“Someone is going to be killed!” – Unnamed Strava Rider 26/08/2017
A tad dramatic but at times not a million miles away from what Saturdays race felt like. I’ve raced this circuit before but it didn’t feel this sketchy. I haven’t felt unnerved after a race in a while, even with the races where I’ve come down (slowly) I didn’t feel a bit shaken after but Saturday was different.
Maybe because it’s the late season and all the late bloomers are coming to fitness or that there is an end to the season in sight and everyone is running short on races to get their upgrade points, but it seems like everyone on Saturday thought they were in with a chance of winning and weren’t compromising.
The atmosphere was set midway on lap one where a fairly weak break no more than 50 metres up the road was literally sprinted after as if we were in the last 50 metres. Like a herd of spooked cows, one-by-one riders lined out across the road each chasing the guy in front who was chasing the guy in front who was chasing…well ye get the picture…all frantically desperate not to be left behind. Maybe I didn’t get the memo that there was a prime on the 1st roundabout (there wasn’t) or that this was to be the where the race was won and lost – if yer not first into that roundabout 30kms from home ye may forget it!!
Anyway once all riders were through the fastest roundabout in East Meath, the pace dropped back to normal again – this more or less set the tone for the day, surge – stop, chase it down – stop, surge again – stop. After busting their holes, five minutes later the bunch is freewheeling on a slight downhill to where the finish will be in a lap or two.
As we are racing on unclosed roads there is always the potential for oncoming traffic, there’s the usual warnings don’t cross the white line, obey the rules, have some cop on. What they don’t cover is don’t completely lose your sh!t when there is a car approaching. There can be a bit of a squeeze at time and often there’s a bit of a slowdown. On this occasion a car passed and was quickly followed by another. It seems from reports some lads got caught out and squeezed in again without a thought of where they were squeezing into and crash, bang, wallop there was the old familiar sound of carbon hitting the deck from behind me. Thank f*ck I thought but being the nosey rubber-necker I am I just had to look and momentarily forgot the golden rule “don’t ever look back” and almost veered into another car myself. Pleb!
We zipped around in what was a fairly tame affair after that another lap or two, perhaps the shock of a crash put manners on a few. All in all it was pretty quiet after the first get-down, but that’s not to say there wasn’t the usual war cries from lads losing wheels as if you had just sh!t on their dinner table and the echo of the same voice shouting “hold your line” into every corner!!
The finish was always going to be quick, a long downhill to a sharp right hander up to the finish. The run-in not so steep to freewheel but enough to get lads pedalling and the bunch to build up a good bit of speed. There was the inevitable spread across the road which made getting to the right spot even more difficult.
About 150m before the corner a smallish guy rode up beside me, I noticed he was frantically looking around him and then bang, he was gone. At the speed we were going and the place we were in the bunch it was going to be nasty, at that point I lost my stomach for it and bailed – anyway I’d missed the surge to the corner and was way out of it. After the race one of the victims was talking to a club-mate His jersey and helmet in tatters, expensive wheels snapped and a nice collection of road rash. Why would ye bother with all this nonsense?