Tuesday, August 30, 2011

2011 Lakeside GP

With the National Hill ClimbChampionships over, it was time to get home, get some food and rest up for the following day's 120km road race. Aye, there is the problem – resting – I was wired! A two and a half hour drive to the race start in Enniskillen meant a reasonably early start so I went to bed early – I tossed and turned but no matter what I did, sleep didn't arrive – insomnia (yes, this was going through my head all night) – how I hate you. Eventually, my alarm summoned me to get up and Mel (who also barely slept) and I prepped to head for the race.

The race was a 10km ride out to a loop we rode twice and then back to the start for almost 120km. The roads were good and there was a long picturesque drag (3% climb for 4-5 kilometers) midway around the lap.

It was a handicap race so a group of A3 riders where let off in front of us – they would be given a 3 minute margin. When we started, there was no effort as a group to bring back the riders ahead – the pace was driven along by attack and counter attack with drops in pace while people called a truce. Eventually a small group got away with my teammate Mark McGinley (who won the previous nights criterium) present. The break stayed between 10 and 30 seconds for around 10 kilometers before the elastic finally broke and they extended their lead. While we hit the long drag, I was happy to find a tail wind, after a couple of minutes, I attacked the peleton and rode “full gas” over the climb shredding riders that tried to stay on my wheel. Over the top, I had two riders for company – one punctured and the other was dropped before I made contact with the break – I took almost 40 minutes bridging across the large gap!

As I arrived at the group, a rider shouted at me for not doing any work – I laughed, I don't think he realized what I had just done! We rode steady (a hell of a lot easier than what I had been doing for the last hour) as we drew closer and closer to the A3 riders ahead (who where obviously working well together) – the pace on the final climb meant that our chase group fell to 4 riders (including my teammate) as we closed in on the A3 riders. The catch was eminent, but we held back to only catch them with about 8 kilometers to go. Not too many riders wanted a bunch sprint so it was very aggressive racing with attack after attack. Mark followed a bunch of strong attacks and each time it was brought back I would counter. With about 4 kilometers to go, I countered an attack and got the gap – I went into timetrial mode and raced to the finish to claim my first victory of the weekend. I didn't retain my hill climb championship, but this made up a little bit for it.
Photo from Marian Lamb
Mel, like the night before, won her race – the final round of Irish Women's Classic League. A nice day for Mel and I.

The course was great, the weather a mixed bag (cold, wind, warm, sun, showers – typical Irish weather), and the organization was spot on. A special thanks to Stevie McKenna who was one of the comms on the motorbikes – he kept us all updated with time splits throughout the race. An awards presentation topped it all off in Enniskillen's historic castle.

As we drove to my family home in Monaghan after the race, I hoped that at least tonight I will sleep – I have a 100 kilometer mountain bike marathon the following day!

There is a report and photos available here and here.

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