Pat Coyle Memorial

Sadly it is true that most races you go to are "memorial races" and indeed the first Shannonside GP in Athlone was in memory of Pat Coyle who passed away in Belgium earlier in the year. It was clear from the enthusiasm and organisation of the event that the club were determined to make him proud and that they did, culminating in a great A1 win for Daire Feely and the presentation of the first Pat Coyle Trophy.

My day began typically, with all the (3) kids up at 7am and me making them porridge in my new Orwell short sleeved skin suit. It used to have be long sleeved but any of you out there who want to know can get the sleeves taken in at Zip Yard for €20. (Tip: keep the sleeves as arm warmers)

I was thinking about what I had left to get ready for the race but Joshi (4 / middle one / red hair ) was doing his best to distract me.

Joshi – “Daddy make me an envelope
Me – “I don’t know how to make an envelope”
Joshi – “Daddy get me some clue”
Me – “I don’t know where the glue is” - this kid just doesn’t understand I am trying to focus on the race
Joshi – “Daddy write Dear postman I don’t want to move house on my letter"
Me – “OK”

As I write I am asking myself why does he think we are moving house, thoughts quickly switch to Isla (6 oldest / brown hair) who is also asking me several questions at one time and Max where has he got to…(1.5 /youngest blonde hair ) probably in the toilet. This is distracting me from my packing, mental note must not forget the Garmin upstairs charging.

Three quarters of the way to Athlone on the motorway, life is very different, the sun is shining, and the music is blasting, I’m singing where the streets have no name very badly, thinking of the race. All is good.....Bollix....I forgot the Garmin ...I could kill Joshi.

I arrive to be see none other than Stephen Barry in the car park. Ace I think, I am not alone. Last time I raced with Stephen it was in Cong where we won the A3 Nationals, so it’s great to see him. He is A2 now, I'm A3, I want to be A2, I need points today.

Sign on is my first sight of the friendly faces of the Shannonside CC members, all very pleasant and helpful. I head back to the car put on the gear and Stephen and I spin out on a warm up. Not 5 seconds in and it starts to rain, that soggy cold wet misty rain. I can’t see through my glasses, I’m cold, my motivation washes away, what am I doing here? Why do I even cycle? Stephen calls it "I’m not into this warm up" we head back to the shelter of the cars.

Back at the car Stephen asks me if I would like some oil. My chain is fine but then he produces some wonderful smelling ointment. I spend the next 10 minutes rubbing oil my arms and legs and talking about the judicial system with Mr Barry (I had just come off jury duty). This was the perfect warm up. We spot some other lads coming in from their warm up, they are freezing and my motivation is back!

As we roll out we bump into club superman and league leader Brian McNally. He is ready to do battle with the A1's he is a beast a rhinoceros, I’m glad I’m A3 now.

The A3 race is 3 laps of a circuit going in an anti-clockwise direction. There is rain and cross wind and the roads are skiddy. The finish is on the far side of the course, I have not seen it but I’ll see it on lap one so no worries. Cruise out and I look down to start the Garmin Oh yea it’s not there I’ll be looking down at the empty Garmin mount several times during the race. The lap is 33k and is mostly flat with a few annoying drags.

I feel good and start out at the back! What am I doing here you’ll miss the break. I roll up to the front and see that indeed I have missed the break. NRPT, Nenagh and North Tipp. That won’t last on this circuit. Back to the shelter of the peloton I go.

I am getting bored. I distract myself by identifying the danger. A guy to my left looks very fit, strong, sprinter, very white legs though. He must not train, surly he’d have more tan if he did miles. Hang on he looks like he has red hair. Joshi has red hair and never gets a tan. I ghost over to him and stare at the under part of his helmet, he looks at me, I look away, he looks away, I stare again, he looks at me. This is getting very awkward, I casually drift right and full gas it to the front of the peloton where he isn’t.

The race continues and we bring back the NRPT rider on the second lap. Everything is still under control until disaster, the peloton stalls. Even with my non Garmin I can tell we are going way too slow. A Mayo rider asks me if I want to stop for coffee, I laugh, the break has a chance its out to 1.40 now.

The bell rings and there is still a lack of urgency, no pace. I talk to my friend from Mayo and we agree to go up front and stir things up. I go straight up and move to the front carefully not to go full gas, I've a gap with no real effort. Stall and repeat, stall and repeat, no one is going with me bar one or two of the same riders each time.

I decide to try one more time. I now have 50 yards but I've no idea how far the break is so I cut my losses and reluctantly go back to the pack. I want points. The risk is bigger if I go and get caught. Ill stay for the scrap at the finish. I’m in the mood for a fight.

The pace naturally increases and we are bringing the break back but suddenly the peloton stops dead in the middle of the road. A massive tractor takes up over half the road and we loose more time. That's it the break has won.

I had spied the run to the finish on the second lap. The final KM is a sweeping right turn into a decent and a short uphill finish. Wind is coming in from the right so I choose to stay about 15th position on the left hand side of the road as we go around the bend for the final time. There is shelter on the left but its very dodgy now fast and jumpy, lots of shouting, and very close wheels. I love this, adrenaline is flying and I want to smash it now.

A few more dodgy manoeuvres and I've a clear run. I spy Cillian Whelan from Drogheda Wheelers he has Sagan’s glasses and makes a strong move which I follow. Full gas now and I go by Sagan real easy and finish nice and strong win the sprint and take 3rd.

Sometimes when you race you have a different perspective to reality. I imagined screaming crowds, flash photography and an impeccable sprinting form. The reality is a little different. My piece, the only bit you need to watch is here at 3.48. You can clearly see me beating Sagan and screaming in at 75kmh.

I stay with McNally for the prize giving. He was shelled from the break after 90k,a brave effort from the Rhino. Strava tells me they were travelling a lot quicker (43km/h v 39km/h) I pick up my cash and think to myself spend it wisely it might be your last envelope for a while with an upgrade.

I’m driving home to the madness until next time, rock on A2 I'm coming to get ya!