OPINION

Myles' Rás Diary Stage 4: "It's 4:29 am and the manager is snoring like a Yamaha…"

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A tale of two races, one gap, and a lot of pins

It's 4:29 am and the manager is snoring like a Yamaha. I probably don't need a night's sleep for the Donegal mountains tomorrow! I've tried the 'folding a pillow around my head' trick and the 'flushing an empty toilet' trick. Nothing is keeping out the noise. Shortly Im going to try the 'Would you for the love of sponge cake stop the feck snoring you fecking mother fecke snoring fecker fecker' method'.

How you pin your race numbers to your jersey says everything here. We are handed 2 small shoulder numbers and 2 large back numbers. Each has 4 corners, so you would suppose all riders use 16 pins right? Oh no. The more pins the faster you go! I think it must be about preperation and not to look like a  'fred'.  If any number is flapping in the wind, its akin to publically punching a baby-so most pros reinforce with an extra pin or two . I'm a fred, but I stick an extra one in the middle to combat the dreaded 'flap'. The fear of the flap, or looking like a fred is so intense for young Stephen Halpin, that the weight of pins on his jersey must interfere with climbing, posture and airport security checks.

There were two seperate races today, both started at the same time on the same place, both finished in Bundourn 15 minutes apart.

The B race (my event) had around 80 riders and was a  handicapped event. Not by time, but by a few
guys shouting  "phuckin wyde"- long after it would make any difference.

The race started like a fitnes test. Within 5k, a long line of 160 riders were on the rivet- in a draggy crosswind. It's not where the line would split, it's when. Only takes one rider to break the chain. Protocol is to move out into the wind and let the next rider fill the gap, but it is easier said than shouted.  I knew it was imminent when the French rider in front filled a gap... men were weakening, I could hold the wheel, couldnt i!?  Hoping like mad those in front were training in November. With my wife and kids at the finish today, I really wanted to make the cut. Dig in.

The gap opening is a curious thing. It was 10 men in front and by the time I saw the hole it was 30 metres. Over the top of the drag their was silence then all tried useless digs to get accross. When it went to 200 metres, frantic pros make vocal encouragements for everyone to but the cream was at the top, the race was over.

With no continued organised chase the blackboard stopped giving us splits when the gap was 3:14. So we entered the 'lounge'. A great, social place where you get to talk to your mates while more committed athletes move you in the general direction of the finish at 42kph. Shouting "Ca mon guys let get this rolling".

Wha! "rolling" I'm on my holidays - you "roll" off and boil your head, the difference in losing 15 instead 19 minutes to me is nothing.
I got updates from the motorbike Marshall on the run in to the result of the A race. Poor feckin Ronan, some effort! To those who brought about his downfall with nothing to show for it bah humbug.

Got to show priase for the Motor bike marshalls keep this whole show working. Every on coming car, all junctions , all traffic islands mastered. The lads are very skillful, mostly sober and without it the Ras wouldn't happen.

In 1999 I recall a damp B+B in Donegal with five riders trying to ignore the rain beating of the single glazing. No one making eye contact for fear of breaking down in tears. Really frightening recollections of the 5 hours in driving rain that followed. Tomorrow there are 7 climbs. 5 of them very cruel and I am delighted. 21 degrees is forcast.

One life

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