Bryan Geary takes us through his recent upgrade to A1. He recounts his early racing days and his return to the top domestic level.

 

Cork in the Late 90s

I’m a fairly average club cyclist with a half decent sprint and good positional sense. I can’t time trial, I rarely want to poke my nose in the wind and if I can lean on some less experienced rider to do the donkey work for me I will generally promise them the sun and stars before beating them to whatever acclaim is on offer. That’s about the only part of being an honest rider I was as I had been until 2017 your classic Sucer La Roue

It wasn’t always so. I had been a half decent underage rider and junior. I never won much but I was stupidly consistent. My mission as a young fella was to get in the early breaks, ride the shit out of it and have enough in the tank at the business end to produce a final speed effort. Senior ranks in the late 90s were an eye opener but my modus operandi didn’t change so much so that I had picked up enough placings and thus ranking points to be classified an A1 in the first half of my first senior year.

In a break with some A1s. Photo courtesy of Sean Rowe.

 

Dublin in the Mid-2010s

So I had a benchmark and a fair auld inkling of how things worked in the cycling game when I returned to the sport seventeen years later and joined Scott Orwell Wheelers. After a stellar career of smoking and drinking in the interim I wasn’t exactly a fresh-faced youth on my return. The fags had gone at least and so with a modicum of fitness built up from basic spins, I found myself in the Club League in Limit which had just the right amount of minutes racing to draw on muscle memory from twenty years past. Stephen Barry, one of our Rás riders, was my Limit arch nemesis, both blooded in the cauldron that is Corkagh Park in April.

Honing the Racecraft in Corkagh Park.

I rose through the club league ranks where I was getting properly spanked in Scratch by the Downeys and McArdles who in turn were getting a lesson that year from Pat O’Brien RIP. It is essentially the club riders who sparked my competitive urges. The standard of club racing rider went through the roof and I know I improved along with them. Truth be told though I was nowhere near the standard of some of the riders in our club but nonetheless through the form built from racing these lads on a Thursday night, I was upgraded from A3 to A2. In the final race of 2016, I was sprinting for the win in the SERC GP when my chain slipped off the big ring. It was a sprint I felt I wasn’t going to lose but anywhere down to 8th would have done as I needed 3 points to upgrade to A1. Bike mishaps happen and I closed 2016 at the head of the A2 rankings. 

Part of the A3 National Championships 2015 Team Classifcation win, and a Top 10 in the race. Report: An Awesome A3 Achievement.

Two operations in Spring meant I started my 2017 season without a decent winter and so I’d literally no shape at all before May. I threw myself into the Phoenix Park race and got an awful kicking in it. I picked up a fortuitous win in a club race after Paul "Foinavon" Forristal decided to defy standard cornering technique and G force in Corkagh Park. By the end of May I was in half decent shape and took my first points of the season in Mondello finishing two bike lengths behind the winner. My A1 upgrade was in sight 150 metres from the line in the Roundwood GP. Simon Sheridan created a gap for me to sprint through but a broken pedal meant my foot came out and I freewheeled home. The Stephen Roche that week went well and race showed that I had decent form but although 8th on the night I left without ranking points. Thereafter I limited my open races to The Masters Champs, the National Crit Champs and another Dundrum in Tipperary. I rode well in all races but no ranking points.  

 

Cork in the Late 2010s

Sitting one solitary point off an upgrade from the end of May and with the end of the season looming, I looked deep into my soul and reflected. My mind was uneasy. Was this the beginning of the end, the steady decline from relative to full and total obscurity? I drew on the great works of Milton, the Dalai Lama, Hello!, Cosmo and Cycling Weekly and knew I needed to be the hero in my own story.

With that in mind I meekly begged my wife for dispensation to enter the Charleville Two Day claiming an unfulfilled season reflection on which would only make me unbearable to live with throughout the winter months. My wife is a very intelligent person and obviously weighed up that Cork for two days should mean immediate and more long-term relief for her from me and so off I went with Eoin Ahern in the team car to join the lads.

8th place at the 2017 Stephen Roche GP.

Knowing I can’t time trial for shit I hadn’t thought past the first stage or the GC. Looking at the parcours, in the absence of any of the main heavy hitting Juniors, it looked likely to end in a sprint which suited me and I said as much. However, my sprint game plan went out the window when I saw an opportunity in the drizzling rain on the final lap of three. One young Junior lad from Tralee who had won the previous week attacked and I bridged up to him. I was thinking more from a safety point of view than anything else as it wasn’t a great day. It brought me up to the day’s main break and as they were cooked so we put the head down and drew them clear of the peloton and we maintained a decent gap by working hard.

On the penultimate dig, I drove it hard and shelled all but the young lad so I urged him to work hard for the final few miles into town. The cross wind aided us in front as we had no choice but to ride but hoping the peloton were possibly saving themselves behind in the wind. We were told we had 1 minute 20 with 3 kms to go so I knew no matter what I was upgraded in running. 

The games began at the flamme rouge.

I wanted to see where he was at so I started talking to him. I told him that he couldn’t win the sprint because I was heavier and had more gears than him. Had I sang that he was more lovely and fair as the rose of the summer (Rose of Tralee) it would have mattered less because this lad wasn’t having any of it. I jumped on the left opened up a gap and with a cheeky look with 100 metres to go I knew I wasn’t getting passed. No way was I putting two hands up in the cross wind and on a greasy surface so I opted for a one arm classic salute. I was the club’s latest A1 and theoretically (because they never gave me one) the Yellow Jersey. I followed up with a dismal showing in the TT although was unfortunate to lose 2nd overall with the early break allowed too much leeway on Stage 3. Job done for the year, a win and an upgrade. 

Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien.

Finally getting the Upgrade Points.
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