Here we go, not quiet the blog I was expecting when I set off to the Caribbean just over a week ago. I’m typing this while sipping on a coffee in Paris. I’ve just started to feel human again after the 8 hour flight I’ve just dragged myself off.
I left Mallorca at the start of last week and my final destination was Guadeloupe in the Caribbean. Believe it or not the race was the European championship, I think we have Napoleon to thank for that one. I left Mallorca with the biggest Irish team I have ever been on and it was actually a lot easier than I thought it was going to be. 11 cyclists traveling with 2 bikes, rollers, helmets, racing wheels etc. THAT adds up to a shed load of stuff but CI had the right people and the right plan in place.
With the usual lifting and laying done we were soon in the Caribbean, yes the Caribbean! A place I’ve grown up picturing as nothing but blue seas and white sandy beaches; that however is now a distant memory! I’m not saying it isn't like that at all but don’t believe everything you see on TV. Our first day on the Island it pissed rain, hard. I wouldn't normally mention the rain but when you have a kilometer to walk to breakfast it leaves a lasting memory; I really think I would have been dryer swimming there. Somehow we got on track later that day thanks to the blazing hot sun drying everything out at a rapid rate.
Our first track session was around 6pm and it was very different to what we were expecting. The track itself was an outdoor 333m track that was painted bright yellow. Although it was a bit bumpy it could have been a lot worse. Our track session itself went grand and it was backlit with an awesome night sky.
Without much time to think the race was upon us. For me it was to be new and retread territory. The first event was the team pursuit which I haven't lined up for in 4 years and I was really looking forward to it. I spent the last month training with the guys in Mallorca and I knew we had a good ride in our legs. The guys being; Ryan Mullen, Cormac Clarke, Thomas Fallon and Javan Nulty. I’m going to glaze over what exactly happened for 2 reasons. Firstly because I don't remember and secondly I’m trying to forget what I do remember!! The day was going great, I was enjoying having a group of lads around doing the same thing I was doing and we all had the same focus. The main goal of the event for the team was to execute our best ride. We ‘fell’ short of our goal by 50 metres. Everyone did what they were asked and we were so close to nailing the ride. The pace was steady and on target and technically we weren’t too shabby. It all came tumbling down and the shit hit the fan in a pretty spectacular style and as I sit here now it still hurts. I’m sure someone out there is looking for something or someone to blame but really there isn’t. The only thing you could say caused it was 110% commitment that caused a momentary blip at 60kph resulting in a splat! Splat though is definitely the wrong word, more like a crunchy, grinding, cracking sort of scuffing sound; unpleasant!
That's me on the right practicing my 'happy baby' yoga move, Ryan trying "the crawl"and Cormac seeing what the track tastes like.
The morning after the night before! I woke up resembling a half dressed ghost. Not only was I moaning like one but i had most of the bed sheets stuck to my back which looked like a half ass halloween costume. I’m pretty light hearted about it now but man, it hurt like hell for awhile.
The Team pursuit crash happened on Wednesday and I had a Scratch race final on Thursday evening, I was actually looking forward to it. Although shook up I still had high enough hopes but they all came crashing down pretty fast. (No pun intended) The nature of the track made it hard for me. The concrete made it feel slow and heavy. It was easy for people to just follow but hard for someone like me to break the bunch. I think I finished 28th in the end. After a fairly uneventful race I cooled down and reassessed my injuries, still in one piece!
What I came here for, the Omnium. It was a full 12 months since I picked up the bronze medal at the previous Europeans but after a turbulent enough year I wasn't really expecting the same result, a top 6 would have kept me content. The first day consisted of a Scratch race, a 4k pursuit and an Elimination race. Please excuse me for vagueness for the next paragraph as I try my hardest to ignore the smelly big mess that it is. The scratch race was brutal, painfully slow and it had a similar overcome to the previous night’s race. A temperature of over 40 degrees celsius didn't help my riding style either, I felt like a steak cooked medium to well! The pursuit followed a similar vein, seriously high temperature and a flat performance from myself. The funny thing is that my pacing was good, I just rode a little conservative. It’s never good when your last kilo is your fastest. If you think the last few sentences are brief - my elimination was shite.
Contemplating what's happening. My view from the pits.
Day 2 of the Omnium, half way through the race. On the cards this day was a Kilo TT, a flying lap and the all conquering points race. With a lot of mental coaching and my really good ability to sugar coat a turd I was ready to go. The kilo TT is something I like, its brutal but short and sweet. There’s very little science involved in this race, a good start and a good line; the rest is pure physiology. Somehow I had my best result here, this gave me some encouragement heading into the flying lap BUT I was soon realigned. Being a 333 metre track, there was less lead in and being outdoor there was what seemed like a lot more wind around the fence. Running on the same theme as yesterday, my lap was brutal. I never got on the gear and I was in trouble before the timed lap even started. The last race of the evening was the points race and after a rain delay I was soon in the hurt locker. Honestly at this point of the weekend I felt no pressure, my form was below average and the outcome of the race couldn't change a lot. After actually torturing myself at numerous parts of the race I climbed 2 places on the overall leader board. I missed the crucial move of 6 riders that gained a lap but I was up there in points tally.
My Omnium results:
Scratch - 11th
Pursuit - 11th
Elimination - 17th
Kilometre TT - 4th
Flying lap - 11th
Points race - 7th
Brutal reading I know but at this point of the week I’ve had plenty of time to reassess things. I honestly think my form is pretty decent but skidding down the track on my back set the tone for the week. 10% of the skin of my body is still in Guadeloupe and with my body in healing mode I just wasn't able to handle the stuff I was throwing at it for the rest of the week.
Holiday to the Caribbean - CANCELLED.