The 2016 race season is almost upon us, those hard winter miles, dark morning commutes and the pain that is the VC Iveagh ‘Hurt Locker’ shall now be put into practice. Last minute preparations to race bikes, equipment and training will be fine tuned for the opening race of the season, the Travers Engineering Annaclone GP on Saturday 20th February.
This year VC Iveagh have had an unprecedented number of members take out a race licence and several of them have signed-up to race ‘Annaclone ’, hosted by Banbridge CC. There is no doubt they have put the effort in over the winter months, STRAVA can attest to that fact but have they gone the extra mile mentally? Annaclone should and will answer this question for first timers and the race hardened vets alike. There is no doubt that with the influx of new members eager to race, the older hands have felt a little more pressure to perform than usual, competitiveness has been palpable on club runs in the off season and the usual ‘banter’ has been raised to nuclear levels. However behind it all I have never experienced such camaraderie and willingness to help club mates achieve their goals. This club was built on an ethos of togetherness and that will be on show in the opening race of the season when we all come together to race, support and help our fellow club mates in any and all capacities.
Annaclone is very much a local race for VC Iveagh with the course being situated within the Iveagh district, only a few miles from our base in Scarva. The popular 8 mile circuit attracts riders from all four corners of Ireland due to its early date on the racing calendar; it’s also an early opportunity for riders to test themselves against their compatriots. The hard yards start almost immediately on the Annaclone course, within a mile of the start/finish line the first corner leads straight into a steady drag through the small rural village of Annaclone and once past the local GAA club it’s the first time to test the climbing legs with an ascent up to May’s Corner. The climb only lasts a few minutes but the pace is generally intense and once over the hammer goes down with legs spinning the high gear. After the second turn the road is undulating until Katesbridge with sharp digs and fast descents, it’s this section that catches most riders out as there is a tendency to relax once over Mays. After the final turn it’s onto single lane back roads, forcing the peloton to compress. The road then flattens out until the last mile where an uphill gradient kicks in and saps any remaining strength before once more crossing the start/finish line.
Two races run simultaneously on the day, with the ‘A’ race containing category A1, A2 and A3 riders who will compete on the 6 lap course totaling a distance of approximately 47.5 miles. The ‘B’ race contains the A4 riders who complete 4 laps totaling a distance of 31.5 miles. VC Iveagh have riders competing in both races including two riders new to open racing. Ryan ‘Quadzilla’ Harshaw and Mark ‘Jonto’ Johnston are making their race debuts at this renowned circuit and not to put pressure on their shoulders but we are expecting #BigThings from both these guys. The VC Iveagh ‘Hurt Locker’ has been opened, the beasts released and now it’s time to stop the hurt and dish it out…