Preparation continues a pace. Yesterday I completed my sixth Wicklow 200. I arrived at 06:00 at the shoreline leisure centre and was lucky enough to meet Hugh and Brendan as I drove in. We parked up next to each other and got on the Road. My hope was to stay with them as best I could and hopefully knock 15 minutes off my time from last year as an indicator that my Goal of a Silver medial in Dartmoor is realistic.
The weather started bad, then got worse and then got worse again. Making my way across the exposed Sally gap I couldn’t help but feel that a simple puncture would lead to hypothermia if I had to get off in such an exposed spot. Crosswinds then buffeted us as we skirted Blessington lake. Finally we turned off for Donard and the Treelined narrow road offered respite from the wind until we arrived at the stop in Donard. Loo, water, two cups of tea, chicken stuffing sandwich, Ricecrisy bar and back on the road- I was shivering as we pulled out but soon got comfortable on the bike. As always with Wicklow you can never predict which section will prove the most difficult. From Donard to the foot of Slieve Maan I felt fine but the Kms went by painfully slowly. I feel a headwind was to blame. Slieve maan was difficult but at least it was predictible. Off the bike at the top, run into tent for refill of water and a Power bar, back on the bike and descend– Icy cold wind hitting my arms- It caused a physical pain which was repeated on the descent of the Shay Elliot a few Kilometres later. Then it was a pleasant treelined undulating road to Rathdrum. The pace was high as we sought to get the Millage done. Stop in Rathdrrum- coffee, Chicken stuffing sandwich, Power gel and Rice crispy bar. Back on the road for the final 60km.
Always on Wicklow you feel the Cycle is over on arriving at Rathdrum- it is not. A fast and hectic ride with groups of tired, strong and grumpy club cyclists ended with myself and Brendan Sprinting to the finish in the company of a club cyclist from Clonmel. Another Wicklow in the Bag- Tired and wind blown- I collected my medal, drank a recovery Drink, ate some Pasta, dried off, got changed and got on the road from Cork occasionally glancing at my medal and cert on the passanger seat. The ink of my name and the typeface were running from the rain and will remain as a reminder of conditioms on the day. A Steak teriakai and beansprout dinner in Portlaoise hit the spot and will remain in my memory as one of the great post ride feasts
My time was 10 mins slower than last year but the effort I put in was great and I cannot but feel that I am much stronger than last year. I will have to enter Dartmoor unsure of where I stand and ready to put in a strong effort for 6 1/2 plus hours 🙂 My weight loss has been remarkable- due intirely to my diet as my training remains as it has done since feb. I will rest tonight and be up at 06:30 for the gym