I’m a bit disappointed to hear the news on Friday that the Etape Hibernia is to be cancelled, but I’m not really surprised.
For those of you not in the know, the Etape Hibernia is one of a series of events, following on from other successful events such as the Etape Caledonia. But what really set it apart from others was that it was a closed road event, covering 84 miles around County Clare. Normally this wouldn’t really be a factor for me, in that I tend to stick to quiet roads anyway. But without doubt the most spectacular scenery I have cycled around was the Clare coast, so I was really looking forward to seeing what it was like on closed roads.
Having said that, while the concept was good the organisers had completely shot themselves in the foot with the timing. Regardless of how well it is run on the day, the extra cost over other events (I think it was over €50 for entry) would be enough to put off a lot of people. But factor in that the event was always run on the same weekend as one of the flagship Irish sportives, the Sean Kelly tour, well there was ever only going to be one winner. Looks like I’ll be cycling in Waterford in August (NB that’s a good thing!)
Yesterday was my first proper time on the bike since Mizen to Malin, and we picked a cracking event, the inaugral Glin GAA/Mid West Cancer Charity Cycle. Out of the M2M crew it was only Mike and myself, but Mike’s mate Robbie also joined us, for his first event. This was a 60 mile spin around west Limerick, and contrary to gloomy weather reports we were absolutely spoiled by how good the weather was.
The route itself was about as flat as you could hope for, although the sting in the tail was at the end. BUt since the whole objective was to be a charity cycle there was a big emphasis on keeping the group together, so it was very stop/start. (starting at 10:30 I thought we would be back around 3PM, taking it handy. As it was it was 5PM). But in between stops we were let tip away at our pace, so it was nice to be closer to the front than the back for a cycle . There was a bunch of maybe 10 club cyclists straining at the leash, and they broke away from the group, finding the “bursty” nature hard to handle. But since the sun was shining and it was a charity event we decided we were happy enough to stay with the group.
The organisation for the event was very good, there was plenty of support cars, motorbikes and vans , and no shortage of water or food. It might be worth catering for a higher speed spin next year, but given the majority of people hadn’t covered a fraction of the distance before, the slower pace was definteily the way to go for the first event. It was great to see a turn out of people just turning up on whatever bikes they had or could borrow, and it was a massive effort for some. It actually highlighted the progress we’ve made over the last few months, in that I was able to take a few turns and for once even help pull a few up the odd drag.
As for us, we really enjoyed it, the weather made it really enjoyable, and given that we pushed the pace a few times (Mike especially was at the front constantly during the day), we were surprisingly fresh by the end (although I didn’t really enjoy the last 2 climbs, but nothing new there!). I was surprised by how high my heart rate was at times, especially when i wasn’t under a lot of pressure, but given how quickly it recovered I’m taking that as a sign of improvement.