I remember many moons ago coming down to Carlow to do a women’s cycling training camp with the dedicated and hilarious to boot manager Mick Lawless. We had great craic and we learned an awful lot on those weekends. We stayed outside Carlow town in a fabulous guesthouse where we ate like royalty. We were then set off on training spins that covered 4 counties Carlow, Wicklow, Wexford and Kildare on each outing. So, which place sticks out in my mind the most? Borris, of course, where I now live. Why? Because Borris lies in the foothills of the very beautiful Blackstairs mountains and also being a rookie/fred (see Stickybottle.com for reference!) at that time, I was unprepared for the first major climb of the day and keeled over forgetting to change down gears in time as that first section of the road was so damn steep. Those roads are now my nemesis, its a love/hate relationship without a Nidge in sight….
Anyway the An Post Rás (Ireland’s premier cycling stage race) has graced these roads many times and this year the infamous Corrabutt Gap featured in one of the hardest stages towards the end of a week of tough racing. I ventured up to catch the action and was hopeful of getting a few shots of those guys suffering on my now local climbs. I encountered two of my buddies Pat and Therese who work as the ‘Blackboard’ on the race. Not only are they very experienced cyclists they are part of the motorbike crew who work on the Rás and many other races. Their main purpose is to give time gaps to different groups of riders. This is chalked onto the blackboard and held by the pillion passenger so riders can see where they are in the race. They have to constantly whiz up and down the bunch, passing big groups of riders, a perilous job that is not for the faint hearted.
And here they are below in action…Ehhh not really…No my son Evan created their Lego alter egos after our trip to the Corrabutt Gap.
And here they really are looking very happy with themselves having climbed the almost 11% gradient Corrabutt Gap…Oh wait they have an engine…..
Anyway artistic inspiration always flows for me at cycling races, I use my camera as a tool for the first step in creating a new painting or drawing…I picked one of my images from that epic day which shows a loan rider edging forward while leading the race on the road. His legs and lungs are probably screaming out in pain, with lactic acid flooding his muscles. But he doesn’t show it….I’m not sure if I can convey how severe that climb is, this old cycling adage might explain it…”Jaysus, You could hang wallpaper off that one!”, (The climb to the mast on top of Mt. Leinster is 796m above sea level and is an even harder climb, Ill talk about that one again!) A lot of these guys are amateurs and some are pros, they make the climb look easy, they turn the mountain into a mole hill….What you don’t see is the 1000s of training kilometers they have to endure on lonely cold and wet Winter roads, these being the rehearsal for the big production. I hope you enjoy this drawing and enjoy the climb without the pain…just like Pat and Therese;)
My work can be viewed in my newly opened Etsy shop called Drawn to Sport and my facebook page of the same name. If you are interested in getting a unique painting or drawing done of yourself or that special person, please feel free to contact me at phone number +353 (0) 87 6397210 or click here for my email address…Thanks for reading my blog, Rachel
6 thoughts on “Making a mole hill out of a mountain on The Blackstairs…”
I remember that training camp and the wonderful ice cream desserts! 🙂
I know Tarja the food was unreal! Hope your keeping well have you got a mini mtb for your new arrival yet?!
Excellent piece, I love that quote, “…you could hang the wallpaper off this one!”
Thanks a mill, not sure if its an uniquely Irish cycling quote but it says it all! What’s the link between Ragtime and cycling?
Bit of a tenuous one – i play a bit of ragtime blues on the guitar from time to time, and i have a tendency to get songs stuck in my head on a loop if i’m out riding alone; usually old ragtime stuff. Et Voila!
Brilliant, its a quirky title and you’re mixing two passions together….Its funny how you can get a “worm” in your head while out on the bike and it can only be replaced by another “worm”….the mind is a funny thing! Thanks for the explanation your blog is great btw