I really tried to look like one of the pros this morning going into sign on, wherever it was. There were a bunch of teenage girls ogling the tanned bikers and I tried to blend with the Dutch squad. Walking tall, looking fit. Then I fell over a wall.
This started the 'What am I playing at head'. I put loads of winter kms in, wore out a turbo, all to just hold up the guys doing the stage timing. The negative thoughts weren't helped by how tender the legs were this morning. Lot of muscle damage. The morning massage usually works out the lactic and I ride it out in the first 10k. Not today. I took a gel at 5k. 5k is desperate, desparate like putting the pin back in a handgranade. Even into a block headwind we managed to cover 46k in the first hour. Mental. Attacks trying to soften the opposition only soften those at the back- the following sheep, me. Baaa.
I pressed on over the first climb where the peloton splintered like a china cup. Bodies looking broken everywhere. And on hard, in the class heat, over the unforgiving dead roads to the big climb of Glengesh.
Stephen OSullivian , like everyone who works on the race gave up his own time to design this year's course. I'm sure it took weeks using his experience to design a competitive route. On Glengesh I looked at him in my group with feckin misery. HE made me ride this wall. On the steep first section I wished a scratchy disease to his shorts. Venting my pain on something but on the hairpins, I imagined his fingers in a door. It was savage. The melted tar and those crisps I ate every Sunday night meant I was actually stuck to the road. Pedalling motion turning square . Slowly churning the 25 sprocket so hard your legs feel like an emptying bouncy castle. The struggle was helped by familiar faces - so always cheer at a bike race, we can hear you.
Over the top with the race gone we got a group and rode in amazing heat. The ras can be terrible in the rain but Donegal at 25 degrees is a little bit of heaven. 5 bottles, 4 gels and a can of coke were need to surive. Unreal to those men who raced the final 40k. We just rode it, and to a man, pro, wannabe and plumber-we were still busted. But a bad day at the Ras is still better than a good day at work!
The spirit of the Ras was flying today with my mate. It's his first Ras and it shows. He has a great engine so is with the pros and I was delighted to hear that a few guys were passing advice rather than shouting. Mighty stuff. It helps that he has a motorbike Marshall doing team car for him which is both illegal and funny on so many levels.
Stage 6a is tonight and it is a tough one on the riders. Most of the peloton are staying in the abbey hotel in Donegal which must be built over a volcano as it is 40 degrees c in all the rooms. There is a Concert with bang-bang music in the square outside. Men are tired and there were a few signs of the odd one losing it in the bar. Gotta love how the Ras affects men. Outside is full of girls wearing very little and a free rock band - and a bunch of 20 year old bikers complaining about the noise. It would do a few of them good trying to ride something else for a change!
Tomorrow is day 7. And I'm Feelin good.