The Sean Kelly 2016

Mahon Falls was called out-of-bounds because of adverse weather conditions. The elder lemons amongst us rejoiced whereas the newbies felt cheated.

Advertisements

There is no better way to start this post than by grabbing the report from the group PRO:

“There was a sense of nervous excitement amongst G3 on Sunday last. For some it was another chapter in the Sean Kelly role of honour, for others a totally new experience. Jitters out of the way it was a peppy 30kmh spin to Carrick aided by a tailwind. Then to the first major climb of the day as Tickonor lay in wait, but it was nothing to be feared and was ably dealt with. In heavy misty rain it was on to Powers the Pot and a difficult climb due to visability. 100k in the legs and a welcome stop in Rathgormack where we heard the devastating news that Mahon Falls was closed due to adverse weather. The elder lemons amongst us rejoiced whereas the newbies felt cheated. However it is hard to keep G3 down and they made the best of the situation. Up the Mahon Bridge and safely across the Mauma, it was a jubilant group who sailed home safely. A special mention must go to group captain Anthony who coordinated the training plan that ensured we all completed the course comfortably on Sunday. From all of us thank you and roll on the class of 2017!”

They Say it’s All About The Bike. No, It’s Not

On an event such as this, it’s all about the group. One for all and all for one. In running circles it parallels the Dublin Marathon, demanding stamina and perseverance. The group dynamic is critical in getting everyone to the finish line. There were times last Sunday where the elder lemons did their duty in minding and nursing first-timers. In turn, these newbies displayed true grit and acceptance of this one-for-all ethos so critical on this epic event. Our Group 3 had a mixed bag. There were young and not so young, experienced been-there-wore-the-tshirt bikers together with some who have come to this life-changing sport within the past twelve months. Everyone had trained consistently in the run-up and everybody subscribed fully to the group structure.

The First Time Is The Sweetest

Huge congratulations are in order to DCC members Carol, Benny, Tomás, PJ, Ray and Brendan as part of our Group 3, and to Paul, Ed, Chris, Johnny, Áine and Judit who completed the event with style in other groups. Ian also gets an honourable mention, as he was unable to finish because of a mechanical… cycling can be a bitch!   You are all now enrolled in the SKT 160 band of warriors along with the dozens, if not hundreds, of cyclists who conquered the Comeragh Challenge for the first time. I know that the first is the sweetest, and it’s very likely that you will be responsible from here on for encouraging others to follow you. You may even have to cajole and tell a few white lies to impart a firm self-belief in your chosen would-be comrade! You will be the ones who will assist in looking and minding future first-timers.

I completed my first Sean Kelly 160 in 2007. Unfortunately, it was back in my pre-blogging past and the details are lost, but what stood out for me was the support and you can-do-it attitude I received from others who rode with me back then.

This is now our wish for you: go on to better things if you choose. Give the gift to others. Be sure to mention that it’s not all about the bike.

With this in mind, I contacted some of our 160k first-timers, and asked for their feedback. I leave it to the reader to take in the following, in the sure hope that these quotes will encourage others to take on major challenges in years to come:

My memory is the butterflies in my stomach coming in the road. It was almost an energy or anticipation like before playing a county final or starting a new school, can’t describe it. On the spin round it was unbelievable: the camaraderie between the group, the more experienced cyclists seemed to have a sixth sense as to when we were struggling and there were words of both encouragement but also techniques provided at just the right time. What I also noticed was that that it wasn’t always from the same person passing on the advice but actually came from a combination of every cyclist in the group at varying times. The feeling as we worked as a team was unbelievable. Coming down from Colligan was unbelievable, and coming in from the “Nissan Garage” as the streets got busier and hearing the sound of the announcer giving a big shout out to the DCC contingent was surreal. Only then did the achievement hit home. SKT 50K in 2014, 100K in 2015 and 160K in 2016. Progression due to DCC.

 

My goal for the last 12 months was finally going to be realized. Prior to the event I was racked with self doubt. Despite having trained hard and consistently over the summer I could not imagine putting it all together on the day. But there was no need to worry. As soon as I clipped in the nerves disappeared, the miles flew by and the support and genuine bond from my cycling family contributed to one of the best days of the year so far. A remarkable experience that I will never forget.

Don’t you just love “one of the best days of the year SO FAR”? I think there are further challenges ahead!

I am very happy to have achieved something that not too long ago was way beyond my wildest dreams. It is something I would never achieved without the encouragement and support of my comrades-in-arms and friends in Group 3. On the day everyone looked out for one another and it was some thrill to arrive back into town as a group.

More feedback from first-timers here

I Felt Good All Day

My legs were good last Sunday. I was properly prepared, rested and fresh. I can safely record this as the most satisfying of my six Sean Kelly 160 tours. A recent regret of mine is that I’ve not done the Dublin Marathon, but I’ve realised that I have completed its cycling equivalent. As marathon runners tell me, apart from the elation of a first finish, the feeling of a best marathon also lasts a lifetime.

What Did We Learn Today?

Here’s my take on items of note. Perhaps we were aware of some of these, but nonetheless they are worthy of a mention.

  1. Group cycling is the bees knees
  2. Ticincor is not to be feared
  3. It would have been good to have a spoke fix-it-me-bob
  4. Weather is irrelevant
  5. Uphills are part of life
  6. You can complete this even with a wobbly wheel
  7. We can do Mahon Falls whenever we want (but not on Monday)
  8. A light on the bike is sometimes useful, even in summer
  9. A story shortens the road
  10. An after-burger shortens the road
  11. Insert your own comment here
Happy 10th Birthday Sean Kelly Tour

I was surprised and delighted to receive an invitation in the post last week to a very pleasant function on the evening before the spin. I had been on the Sean Kelly Tour committee for the first two years, and my contribution was acknowledged, along with several others. My very special thanks to all involved, and especially to Rosarie, Karen and Johnny in Waterford Sports Partnership, to Sinead who is currently heading up the organisation of this massive event, and of course to Sean himself. The little sip of champagne worked its magic for me, as I had good legs all day.

Thanks And Appreciations
  • Finally, I want to place on record my grateful thanks to the many many individuals who gave their time to assist with marshalling and catering. This event is not only about cycling. It is truly a community event.
  • Secondly, to the guys and gals from Naas who joined with us for the day. I always like cycling with ye because ye have an attitude very similar to our club. Thanks for coming along.
  • Finally, to Dungarvan Cycling Club. Without this fine club, our cycling would be very different. Thank you to all who help to make it better.
Last word to Mr. Tutu:

Give a man a fish and feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and feed him for a lifetime. Teach a man to cycle and he will realize fishing is stupid and boring” – Desmond Tutu

Links

There’s a new service called “Relive”. It plots the spin from the air. Relive our spin here.

Strava 2016 SKT 160K

Look back to 2010

Comeragh Challenge First-timers’ Feedback

Following on from my recent post about the 2016 Sean Kelly 160k Tour, here’s a selection of further feedback from Dungarvan Cycling Club members who took on the Comeragh Challenge for the first time.

Apprehension about the weather, nerves regarding adequate preparation and fear of not finishing pretty much describes my run up to the Sean Kelly 160 as a first timer! The day itself passed both quickly (Dungarvan to Carrick) and slowly (Powers the Pot and Mauma) and included a few unexpected mechanical challenges thrown in for good measure. I joined various cycling groups from around the country at different stages of the day and this made all the difference in terms of moral support, communal suffering and of course a bit of banter to distract from the pain in my legs! After what seemed like days on the saddle, I had climbed the last climb and all that was left was for me to experience the euphoria of the Colligan descent, the glorious speed bumps coming into Kilrush and the sense of achievement, a feeling that can not be described until you have completed the SKT 160!

 

As I joined DCC earlier this year completing the 160k was all but a dream. As my cycling progressed and with encouragement from group 23k I took on the challenge of the 160k on the SKT. As the big day arrived I was crippled with doubt. Were people right? Was the 160k just for the pros? But as I headed towards Carrick with fellow a club member, the buzz that is SKT took hold, all doubts were forgotten and we took on the beast that is Tinkincor. Remembering advice from the seniors that unless you are Chris Froome slow and steady allows you conquer Tinkincor without unclipping or grinding to a halt. The banther and chats to other groups along the way, saw the kilometers quickly come and go. Words of encouragement from other cyclists were aplenty as we conquered Powers the Pot, Mahon Falls and Mauma Road. I never thought I would feel so disappointed not to be allowed cycle up to the top of Mahon Falls. As we crossed the finish line the sense of achievement was unreal. All the hard work in training had paid off and a dream that seemed impossible no longer the case. Thanks to DCC for the support, advice and coaching, but most of all the fun and new friends.

Any other first-timers out there who might like to send your feedback report? Please make contact with me, and I’ll be happy to include you here!

Mahon Falls 4.8k @ 7%

Take an opportunity to look around at the rugged beauty of the place. Picture it in your mind’s eye for good recall later. It’s true to say that however much your legs are hurting, they will quickly recover, but the picture will remain with you, along with the sense of achievement.

Mahon Falls is located near the eastern edge of the Comeragh Mountains in County Waterford. The road to the summit (from the Carrick road side)  is 4.8 kilometres rising sharply from 99 to 417 metres in that short but tortuous distance. The overall steepness is measured at 7%, but given that several sections ramp up to 15 – 17%, the climb is considered to be very tough.

Straight from the start at the shop, it climbs upwards and continues to climb. Before the first kilometre is done, a wicked ramp must be negotiated, and it’s here that a cyclist’s true form is tested. Fresh legs can be helpful, yet it may be true to say that one’s head needs to be right. Frantic messages from the head tell the legs to ease up. It’s still very early, and the wooded section can be a nightmare. Best advice would be to remain very much within your comfort level. Comfort may be the wrong word! I’ll rephrase that: do not push too hard.

There is a welcome flatter section at the 2k mark. Alas, it is all too short, and once you turn right at the junction more hurt awaits. This time the hurt is harder, and cyclists should wait in hope for the very short downhill section before the final assault. I mention final, but in fact the final assault goes on quite a distance, and is unrelenting. Here, you are out on the open heather landscape, with only some sheep and wind for company.

At this point, legs are hurting and focus must me maintained. Sensible gear selection is essential in order to maintain any reasonable rhythm, and as the two S-bends approach one after the other, facial contortions are perfectly acceptable. Is there a reason why the road meanders around in such a fashion? Yes indeed, because were it to go as the crow flies, the horrible gradient would be even steeper!

The car-park marks the 4k spot, and there’s just 800 metres distance to the top. However, do not be fooled. There is still 50 metres of elevation to climb. Most cyclists are not fooled, and the reason is that the road takes a sharp left turn and the route can be seen rising ahead. It strikes panic in some. Once upon it, just hope that there will not be a car coming against you!

The wind will now be a big factor, as the end is in sight. A gentle breeze at the bottom usually translates to a very strong wind on top. The hard work is done, and the short flat bit to the cattle grid can be enjoyed. Take an opportunity to look around at the rugged beauty of the place. Picture it in your mind’s eye for good recall later. It’s true to say that however much your legs are hurting, they will quickly recover, but the picture will remain with you, along with the sense of achievement.

Take a few minutes to rest on the leeward side of the stone wall, eat, drink and give yourself a big pat on the back. You have made it to the top!

 

Have you climbed it? How would you rate it? A comment that springs to my mind is that it is mid-way between OMG and WTF !