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Wicklow 200 – 12th June 2011

The official Wicklow 200 report [by Niall Ó Muirí]

Ah Wicklow 200, on a good day an animal of a challenge, on a bad day, it’s like a good day in hell. Me self and Liam are still laughing at Barry trying to convince us that his Racing 795 jersey was waterproof. (those 795 guys are a different breed Liam said, I showed him my 795 jersey under my rain jacket, but he dismissed me as a blow in and not a patch on the real deal… I wish Bodels was here)

All day long a sweeping wind and rain dogged us, sometimes pushing us along, other times (Blessington to Donard) slapping us side ways through gaps in hedge rows, pushing us across the wrong side of the road, and other times especially on the steep descents hitting you  like a sandblast of the face. At one point we were so numb I thought I had had a stroke.

Barry (the cute hoor) latched on to small pelotons which sheltered him and dragged him along. Liam was my peloton, and if he was a foot taller and on a bigger bike, I would have been home and dry, instead I was like a dog in a speeding car and me head hanging out the window.

All day long we clunked the gears, big cog, middle cog, and thank god for the granny cog which hauled me over Slieve Mann and Shay Elliott. All day long we passed frozen cyclists huddled in hedge rows fixing punctures and sugaring up.

The Sally Gap descends into a narrow sharp S bend with the “slow down” warnings coming way to late…I clocked 58k on the decent, it was so cold that it felt as though the hands of a corpse had reached in and squeezed my lungs. Liam wondered could you catch distemper from the conditions. It was chaos at the base of the gap. I passed a guy in a mess, his bike in bits and an ambulance on its way. Apparently we just missed a domino crash involving ten bikes. 795 MTBikers would have been proud the way I hit the S bend..brake, skid, release, brake again…..staying upright all the time. It was the only time me heart felt warm…cause the fking thing was in me mouth

In Rathdrum, second and final official pit stop..the hall resembled a refugee centre after a tsunami hit, people wrapped in hypothermia foil blankets sitting in puddles of water. (my change of gear was a life saver at this point)

Avoca throws up a final sneaky climb, just when you feel your swinging for home. But it coincided with an easing of the rain and the shelter of high hedge rows. So we ( at this stage Barry was long gone, in fact he clocked an excellent time, and could have done better had he left us long before the Donard pit stop) dragged our way home, legs still feeling good, but spirit almost broken……till next year of course.

And you all know in years to come at a 795 reunion me Barry and Liam (if he ever pays his membership) will bore the bejaysus out of you all with the tale of “Ah lads did we ever tell you about the time we did the Wicklow 200, there was a blizzard of snow, a tsunami wave of the blessington lakes, a hurricane wind off the mountain…and I had no saddle on me bike……”

On a serious note, lessons learned…

  • Have the bike in good nick, before hand i got a new chain, changed the tyres . We met one guy his chain smashed his race run, the amount of guys and girls with punctures, impossible to change up the mountains
  • Bring your own food, and gels…
  • and the change of gear, was like putting on an electric blanket with 80k to go…..heaven.

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