Last Sunday I ended up in Fota Wildlife Park on the outskirts of Cork City, I was not there to check out the wildlife but to chase a few Gazelles around during the first round of the “Support your local bike shop” Munster CX league. It was a beautiful morning in Cork as I unloaded the Verge stand beside the Focus Munster CX Team tent the guys were good enough to give me a hand setting up and then proceeded to rob the chairs I had brought with me but fair is fair I suppose.
The underage races were in full flow when I arrived I think 40 kids in total raced which is brilliant to see, cyclo cross is great for young kids as its completely safe and a great introduction to cycling. Cycling Munster along with a number of bike shops are sponsoring the league and will be delighted to see so many kids dipping the toe in the water for the first time, it can only help cycling in general to grow.
The B race had a great entry of nearly 60 riders, the B races are designed for those new to cycling or cyclo cross and want to give it a go. They are great as a mountain bike can be used so it’s a great way to try cross before deciding to buy a cyclo cross bike. Although it must be said there was a lot of new shiny cross bikes on display. You can get a good cross bike in your local bike shops for a thousand euro or under which is great especially if you combine it with the bike to work scheme. Cross bikes also make great winter/commuting bikes so you can get a lot more use out of them than just racing cross.
The races were to start in a moto cross style with all riders lined up across the course and then a full on sprint for the first corner https://www.facebook.com/luccasports/videos/729712633845531/
The B race managed to get around it in one piece and had a good race with Robbie Walsh of Cork County winning ahead of the Killarney CC duo of Michael O Connor and Kenneth O Sullivan
There was also a separate ladies race with 10 riders signed on which is a great number for a new series ex national road champion Fiona Meade got the win from Michelle Geoghegan and Emily Birchall
I hadn’t done a lap at this stage but reports back from the course was that it was a very hard testing course with no recovery section at all. I managed to get 2 laps done before the start of the A race, we were not gridded as it was the first race in the Munster series so we were all lined up moto cross style. I didn’t have a super start and was 12th around the first corner and stayed in that position for the first few corners. The first half of the course was very narrow with few overtaking opportunities so I knew it was important to move up straight away or the leaders would ride away. Kevin Keane had the same idea and tried to give me a shoulder out of the way on one of the corners but I have plenty of experience of big fellas trying to shove me out of the way in Europe so didn’t flinch. There is a great video here of his first lap here https://www.facebook.com/kevin.keane.3766/videos/10153768890516481/
As we approached the drop off I knew I had to commit to moving up so when everyone else hit the breaks I just kept moving and reckoned I would get around them or crash luckily I got around them and moved into the top ten. From there on the first lap it was a bit of slow progress as I managed to overtake a few and move up to about 5th going through the finish line, Richie Barry dive bombed me on a corner to nab back a spot but I nabbed it back before the drop off, after the run up Kevin Keane again grabbed a spot back with an impressive late breaking manoeuvre that didn’t involve him trying to shove me off the bike this time!! At the end of the second lap there was a group of Kevin, Richie and Mark Shannon from Burren CC I kind of cracked going out on the 3rd lap and they immediately put 10 seconds into me. The first couple of laps of a cross race are normally crazily intense and I needed a small break from it but on this course there was nowhere to relax so I was paying the price for my earlier efforts now. For the next couple of laps I was stuck in no man’s land losing a few seconds every lap to the 3 guys in front of me, the leaders of Richie Maes, Matt Slattery, Will Ryan (a junior who looks like he is 12 when I saw him on the start line I was wondering had he missed the underage race but he soon put me in my place) and Matty Taylor who was having a very impressive ride for a new comer were gradually riding away from the rest of us.
After a short while I was joined by Trevor Woods of Aqua Blue, he didn’t join me for long as he rode away from me, I was definitely in reversal mode now and was down to 9th. Going through the line the next time they said 4 to go a look at my Garmin said we had nearly 40 minutes done so it was going to be a long race. I noticed that Trevor seemed to be coming back to me a bit I saw him stretching his back at one stage so that gave me a bit of motivation I gunned it for a lap and rode myself back up to him when we had 2 to go. Me reappearing on his back wheel jolted him back into life and he upped his game again and stared to open up on me again, the upside of our battle for the lofty heights of 8th was that it dragged us back up to Matty and Mark who were ahead of us, we managed to overtake them and Trevor finished 6th while I was 7th with Mark 8th and Matty an impressive 9th.
Up front Kevin Keane had overcome his slow start to work his way up to the leading trio of Matt, Richie and Will and attacked them to take the win with Richie coming in 2nd with Matt 3rd the wonder kid Will 4th and Richie Barry was 5th.
Full results are here
In total it was a very impressively run event by St Finabrrs CC with a large number of people watching as well as competing (so impressive that the coffee van ran out of milk). A big thank you to all the guys in Finbarrs who set up the course and to the sponsors on the day of Café Velo, McCarthy Cycles and Johnson & Johnson
Please check out the below video highlights by Mike Meade (brother of the famous Fiona) www.youtube.com/watch?v=K39gkMVQgVQ&app=desktop and photos and more on his face book page https://www.facebook.com/grianghrafmedia/#
Round 2 of the “support your local bike shop” Munster CX league moves to Ennis please click on the below to enter and please drop by the Verge stand to say hello