It’s been a while…

A lot has happened since my last post on this blog, but I felt the need to bring it back into existence to write about the latest of my cycling adventures.

Towards the middle of June (2013), Doug informed me of an opportunity to apply to pilot a tandem as part of the Para-cycling Ireland squad. I thought I might as well, so I fired in the filled out application form and thought nothing else of it… That was, until I got a phone call from the coach in the last week asking if I was free that weekend to meet up with James Brown (the stoker who was without a pilot) for a spin to see how I got on. Arranged with James to meet up on the 1st July in Bath, as I was moving all my stuff over from placement in Peterborough that weekend. 

So we met up, went for a spin and James seemed happy enough with it to ask if I was free on the 7th to race the 10 mile TT up near Ballymena. So we did that in 20m08s and got a phone call on the Monday to ask if I was free to go to the training weekend in Wicklow in 2 weekend’s time (19th-21st July)… Thinking it was still only me being helpful and making sure James could get some time on the bike, I went along to find that the weekend included 2 selection trials for the upcoming World Cup and World Championships in Canada. James and I smashed them both with the fastest times, despite only having been a ‘crew’ for 3 weeks! 

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Those performances meant that the phone call came to say that we’d been selected for the squad going to Canada… needless to say I was over the moon about it! The RideLondon100 and another training weekend lay in between, before heading down to the CI HQ to pack up James’ tandem and fly to Canada from Dublin on the 17th August. 

2 weeks followed, the first in Matane for the World Cup. This was going to be rather useful for me, to get an idea of racing at international level against tandems. The TT could have went better, but 12th place in it was a good start, not hugely far outside of the top 10 and still learning about how much faster you can corner on a tandem.

Next up was the World Cup RR – the plan was to sit in and see how the dynamic worked within a bunch of tandems, the reality was spending 106km of the 108km race in the break! The race kicked off, with James and I first into the first corner, but not hammering along. Put a wee bit of pressure on into the first climb, with nothing much happening. This then descended a bit before heading onto a flat and windy section, which was where, joined by the Australians and one of the Canadian crews, we broke away. Within 3 laps we’d built up a 2m45s lead and just kept it ticking over. That was until the Dutch and Columbians bridged across with 3 laps to go and the attacks started. A combination of poor fuelling and too much work early on meant that with one lap to go, after the Aussies and already kicked away, when the Dutch crew kicked we’d nothing left with which to follow. We still finished in 5th, well ahead of the main bunch, so James was pretty happy with that (his best RR result!)

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So that was the World Cup over and done with, some vital experience gained and the slot for the Worlds TT gained (only one slot for the two Irish male tandems that’d been brought over), it was onwards to the World Championships. These were a different ball game altogether. Two stupidly hard courses for the TT and RR lay ahead, with 3 laps of a reasonably hilly TT course and 9 of a ridiculously tough RR circuit lying ahead, it was going to be a big ask for results.

The TT came first, preceded by lots of course recon and pacing planning. We executed the pacing to almost perfection, but finished in 13th, 0.2s off of 12th… this was gutting for me, as it was almost as close as we could have got to missing out on funding for James… you can probably tell I was in a pretty bad mood that evening, but hearing from my cousin’s wife that my Granny had been constantly talking about me, rather than my other, older cousins (they’d been her golden boys for many years), was a massive boost! So, taking that feeling and pushing on a wee bit on the Saturday recovery ride, we’d felt good going into the RR.

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Full results for the TT found here: http://www.uci.ch/Modules/BUILTIN/getObject.asp?MenuId=MTU3ODE&ObjTypeCode=FILE&type=FILE&id=ODkwNDg&LangId=1

Then the RR came around, and the first lap provided me with an idea of just how hard it was going to be to complete the full 9 laps of it towards the front! 3 laps from the end the Pizzi brothers, Italian pre-race favourites who’d defended their TT title, put on the power and dragged away the 2 Spanish and 1 Polish crew. A group of 9 formed behind this, including ourselves, and tried to bridge back across. This didn’t really happen that easily as the other Italian crew we just sitting in 2nd wheel every time disrupting the chase. 2 laps to go and 2nd to last ascent of the big hill, the pace was starting to take it’s toll on us… we got dropped and managed to get back on on the descent, but not without working ridiculously hard to do so, my legs had started complaining LONG before then so the red zone was called for. Then we got dropped again shortly after the last lap started, resulting in us TTing our way around the 11.3km circuit, crawling up the final climb (James thought we’d be getting off to walk given how wrecked we were!) and dropping down in for the flat to the finish. 13th place again… however, that 13th place was hard fought and came after both of us had completely blown up. Let’s just say, I’ve never cried after finishing a race, that’s how empty I felt! Missed the funding point again, but finished 3m38s behind the first place finishers (the Poles!) so we’re happy enough!

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Full Results for the RR can be found here: http://www.uci.ch/Modules/BUILTIN/getObject.asp?MenuId=MTU3ODE&ObjTypeCode=FILE&type=FILE&id=ODkwOTQ&LangId=1

All in all, a pretty crazy 2 months, and I’m looking forward to seeing what happens going forward…. World Champs 2014 in Greenville, SC anyone? 🙂

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