Sunday 22nd May saw me up early to get to Dangan for registration on the CROI Lough Corrib challenge. A 100+ km cycle around Lough Corrib in Galway to raise funds for CROI Galway.
Sleep has been a thing of the past as we are trying to 'train' our two kids to sleep in their own beds and not in mum & dad's. Friday night was especially bad with plenty of broken sleep and lying awake with elbows, knees & feet poking in the ribs.
Up at 6 and down for the coffee and breakfast. I had spent time on Saturday evening checking over my bike for condition & tweaking. I even cleaned and polished it! All the while listening to the wind and rain howl through the gaps in the window frames. Bit of craic on Twitter with @ravishinrick & @conorgrif re soft boys and turning the spin into a giant turbo session in the sports hall.
Kissed the family and off I went with plenty of time to find the place and get set up. Lots of Predator Tri guys and girls arrived in the carpark and we all got organised to go. Weather was fine, blustery would be a word to describe it. Some showers but nothing that would soak you through. Hard to plan the layers for such a spin, if you don't have it with you, tough!
We all set off (Predator Group) just after 8.30 and heading into the wind rode with the Lough to our right. We had a decent size of a group riding in parallel taking turns to ride up and over for a spell on the front.
Somewhere around Moycullen two of us popped off the front for a pitstop at the side of the road. I hadn't quite managed to learn how to deal with the On the fly pitstop so stopping was the only option. The group rolled on and we were happy enough to catch up over the next while.
Somewhere around Rosscahill I got stuck behind a jeep and horsebox which was stuttering along dangerously jumping lines of cyclists and then cutting back in on them. In fairness some of the cycling was pretty poor with people thinking the rules of the road don't apply to a peloton. Well I can tell you if a bus was coming the other way there would have been carnage on several occasions.
I fell away from the other guys and ended up coming out along the lake into a headwind by myself. There was a lot of hard work with strong gusts but I was feeling good and happy to push along where traffic allowed. It was a little bit of 'surge and ease' as vehicles played dodge the cyclist and on any other day I would have been glad of the power intervals.
I eventually got to the top of the lake and made the turn at Maam Cross and realised there was a bugger of a climb ahead and the wind still coming in from the 10 o'clock position. I still felt good, but knew there'd be a payback for doing this on my own. I'm only 40k into a planned 120k trip, so still a long way to go, but at least that wind would come behind on the homeward stretch (I hope!)
Following what was a tough uphill drag came a fun downhill stretch where I cranked the bike hard into the wind and took the corners on the fly. The gusts made it a little nervy but I was glad of the respite and floated off the saddle as much as possible for the 3k descent. At the bottom I caught up with the group for a couple of pics, a quick breather (for me) and a chance to grab some protein / energy bars and a drink to top up the fuel tanks. I had topped up along the way but was glad to get off and stretch the legs.
All too quick we were back on the bike, moving again, this time back in the group so it felt much better as we headed across to Cong for the lunch stop. There were a couple of sharp little climbs and drags as we cruised back along the side of the lake. Even though we were with the wind behind us we were sheltered with the hills and had no direct benefit. I was feeling it in the legs, I was definitely dropping off on the climbs, I could keep a steady state but the power was sapped and i would slip back. Once on the flat / roll I could catch up again to the group, I just didn't have the extra 'oomph' to push through the gear on the drags.
At Cong we broke for about 20 mins, coffee, carrot cake, fruit & water all taken on board. Again off we set, someone had a great idea and dragged the group out on a high intensity sprint. Good luck with that! I stayed with it for a while but I was shot and I let them off as there was still 40 odd km before getting back and I had no idea of the lay of the land.
After that I held a nice steady pace for myself, the road in from Headford to the city is very scenic and after Cloonboo it is amazingly straight. The wind still seemed to be coming in from the side so there was still work to be done to get home. Eventually I got back to the carpark and enjoyed the relief of getting out of the saddle and stretching my back, hamstrings, arms, shoulders, glutes . . .