Well this was another first for me – Last nights race between the Limerick Tri Club and the Limerick Cycling Club. It was a team time trial consisting of a team of six cyclists with the fourth rider over the line to count as the finishing time.
The team that put their name forward to represent us was: Aaron O’Brien, Ross Higgins, Pádraig O’Sullivan, Shane Larkin, Diarmaid Lane and Richard Chapman (me)
The team we were taking on from LCC was: Tom Shanahan, Stephen Bourke, Philip Fitzgerald, Jeff Punch, Senan O’Dwyer and Alan Brannick. For those of you familiar with cycling rankings they had 1 A1 rider, an A2 rider and 4 A3 so it was a strong team there to play. I think they looked at us with Aaron in particular (we managed to keep that one a secret) and on our fully kitted out TT bikes and thought the same.
We lost the toss and LCC decided to send us out first with them to chase five minutes later.
We lined up on the start in conditions that can only be described as horrific. There was a strong cross head wind on our front left shoulder that made the TT bikes very twitchy and hard to control coupled with a fine drizzle that was cold and made the roads look greasy. Aaron lead us out and once I confirmed to him that we were all clipped in he put the hammer down.
I took over as we got to the bridge over the motorway and the wind hit me like a brick wall. My heart felt like it was about to jump out of my chest and I couldn’t get enough air into my lungs to cope with the effort I was asking of my legs.
Once we got into the hard shoulder we started the regular turns at the front but even in the draft zone I felt like I was working way too hard. After only about 6km I ended up skipping turns and 2km later I just had nothing left to offer so sat up and was the first to be spat out the back. I did a U-turn and started cycling back to the start line. I looked at my Garmin and we had averaged 37.5km/h into the head wind to that point which looked quite good to me.
About 1km on my way back I saw the LCC team pass me and they were already down to 4 having lost two of their team. This made me feel a bit better about having lasted to the 8km point. Senan looked like he was just hanging on as well to the three time trial specialists. Apparently Philip and Jeff held on to the 4km mark so were in the same pain as I was.
About 2k from the finish line I saw our team approaching so pulled over to keep things fair and four of them screamed by me having lost Ross on the return leg somewhere. I hopped back on my bike and when I got back to them gave them all the congratulations they deserved and we waited for the LCC team to arrive.
We waited for what felt like a lot longer than 5 minutes and they crossed the line. We really thought we had it, but alas word started filtering over to us that we had been pipped by a mere 30 seconds. That is 1.5 seconds per kilometer on that course so it was very close. According to Pádraig’s strava the LTC team had averaged 42.5km/h which in the conditions was nothing short of a miracle.
Thanks to PJ Mathews who sponsored a trophy that will be competed for now on an annual basis so I had to hand it over to their team captain Tom. We will be back next year to take back what is rightfully ours lads.
The whole purpose of this event was to create and nurture a good relationship with our friends in LCC and I think mission accomplished. Everyone who came out on such a bad evening deserves our thanks and a special mention to Jeff, Shane and Frank Moloney who were great in helping to organise this race. It’s a pity the result wasn’t what we would have hoped for but the support both clubs will benefit from due to evenings like this will be far more valuable than a one off win.
Hope to see you all next year for the rematch and have a good season.
(Thanks to Pat McSweeney & Frank Moloney for photos)