Sunday last saw the Irish Veterans Cycling Association host the National Championships in Kentstown, Co Meath.
The day saw three different National Champion jerseys up for grabs based on age groups, all held on an 80km course.
In the 60+ category Martin Grey was both the defending champion and the favourite. Martin is a living legend in Dundalk cycling, both on and off the bike. He is found either pushing the pace on the Saturday group ride or giving encouragement to newcomers in the Wednesday night beginner’s group.
Off the bike he does more than his fair share, helping out with underage cycling and his contribution was recognised last year when he was voted Club Volunteer of the Year.
Anxious to defend his national champion status, Martin went with the strategy of attacking from the gun, a move his competitors choose not to follow as they didn’t believe that Martin would have both the strength and endurance to hold off the chasing pack for 80km. They were wrong on both accounts!
As the race wore on a couple of small groups tried to bridge the gap up to Martin, but this only acted to spurn Martin on, who upped his pace to make sure they didn’t close the gap. After a draining 80km Martin crossed the line to take an amazing solo win and carry on as the Irish Champion for another season.
Silver for Sé
In the 50+ Category Cuchulainn had another defending champion on the start line, as Sé Weston had been the winner the year before.
Sé had good form leading into the race, having won the weekend before, but on this occasion he was a heavily marked man. Every time Sé moved the other favourites covered him immediately and left it up to him to make all the racing. This was a negative racing tactic that worked in their favour as Sé was never allowed to breakaway from the main bunch without dragging a number of other strong riders with him.
However despite their suffering tactics you can’t keep a good dog down and Sé, while thwarted for the win by being so heavily marked, did claim a silver medal.
Mountain Bike League
In the penultimate round of the Mountain Bike League a new team topped the podium, with John Loane claiming the victors spot ahead of Niall Meehan in second and Meave Baxter in third.
The fastest lap of the night belonged to Niall O`Flaherty. With all the leaders failing to gain significant points on the night Terry McEneaney maintains his 12 point lead over Ed Lennox Cunningham going into the last round, which will be on July 31 in Bellurgan Park.
Many of the club’s mountain bikers will be using the experience from the league to compete in the upcoming Bull Raid event. This unique endurance event sees individuals or teams of riders trying to complete as many laps of Bellurgan Park in 12 or 24 hours as possible. An event not for the faint hearted!
Finally next weekend sees a group of the club’s cyclists head off to France to tackle the famous climbs of the Alps. Organised by Padraig Kelly, who in the past organised club cycles from Mizen to Malin Head and last year’s Tour of Scotland, the climb most will try to conquer is the Alpe d’Huez.
The climb with it’s 21 hairpins of hell is arguably the most iconic climbed used in the Tour de France. When used for a mountain Time Trial in the 2005 Tour, half a million spectators lined the 13mile route.
The fastest ascent ever of the climb was 37 mins 35 secs by Italy’s Marco Pantani in 1997 en route to winning the stage. If any Cuchulainn rider breaks this record you`ll see their picture here in a few weeks!