Tuesday, April 07, 2009

2009 Des Hanlon Memorial

Every year I do a few road races. I like doing them as it is something a little different form mountain biking racing and I take them very relaxed. I don't taper or do anything special for them, but when I'm in the race, I do try to do everything I can to get a good result. My first road race was the Des Hanlon Memorial in 2007 – one of the Irish classics. This year was the third year that I was taking part in the race and I was taking Mel along with me too.

This year, the course was a little shorter with a section of the final climb taken out in favour of a very fast and twisty descent followed by a 5km drag on a main road to the finish line. For an Irish road race, I liked the course (I guess hilliness equates to likeness for me).

My Specialized Tarmac with Zipp 404s

In my previous two races on this course, the break went early so I stayed very attentive at the front of the peleton (there was about 100 riders) – surprisingly, we were almost two hours into the race until the break got away. It was on a climb (which I could have followed) but I got boxed in and missed it. The peleton rumbled along for a bit and then went to a practical standstill – I few jumped off the front and it looked like they too would stay away so I got ready and jumped too to catch the chase group. After a few minutes of pain, the chase group formed, there was about 10 of us (with about 10-12 in the lead break) and we started to work pretty well together. I much prefered being in the chase group – as we were working together to catch the break, the speed was reasonably constant – the boredom of the first hour was a distant memory.

With about 30 minutes of racing to go, we caught the break away – by this stage, with the two groups together we were about 16 riders. I was taking on some food and we turned onto one of the final climbs – I dropped to the smaller ring and the chain dropped. Try as I might, I couldn't get it back on while on the bike and had to dismount – by the time I got riding again, the chase were making another selection up the hill (i.e. they were hammering). I put the head down and chased as hard as I could passing others who popped off the back but couldn't make the lead group again. The rookie mistake cost me – my legs were feeling good, and despite if only being my 5 or 6 road race, I felt I could have tussled for the win. I rode down the sketchy descent and the 5 km drag to the finish. In the end, I actually came in 10th and was left thinking about what could have been. Between the warmup and cool down, it was 100 miles covered in the day and a good session in. The race was well run and I'll be back again next year.

There are some race pics here and results here.

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