So last Sunday I set out on my 4th Rás as the least prepared rider in the field in terms of training and racing.
I knew it would be above all a real mental challenge and it sure was.
As you guys know too well cycling is about suffering – you train you suffer you get better you suffer more.
I know how to suffer but I used to suffer to get results.
This week was about suffering to finish – a completely different ball game.
The last time I rode the Rás with Rapha Condor I rode at the front and got the respect of the other big teams.
This year to be at the front you had to earn it your spot and you didn’t get that respect handed to you.
Stage 1 was awful – in the last few months I’ve worked with a few people to help my fears of descending and crashing after my concussion episodes and it really was a hurdle for me this week.
The fast start and wet roads was a real test to settle in and a crash in the bunch 20k into the stage didn’t help – I didn’t come down but a riders spoke tore the boa’s off my shoes and I needed a shoe change.
The bunch lined out in a cross wind from Summerhill to Trim and I was getting a real fisting trying to regain contact with the bunch after changing my right shoe.
I was thinking ‘what the fuck am I doing here I’m gone 50 k into stage one’!
Anyway I got back to the bunch at the foot of the first climb of the week after a painful chase and long story short finished in a small group after getting dropped with about 20 k to go.
Locking up with cramps already I was thinking the 4 days might even be too much.
Stage two had no bad luck at all but I cramped all day long – just the speed and having finished my first race in two years the day before my body was in total shock.
Stage 3 wasn’t a hard day on paper terrain wise but I knew the wind and the distance being 180 k would be a test for me.
I found it the hardest stage – emotionally and physically.
I fell asleep on my bed with my kit on after the stage.
Once I made it through the Mamore mountain stage I knew I’d finish the race and by that stage I became more confident moving around the bunch again.
It’s not confidence in my own ability I was afraid of it was more of the fact that I had 100 guys in front of my doing 50 kph on a country road and that thought of one thing going wrong and the subsequent repercussions.
While the week was tough the journey and lessons I learned mostly about myself where huge.
Planet X Carnac the team I rode for managed by former Pro and family friend Morgan Fox was a pleasure to be part of.
They without doubt had one of the best set ups in the race and they made the week a lot easier than it would have been anywhere else.
I genuinely owe getting around the Rás in my condition to the team and staff.
They truly are a terrific bunch of people and it was a week and experience I’ll never forget.
Would I do it again knowing what I went through?
Not a fucking chance.
Am I glad I did it?
I know what you need to get around the Rás and the decision to line up at Dublin Castle on stage 1 shouldn’t be taken lightly – its tough, stressful and proper dangerous – but a week you’ll never forget.
I’ll be enjoying the café spins for the next while that’s for sure!