What a week and opportunity for me that I will carry with me forever.
I was the youngest rider of over 100 women. I am a Navan Road Club rider and have to thank Navan for all the help, coaching and advice I got from the club to get me to the Ras 2021. I did not think I would get the opportunity at 16 years of age to ride the Ras but when I was selected by the Women’s Commission Cycling Ireland team I knew they saw that I was ready for this huge challenge ahead. It is difficult to say how to prepare as its as much mental as well as a physical push with everyone fighting for positions, trying to stay in the peloton at speeds of up to 70k an hour on stretches, seeing accidents happening in front of you and listening to the slipping of gears and watching wheels but also passing encouraging words to each other and helping each out in the peloton. I was really honoured to have such great team mates and a great support team and really people don’t know how much work went on behind the scenes for us 10 riders.
On the start line each day when the whistle blew, the motorbikes were rolled out ahead, the flashing lights and sirens, the commissaries cars, the 20 support cars, the doctors car, the school children out in each town we passed supporting us all, the lines of local people shouting us on at every stage, my Navan club supports who travelled down to support me. My school St Joseph’s Mercy Navan who gave me a huge send off supported me for the Ras. My most memorable stage will have to be Stage 3 – Castlecomer-Newtown-Swan-Timahoe-Portlaoise-Mountmellick-Rosenallis-Clonaslee-Kinnity-Slieve Bloom the cut-total 105k and what a fast race this was with Portlaoise being the most memorable town for me where my Nana’s family the Earleys are from. I knew going into this week that it would hurt, that is would require willpower, that it did require sacrifice, that I needed to push my body to the max, that there would be tears and temptation to quit but I knew when I reached my goal that all the sacrifice and healthy decisions made have all been worth it. We fought hard everyday for positions and we brought home the overall team prize for the best Irish riders of the Ras 2021 over the 5 days 6 stages. We are not Pro riders like many of the teams that did this Ras but we are women that are determined and love this sport. I am so proud to say that I am now a Woman of the Ras.
Women’ s Commission Cycling Ireland Ras Na Mban Teams 2021-thank you all:
Yvonne Doran Clodagh Allen Team Support: Ray Allen David BrennanCarthach McCarthy Elizabeth Kent Brendan Mac Hale Brendan WheelanClaire Ni Reachtagain Keela MacHale Michael Garvey Alison SmithEmma Smith Agnieszka SamselElia Tutty Lauren Garvey