The 2009 Shannonside CC Tour of the Heartlands was a great success in August with seventy nine cyclists entered the various events. Conor Kelly of SSCC and ATC took control of the 34k group which went east to Moate, then Moyvoughly and back to AIT, Athlone.
At the same time a group of 50 or so set out for the 60k route, for some, the first leg of 160k. As promised the pace was maintained at a steady 27kph and all riders finished together. They were warmly greeted with hot meals, sambos, tea coffee etc back at AIT. Some of these riders had cycled down from Donamon and now took on the return journey to Roscommon. One rider had cycled down from Swords Co. Dublin to do the event. I presume he had a lift home.
The big 100k lap set off at 12 noon with 49 riders. All had been warned that things tend to get a little faster on this lap. This did not deter the ladies and Denise Dolan, The Nieces, Deirdre, Grainne and others gave it their best shot. Two Carlow lads (Paschal and Ray) disappeared left after 15k, certainly not because of tiredness; maybe they were off to plan the following Sunday’s Humpy Hundred.
There was damage done before Loughanavalley but we all regrouped at Ballinacarrigy for some welcome fodder beside the Grand canal. The pace from there was brisk to say the least. A group opted out straight away, riding home at a realistic pace. By Carrickboy, lads were swinging on the back and the pace was always over 20mph. Flash Gordon was marshalling the Carrickboy corner and he then got on board a car propelled by The Bionic man to make movies.
This only encouraged the pace to rise higher and we hammered into Ballymahon and the modest headwind.
Next was the N55 to Athlone, a noted SSCC battleground. With Scorsese filming out front, the leaders were not doing up and over, just smiling or grimacing at the camera. None thought of the precious prime of the day at Tang, the county border sign and Woof stole a jump on them all to retain his King of the Counties title.
Now Gary Bracken (Ricco) was steaming and he made a move, aided by the draft of the camera car which towed him 400m up the road. The chase was furious with Horatio, Bilbo, FoamFace, Hams, Frodo and the Taoiseach all showing fine form in the driver’s seat.
Eventually, the lead car did the honourable thing and pulled a way, isolating Ricco and the pack quickly chased him down. Left then at Glasson and Frodo made his move. He was mighty fancy indeed, drilling it on the bumper of the Flashmobile… till he tried a gear change. Up she flew and then down into the tarmac with a horrid crunch. He looked more embarrassed than hurt so we didn’t run into him. We even stopped to see was he ok – stopping in the middle of a final gallop, we must be getting old.
Ricco, Horatio and other didn’t stop though. In true SSCC style the ploughed on and the honours probably went to that group but we never heard the outcome.
Meanwhile, Frodo rose from the gravel and he and Bilbo promptly exited stage left, taking the shortcut home to Middle-Earth. There was a queried broken paw but Frodo raced that Thursday again so he was okay.
The stop suited The TinMan as he had a flat tyre which proved to be beyond repair. A spare wheel was acquired from the broom wagon and we were on the way again. There was no gallop and many of us were thankful for that.
Back at AIT, the patient catering crew did it all over again and no one was left hungry.
Thanks to all who marshalled, catered, video’d or rode.