Over The Hill Cycling Club Notes 21st July 2019

The past few weeks have seen a number of club members head to France for various events. First up on the 7th July was Joe O'Leary to tackle the Marmotte. The Marmotte Alps began at sunrise in the heart of Bourg d’Oisans. Once the starting shot sounded, the tension made way for adrenaline and determined pedalling, all to the soundtrack of loud applause of the overlooking crowd. After a flat 10 kilometres, the first real obstacle could be seen in the distance: The Col du Glandon (1 924m), a long but consistent climb of 20 kilometres with steep passages of up to 10%. After reaching the top,  descent is steep and fast. This gave time to recuperate and focus on the technical and steep descent. Once below, the road steadily rose to approach the Vallée de la Maurienne. Saint Michel de Maurienne was the starting point of the toughest challenge of the day: the succession of the Télégraphe (1 570m) and the Galibier (2 645m), or 2000 altimeters over 35km. 

The refreshment station in Valloire was most welcome and marked the halfway point. Joe stocked up on reserves as the ascent of the Galibier, famous for its white snowed flanks, was just around the corner. The descent of the Galibier brought Joe over le Col du Lautaret towards Bourg d’Oisans. The 21-hairpin bends of Alpe d’Huez marked the ultimate difficulty of the day. The first 2 laces were at a spine tingling 13% average.  Joe powered over the finish line with a mix of emotions, relief, pain and pride having completed such a mammoth cycle in a very impressive time. Chapeau Joe.    

Next away was Colin O'Neill who headed to Pau for the 13th stage of the Tour de  France, the individual time trial. Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) smashed the time trial to take stage victory and extend his overall lead in the general classification. Colin also took in stage 14, the 117kmk trek from Tarbes to the summit of the Col de Tourmalet. The Tourmalet is the highest paved pass in the French Pyrenees. The stage saw some of the best racing for a long number of years in the Tour de France. All the main protagonists took each other on with spectators on the steep slopes of the Tourmalet being treated to fierce racing. Ultimately, it was local favourite, Tibault Pinot who took the stage, with Alaphilippe retaining his yellow jersey to round out a great day for the French. So energised was Colin by the flat out racing, he decided to tackle the Tourmalet himself the following day. The 10% slopes and high altitude didn't take a puff out of Colin, and he looked just as fresh at the summit as he did in the valley below. 

The club was also represented at the 29th edition of l’Étape du Tour,  which took cyclists from Albertville to the mountain finish at Val Thorens.  Conor MacAree pinned on the numbers for this sportif which mimics the 20th and penultimate stage of the 2019 Tour de France. The professionals will race the route on Saturday 27th July, before heading to Paris for the final stage. 

The route of the Etape ran on a false flat to the foot of the Col du Méraillet. The climb continued on the Cormet de Roselend. The two ascents combined total 19.9 kilometres and the average gradient was 6%. The route descended to Bourg-Saint-Maurice Les Arcs and after a flat section of some 10 kilometres the Côte de Longefoy appearsed – 6.6 kilometres at 6.5%. At kilometre 77 the summit was reached, and the downhill started 4 kilometres later.

A short section in the valley led to the last climb of the day. The road started to rise in Moûtiers and continued to do so for quite a while. The Val Thorens climb is 33.4 kilometres at 5.5%, although that statistic is biased by a number of downhills on the way to Europe’s highest ski resort (2,365 metres). The steepest kilometre slopes at 9.1% and and was encountered 5 kilometres before the finish. Conor ripped it up on the hors catégorie slopes to cross the finish line in style.

Also in France recently was Jim Hennessy of Hennessy cycles. Jim was approached earlier in the season by club stalwart Deccie Brady. Deccie was having trouble holding Tom O'Sullivan's wheel on their Friday cycles. There was only one answer for this dilemma, a new pair of hoops for the bike. Having perused Jim's extensive range of wheels, Deccie decided they weren't up to the mark. The only answer was to dispatch Jim to the Mavic factory in Annecy. Jim was instructed to source the fastest wheels possible, and no expense was to be spared. Jim arrived back with a snazy new pair of Mavic's finest carbon wheels, usually reserved for the professionals. Such is the speed Deccie is now cycling at, Tom has gone into hiding, reportedly in the west Kerry gaeltacht. As a token of Deccie's appreciation for Jim's hard work, he has volunteered as part time sales assistant for the month of July in Hennessy Cycles. Deccie has a smashing preloved Lapierre carbon racing bike at rock bottom price, and is also doing a great deal on a John Deere roly tractor. 

Club member Aislinn Hurley is taking part in the 2019 Tour de Munster which starts on 8th August. The first day of the nineteenth “Tour de Munster” will start in City Hall Cork, take the cyclists through Cork, Waterford, Tipperary and Limerick and on to Killaloe, County Clare. Day Two, they will go through Limerick, Clare and North Kerry to Tralee. Day Three will see them face more big climbs over the Conor Pass and Molls Gap as they make their way via Dingle and Killarney toward Kenmare. Day Four will start with a climb over the Caha Pass and finish in Cork city, with cyclists having completed a massive 640kms over the four days. The primary beneficiaries are the Munster Branches of Down Syndrome Ireland. If you would like to support Aislinn directly in her fund-raising efforts for Down Syndrome Cork please use the following iDonate link: https://www.idonate.ie/…/11381006_aislinn-hurley-s-page.html

While some members were tackling the most famous climbs in France, the rest of us had to make do with the local highways and byways. The Wednesday evening cycle headed to Conna and Fermoy. Saturday saw Pat McHugh lead a group to Limsore, before climbing to Ballysaggart and Mountain Barrack. The return leg was via Kilworth and Fermoy, completing a tough but enjoyable 95kms. Donal was in the hot seat on Sunday, heading for Cappagh Cross, Ballyhooly, and on to Glanworth. There was a coffee stop in Fermoy, where the ups and downs of the Tour de France were dissected. The jaunt back to the village was covered in no time. 

Club cycles continue each Wednesday evening, and Saturday and Sunday mornings. The club is always delighted to welcome new members. On Sunday mornings at 9am, all levels of cyclists are catered for, with the group split into 3 levels. New members are very welcome to turn up and cycle provided they have a racing bike, a helmet, and are over 18. For further information, check out our club Facebook page or contact us by email info@overthehillcc.com. Details of cycles will be posted on club Facebook page.