After feeling a little left out from the 36One which Waldo and Kevin took part in last month, the team decided that Calvin should take part in the PPA 12 Hours of Killarney! This was a race unlike any other we had ever hammered: No climbing, no team tactics, just pure distance. Something quite special.
On Sunday morning the weather looked ideal as everyone lined up at the start with a very slight breeze and complete cloud cover keeping everyone cool as cucumbers. At precisely 8:02 the race began – I remember this time well because I was still locking up my car when the announcer started counting down. After a quick half a lap interval session later my muscles were very suddenly warm and I was back with the leading peloton consisting of about 20 riders.
It became very clear who was here as part of a relay team and who was here as an individual – those riding on their own such as myself avoided the front like the plague. While the race itself was great fun for the cyclists I’m not sure it makes for a thrilling spectator sport – after only five laps the crowds were more interested in some eggs, bacon and coffee than the cyclists on track!
The relay team riders did a great job of keeping the average speed around 38 km/h for the first 120 km. With the very real danger of the average speed dropping to below 38km/h mark Brendon arrived on the track, armed with fresh legs and absolutely no intention of staying for the full 12 hours. To make sure he was not pulling around a local coffee ride, he took to the gutters and started ridiculous stunts like pulling on the front for 5 complete laps at a time and hammering down the back straight at 50+ km/h. This savageness had the desired effect of increasing the average speed to 39 km/h for the first 200 km and pruning the leading peloton down to about ten cyclists.
In between pulling on the front Brendon served as domestique for me filling water bottles, bringing food and moving my car out of the gravel pit and to make sure I couldn’t find the car too easily after the race. It was thanks to the constant refueling on the go that the first stop for me was at the 200 km mark and the second at 250km these were quick 5 min stops allowing the leading peloton to go around once.
The good times were not to last though as the first of the rains came and then a little later Brendon had to leave, leaving me to face the competition on my own at 15:30. I carried on for another hour when I took another five minute pit stop and it was at this point that my armour started showing chinks and rusting in the rain. I would like to think it was because of the rain but in truth it was that combined with the hectic pace for the previous eight hours. I kept up with the relay team members and the leading individuals for another few laps but after a while I simply found the pace too fierce and I dropped off.
As it happened at the time I was a good few laps in front of the second place rider but this only delayed the inevitable and by 8pm I ended the race in fifth place with 383km, one lap ahead of 6th place after 12 hours! Congratulations goes to Stephen Courtney who took the win with 129 laps, some 417km at an average speed of just less than 35 km/h. Thank you to the PPA for hosting this different type of event, it was great to see the track full of cyclists for 12 hours! We are sure to be back next year for some more suffering!!