Jeff Torrens-Spence, Jody Wright, Steve Geary and myself (Niall O’Gorman) represented Phoenix at 2014 edition of Gorey 3 day race. Team met at HOS @4pm with Jeff and Stevie driving. After stopping for quick Burger king at services and then on to Gorey by 8pm. Lack of team car was a bit of concern for the guys, but i was quietly confident because my uncle Gerry rides for South East Road Club (SERC) had promised to sort us out – more on that later.
Sat – Stage 1 127km Blessington to Gorey
We found out day before that stage 1 was increased to 127km – was 110km last year.
First question was how to get to Blessington. Jeff drove and left his car. Up stepped the SERC boys to bring 2 bikes up and get our extra gear back. The sun was shining so sun cream on. 190 riders rolling through town at brisk pace and past roundabout heading south.
Fast and furious, fighting for position all day to stay near front. Cars on right causing bunch to compress. Crashes. Guys shelled on the climbs at Hacketstown, Holts pass, Carnew (x2). Stevie was probably best positioned near front, rest of us mid-pack. I had a dig at Holts pass climb – only time i had open road knowing it was lining out behind.
I think we all felt distance – a case of hanging in bunch and possibly trying for late move. Unfortunately there was fatal car crash ahead of the race so we got stopped with 3km to go. Right decision. Terrible tragedy for that family.
Sun – Stage 2 (TT), Stage 3 96km Gorey-Carnew-Camolin circuit
I was up several times in night – stomach trouble. Not good. Brisk headwind for the TT but all the lads all put in good times. Jody 09:26, Me 09:38, Jeff 09:48, Stevie 10:00. Then it was quick 2hr turnaround before the afternoon stage – 4 laps of 24km. Almost straight away i was in trouble, back of the field. First time up Carnew hill I has last man to keep contact – guys behind me got shelled. It lined out over top, 60kph for next 8km. The LH turn at Camolin was into wind. Stevie again was well positioned at front, Jeff and Jody safe in pack, me eating bar tape at the back. Second time up Carnew hill, i got distanced but fought back on (again guys behind me shelled). But there was a gap in line ahead which meant a 60kph chase on empty legs. Stevie had mechanical and dropped back to check it out. He got going just before turn into wind. He passed me and fought like mad to get up through cars but no joy. At this stage my stomach was in bad way. We formed a grupetto and rode on. End of 2nd lap had to make emergency pit stop at the Statoil loo. 10mins later got going and it started lashing with rain, very cold. I rode on but completely empty and as i finished 3rd lap was pulled in. The race finished 5mins later, Jeff and Jody safe in bunch. Stevie came in 25min down. Cold and nearly hypothermic, SERC came to our rescue with van to take us back to B&B.
Mon – Stage 4 91km Gorey to Blessington
I felt a bit better and decided to give race a go. After his disappointment, Stevie was pumped to go on the attack. Jody was only seconds down on a top 10 GC place so plan was to sit tight and try for a late move. Again SERC helped us out to take stuff up to finish in van.
Really fast first hour – 43kph. Stevie was in early move up the road. Carnew was crazy – 50kph through town over ramps, bottles everywhere on road. Climb after Shillelagh was fast and lined out for ages on the descent. Turned north at Tullow into cross head wind which calmed it all down. A few more crashes but pace was a bit more steady up to Blessington. In the end we all came home in the sunshine and safely in the bunch.
Results & thanks
Team rode well all weekend in a huge field including some quality riders. Jody was best of Phoenix riders in 27th, Jeff in 46th and Stevie in 112nd. I didn’t get a placing because i didn’t complete full distance on stage 3, but in end i was happy to complete the race back to Blessington.
Thanks to race committee for their support and a big thanks to John Rooney who supplied us with hand-written notes on what to expect, all of it 100% accurate. It is the Gorey bible. The B&B (Stone Lodge, Riverchapel) was excellent – great breakfast in the morning, definitely would recommend. Thanks to Claire and family.
The biggest thanks has to go South East Road Club. Every single member of that club was friendly, welcoming and only too happy to help. From the mechanic who fixed Jeff’s gears 5 mins before stage 3, Pat who transported us in his van and fellow racers. If you ever meeting a SERC rider out on the road be sure to give them a wave.