Power , Martin O’Loughlin and of course Sean Kelly himself .
For those who do not have a setanta subscription on their tv there may be another way to view the show . If you are a customer of eircom broadband you should be able to view it online . If you have any difficulty setting this up email – firstname.lastname@example.org .
Roll on Tuesday night !