Monday, 22 September 2008

Gael Force 2008 Report - Part 2

Right, its time to get this over and done with...its almost a month since the actual event!! A brief recap of how far we'd got earlier:
a) Run - tougher than expected, especially the first bit of the cross country. Held back as wanted to keep plenty of juice in the tank.
b) Kayak - went well, a lot shorter than I thought it'd be. Was actually relatively tough, but you could really go whole hog as it was all upper body.
c) Run - 3km run, didn't really get into my stride for this and also got slightly lost as well!

So that's where I left off, just at the transition onto the bike. I'll continue in the same format as before.

Transition 3: Run -> Bike
I'd just arrived at the bikes. As I said in the preview, I took my time at this point. Changed top into a dry top (didn't change socks), took a moment to have a bite to eat and a drink. Double checked I'd everything and set off.

Stage 4: 35km road cycle
So despite starting to get caught by the faster runners in the second wave, I was surprised that only 2/3 passed me on the bike. Set out at a decent pace, found the going relatively easy. I did find it quite strange cycling without cleats. It wasn't too hilly for the first few km but I knew there was a massive climb not too far ahead. I just focused on keeping a nice steady rhythm to that point and tried to take in the scenery (which was top quality).

Hit the big climb, which we'd gone over in the car the day before. I knew it'd be tough then, and I wasn't wrong. I was determined to make it up without getting off, but when I realised that I was actually cycling slower than I could walk, I decided to conserve my energy and walk! Even that was tough.

Eventually got to the top of the climb and hopped onto the bike. I went about 200m (still a slight climb) and noticed two girls having trouble with one of their wheels. Turns out I was the third person to stop to help, and they didn't have too much luck with the previous two guys. I quickly diagnosed a few problems:
  • Don't do this sort of event if you can't at least change a tyre \ tube (yes Eamon!). After the initial puncture, the first guy changed the tube for the girl. Surely the girl should have been able to do this!
  • Secondly, there was a problem with pumps. It didn't appear that this girl or her friend had a pump. I think the first guy that stopped pumped the tyre but they were having trouble with that. Madness.
  • Thirdly, they flagged down a second guy to help them pump the wheel. Got it pumped and he got on his merry way. They put the wheel back on the bike and it won't go around! Cue good Samaritan #3 (i.e. me) to come along
  • I arrive and see that the tube is coming out under the tyre at a point which is causing the trouble with the wheel not going around. Figure straight away that the air will have to be removed, which they are against as they've had so much trouble pumping it! I insist and put the tube back in.
  • At this point, I notice that the valve isn't quite right...turns out whoever put the tube in forgot to take off the ring that secures the valve before fitting it! I quickly fix that, pump the tyre, fit it and continue.
  • Moral of the comment!
This whole episode probably cost me the guts of 10 mins. Probably cost the girl (who must have been flying) about 25 mins. In any case, I left here and started the downhill section...serious bit of speed :)

Rest of the ride was pretty un-eventful until we started getting close to Croagh Patrick. There was a brief section on a main road and as we turned off, the marshall said something about there only being 5km left...this didn't make sense (I'd the GPS so knew the distance) and quite a few of the lads were annoyed with him about that...there was well over 10km left at that point...all of it an uphill slog!

I made some good time here, catching and passing a good few people. It was tough, but I was still within my limits and eventually made it to the transition.
Estimated time: 1hr 36mins
Actual time: 1hr 39m 44s

Transition 4:
Bike -> Hike
Met Eamon and Fintan here...there were just about to hop on the bikes after already doing Croagh Patrick...unreal. Took my time again, grabbed a few fig rolls and filled the water bottle.

Stage 5: 5km mountainous hike
Start of this was over some pretty boggy terrain. I wasn't too bad, slightly energy sapping but fine. After about 600m, started the ascent and things immediately got harder. Seemed to be sticking pace with 3/4 lads which was good, one of which turned out to be a lad that had stopped to help the girl earlier. I was diplomatic, thats all I'll say.

About half way up the first ascent, I met John and Brian on their way down. Boys told me it wasn't too bad, but I'd a feeling they were only saying it to keep my spirits up! Soldiered on and made it up to the base of the mountain itself. Again, almost immediately the intensity increased again! It was really really tough from this point on. It was like I was talking 5-6 steps and having to rest. No word of a lie.

I was still more or less sticking with the same bunch of lads which was good as it gave me a goal (not to let them get too far ahead...I didn't care if I dropped them). The climb just kept going and going and going and get the idea. Almost at the top I met Orla, Simone and Peter who were just there to pass the time while we were doing the event. Had a good chat with them for a few minutes, kinda out of socialness but more out of it being a great excuse for a rest :) They assured me there was only about 5 minutes to the top and thankfully, they weren't lying. I made it to the top in just over an hour.

Turning straight around, I started the descent. We'd been a bit worried about this beforehand as we figured the fatigue would be a massive factor. It was a lot easier than I expected, though I really had to exercise care in place. Met Brian at the bottom of the scree and also Orla, Simone and Peter again. They said that Justin was just behind me. On the way down, also met Ian. The descent down to the boggy section was fine as was the traversal of it. At one point, I feel flat on my ****, got up, started to run and fell knee deep into a bog hole. All I could do was laugh.

Made it back down to the transition for the final stretch.
Estimated time: 1hr 30m
Actual time: 1hr 33m

Transition 5: Hike -> Bike
Hopped straight on the bike and was off down the road...

Going to leave it at that for now...

1 comment:

Matthew James Stanham said...

Interesting stuff. I can envision it all very clearly, though for some reason you are wearing a green striped rugby top...

Hmmn, that's all a little weird. :)