Tour de Burren 2011 Report & Photos
Lisdoonvarna was a welcome stop. 70k’s in and again I was suffering from cramp. Guidance must be sought as this is becoming an insufferable recurring topic of conversation for me. Excellent cheese cake, sandwiches and tea complemented by a Kevin McNamee master-class in post ride stretching and we started for Kilfenora, gunning for any group ahead. We had maintained an extremely good pace averaging 29 kph to this point, which was an excellent return given the windy conditions, and kept this up on the run through Corofin and on too Ennistymon. This section is not as picturesque as the others but is a good test with the road rising steadily for a period of 10k. Another recurring theme of the An Post event is the excellent organisation and marshalling. Yet again every junction was marshaled and Gardai stopped all on coming traffic. So it was as we swept left through Ennistymon and on to the last leg and the final 50k’s. Passing Lahinch, through Liscanor, we hit the base of the cliffs of Moher.
Our two early KOM contenders have been spending a lot of time building web sites and hitting sliotar with Ash. This lack of focus, on what is the absolute two wheeled priority, took it’s toll as we hit the slopes. Paul pushed on but lacked his usual kick on the lower slopes. Dave, John, Kevin and I followed his wheel. Dave kicked again and I went with him. We shared the work into some horrendous winds and I managed to pull away with 1.5k’s to the summit driving on into the wind. Dave, John, Kevin and Paul followed through and we descended into Doolin into what can only be described as gale force winds neatly combined with several kamikaze cyclist’s one of whom almost took Dave out. John put the head down and produced some savage turns into the wind dragging us into Doolin and the second stop for cheese cake.
We admired some of the machinery around but decided not to linger overly long. We had been exceptionally lucky with the rain and were not minded to overly push our luck. The first 5k out of Doolin is always horrible. Slight drags that are tough on tired legs that have just rested. The scenery more than makes up for it though. Waves crashed against rocks, the white surf hilariously soaking busloads of tourists as we looked out beyond to Galway bay. You could taste salt in the air.
We found some rhythm and pushed on for the last 25k’s. The hurling and web-mastering were beginning to take a painful toll as Paul and Dave took in the view. In true Marine style “no one gets left behind”, we left them behind. John, Kevin and I pressed on. Hitting a stinging drag with 10k to go I looked behind and had a 200 metre gap. Faced with going it alone or waiting on my teammates, and remembering Brendan Bonnie teaching me a lesson on the Sean Kelly, I faced forward, put the head down and powered into Ballyvaughan. Paul, finding some gel fuelled reserves, followed with Kevin, John and Dave to complete a good tough day’s work.
Averaging 28kph for the 165kms we had put in some great work that was well shared and I don’t recall a group that overtook us during the entire event. (ed – that’s because no one actually passed us for the entire event!)
We took time for a pint afterwards with Kevin and John scaring the living daylights out of Paul with l’etape stories. Paul and John will be sporting Tiernans colours on the slopes of l’Alpe d’Huez in 3 weeks time. We wish them the best of luck safe in the knowledge that last Saturdays work-out will stand them in good stead.
I’ll be back in Ballyvaughan next year. Any takers?