Fiona against Fiona

After a sleepless night (cursing my failure to check last night’s post was saving as I typed) I really wasn’t feeling it at breakfast this morning. I plugged myself in and ran a few tests. A bit of self analysis produced a result. So, at our pre-departure to Kenmare, Team meeting I decided to come clean. Everyone here is a little afraid of something (aren’t they??), well maybe it’s not always fear, maybe it’s just anxiety. Afraid of being killed (really), afraid of descending, afraid of climbing, afraid falling/being injured, afraid of failing, afraid of not being good enough. Well team, manager, ….my name is Fiona and I’m afraid of being dropped. Death does not scare me at all, no siree.

And you know what? It’s not because I think for a second that if I could stay with the bunch I’d be in contention at the finish (I am not in that league), no, it’s because after you’re dropped on stages like today there are long bleak periods out on that road when it’s just you. I’m afraid of being dropped because than I have to face myself, and race myself. Fi against Fi. Not my favourite thing.

Well, so much for if-you-say-it-out-loud-it-won’t-happen theory.

I got to face my fears a little earlier than I’d hoped for today. I’d had it in my head that I could cope with being spat out the back on the Healy Pass. We rolled out of the Sailing Club (had a brief stop to re-group after a timpiste in “neutralised zone”) I stayed in the top 12 or 15 riders out the road, and most of the way up Knockanoughanish, but I started slipping down the bunch as we came close to the top, I just seemed to be reversing….. I could see the top, if only I could just…… no. But they were right there, I could catch back on!

Aside: I have absolutely no clue why the above script just changed!! And I can’t fix it, sorry!

I killed myself (metaphorical use; things aren’t that bad) to chase back on, the rain was lashing down, the road was river-like, the Commisaire President car passed me, then a team car, I threw myself around the twisty corners of the descent, if I could just make that  narrow left turn before the ascent…… another team car passed, as I came around each corner at crazy-speed I could always see the back of the bunch snaking around the corner ahead…… another team car passed….. things seem to stall a little, I shot out to the right and passed that team car back….. on around the corner, no white line….. oncoming bus pulled in in front of me, ….quick check, yup, I can make that gap (in reality, my glasses were so drenched in rain and mud that I could barely see a thing, sorry road safety people.)…… I slipped through the gap between the team car ahead and the front of the bus, just. I could see the bunch right there, right there, sweeping around that tight lefthand corner, the rain was getting heavier, everything seemed to be closing in around me as we made our way through that heavily tree-lined approach to the start of the climb…… come on Fi!

As I rounded the bend, reluctantly using my brakes to avoid the back of the only team car between me and the commisaire’s car, and the road started to rise,……. I knew I used too much in my chase, my lungs were heaving (Anne, just then I would have sold my soul for your extra 30%!) and I had to just suck it up. Dropped. Team cars pipped their horns and passed, plenty of  “C’mon, dig in!”, and encouraging words as they rolled up along side. But as I came out from the tree-lined part of the climb, and the mountain road opened up in front of me, even though I could see them all, snaking their way up the rising roads ahead, I had to accept that The Race had moved on, alive in it’s bubble, and it had left me behind.

I didn’t give up though. I kept a steady rhythm going and recovered a bit on the climb, the random cheering bystanders all helped. And I channelled part of some well-meaning advice from a “Man of the Ras”, if you get dropped “make sure that you take in the scenery because it is actually stunning down that part of the world!”, I did look around me,…… waterfalls everywhere, misty drizzly green-ness, things tourists can’t believe we don’t appreciate a lot more,…… Kerry is beautiful, thanks Brian! I caught onto a small group, including two of my fellow Cycling Leinster teamies, I lost them again, I caught on again. We kept each others spirits up, and we kept the pace up as best we could. Our group of 5 eventually crossed the line 18mins down on the front group. Ho Hum.

And as it turned out, I didn’t have to spend too long on my lonesome, dealing with my own back catalogue of crap. Fi against Fi will have to wait for another day.

It’s nearly time to bail into the dining room in very disorderly manner, so I’ll wrap this. Overall I’m now just under 20mins down, this time last year I was probably twice that. And I’ve moved up to 41st spot, a small victory in the fight against The GC!

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