The Tour de Frank lingers on the distant horizon of my mind. Enniscorthy’s Dragon Sportive 135k is an early opportunity to see where my body is at. And what it needs to be doing between now and the 24th August. Four of us signed up for the “Big Dragon”.
Enniscorhy tired and littered from the night before, The Deleranto’s the high light of last nights Strawberry Festival. But as we pulled out at 9am, our only well wishers were early morning mass gowers, a dying breed in themselves. Winding down its narrow streets looping twice over the river Slaney before pushing into a head wind on the Clonroche road…towards New Ross.
The pelathon, took off at pace, as they always do. The secret is to keep your head, find your own comfortable rhythm, tag on to a group and shelter. It’s going to be a long day. So conserve your energy. And that’s what we did, me Lorraine, Alan and David. We tip along, making an early pact, to stay together no matter how the day pans out. There’s no “I” in club. Free loaders tagged on behind us, but did none of the work. Alan and David pulled us along.
Feeling good, and knowing that once we turned of the Ross road towards Thomastown the wind would slip in behind us and push us along. And so it did, it was now only a matter of keeping the head, feeding right, and setting a steady rhythm.
Inistoige threw up the first challenge of the day, a gear crunching climb out of the quaintest of villages followed by a disorientating 10k loop which brought us back into the village (not so quaint now) and a killer 200meter sheer climb bordering on being off road causing rear wheels to spin and catching a few unaware, forcing them to dismount. But there was nothing for it but to drop to the granny and pedal for your life. Taking the wind out of your sail’s, and the energy out of your legs. Yep this could yet be a very long day.
At 75k we reached Gragenamannagh, a very welcome feed station, where we horsed into the hang sambos and thick wedges of jam Swiss rolls. As Lorraine preformed some pliates exercise that would put chapter 6 of Forty Shades of Gray to shame. Glad to have the back of the day broken and the wind behind us. By now the main pelathon had long since bolted. As we four pulled out for the long road home with the Nine Stones waiting off in the distance. It all began to fall apart for us…the last of the straggling group headed off, we had them in our sights and Lorraine announced, I forgot me glasses!! we asked were they expencive, praying they were Aldi’s finest…Yes there Stella Mc Cartney designer glasses…and that was the last we saw of the straggling pelathon.
Its hard to know what gets you over the “bonk” Was it taking it easy earlier on, was it the high energy drinks, was it the sneaky sandwich on the outskirts of Inisteige, or the dragon shots, or just a level of fitness, or even the company feeding of one another’s energy, or perhaps it’s a combination of all.
Heading into Borris, familiar territory. Lorraine began to fade. We pulled in at the base of Sliabh Bawn where Alan produced an array of illegal looking supplements and pumped them into her. I offered her my urine sample in the event of her being asked to produce one at race end. We laughed, and chatted and distracted one another , while we nursed Lorraine gently over the Nine Stones. We even discussed the merits of Cezarian section over Natural childbirth….And as we crossed the summit, some asked “Where’s Frank!!!!.” (Frank got tired waiting on the wind swept summit, and went home to watch the Sunday Game) One last shot of Dragon Piss and we were off again Mt Leinster beaten, clocking 59k on the descent into Bunclody. We were back with a bang, and so was Lorraine, sticking to our rear wheels and tipping along. The Dragon finally sleighed as we arrived into Enniscorthy traffic jammed streets….30 min behind time. But still we did it. And the high light of the day, David’s Caroline there to meet us with tomato bread, and rich sweet cheese with olives fresh from the country market…heaven.


Footnote: The Tour de frank should not be taken lightly, preparation, preparation and preparation is the key. Getting out there putting up the miles, feeding right, pushing yourself. Having the bike in top condition,. The big question I asked myself that evening tired and stiff after one day in the saddle. Could I get up again tomorrow morning and do it all again!!!!!!!!Because that’s what I’m going to have to do in eight weeks time.


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