A Review of the Sean Kelly Tour 2010
The Sean Kelly Tour existed for three years without me doing it. It is one of the An Post Series of Events that are run throughout the year. These events have become famous for their organisation, each run with brilliant efficiency and catering for every rider on the road. The 160K Kelly Comeragh Challenge (the longest route offered on the day) is known as the most difficult of these and on the 29th of August 2010 I found out just why.
Having not done much mileage in the number of weeks running up the event I didn’t know what to expect. The fact that upwards of 3700 cyclists had registered for the event offered some reassurance that there are more crazy people in the world other than me. The morning was bright. The bike was clean. The number on my back was 692. The road ahead and whether I was able for this or not, I really was not sure about.
|Elevation:||+ 1983 / – 1985 m|
|Max Gradient:||21.6 %|
The start was nice, we left the town of Dungarvan at approximately 8:30am, with a very relaxed and sociable pace. The chatting soon quitened down however as the usual echelons started forming in the peleton. Having raced before my instinct not to let the gaps grow, so not worrying about what was ahead I put myself under some pressure to close those gaps thinking that my work would be rewarded later on in the day when I would be in a good group of riders that would keep me sheltered for the most part. At the time it seemed like a good idea but looking back I think too much energy was spend at a time when it should be conserved. This really lasted from about 5K outside Dungarvan until the bottom of Seskin Hill just before Carrick an Suir, which was 37 K into the cycle.
Seskin Hill was the first challenge of the day and it didn’t disappoint. It’s roughly 1.5K of a climb that forced many to walk and others to use every muscle in their bodies to push and pull themselves over the top on a gradient of nearing 20%. This is where my day started to feel more like punishment than pleasure, but I got over it.
From here we journeyed on towards Clonmel and the first food stop of the day. The spread that was provided is what we have come to expect with an An Post event, plenty for all. From Clonmel we headed through rolling roads and after Ballymacarbry at the 80K stage we took a left as signposted The Nire Valley and what promised to be a road that lead to some really hard climbing.
The next climb is known as Powers the Pot and was arguably the least offensive climb of the day, yes it is long but gradual and more forgiving. The climb is approximately 6K and rises to a height of 396 Meters. At the summit the rain started and the cold whistled through our helmets down a very welcome descent at at the 100K mark we arrived in Rathgormack for a well deserved food stop.
Leaving Ratgormack we set off again with tiredening bodies, weary of what would be ahead, namely Mahon Falls and Máma Road. After helping to fix a broken chain of a team member the cross of Mahon Bridge (116 K done) was reached and a sharp right was taken to head up Mahon Falls. Mahon Falls is scenic and beautiful but those are the last thoughts in your head when ascending it or descending from it. The 5K ascent is unforgiving on a tired body and offers nothing in the way of respite and the last 100 M has a steep kick that must rise to 20% and take you to a level of some serious teeth grinding to overcome it. The summit of Mahon Falls lies at 409 Meters. The descent from Mahon Falls is dangerous, so much so that bad turns along it had to be marshalled and some surrounded by bales of straw to cushion anyone incase they fall.
At this stage of the day with 130K done it is safe to say that I was weak and questioning exactly what life is all about, but there was more fun up the road. I was told previously about a fourth climb but with all the talk of Mahon Falls I thought that it must pale in comparison to the three climbs before. I was wrong.
Máma road is another 5K climb and again gradual like Powers the Pot but with the previous efforts this climb is just a hanger oner is the easiest gear possible. This one rises to 310 Meters at at the summit we had 135 K done. From here on is although the road was not necessarily easy, we mostly rolled into Dungarvan with the aid of a very welcome north-westerly breeze a nice friend to give us a push on the back home. Arriving in Dungarven we ended up with 160 K with a riding time of six hours and 24 minutes and an average speed of 25 K.