Saturday, May 16, 2009

Mount Leinster Challenge

Mount Leinster Challenge

Am I bloody MAD
7.30.... I'm looking out the kitchen window, the wind is like a mini hurricane, it's pissing rain and I've just heard on the radio that the fast ferry has been cancelled because of the weather....
I'm going to pay 30 euros for the privilege of spending at least 6 hours on the bike freezing cold, wet through and taking my life in my hands on wet mountain descents. So yes I am MAD !!!

9.40 A.M .........By accident I started at the front of the group. It was a neutral start for the first 6/7 miles. I spun along having a nice chat with a guy from Arklow.
When the lead car left the pace picked up. I made a decision early on that I would not push to stay in a group but just move along at my own pace and if a suitably paced group came along I would hop in. I dropped off this group on the uphill out of Kiltealy............
There were a few single riders that passed me a a few who I passed until I picked up a small group on the way into Ballymurphy. We stayed together for a few miles, there was a downhill coming out of Ballymurphy, that was the first time I got a inkling of the wind. I got hammered with cross-winds on the hill down and it wasn't pleasant........

The run into Borris and into Bagnalstown was uneventful, except for the fact that I was hitting 20+ mph on undulating roads on my own - now, I'm no pro rider, which means I have a tail wind, I realised that I would pay for this later... oooh yes I would.

A guy passed me on the way into Bagnalstown on a bike that was in worse condition than mine (that pissed me off a bit) anyway he didn't open a gap and when we were climbing to the Bagnalstown graveyard I passed him with a "hello, how's it goin" . I never saw him again....

I saw a small group ahead of me and was wondering if I could catch them to get a bit of shelter for when we hit the wind. I picked off the first straggler on the bend at the hire shop and then got on the group a few miles before Fenagh.

This shall be known as the RED group as all the riders were wearing red. Please forgive me for waffling but I found the next few miles sooo interesting.....
There was about 6/7 guys in the "red" group, the first guy went off the back in Fenagh, the group turned at the roundabout towards Myshall and into a strong head wind. It looked like there was only one guy doing the work, everybody else was hiding,(I don't think that I've ever seen so many guys trying to hide) eventually (after the lead guy stopped peddling) another bloke took the lead, I had been thinking that it was only a few miles to Myshall so why don't we work together. A group passed us at this point....I was riding outside right with this guy (after too short a time) I took the lead. We were at the bottom of a hill. I gripped the bars and pushed for the top, I was closing the gap to a lone rider and the group who had just passed us. I looked around to see if somebody would take over....Please take over..... I've done my bit.....
Hey, where are you gone?
Rode the short bit into Myshall with the non red group. Then the fun started........

It's a climb of various severity from Myshall to the Nine Stones on Mount Leinster. There is one steep climb then the road levels out then a sharp left turn and WHAM the start of the ascent to the Corrubut Gap. I was really gasping for air on the way up and my heart rate was maxed. Stopped at the top for a minute and had a chat with the other poor sods. Short sharp downhill and hard right for the Nine Stones. The refreshments van was just around the turn. Topped up the water bottle and then had to put on the rain jacket as it started to lash rain.
The murderous head wind and driving rain made for a very unpleasant ascent.
At this point I still hadn't decided if I was going to do the extra loop for the 140km. I told myself if the descent wasn't to dangerous then I would carry on for the full event.
I stayed on the brakes all the way down the descent (what a wimp). For a few miles after the down hill there was a horrible head wind and the road undulated more than I would have liked. Eventually got to Kiltealy and the food stop at about 50 miles.
Fair play to Slaney Cycling Club the food was an absolute feast, sambos, cakes, scones, hot food etc and lashings of tea and coffee. Everyone was soaked and most of the chat was about taking the short run to the finish. I spoke to some of the guys mainly about ordering a boards jersey.
Jaysus I'm totally mad, I've decided to do the second loop back to Mount Leinster. The rain is still hammering down and will not let up for the rest of the day.
I don't see another bike until after Bunclody.
I'm wet, I'm cold, it's all uphill and there's a bastard off a headwind.
I pick off one guy on a steep uphill, remarks about the wind were exchanged. Final short climb to Corrubut Gap and the sharp left to the Nine Stones.
AHHHHHHHHHH BOLLIX it right into the wind. It's so much worse than the first time. Trying to spin up the hill, it feels like riding against a wall, I glance down at the computer, I'm distraught to find it reads 4.5 mph FFS I'm in danger of falling off sideways from lack of momentum.
I stopped at the refreshment van at the top, restocked with a drink and asked the guy how far to the finish. He told me 40km/25miles. Ok, a quick calculation makes that 92/93 miles.
The start of the descent is scary with the gusting crosswinds. I held the bars with a vise like grip and I think my arse was gripping the saddle with similar intensity.
Got to the bottom in one piece, undulating road again, still raining, still cold, still windy, into Kiltealy for the second time but now taking the road to Enniscorthy. Counting off the miles, a few cruel hills to test the legs.
I pass a sign that says Enniscorthy 13kms, can that be right ? I really hope so, it will make the run in about 5 miles shorter than I !! happy days.
Arrived to the clubhouse, shower, change and off home.
Just over 6 hours on the watch, pretty slow but probably not too bad for the conditions and the amount of time that I was solo......
Concert tonight and a 5 mile run tomorrow......................................

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