Stage 7 – Donegal Town to Cootehill - May 26th - 161K

posted 22 May 2012, 12:53 by Kevin Monaghan   [ updated 28 May 2012, 08:52 ]

More stunning scenery on Stage 7 (Photo: Stephen McCarthy – Sportsfile)

What a day from hell we had today on the longest stage of this year's Race the Rás. As everybody gathered for breakfast it was clear to see from facial expressions that the event was taking its toll and lads were just interested in churning out the miles to get home. However, with 110 miles to do today, it was always going to be a mental as well as a physical test due to the full on headwind we had for 109.5 miles of this spin. The departure from Donegal was comfortable as we had fabulous road surfaces to whisk us to Bundoran at speed which at one stage hit 22.5mph uphill before we veered left for Kinlough and the start of what turned out to be one of the most difficult stretches of the entire event. The wind hit us flat in the face and between that and the never ending rollercoaster-like roads it was absolute torture. Lads were cursing Leitrim and Cavan, two counties which we seemed to be entering and exiting all day and not a half mile of flat tarmac to be found. I am not talking Bun hill here, each hill was either Piggery of Skeagh and if not as long or longer they were steeper and what we couldn't understand was that they were not even categorised. Our only saving grace was the fantastic views as we rode alongside Lough Melvin which straddles the border and looked as big as the ocean.

After 50 odd miles we hit the Cat 2 climb which, with the head wind, was easily a Cat 1 and seemed to go on for ever as it wound its way upwards to the KOM banners where we eventually saw Joe Duffy and his trusty camera ready to capture our tortured faces. From here we got some respite on the descent before we hit the town land of Redhills whose name only meant one thing and by God does it have hills. One after the other they came like a factory production line with each one depleting our energy and filling the legs with the dreaded lactate causing an almighty stinging sensation, especially in the quads.

The last Categorised climb was a Cat 3 which we crested out of pure thickness. There were some huge positives though as we approached Cootehill around a very dangerous and gravely corner we spotted the Horohoe family decked in their Lakeside Wheelers colours clapping us on and then in the town itself we were met by one of the biggest crowds so far, which also included more of the Lakeside Wheelers family, Mick and Jason Reynolds, Cathy O'Toole and by this time the Horohoes who were back to catch the Rás finish.

The sight of familiar faces at the stage ends was fantastic and proves once again the quality and depth which we have in our club. Another positive was the standard of accommodation which we had in Cootehill as we retired to some luxury and rest with the ever present Doreen weaving some magic on our tired limbs as she massaged away the day's pain. With only one more day to we decided to treat ourselves to a pint and toast a job almost well done and before you think it was an event that would drive you to drink, Pairic did not partake!!! Sleep was no problem and made all the easier knowing that tomorrow was the last day.