The Road To Rás na mBan

The Road To Rás na mBan

Michelle Geoghegan’s Diary

“Do you want the bad news or the good news first?” says Eddie from the window of the Scott Orwell van. “The bad news” says I, all the time wondering what hilariousness Orla is trying to contain from the passenger seat. “You haven’t even started Mount Leinster yet”. Cue Orla, release of hilariousness. Outside the dry warm bus having spent many many hours in what I will politely describe as inclement weather this statement was met with a mixture of incredulousness and horror topped with a sprinkle of despair and hopelessness. Welcome to the Orwell recce of Rás na mBan’s Queen Stage.

We had just come to the top of a climb that wholly deserved the title of Mount and apparently the torture was yet to begin. This I now know to have been Corrabut Gap. Cue positive mental attitude - actual race is weeks away; will be much fitter; will have cut out all chocolate; pizza and beer Friday will be cancelled with immediate effect; my body is a temple; fitter leaner me will soar like an eagle; good chance of Indian summer as opposed to actual summer characterised by rain and gale force wind.

As we all pulled Houdini acts, some of which were cramp inducing, in the van getting out of our wet gear and into some dry clothes we all concluded that Mount Leinster itself was actually “totally grand”, from the backseats of the van anyway!!!

I write this only a couple of days out from the actual event. The temple is still under construction, pizza and beer Friday was quickly reinstated after the consequences of forgoing one were judged too catastrophic to have any positive effect, the training has been seriously curtailed by my second dose of the black lung this year and the soaring may be more akin to a Dublin city pigeon than that of an actual eagle.

My lead up to the race this year had been going really well. I was feeling great. I had the perfect run up to the event planned. I was going to Belgium where I would ride a UCI 1.2(elite level race) as a guest rider for a UK team and I would stay on for a few days to do some kermesse racing, on home then for some weekend racing and the Wexford Two Day, some savage training sessions prescribed by my coach Aidan Ryan followed by a nice taper. Perfecto!!!

I got to Belgium with a sore throat but there was no way I wasn’t racing and I actually finished in the bunch of a UCI race for the first time since all my injury woes. I was delighted. Sure it wasn’t the hardest race in the world but you have to celebrate the positives, picking holes in it doesn’t do you much good.

On to the kermesse racing. First up a 90km race, 30 laps of a 3km circuit!! I did a double take when I saw that in the calendar. A GCN Matt moment meant I started near the back when I had a spot of bother clipping in. This was far from ideal and so began the longest crit of my life. I thought I might actually die in the first hour. In your typical Irish road race you get about 5 corners on a 20km circuit. This was basically sprinting out of corners for 2 and a bit hours. It was hellish. I had now done two races sick so on I marched to the third. Thankfully this was a race my grandmother would have finished in the bunch and maybe even have gone for the odd prime if she was feeling lively!! It was fast but it was so flowing that my average heart rate was 144. I would describe it as a club run but with the ever-present threat of almost certain death.

The flight home was the final nail in the coffin. If only I had brought the Disney-themed surgical mask given to me as a present by a Japanese team mate a few years back!!!

I was officially kaput and the training plan was out the window.

So with a few days to go I may not be where I wanted to be physically but I still get that buzz of excitement when I think about the race. It really is amazing to have an international race at the level of Rás na mBan on our doorstep. However askew the training plan has gone I am ready to do battle with the Orwells!!!!

Eddie Lynch, Team Manager

Orla Hendron, World Track Masters Champion and General Legend

Ken Farrar, Mechanic to the pros

Tony Martin, Soigneur Extraordinaire 

Michelle Geoghegan, Beth McCluskey, Aideen Keenan, Emily Brick Team Scott Orwell