MAWS Ras 2011 – the Night Stages
So, after a quiet spring with just a few club cycles MAWS hit the road again. This time in a car. And a very nice car it was too – thanks to An Post and leaseplan.ie we joined the Ras as Official Crowd Warmer Uppers sporting a jazzed up 2L Skoda VRS.
Sunday (Dunboyne – Portumna)
With neither Anne nor Mags ever having driven an estate car previously, parking our MAWS mobeel proved to be quite the challenge and upon arrival at Dunboyne Castle on Sunday morning May 22, we managed to draw the attention of a number of bystanders, including the Gardai – FARK – Mags’ cousin is one of the Garda motorbike cavalcade with the Ras for the week…..this would either turn out to be very beneficial or not for us. Fear not the tone was set early on as The Loobster (see pic – we did not give him this name!!!) and Co were amongst the first to join us at the bar in Hayes pub in Portumna for a few drinks on the first night of the Ras. Having been warned of the tough week ahead, for us and the cyclists, we left the bar at a reasonable hour and got to bed in time for a sleep before breakfast...starting as we definitely didn’t mean to get on!
Portumna - Kilrush
Gael force winds and torrential rain - Monday was difficult, for us too in the car. Even with a couple of hundred An Post t-shirts and our not inconsiderable luggage in the back of the Skoda, we were all over the road at times, though that may be our driving skills.
What do you do when an icon light resembling a tyre comes on the car dash? Ask a Garda? “Go to a garage and tell them it’s a bit soft on the bottom all round” was the most helpful advice we received from the guffawing traffic corp – which wasn’t all that funny an answer Mr Garda, especially not with Mags’ thinking that car and bike wheels are kind of similar and so should probably take the same amount of tyre pressure (somewhere around 100 whatever on the wheel pumper up thingy was her aim). She almost had one end of the car considerably higher than the rest (it was at 75 whatever) when a random passer by thankfully intervened and took the wheel pumper up thingy off her in time. So, despite Mags best efforts to wear the front wheel on her face, we got to Kilrush in one piece, handed out 400 t-shirts and headed back to our hotel where we met up with Robert Haws from the Burren Cycling Club who’d just completed the Race the Ras stage, the SIS Ras team whom we discussed (harassed) future MAWS sponsorship deals with (thanks for the water bottles – it’s a start), along with mechanics/masseurs/managers who were more than happy to chat to us till the early hours. Mags, who was spotted trying to negotiate more alcohol from the night porter at 3am took the Stage win in Kilrush with a post 4am finish time.
Stage 3 Tuesday
Kilrush to Castleisland
Stage 3 and we were in the swing of things. With race commentator Ted Crowley leading the way & trying to keep us on the straight and narrow as we drove the Ras route some 10-20 minutes ahead of the peleton, we asked for a promotion with Ted and he duly obliged. We’d gone from been described as ‘An Post girls’ to ‘Women of the Ras’ over his megaphone as we hit every town. It wouldn’t be long before personal details of road frontage and phone numbers would be announced before we got to every town!
Our base for night Stage 3 was the Earl of Desmond which saw Mags crash out in spectacular fashion. One red wine and one gin had her grumpy and in bed for the night by 9pm. However, in true MAWS spirit Anne flew the flag (high on the news that she had managed to win bronze that evening is the Women’s Criterium league…while drinking wine in Tralee!) with Trish and Sandra, who after a failed attempt to commandeer a Ras judges motorbike in the carpark (see photo), eventually settled for a lift into Tralee in the back of a van with a couple of Gardai, judges and ‘Sign On Here’ signs. The fact that the sign-on signs may have been pointing towards the MAWS room the next morning was just a happy coincidence!
Castleisland to Castletownbere
What does one geographically-challenged receptionist, the HAWT Rapha Condor team (complete with yet to be disqualified Stage 1 winner), and a 12k run in some woods around Glengarriff have in common? Not a lot, but on Tuesday night it was MAWS. So, Mags and Anne set off on separate jogs, in different directions, from the hotel in Glengarriff, manage to bump into each other in the woods and promptly get totally lost. An hour later we manage to run our way back out of the woods, and bump into the Rapha Condor team at dinner….who joined us for a drink in the bar. Serious athletes? Them = yes. Maws = looking less likely with each glass of wine. Ben Greenwood just seemed scared of us, but James McCallum, Dean Downing and Casey Munro showed nerves of steel when bombarded with MAWS-type questions. Nevertheless, we all had a laugh, and MAWS suspects Dean Downing’s later disqualification was, in fact, a deliberate attempt to rejoin MAWS for a proper night out!
Four more stages to go...
Castletownbere to Blarney
Into Castletownbere for the start of Stage 5. Topaz coffee is now banned by Anne, although Mags is less fussy. The jury is still out on fruit or not in scones.
Castletownbere though will hold fond memories for us for a long time. Never have we had so many men fuss over us – ok our radio, not us. But with Alberto Elli sorting us for coffee and a plethora of Ras official men sorting our radio just moments before the Ras took off, we were in business for the day.
This stage also saw Dean Downing being banned from the race, much to Mags’ delight as she figured if Dean ain’t cycling…..pants, word reached the MAWS camp that he was on the first flight home following his disqualification. Never one to be knocked at the first hurdle though, it gave Mags an idea and she cornered the Ras commissar Gary McIlroy (who was by now the part-time mechanic for MAWS) and requested that he only disqualify HAWT cyclists for the remainder of the race…surely at least one of them would stick around and need a shoulder to cry on!
It should be pointed out that we had managed to commandeer a flashy orange roof siren light and an ‘officials’ race radio from the RTE jeep which was following the race - this allowed MAWS a license to (in our opinion anyway) park where ever, beep whenever and generally disregard the rules of the road/local Garda. It all could have turned a bit sour when Anne was a tad over zealous on the beeping going through Bandon, a local squad car coming the other direction was not in the humour and to MAWS horror they watched the squad car do a U-ey and follow them into the petrol station where MAWS pulled in to refuel (diesel and coffee). With Anne at the petrol pump doing her best to avoid eye contact, Mags abandoned ship and ran for the shop. Crap, according to the ve-hicle they were driving it was the ‘Armed Garda Unit’, which Anne knew might aswell have said ‘No Craic Unit’ as she furiously tried to think up of valid excuses for her unruly behavior - the Garda approached donning his cap…he walked straight up to her and said; “Any chance of a few Ras t-shirts?”
Stage 5 also saw some flashing other than the flashing orange light on top of MAWS car….but, to allow that boardsie maintain what’s left of their dignity we won’t name names. It was over dinner in Blarney that night that Mags thought it appropriate to hi-jack the CEO of An Post with a view to allowing MAWS do podium girls for the remainder of the Ras. He seemed rather hesitant/scared and so Mags suggested he think about it while we wandered off around Blarney looking for a suitable spot for an early evening tipple. We found one and both of us put in a sterling performance that evening but the stage win in Blarney went to Anne with a very impressive 4.30am finish time – it was Anne’s turn to drive the next day, that didn’t happen!
Blarney to Tramore
A very ropey start in Blarney saw MAWS leaning
By 12pm and technically working on her own, Mags had come up with a new plan which involved just slowing down slightly as we drove through villages, opening the drivers window and offloading a load of t-shirts out in the general direction of the crowds. We arrived in Tramore, blatantly abandoned our car on a double yellow line, threw the remaining t-shirts at some nearby Gardai and stationed ourselves in the best possible position to watch tired competitors cycle sloooowly passed us along the steep uphill finish…sun glasses on: Check!
The night stage in Tramore involved an official Ras/An Post entertainment evening. MAWS went, MAWS drank, MAWS conquered!
Anne managed to get into rounds with some of the Engraveit.ie team after one of them accidentally knocked over her drink at the bar, a move he later regretted as she was overheard calling competitor Stephen Gallagher (Ras Winner 2008) ‘No craic’ for opting out of round number 4 at 1am! Meanwhile, Mags decided to corrupt the traffic corp, rather than the cyclists, and headed off with them to Tramore’s finest niteclub….she was back less than 30 minutes later. However the fresh air had taken its toll on Mags and again Anne took the stage win with a fine 4am finish.
Tramore to Kildare
We are actually not sure who drove this stage…..but one of us must have because we arrived in Kildare about 800 t-shirts lighter than when we left Tramore. It was clear we were getting cocky or disimproving as our refuel (coffee and lunch) stop saw us get passed by a breakaway group. Mad dash back to the car, and luckily our flashy light and nerves of steel and close relations in the traffic corp allowed us to get back in front of the race in a very speedy manner. It did mean we had to share a sandwich.
Kildare town was pumping with people…fark! This time we parked the car in its entirely up on a footpath because…well because we could with our flashy light. Mags headed off to find Robfowl (official Ras doctor) for some magic potion to try relieve our constant state of ‘near death’. Re-hydration sachets and some placebos kept Mags from hooking herself up to the IV drip, while Anne single-handedly fought off the masses of people who ‘more than anything in the world’ it appeared, needed a green t-shirt that afternoon.
The cyclists arrived…we whooped and hollered…a little less than on previous days possibly.
Stage 7 also saw Anne’s enthusiasim earlier in the week come back and bite her in the ass. She had been annoying traffic corp, judges and marshals alike for “a go on the back of the motorbike” all week – unfortunately for Anne the Ras judges Eddie and ‘Shocks’ came good Friday evening in Kildare (unfortunate in that Anne had found sitting upright in the car a challenge on that specific day…) and so Eddie gave up his spot as pillion passenger to allow Anne a motorbike ride from Kildare to Dublin…..she arrived at the Greenisle hotel, dismounted and took off the helmet to display a rather green complexion!
Being the eve of the final stage some of the cyclists were a bit more amenable to ‘chats and drinks’ at the bar in Greenisle that night. We assaulted (no other phrase for it) most of the Rapha Condor team, Anne also used this window of opportunity to try lure some of the unattached (in every sense) Ras cyclists to Orwell, while Mags posed for photos with the New Zealand team having taken a curious interest to Shane Archbold’s hair style. With the end in sight Anne was unwilling to let her lead go and took yet another very impressive 4am stage finish. Mags knew it was a good thing that the week was nearing an end as next morning at breakfast when all the talk was of the Firebrigade who had stormed the hotel the night before with full flashing blue lights & sirens, Anne turned to Mags and said “Firebrigade?”
Kildare to Skerries
Once again, Mags drove...super Domestique! Upon arrival in Kildare on Sunday morning she propped Anne against a telegraph pole with a bundle of T-shirts and went about the usual MAWS morning
It was with a heavy heart that we put the flashy roof light going, spilled more coffee on the race radio and pulled out ahead of the ‘Men of the Ras’ for the last time…and then quickly screeched to a halt, Anne had spotted the entire Ras Traffic Corp lined out for a group photo, MAWS bolted from the car straight into the middle of the photo, in fairness they didn’t seem to mind and some had even hinted that MAWS might make a good cop duo – back into the car and off we set for Skerries.
With our ‘access all areas’ badges MAWS plonked themselves right in front of the stage in Skerries and like two demented groupies clapped, whooped, hollered and leered at each of the teams as they went on stage to accept their Ras Medals. Shane Archibald showed his appreciation by coming down off the stage and giving the bunch of flowers which he received for his Stage 8 second place and for his first in the points competition to Mags and Anne.
The Ras week was an absolute blast, it was everything we hoped it would be and much more…..as we left Skerries on Sunday evening the An Post official called us back to say that they had already discussed the situation and they were hoping MAWS would consider coming back again next year – and to bring dresses as a podium appearance was on the agenda! Woot woo
MAWS wish to say a massive THANKS to the following:
• Rob Fowl – Ras Doctor for allowing us to be fully functioning alcoholics for the week
• The Traffic Corp…especially Garda Lubricant
• Judges and Marshalls (Eddie in particular)
• Shocks – for calling Anne’s bluff re motorbike ride
• Gary McIlroy– for fixing our race radio – it never actually worked though?
• All of the An Post Ras crew….Aileen, Fergal, Quigs, Ted Crowley…
• This years An Post Podium girls for making it possible for us to get the gig next year…..
Join Date: Feb 2011
Great reports of hard-fought efforts!!!
WW200: Tick…done…over…never again
After an utterly disasterous (for both of us) Carrick Wheelers 160km Sportive trip the previous weekend, MAWS needed to do some serious pedaling at the WW200. Come hell or high water we were finishing the WW200, end of.
So, frantic trips to Cyclesuperstore, Joe Dalys, Cycle Surgery and Tesco on Saturday meant we had our body weight in food & food supplements, oh and heated insoles - not that they were of much use seeing as Anne opened the packets on Saturday evening to have a look at them….these were ‘single use’ insoles which heat up upon contact with air (As CLEARLY stated on the packet) and hence were rendered null and void by about 8pm Saturday evening – doh!)
Our basic plan is to get there early, sign on early and finish early. That gives us the whole bloody day to tootle around if necessary, because we ARE finishing it. Although a pre-cycle offer from another Boardsie of ‘If you end up on your own give me a shout’ = ‘I’ll collect you IN a CAR’, in Mags’ head, was dangerous talk.
So off we set at 06.30, in relatively nice conditions. It was actually sunny, but a little overcast for the first hour or so, and we got to the top of Sally Gap before any sign of rain. Putting on rain jackets Mags discovers that her gilet has in fact got a mesh back…so where does the rain go? Ah yes, straight through the mesh….
Our super early start meant we could tootle along at a very handy pace, but the turn in weather at the top of SG meant we ate our quartered bagels (thanks JT – great advice and best food we had all day) at speed heading down off SG. At least with the lack of cyclists around us we could speed on, we stopped briefly in Hollywood/somewhere for a quick tea in a shop and so ignored the first feed stop and head for Slieve Mann. It’s not pretty. We’re not pretty. Life is pretty miserable at this point and Mags suggests “we don’t really need to finish it” (vague offers of a lift IN a CAR are ringing in her ears). But no, Anne is having none of it and off we go again, another 20k in rain before we need to contemplate proper hills.
At this point we split up. No, we didn’t have a row, just differences in pace, and Anne joined in with a speedy group which passes while Mags sticks to her guns of ‘I’m tootling around today’ and settled into her own company for the next 40km.
Let’s be honest here Slieve Mann is disgusting, even at the best of times. First off there was a hill before it, where the man from Tullamore asked Mags if this was Slieve Mann. “Nope, sorriee”, but at least you’re not the dude in the Pink Floyd-esq jersey on the Ridley whose chain broke at this point. Mags’ nod towards sympathy translates into a hollar of “sh*t” in his general direction as she pedals off. It’s not like she could offer any assistance, unless he was interested in quarter of a turkey rasher bagel.
Anne, meanwhile, had left her speedy group behind with a mantra of ‘just get this farking thing over and done with’ propelling her along at a good pace. Having never cycled up Slieve Maan before she was one of the large number of cyclists that day who smugly thought they had reached the summit of Slieve Maan, wondering what all the fuss was about only to turn the corner to see….Crap! Slieve Maan’. She also began to question the sense in MAWS decision to leave early in order to avoid the crowds….Cycling 101: crowds = shelter!
So, with delirium setting in she continued on her solo cycle until she met with fellow Orwellians John L and Stephen S at the top of Glenmalure, where she surgically attached her front wheel to the back of John L’s for the spin into the second feedstop in Rathdrum.
Further back, Mags trundles up Slieve Mann and Shay Elliot, it’s lashing rain, with hailstones and the mist on top means you can see nothing, but hear some odd beeping. Is there a car coming down? No. Is there a car on the top? Yes. Actually, there’s about eight, beeping, whooping and cheering, complete with foam hands!
Down off Glenmallure and into the feed stop at Rathdrum. It’s a bit like a scene from Cormac McCarthy’s ‘The Road’ once you go in the doors…people shivering, laughing nervously and generally looking completely disheveled, and that’s just Mags. At least there are some friendly faces from Orwell Wheelers, with John L, Stephen S, Stephen H, John T and Leo all looking decidedly the worse for wear, but remaining remarkably cheery.
Anne, unable (not trying to hard) to find Mags at the food stop and after having had far too much ‘me time’ already that day took up the offer to continue on the remainder of the journey with John L and Stephen S, she bumped into Toblerone1978 outside who really seemed to be having a day of it, having forgot a few fundamentals on route to Dublin that morning for the WW200….his registration card, his number, his energy bars and oh yes….his bike?? Meanwhile, abandoned once again by Anne, Mags moseies around the feedstop and finds DirkVoodoo being attended to in the medical room. Pah, useless, he’s not even doing the WW200!! But seeing an opportunity Mags commandeers a blanket, strips top layers off to dry on the radiators and has more tea. Twenty minutes or so later all her clothes are dry and Mags and Dirk face the last 65k home. Ten minutes later and Mags is completely soaked through and all she can think of is, f*ck there is still Wicklow Gap to negotiate. It’s an awful sense of dread to hit 140k, 150k, 160k, and 170k all the time expecting another horrid hill to pop up around the corner, and while there was two – that sharp steep left turn (what was that about??) and out of Avoca, it transpires Wicklow Gap is not on the route anymore!
Anyway, having someone to cycle with home is great – Padraic from Mullingar touring group was more than happy to chat with Mags and share the work load.
Up ahead, Anne finds herself partaking in a team time trial back to Greystones, some sort of turbo boost homing instinct has kicked in with the two guys and her options are to either dig in and stick with them or resume singing deliriously to herself in a bunch of ‘1’...team time trail it was!
And eventually Greystones rolls into sight, although Mags with her sadistic sense of forebearing is CONVINCED the route is going to go up Wind Gate, just for the laugh…
As Anne is scanned back in by Paddy Fitzsimmons (IVCA)…hold on, he looks familiar…do we know each other, no it’s not one of those ‘Coppers’ moments, well actually it sort of as Anne exclaims ‘Paddy its me, Anne from The Ras’ - Paddy was in charge of ‘Communications’ on the Ras and Anne had approached/tormented Paddy on the morning of the Castletownbere to Blarney stage (when quite frankly I’m sure he had better things to be doing) and suggested that the ‘flashy orange roof light’ not working on their An Post car fell under the remit of ‘communications’ – and fair play to Paddy, he sorted it!
On the way back to her car Anne runs into Toblerone1978 who was in surprisingly good form given that he had crashed on a decent somewhere after the last foodstop – serious chats ensued; ‘are we mentally unstable cycling 200km in these conditions’, ‘has this cycling lark gone a bit too far’, ‘maybe we should consider other pastimes such as ‘lawn bowls’ or ‘bridge’ …..as they part company to head home tired, wet, cold, sore and weary:
Anne: I hear Tour de Burren is on next weekend
Pat: Yeah, and I hear the weather forecast is f*cking sh*te again for next weekend.
Anne: So you doing it?
Pat: Sure am.
Anne: Yip, me too, see you there….
Wicklow 200 - Epic cycle – Done.
Last edited by Whats a derailleur?; 20-06-2011 at 09:27. Reason: Additional pic
Hello, I saw you on Sunday during the Burren cycle and was wondering where you sourced your bespoke cycling gear. Would you give me the name of the company?
Many thanks, AvidIrishReader