Sunday, 23 September 2012
Saturday, 15 September 2012
Wednesday, 12 September 2012
Tuesday, 11 September 2012
This was the first dry day since we arrived! The stage took us from Sneem, via the town of Waterville to Valentia Island, with two significant climbs.
There was a lovely rolling road out to the first climb: Coomaciste. Karen rode off the front briefly and we were hoping she might get away to get some QOM points, or that the bunch might string out to reduce the number of riders contesting the climb on Valentia Island. Unfortunately, the pace slowed and the bunch stayed together, making it rather dangerous at times.
The pace remained pretty sedate all the way to Valentia Island, where the action began. Before the final climb, there was a sharp left hand bend. Those on the front of the bunch sprinted to the base of the second climb (the Geokaun Pass). Sarah and Iona had some chasing to do! Sarah got back onto the back of the bunch fairly quickly, with Iona chasing for some time but managing to work her way up through the bunch on the climb itself. The bunch split at the top of the Pass, with Iona making it into the front group and Karen and Sarah forming a chase group with around 8 other riders, finishing just under a minute behind the main bunch.
Today was a relatively easy day... Karen somehow managed to persuade Steve to drive us around tomorrow's course (in reverse) after the race had finished. We're going to need to get our climbing legs on! Tomorrow is going to be tough. (It's not called the "Queen Stage" for nothing!)
Monday, 10 September 2012
Sunday, 9 September 2012
And so it began. Ras na mBan 2012. The usual friendly, warm welcome from Sneem Hotel; the usual amazingly delicious (and nutritious food) and a great night's sleep in a comfy bed.
We woke up to grey skies, wind and driving rain but thankfully the weather forecast turned out to be correct and the rain cleared before the start of the race.
Around 70 riders signed on and at 10:15 am we set off for a ceremonial lap of Sneem Village before racing four laps of the Gortagowan circuit.
Legs felt heavy as we warmed up and all of us were pretty nervous as we lined up at the start. Thankfully the nerves evaporated after a few miles and we started to enjoy the race.
The first lap was fast and the bunch was soon whittled down on the first climb. A few riders managed to get away at various points on the circuit but none of the breaks stuck.
Guest rider Karen was looking strong, staying towards the front of the bunch for the majority of the race and finishing 20th overall. Sarah was amazed to have stayed with the bunch for the entire race (having been dropped early on on this stage in previous years), finishing 35th (in the bunch kick). Iona came in just behind in 40th place. Sandra put in a great effort, having lost contact with the main bunch on the first climb, and finished 59th.
We've just enjoyed a delicious lunch and will soon be getting ready for this afternoon's TT.
Saturday, 8 September 2012
The hotel is in lovely surroundings, and the weather so far is good. We met up with our bikes and Team Manager Steve Wright when we arrived and started cleaning up the bikes, and making sure they were all mechanically sound, before heading out to ride tomorrows road race and TT course.
The road course tomorrow is one of the shortest at 66km, we do 4 circuits of a 15km course and with just 2 cat 3 climbs this will establish the Queen of the Mountains general classification.
We get a little break for lunch, and then late afternoon we have the 3km Time Trial, which is a gradual climb all the way.
With a lovely dinner inside us it is time to get some much needed rest, before the early start for tomorrows road race.
Thursday, 6 September 2012
So how are we feeling in the run-up to the race?
Iona writes...I'm returning for my 4th year to the Ras na mBan. Last year the race stepped up a level, with the introduction of five days of racing. The competition has grown year on year.
|Coomaciste, Ras na mBan 2010|
[Ed.] The Ras really suits Iona, who is an awesome climber. We're hoping that she manages to stay away over the Coomaciste Pass this year and manages to pick up plenty of QOM points.
Sandra writes...My hope for the Ras na mBan is that we have a good team feeling all the way through. It's still early days following my knee surgery, but I am going into the Ras knowing I've had some great performances this season: from last weekend's criterium, where I came 4th, to a recent PB of 20:35 in our club's 8.5 mile time trial. We had a great time together as a team in Wales at the beginning of August, and also in Jersey, where we had some fantastic results.
It will be the most I have ridden since my Surgery, but my hope is that if I take it easy and keep my own pace, whilst working hard, I'll be able to complete the Ras. But I am not setting that hope as a strict goal: I just want to feel the same performances in myself as I have done to date, little by little!!!
I'm the sort of rider that will work hard for my team mates, so that and my performance is what I'm looking at. My fear is my own mindset, and pushing too hard too early.
I'm really looking forward to riding with so many of my teammates, as we have great fun on and off the bike. Everyone encourages each other and Steve is fantastic at putting up with us, saying the right things at the right time and looking after all our needs, making sure we and our bikes are ready - fit and fighting for what lies ahead!!
Sarah writes...This will be my third Ras na mBan and it is a race that I always enjoy.
I've had a difficult couple of months, with a number of set-backs both on and off the bike - largely as a result of six, sleep-deprived months working in A+E, whilst trying to train and race at full speed. This has come as a real "blow", as I was just coming into some decent form!
|TT Ras na mBan 2011|
I've spent the last few weeks trying to get my head back in the right place, letting my body recover and catching up on some sleep. This has meant that I've not been able to train as I would have liked and I've lost some strength, power and cardiovascular fitness. There was some doubt over whether I would race at all in Ireland but things are looking up and now I'm really looking forward to the race.
I'm not expecting a spectacular performance (I'm just coming towards the end of a week of night shifts!) but I'm going into the race knowing that I've had a good season and spent two quality weeks training in big mountains. I'm going to go out there and have some fun, enjoy riding my bike in spectacular surroundings and do what I can to work for my team mates. Who knows what will happen... maybe all the rest will have helped!
Steve writes...I am approaching the Ras next weekend with mixed feelings. Whilst it is one of the best races on the calendar, and one I always look forward to, there is a part of me that wants to be in Austria to support Stephania at the MTB XC World Championships. Let us all wish her the best for next weekend.
I am actually looking forward to the drive to Sneem, our base for the week, it is beautiful country and the scenery is stunning. The hotel is really friendly, and I am hoping to meeting up with some old friends, as well as making some new ones. The Team is great fun to be with, although a little noisy sometimes. In the past when I used to coach at Sutton CC, I had the privilege of driving Louise Mahe, Alice Monger-Godfrey, and Joanna Rowsell to races, usually Crystal Palace, and they were know as Team Decibel, because of the volume of noise they could create. I think I will have to resurrect the name for the Ras, I have the stickers for the car already!
I want everyone on the GB Cycles Team to ride to the best of their abilities, have fun doing it, and come away with a really good feeling. We should take lots of pictures for Stephen, and write some interesting views on the race for the blog. (Oh, and I’d like to move up Sarah’s list of the 10 best things about the Ras.)
Adele and Linda are also looking forward to the race!
Follow our progress on Facebook and Twitter (@TeamGBCycles @mediconabike @sandracjm @AdeleMartin3)...