Relive the Club’s CX Championships through Luke, Ruairí, David and Andrew.

Eoin went on to Win the Senior race. Courtesy of John Hammer.

The date and preparation for the Club CX Champs really crept up on me. Only for Stephen Ryan reminded me to do some promotion work for it, I would've completely forgot about it.

I kept it quiet on New Year's Eve, deciding that not going to Leggs was the better part of Valour. I got to Corkagh Park twenty minutes later than expected. As I arrived, Stephen O’Shea, Lloyd Moore and Marcin Worbel were stacking up the course creation paraphernalia. Stephen covered roping off the 180 turns and erecting the hurdles. Marcin, Lloyd and I took care of taping off the hairpins. Ciaran and Barry Keogh showed up and help put the finishing touches to the course.

When it came to the trees, Marcin had a great idea to make an S-shaped course through the trees. A tight narrow exit of the corner would mean that riders would need to battle for position on the long downhill before the trees.

I lead the youth riders our on the course with Barry Keogh. This would ensure that everybody was on the same page for the course. I went back to my car to prepare for the race, while the youth race was underway. Marcin noticed that he left his race kit at home. We said that we’d wait for him.

Youth Race

As I missed most of the Youth Race, I asked the youth riders to fill us in. I would really had like to have witnessed the nail biting finish between Andrew Van Aert and David Van der Poel.

The Youths jumping the Barriers. Courtesy of John Hammer.

Ruairí Byrne

On New Year's Day I took part in a very new race for me, Cyclocross. The cold bit through my fingers, even when wearing gloves. There were four other competitors Andrew, Luca, Sam and David. The race was held in a very tricky course in Corkagh. The race involved lots of complicated turns and challenging obstacles.

Andrew was, for me, tough competition and as usual Andrew pipped me at the line. Congratulations Andrew!!! My brother, Eoin cycled the senior race and came first. Thanks to Stephen O’Shea and Luke Potter for organising the race.

David Forbes

I really enjoyed the cx it was great to try something new and I will definitely do it again in the future. I found it very different to road cycling and it was a good way to start the new year.

The tight finish. Courtesy of John Hammer.

Andrew Ryan

It was a cold winter’s day, not even the birds were awake. The only sign of life were the people on fancy bikes doing circles on the grass. Occasionally jumping over a log or something of the sorts. Sure how hard can it be? The race wasn’t too long just two laps of the circuit which involved: grass, slaloms, jumps and a few trees to dodge.

From the gun Ruairi was ahead and jumping over the jumps. He knew not to bunny hop it as there was an “incident” earlier (cough cough.) With Luca gone off before us we went sprinting after him. It took us till halfway through the second lap to catch him. As we reached the bottom it was myself and David out front with Ruairi in hot pursuit, followed closely by Luca and Sam.

I got into the slalom first but was overtaken sneakily on the inside by David. A small sprint got me ahead coming out of the slalom. With two hundred metres remaining I thought I was home and dry but David overtook me on my left. The sprint was on! I sped up and inched past him. It was not one for the faint hearted. As we crossed the line neither of us knew who one and it was down to the Comm., Stephen and John Hammer. Luckily I very very narrowly got it on the line. Thanks to Luke, Stephen and the half a dozen helpers for the great day.

Youth Podium. Courtesy of John Hammer.

Youth Results

Pos  Name          Time
1.  Andrew Ryan   14:42
2.  David Forbes    s/t
3.  Ruairi Byrne  +  23s
4.  Sam Taylor    +2:11
5.  Luca Haines   +2:41

Senior Race

I delayed as long as I could for Marcin to re-arrive. I would be rooming with him at the Nationals. So there was pressure on me to stay friends with him. The same situation happened on Sinead’s Yoga4Cyclists trip to Spain last year, when Eugène booked the seat beside me on the plane home. Marcin finally reappeared.

Stephen and Commissaire, Ronan, laid out the rules. The scratch group of, Road Bike-wielding, Eoin Byrne would be starting with Marcin. They would begin a lap down. Orla Hendron and Ciaran would be given a half a lap handicap. The finish of the race would be on the tarmac.

The course started with a short straight into a 180 corner and over the hurdles. Marcin cleared the hurdles are was accelerating away. Contrastly, Eoin was channelling his inner Matt Stephens. Eoin finally clipped in and was back on Marcin’s wheel by the time they hit the trees. Orla and Ciaran were next over the hurdles without much fuss.

Marcin asking Eoin about his road bike. Courtesy of John Hammer.

I practiced some accelerations while we were waiting for the three minute/half a lap to elapse. I was positioned on the right side of the track, which was the longest route to the first corner. Cahir O'Higgins was beside me. It was his first race would he be a little gun-shy at the start? He was not battle hardened in B-race melees.

We got the “Hammer Time” signal. I started really well. I had Eddie Lynch and the Barrys, Dace and Keogh, in front of me. Lloyd appeared to my right, but he completely misread the course and had to turn around. I was only focused on the wheels in front of me. I failed with an attack on Barry Keogh before the trees, failing to force him to cede track position. We’d pop Eddie on the first lap. Going into the second lap, the Barrys were a few bike lengths ahead. On the 180 turn at the bottom of the descent, I carried a lot of speed and almost got two Barrys for the Price of One. I was back on Barry Dace’s wheel courtesy of my high cadence attack, which made Froome look like Ulrich.

I stayed pinned to Barry’s wheel for the remainder of the lap. I heard Stephen tell Ronan that we were First and Second. We had distanced Other Barry (Archer fans will understand the reference). Barry Dace started to dislodge me on the uphill out of the tree section. I didn’t want to let that wheel go, but I was struggling massively. It was ten minutes into the race and I was cooked. I fell apart completely on the bumpy run to the far-bottom corner of the course. Barry Keogh passed me and gave me some encouragement “Keep going, you’re riding well”.

I tried to regain my mental composure on the slalom section. “Only five pedal strokes to the top of the turn”. Even Stephen saying “Third” as I passed the line could arrest the mental panic that was setting in. Over my shoulder I could see my next challengers. Lap three would be about me defending from Eddie Lynch. I said “Hi” and “Bye” to Eoin Byrne as he zipped by me for position. I was expecting Marcin, but he never came. I lost position to Eddie on the uphill to the slalom section. He came by me with his trademark stiff upper-body position which makes Tony Martin look like Tommy Voeckler.

Luke on the first of his Luke vs. Barry battles. Courtesy of John Hammer.

That was when my power level went over 9000. Dragon Ball GJ. I had to have some self talk “Luke, you did not limit your Christmas junk food intake to a box of Maltesers, 4.5 Salt and Vinegar Pringles and two bags of Chipsticks to give up in your last race of the season, sort it out”. Through gritted teeth, I stared a hole through Eddie until I “passed” him at the hurdles. By “passed” I mean, used Mario Kart tactics on him… accidently. As he jumped back on his bike, I accidently clipped his foot with my front wheel. This stopped him in his tracks, like he was hit with a Red Shell. I said “sorry” a lot of times to him. CycloCross is a full contact sport.

Lap Four was pretty uneventful, I noticed that Eddie was going backwards. Orla was appearing in my view. After dispatching Orla, I was acutely aware of a presence behind me.

Going into the last lap, the hunter had become the hunted. I could hear the Jaws theme music. I committed to an out of the saddle sprint out of every corner. It was not enough. I could see a blue blur in my peripheral vision. Cahir, Lloyd and Eddie were all riding Blue bikes, I didn’t know who was closing in on me. With lactate clouding my vision, I knew it would not help to spend time deciphering who was on my wheel.

All I knew is that I needed to be first going into the slalom section. That way I could use tactics to my advantage. I would park the bike on the inside of the turns and force my pursuers to adjust their lines and back them into each other. This worked to unhitch Cahir from the train. Not so much for Lloyd. He had jackknifed The Luke Express and was now appearing on my left. It was a heads-up sprint between us. I moved right on the tarmac finish, to allow him space. I just about fended off Lloyd. Cahir had recovered to finish on the same time as us. We all had to brake extremely hard as the rope was still up that marked the course’s first turn.

I breathlessly shook hands with my former adversaries. I clapped Eddie, Marcin and Orla over the line and congratulated Eoin on his win. We dismantled the course with help from President Dennis and supporter Paul Kane. Both of whom failed to convince Decal Quigley to commentate on the race.

Thank you to everyone who came out to support despite the wind chill, and to John Hammer for the photos. The rest of John's photos can be viewed on his Facebook Album: Orwell Club CX Champs 1st Jan 2017.

Senior Podium. Courtesy of John Hammer.

Senior Results

Pos  Name             Time
1.  Eoin Byrne       34:46
2.  Ciaran Keogh     +  10s
3.  Barry Dace       +  45s
4.  Barry Keogh      +1:26
5.  Luke Potter      +2:25
6.  Lloyd Moore        s/t
7.  Cahir O'Higgins    s/t
8.  Eddie Lynch      +2:43
9.  Marcin Wrobel    +3:40
10.  Orla Hendron     +4:53

Eoin and Marcin started a lap, less 3 minutes, down.
Ciaran and Orla were given a 3 minute handicap on the remaining six.

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