Sickness & Racing

Conor at the Nations Cups

Conor in the green of Ireland

Lying on the bathroom floor in my underpants with chronic food poisoning is not a recognised way of preparing for a 180km race, but it has become traditional for me. For the last 3 years I’ve been racing here, every time I’ve been ill. I’m not normally a sickly wretch, but La Cote Picardie seems to have it in for me.

Things had been going OK prior to this. I raced well at the U23 Tour of Flanders and made the right breaks. With 7km to go I was in the leading group, with 4km to go the leading group was less one, the final ascent of the Eikenberg was just too much for me. My legs were pretty much blown and I was hanging only 10 seconds off the back of the group. To anyone that has experienced this in a race you will know what the mental agony feels like. To anyone not familiar, it’s a bit like that scene in Titanic when Kate Winslet watches Dicaprio slowly sink into the icy waters at the end of the film… ‘Noooooo’. Disappointing but something I can build on for my last crack at it as an U23 next year. I eventually finished 38th so not too bad!

Next was the Cote de Picardie…

Lacking in both beauty sleep and energy we moved on to the ZLM Tour. My legs felt like jelly at the start and didn’t really improve, but then with 180 windy Dutch kilometres to race, that’s not too surprising. What was surprising was that I managed to finish a couple of groups off the front in 67th, it doesn’t sound much, but it’s good to achieve at such a low ebb!

The Irish U23 Team is a great team to ride for, a strong group of riders, we all get on well and the support team of Brian, David and Adrian treated us like kings. It’s just a shame that we couldn’t repay them, and frustrating to not get the results I was aiming for.

As David Brent says, “You just have to accept that some days you are the pigeon and some days you are the statue.”

(Conor Dunne moved to Belgium to race in the hardest of environments. He lives with other such motivated and inspiring riders as Josh Cunningham, and survives on a diet of porridge. Being 6’8” (2.03m) tall he has a limited choice of bikes, Specialized UK supply him with frames, and he’s partially financed by the Dave Rayner Fund. He races for the Vl Technics-Abutriek Team and the Irish U23 Team. When he’s not training or racing, he’s also studying for a business degree (or eating).)