Your Event Report?

Would you like to send me a short report of your recent running event?

I’ve been thinking recently. It’s something that happens every now and then! I have received very positive feedback on my recent blogging here on Spring Forward. It occurs to me that there are definitely others out there who are interested in recording their thoughts following an event. I would be very happy to create a GUEST space here on my blog. What would you need to do? Well, I’ve got my way of doing a report, but you’ve got your way! Why not surprise me & my readers? You can contact me via Twitter / Facebook or a message here, or simply email me at address below.

Not sure that you want to? Well, that’s ok. However, I can be reasonably sure that you’ll be delighted if you do decide to take the plunge.

Actually, looking back above: it need not be SHORT. It need not be RECENT.

If it’s an event that I’ve posted about here, I’ll link your’s and mine.

I can think of at least three potential guest reporters! If you are not keen on the idea, but you know someone who might be, just twist his / her arm sufficiently.

Contact me:

Twitter @deburcapadraig

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/deburcapadraig

Email: runbikespringforward@gmail.com

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Fun in Meath with The Bohermeen Boys: 3 lessons I learned

Tour of Meath, July 27, 2014.

Since early July, I’ve clocked up the miles. Lots and lots of miles, amid glorious sunshine. I’ve done it right, as I increased my long-distance spins bit by bit and decreased my pace to match. Therefore, as I drove to Dublin on Saturday I was very enthusiastic about my first An Post Tour of Meath. I had previewed the route online and there was nothing there that would cause me any huge difficulty. Having cycled the Vee and Knockboy last weekend, this route looked very flat, with only one small hill along the way.

The atmosphere in Trim as I registered on Saturday evening was really good. The finish line was all set up, the PA way singing loudly, and there were many marquee events nearby. Of course, most notable were the many cyclists coming and going…but not a bike in sight! Registration was extremely efficient, and I was back behind the wheel within minutes to overnight in Dublin. Pasta & plenty fluids were the order of the evening, and I got an early night knowing that I needed to be on the stat line with my buddies at 8am.

My buddies for this one were local man Francis Walsh, and Joe Lynch from Naas Cycling Club. As arranged, we met at the startline after several phone calls, ready for road. And at exactly 8am, we were counted down and sent on our way. for the first hour, as in any long 160k event, we simply rode steady pace in a very large group, estimated at 1500. It was impossible to try to move forward, as it just was not safe to do so. It became even trickier after 10k as we moved on to narrower local roads, heading towards Kilmessan and the famous Hill of Tara. The road here was very narrow, and as many ahead of us seemed to slow down, we moved up the bunch carefully.

As the miles sped by, the groups splintered and we tried very hard to get into a groove. However, there was very little of real interest until we hooked up with Cuchulainn CC (Dundalk) They obviously had a plan. eight members in club gear at the head, working well, so we decided to sit in. Unfortunately, as soon as we hit a hard little hill, they did not stay together, and once again we went off in search of a group that might.

We arrived at the 5okm water stop, and rested up, filled up and headed on again quickly. This time, we formed our own group. There were about 12 together, but usually buddies want to cycle beside buddies and no movement in the group means no momentum. Those at the front usually get tired, and those behind are chomping at the bit! Time to crack the whip! I spoke to Francis, and we got it moving. We went to the front, and after about three or four minutes, Francis went up & over, as I urged the guy behind him to move up. That got it rolling, and within minutes the pace was up, people were chatting enthusiastically with strangers, and before we knew it, we arrived together in Nobber (who thought it up?). Onwards than towards the Cavan border, and the road began to rise. I had known that it rose to 600 feet (not much really), over approximately 6 miles. Not a hill to be afraid of. However, Francis & I left the comfort of our friendly group and we pushed on hard. Then we pushed a little bit harder again! When we got to the top, approximately 10 miles from the next food stop, we decided to go steady, and immediately over-ruled ourselves. We got a good strong pace going, but by the time we got noodles & sandwiches, we noticed that the average had dropped from 17.2 to 16.9mph, largely because of the long hill.

Tour of Meath, route and elevation

Tour of Meath, route and elevation

2014 07 tour of meath

Farmers and retired teachers. What’s the world coming to, at all?

Therefore, with full bellies and bottles, we headed onwards for the final 40 mile section. Flat, the stewards advised, and they were right. As soon as we had gotten back into a rhythm, we really opened up a strong pace in order to find that elusive group. The Gods were smiling on us, as we met fourteen Bohermeen CC warriors towing a group of about twenty behind. The Gods were not smiling for long, as the rain came down. Not heavy, but enough to make a bad drizzle, and greasy roads. This was not the time to be sitting at the back of the group, and we moved up when the opportunity arose after several roundabouts on the edge of Kells stretched the elastic. We sat in with the Bohermeen lads, and we did our turns. This group was a joy to be in. Everyone worked hard, everyone looked out for any members who might be struggling, and above all we chatted and had the craic. I spoke at length with Barry who is undertaking the Race Around Ireland in September. What a challenge!

The miles ticked on, the pace stayed high, and the legs were beginning to feel a bit tired. No matter, we pushed on  to Athboy and increasingly we had the tailwind for the first time since leaving Trim hours earlier. At the finish hands were shaken, shoulders slapped, and goodbyes said. The Bohermeen boys are coming down to Waterford in August for the next an Post event, a slightly tougher course through the Comeraghs. Needless to say, they’ll be welcomed, but won’t need much minding!

 

I learned some big lessons from the boys of Bohermeen. Much of this I’ve seen and admired in groups down through the years. They just brought it to a fine art:

  1. The group is stronger than any of its members. Strong cyclists can cause havoc in a group. These lads understood, each and every one of them, that the lad who is very strong today might need a dig-out tomorrow!
  2. Outsiders are welcome. Once they saw that we were not just going to sit on the back, and we worked to keep the cohesiveness of the group intact, they let us in. They chatted, they put us on the front & they urged us on. In fact, at one point I was expecting a reprimanding roar from behind to steady the ship, but they seemed to know that it was ok to reprimand their own, but not the visitor!
  3. These lads were locals. They knew the roads, they’d biked them upside-down and inside-out. This is hugely important on an event like this, away from home and into the unknown. I think it would be a good idea to keep a watchful eye at the start line to find the locals. It worked for us today, even though it wasn’t until the latter end of the spin.

 

2014 07 tour of meath 3

Food, friends & flat miles.

Bohermeen Boys....they minded us!

Bohermeen Boys….they minded us!

First Tour of Meath completed.

Distance: 98.4 miles.

Time: 5h 52m

Pace: 17.8 mph (17.2 at 50k, 16.9 at 99k)

Average HR: 123 (easy)

Highlight: The Bohermeen Boys

Verdict: I’ll be back.

Nicolas Roche Column

Saturday, May 31: Stage 20 – Maniago to Monte Zoncolan (167km)

After three weeks of racing, today’s penultimate stage was the last real sting in the tail of what has been a very hard Giro d’Italia for everyone.

The last 70km today included three big mountains, the last of which was the legendary 10km ascent to the summit of Monte Zoncolan, a climb so steep that no cars were allowed up today in case they burned their clutches out.

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Riders were serviced instead by motorbikes while our Tikoff-Saxo team soigneurs had to take the ski lift to the top.

Although we had Rafal Majka in sixth place overall going into today’s stage, having team-mates around you is not much benefit once you hit the slope and we knew it would be every man for himself to the top.

Because of this, it was decided at the team meeting this morning that we would risk everything for a stage win today.

The plan was to try and get myself or Michael Rogers into an early breakaway in the hope we could survive to the finish, while the rest of the guys would support Rafal to the bottom of Zoncolan.

As luck would have it, Michael and I both infiltrated a 19-man move after 15km and went clear.

Most of the time when you get in the break, everyone is looking backwards to see what the bunch is doing.

But today was one of those breaks you really want to be in, with good strong riders in it who didn’t care what was going on behind.

There was no talking, no skipping turns, no bulls******g. Everyone just rode flat out to try and open a gap.

When we got around three minutes clear we were told that Cannondale were chasing at the head of the peloton and the gap went down to two minutes and 10 seconds on the first climb so we really pushed it going down the descent, which was wet in patches from melting snow banks and poorly surfaced.

POTHOLE

Michael’s chain came off and wrapped around his cranks when he tried to bunny hop a pothole on the way down but, luckily, his back wheel kept freewheeling and he was able to pull over and get a bike change.

I stopped riding at the front of the group to make it a bit easier for Michael to regain contact but at that stage we had no idea what was happening behind us.

When Michael came back onto us we were told that Cannondale had stopped chasing and we had four-and-a-half minutes.

Going over the top of the second climb, Brent Bookwalter of BMC and Jonathon Monsalve of Nerri Sottoli attacked with 30km to go and four of us rode across to them.

I knew Michael was in top form so I drove down the descent in the hope that we would open a little gap but the break came back together in the valley before the final climb.

At the bottom of Zoncolan, Simon Geshcke of Giant Shimano took over, with team-mate Georg Priedler on his wheel and his tempo left just seven of us at the front.

When Franco Pelizotti of Androni accelerated 6km from the summit, Michael followed him with Francesco Bongiorno of Bardiani, but I was dropped. Preidler and Geschke hung a few metres up the road in front of me while Dario Cataldo of Sky overtook me soon after.

When Cataldo overtook me, I could see he was riding a smaller gear but I’m not one of those guys who can just sit down on a climb like Monte Zoncolan. I spent the next 5km getting in and out of the saddle, stretching the legs and then sitting down again until, slowly but surely, I’d passed them all again, leaving just three riders ahead of me.

On every mountain top finish you get lunatics on the roadside. Today people were drinking and shouting, running beside you with their ass out. But I don’t see them anymore. I just try to watch the road.

Pelizotti had been dropped by the other two and I could see him up ahead and dug deep to try and catch him. With 3km to go though, I realised I’d pushed it too much and had used up so much energy on the steep section that he rode away again when the gradient levelled out slightly in the last 2km.

In the last kilometre, Bookwalter was really fighting to come back on to me. Both of us were absolutely on the limit and I knew defending my fourth place on the road was going to be a mental battle so I took a breather and let the American up to me with about 400m to go.

He immediately tried to drop me but I took a few deep breaths and 200 metres from the finish I attacked again and gave it everything I had.

When I crossed the line for fourth place on the stage I was completely wrecked. One of the race staff had to hold me up and roll me down the road a bit to catch my breath.

When I recovered, somebody told me Michael had just won his second stage of this Giro.

Sunday, June 1: Stage 21 – Gemona to Trieste (169km)

Last night we celebrated our Giro coming to a close with a bottle of champagne at dinner and the overall happiness of the team at the table yesterday was what sport is all about.

As usual, today’s final stage to Trieste got off to a pretty pedestrian start with all of the classification leaders posing for photos and everyone chatting and enjoying the early kilometres.

The pace wound up though as we hit the finishing circuit for seven laps of 7km and we were really flying by the time we hit the last lap.

As we had a one-kilometre drag on each lap, I moved towards the front in the last kilometres on the off chance that a little group might slip clear but in the end the sprinters held on and Luka Mezgec took the stage for Giant Shimano.

Having started this Giro in the rain of Belfast three weeks ago and ridden through hail and snow since then, it was almost fitting when a few seconds later everything went dark and we had a torrential downpour for the jersey presentations.

After the line my team rode into a VIP tent for a glass of champagne with some guests from Tinkoff Bank before cycling back to the bus, getting showered and changed and saying our goodbyes over a slice of pizza.

It’s been a great Giro for the team, with two stage wins and sixth overall, but for me personally, I’m a bit disappointed not to be going home with a stage win.

The low point of my three weeks was my crash in Montecassino on stage six, where I slid along the ground at 75kph and bounced over the kerb of a roundabout. While I was super lucky not to break anything, I actually scared myself there.

I knew my GC hopes were gone after that and I think mentally that day I was a bit disillusioned, but I fought hard to get into three big breakaways later on, of which two stayed away to the finish.

While I finished fourth and fifth on those two stages, my team-mate won on both days so you have to be satisfied with that.

The three days in Ireland at the start of this Giro were an unbelievable high point though and it’s an experience I will never live through again, so thanks again to everyone who came out in the rain, cheered us on and welcomed the race to our shores. Tonight, I flyhome but tomorrow I’m off to Madrid for three days to unwind and relax. After that, i’ll be back home and training for the Tour de France in July.

I think having ridden this Giro will really bring me on for the Tour and I’m really looking forward to it now.

Nairo Quintana, from Columbia, winner of the 2014 Giro d'Italia.

Nairo Quintana, from Columbia, winner of the 2014 Giro d’Italia. Chapeau!

Original article posted here, together with reader comments and reaction.

Speaking of newspapers, let me remind you that I made it into the Irish Times review of the Giro d’Italia visit to Dublin.