Monday, 12 May 2008

Kellogg's Tour of Ireland - Stage 3 Galway to Kilkenny

134 miles, 8000ft of ascent, 8h18 ride time
Avg speed 16mph; Max speed 33mph
Avg heart rate 138bpm; Max heart rate 175 bpm
Calories burned 7000

What a day! I’m exhausted! Things started off really well when I managed to get down to breakfast on time and get a decent meal; I knew that was going to be important today. Then it was back to the NUIG Campus. To try and keep the finish times a bit more condensed they were setting off the slower groups first today. Don’t ask me how, but this meant I found myself at the very front of the fast group and set off first, leading the peloton through the streets of Galway. I was so excited I had butterflies, but it also meant my legs turned to jelly. Fortunately my new found friend Mark Harding was on the front with me and told me just to take it steady and relax, they would come past if they wanted to. It was an awesome sight, I managed a quick glance back as we went around one roundabout and saw the 100 strong group snaking behind us! We sat behind the Lead Car for a full 6 miles before some idiot came and moaned at us to get out of the way – it’s not a race ya know.

Having started at such a steady pace meant by the time riders did start to overtake us and pick up the pace (only very slightly I may add, we weren’t slacking at the front) I was nicely warmed up and even managed to stay in the middle of the pack for the first 25 miles. Again, to be riding this quickly in the peloton for such a long time was exhilarating and a fantastic experience; it really does make such a difference to the effort needed to maintain a fast pace and somehow feels like ‘proper’ riding.

Sadly it wasn’t to last and my new found legs couldn’t quite get me over the first small hill at the same speed and I dropped slightly off the back. I maintained the gap but couldn’t quite get back on. I passed a rider who had stopped and when he came up behind me shouted for me to jump on his wheel, he’d get me back to the group. He flew past and I barely managed to hold his wheel but we did close the gap – just as we got to the bottom of the next climb.

I decided I would just let the peloton go. This was far too long a stage to keep being left behind on the hills and then putting massive effort in to chase down the peloton, I actually wanted to finish this stage! So I cruised along for a few miles by myself as we started the climbs up and over the moorland. A familiar voice shouted from behind; it was Julia, one of the people from the group yesterday.

We rode the next 20 or so miles nice and steady, riding alongside each other chatting. At around 50 miles I.P caught us up and we stayed together until the hot food station at 58 miles. Our intention was to try and find a group to ride with, this would make the remaining miles go a lot quicker and easier. We set off with six Dulwich Paragon riders but they soon split when the road climbed up out of town and into the hills.

Then came the worst part, the incredible steep climb out of Silvermines up to the second feed station, 1000ft climb in around two miles! The gradient was too much for my 39:27 gear and I had to stop three times to catch my breath, heart pounding and legs screaming. I had a long break at the feed and lots of food. The descent was no better – steep, slippery, covered in pine needles and gravel with sharp hairpins. Then another hill! I got off and walked this one, I had nothing left in my legs and we still had 60 miles left to go. It took almost two hours for me to recover.

Julia, Ickle Paul and I just kept spinning along, counting down the miles. “100 up” said Julia. I hoped there would be another feed station somewhere but nobody had mentioned one. Luckily at 102 miles there was, I was so grateful. The prospect of having at least another two hours, if not more, of monotonous pedal spinning along undulating straight roads was soul destroying. A lone rider came down the road and joined us at the feed stop. Now we were four, it might at least be a bit quicker.

I'll have to continue this one later. I was too knackered last night and now I have to go rider another 125 miles over the Wicklow Mountains! Safe to say I finished yesterday, it was really, really hard, I was exhausted. But at least I did finish, many didn't and apparently the broom wagon had to go back numerous times to pick up riders. Eek...

1 comment:

Simon said...

Great effort! Keep up the good work :)