The Jump From A3 To A1

The Jump – Guest Blog From Cathal Keane – Breslin

I rode my first Shay Elliot yesterday, and it was actually my first race at A2 as well. I though having come up through A4 and A3 over the last season and a half that I had a fair idea of what to expect. Bike racing is bike racing, and A2/A1 will just be faster, longer and all around harder. However I didn’t quite realise the jump!

It was a long race at 165km, and I knew I wasn’t going to last past the 100km mark, so my plan was to go for the prime in the first 12km, “secure” the sprint jersey, and settle back into the bunch. What actually happened was… We hit the dual carriageway and the pace sored. It was as if someone had let a load of cows out into the big field after spending winter in the shed, there were lads everywhere. They were lined out 40 long tipping at 55/60kph and attacks flying left right and centre.

I gave the prime a crack 

I floored it up the road on whatever wheel was in front of me. I was hurting big time but it wouldn’t last long. I looked down at my Garmin, we had already gone past 13km but there was no sign of the prime. By the time we got to about 16km the prime was in sight but I was not, I was gonzo!

We got onto the country roads then, good roads in fairness but with the bunch flying along at 50kph for the next 40 mins my legs were cooked! I felt that I was at terminal velocity – you know when you’re pushing way harder on the pedals than you’re making forward progress? It was one of those moments. We hit the first climb and I fell like a stone and clean out the back of the bunch. I kept going, hoping that everyone else found it just as hard and I might real them back in, but NOPE!

The marshals were rolling from junction to junction and when I and 3 others arrived at a junction there wasn’t a marshal to be seen, so we ended up getting lost. We back tracked and hid in a drive way until the bunch was passing again. We jumped back in, in the hope that we could just sit at the back and ride to the end without disturbing any of the racing.

I got dropped again

At that same climb on the second loop… then as I was listening to a lad shouting directions at me I road into a hedge… that was a sign it was time to call it a day. I skipped a lap of the 21km loop and headed up to the top of the Glenmalure climb, and waited for the bunch to come over.

So my take away is that I completely underestimated the speed and lack of recovery there is in A2/A1 racing… and I’ll take away some funny stories, even if they are just me laughing at myself.

I’ll need to put in some serious work over the next while if I’m not to repeat a similar performance in Donegal in June.

Wish me luck!

Cathal Keane – Breslin