Posted by: Helen
Ras na mBan – Stages 1 & 2
Sorry for the momentary silence (I know, you are already hooked and waiting with baited breath for each installment of Team LDN’s conquest of the Ras) but we were a little sad yesterday…
Chief blogger, Kerry, took a tumble 20km into Stage 1, halfway up the QoH climb, and neutral service excelled in their ability to change the wheel and push Kerry off but perhaps too enthusiastically – refusing to accept Kerry’s suggestion that there might be something wrong with the bike. A couple of minutes later, Kerry’s eyes lit up, as super mechanic Mark came running up the hill (yes, Team LDN support don’t let a team car convoy traffic jam hold them back) to sort Kerry out and see her on her way. A grueling TT effort, picking up only 1 friend, for a mostly solitary 50km to the finish. Lovely!
Gina found her fitness limits on the QoH – it was nice to see them again – and finished in the large chasing bunch of about 20, 5mins back. Whilst Fran and Helen were mixing it up in the front bunch, with Fran demonstrating that we are not just here to make up the numbers and getting a cracking 20th, wahey!
So we all were excited to put a few wrongs right today, but with some of us having a little bit of a reality check yesterday. This ain’t no category 2/3 road race. Today’s stage was a similar distance, 75km, and only a little lumpier, but the main distinguishing feature of today was the rain, which at times felt like we were cycling through a rather thick cloud. Who needs to see where they’re cycling anyway?
Actually the first 20km was not as crazy as yesterday, perhaps the rain had put everyone in a bit of a sombre mood. But we were not having that! With Fran flying the Team LDN colours proud again, and getting into a cheeky break. But it wasn’t allowed its freedom, getting caught just at the start of the first QoH climb.
All 4 girls stuck in for the first QoH, with Gina unfortunately losing contact around halfway. The other 3 stayed in the ‘safety’, ahem well, the warmth, of the peloton and the next 30km were pretty uneventful. Well except for Helen’s Garmin deciding the weather was just too shit, and deciding not to record today’s stage – a premonition of what was to come, perhaps? Oh, and Fran and Helen’s fist bump mid-race (we were actually sharing a gel, but from Kerry’s view point it looked like something from Fresh Prince).
So at about 10km to go, everyone decided to have a lie down. Including Helen and Fran, but Fran was lucky enough to have a softer landing. Neutral service wasn’t there to help this time but fortunately after 7 years of cycling, Helen has just about learnt how to put her chain on. It did take a good minute or two though, we’ll work on that. Oh, and she had to pick up her sunglasses and water bottle – we’re self-funded, you know!
Anyway, back to the race….Helen found Fran and some Irish ladies to smash it back on. That was fun. Not. Twisty corners, very wet roads, and several team cars to get round. But get back on we did, where Kerry was keeping our slots warm. It was always going to be a fast finish and we were keen to try and get another top finish, but it wasn’t quite to be. Fran held her ground, putting Coach Watto’s leaning tactics into practice, as a girl attempted to push her over the bridge 200m from the finish. Helen got caught behind the consequential crash. She thought she’d avoided it, but someone came from behind so she had another opportunity to check the tarmac was solid. Two crashes in one race, I think that’s a PB!
Cool, so there we are. 3 riders finishing “safely” in the bunch and 1 just behind. Bring on the mountain finish tomorrow! But first, some overdue lounging around and eating, whilst the men go out shopping (too right).