Tour de Burren 2012 Report

What a brutal day. The weather decided to turn its nasty face westwards today as six Tiernans riders signed on for the tour de burren. Strong southerlies, persistent rain, some of it heavy enough to strip the colour off my fake tan, and roads that make you wish for the cobbles of Roubaix contrived to make this a tough day out. Kevin, Rob, Dave K., Mick and Martin were signed on for the 162k event. Adrienne and Paula were confirmed as travelling to Clare but as we haven’t heard from them yet can only assume they are still sipping hot brandies in Monks pub.

Kevin, Rob, Dave and I set off 20 minutes early to avoid the typical mayhem at these mass start events. Strong head winds for the first 30k’s toyed with the head. The energy drained every time we took a turn out front, this type of start to an event leads to concerns about the day ahead. Our first claim was a 4 winding road of 4%. We tackled this at tempo wary of the hard work that was to follow. Shortly after we hit the first serious dig of the day as the road rose at 16% and orb took off like a rocket. This man is having a great season and showed us that he is holding form throughout the year. Onwards we pushed, up and over, into the Baltic headwind and sodden drizzle toward the northern approach to the cliffs of Moyer. The climb from this side is not difficult and is similar to the northern approach to the Wicklow gap. More of a car than climb we crested the cliffs, descended to liscanor and proceeded over 30ks of rolling roads and poor surfaces. 70k done and we feeling the epicnh already. The back roads in this country really do take it out of you and I am looking forward to smooth Tarmac of France, if not the climbing thats in store.

We stopped in lisdonvarna. Rob chatted up some ladies of older vintage whilst eating cheese cake, Kevin smooth talked some others into a supply of twix’s as Dave and I scoffed ham sandwiches. This food stop has excelled in th three years I have been doing this event and this year was no different. We’ll have to find out who makes the pnk cheese cake, it’s only delicious. We headed for kilfenora, the warmth of the stop behind us and the taste is the cheese cake lingered.

On to limneagh castle, the winds directly in our faces and and unmerciful downpour that soaked us righ through. Kevin had been thinking twice about putting overshoes on earlier. How glad he was that our peer pressure had persuade him otherwise. This was a truly horrible period of the day. The rain bounced high off the roads and the visibility was very poor. Taking. Left at kilnaboy we paid. Homage to Ted, Dougle, and Mrs. Doyle ( no relation ) and headed for the small corkscrew hill. This is a little teaser of 7% that has three hairpins and geat views northwards as you ascend. Today we had great views of cloud and darkness as you could see the rain make its way across the land.

20 lumpy kilometres later saw us crested the burren, descend to ballyvaughan and hit the base of the large corkscrew hill. This has a gradient of 8% over 2 k and again has hairpins that allow you dream of the alps. All we were missing was the weather. A short run form here to lisdonvarna saw us on the way home. A this stage Rob was lagging behind and we were thinking we had the beating of him. it transpired, however, that Rob’s casette and hub were coming loose resulting in a disintegrating drive train. We stopped to see what could be done to fix the problem and were no use whatsoever. I made difference to Rob as he matched all moves on the way home.

A tough drag from here to the coast road saw the real pressure being applied. We all traded blows on the chiselled road, passing slower riders and trying to crack each other. Turning rights in fanore we had 15k’s to go, a tailwind for company and some other riders to share the work. We attacked this part of the route at 90% and I was suffering as we hit the home stretch. Legs painting, cramps kicking in, the cold sitting on the layers of clothes we tested each other into ballyvaughan. Rob, damaged wheel and all, hit the banner first, followed by Dave, Barry and Kevin.

We shared a pint after with Martin telling us his time, average of 28kph and the fact he did the route without stopping to finish second on the day. We met some relatives of Chairman Kilbride who proceeded to advise us that our esteemed colleague had declined an offer to take part. I have asked Andy to put this on the agenda of the next AGM.

We had clocked 155k’s at and average of 27kph in some very tough conditions. Great when it’s over, it was horrible in large parts, we can only assume that’s its the suffering and sense of achievement when completed that keeps us at it. I may have a different take on that when we get back from France.

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