Fledgling cyclist Mamraz Nagi gives his insight in the latest Road Race with his 'Rookie Report'

So what do ‘The A-Team’, ‘Jaws’ and a little devil have in common? Read on to find out ...

Road race 7 of the Lakeland Cycle Club calendar incorporates probably the toughest course in the race series, but strangely it was the one I was most looking forward to this year.

The course involved a depart from Enniskillen, out through Derrygonnelly, over Knockmore and down to Cashel Cross.

From there it was back to Belcoo, off over the hills of Boho and back towards Springfield, with a total of 60 odd kilometres to race.

I’m not some sort of pain-seeking, ‘the tougher, the better’ kind of guy, but rather, I was looking forward to racing round familiar roads that are by far in the most picturesque part of the county.

In fact, I know those roads so well that I decided that I would hatch a plan.

You see, I grew up watching The A-Team on a Saturday morning and if Hannibal came up with a plan, then the world’s friendliest mercenaries always pulled it off.

So, with my imaginary cigar to hand, I decided a few days out from the race that rather than turning up on a Wednesday night and going with the flow, that I would be the master of my own destiny.

I don’t know whether the excitement of watching this year’s Tour De France had gone to my head, but I hatched a plan.

It would involve attacking the race at Derrygonnelly and going hard up over Knockmore, resting up a bit and waiting for the middle group to catch me.

Then I’d latch on to their coat tails and get a good pull down to Cashel and, more importantly, along the long and unforgiving drag to Belcoo, at which point I’d hopefully have plenty in the legs to go again up the ‘Divil’s S’ and then it’d be plain sailing down through Boho to Springfield and the finish.

For me, I don’t take the cycling too seriously and this would add even more craic to what is always a fun evening on the bike. “What could possibly go wrong?” I thought.

Well, it turns out, that just about everything went wrong – kind of.

First of all, someone forgot to tell the weather gods that a bike race was scheduled. It was like an autumn’s evening, with a brute head wind and rain.

In addition to this, our front group were missing key men such as Stevie Campbell, Brian Armstrong and Eddie Molloy who, week after week, put a great shift in and bring serious firepower.


So, with the odds already dwindling, we set off with just four riders in the front group but I was still determined to make a fist of it and it looked like Kenny Boylan had somehow infiltrated my mind as he soon settled into ‘full throttle’ mode out the Derrygonnelly Road.

So, with myself and Kenny taking the lion’s share of the pace, we lost one rider by the time we hit Monea, but we never let up.

How Kenny does it, I’ll never know. But one thing is for sure: there are plenty of young 20-somethings walking around the town that could do with taking a page from Kenny’s book.

In fact, they could do with taking the whole bloody book, aptly entitled ‘Full Throttle’, no doubt. I’d buy it!

As we neared Derrygonnelly, I took a look behind down the ‘long shot’ but couldn’t see the middle group anywhere.

“Good enough – your timing might just be spot on, lad,” I thought. “Is that the faint smell of a victory cigar that I can smell?”

As we hit the main street, I kicked hard as we turned off on to the Knockmore Road.

A quick look behind saw that I had opened up a gap and the burn in the legs started to come on. Just as I hit the bottom of the climb proper I decided to take a gel that I had taped to my bottle.

As I battled to get the gel opened, it exploded around my hand and handlebar, so with the toughest climb ahead of me I ended up riding it whilst intermittingly licking my left hand and then wiping it on my bib shorts, whilst at the same time giving out to myself.

So, with quite a bit of ‘effing and blinding’ going on, I got to the top, but to make matters worse my chain wouldn’t shift to the big ring for the descent.

It didn’t really matter because this was my time to rest up and to wait for the middle group to catch me. Or so I thought.

Just as I was about to disembark to manually shift it by hand, one final shove of the leaver brought a rattle, and lo and behold, the derailleur moved.

I took a quick look behind to see who was approaching, but the weather was so poor that low cloud cover had decreased visibility to 200 metres.

I couldn’t see a sinner and the lead car crept in and out of my sight in the mist, and it was at that moment a bit of red mist descended in my head too.

The naughty little devil on my shoulder said, “Right, frig this craic – you can ‘soft pedal’ here and lose chunks of time or you can test your mettle and see what you’ve got. You’re not chicken, are you?”

Those words were like a red rag to a bull, and the Marty McFly lurking within me quickly responded with a “Who you calling chicken?”

And so it began.

For the next 25km out on my own, I pushed with all I had.

It most definitely was a 10 out of 10 effort, but strangely I enjoyed every minute of.

It sucked, riding into a headwind on my own, but this is what I envisaged the local racing scene would be like. Every so often I would take a peep behind when I hit a long straight, see no one, and gain a bit more hope.

“I’ll tell you what, lad, no matter what happens today you’ll come out of this stronger,” I thought.

I was chuffed with myself as I was riding in the drops too. This had been something I’d seen Kenny and the lads in the front group doing during some of the recent races.

I initially tried moving my hands from the hoods a few races back, but it felt dead weird, but on this evening it was getting my body position lower out of the wind.

In my mind, I felt like a proper cyclist. It was a shame as there was just the odd sheep or cow in a field lifting its head to glance in my direction to witness this transformation. My spirits were high as I left the main Garrison Road and headed towards the ‘Divil’s S’ but every small incline on that lumpy road hurt like hell now.

Out of nowhere, and like a bunch of sharks circling a dead whale’s carcass, the scratch guys appeared like deadly killers.

I’m going to lobby club officials Seamus McGovern and Paul McMulkin to see if we can get the scratch riders bikes fitted with small aerodynamic speakers that play the Jaws theme when they are approaching caught riders.

It would give us mere mortals the opportunity to hear them coming.

They genuinely appear from nowhere, leave you drowning in your own sorrows, and take chunks of time from you no matter how hard you try escape!

With the last final steep climb of the race in front of me I tried my best to raise myself out of my saddle to follow them, but my legs just said, “Catch yourself on, lad!”, and that was that.

They floated off up the hill whilst I sank into a deep, dark place of pain after having pushed for 30 kilometres.

When I did get to the finish line, I found out that Kyle Fisher had once again pulled off a first place, followed by Duncan Halliday, with Rory Gamble taking the final podium place.

I didn’t get to say the words, “I love it when a plan comes together!” and I didn’t get my imaginary cigar out, but I had fun trying.

1st Kyle Fisher

2nd Duncan Halliday

3rd Rory Gamble

4th Conor Sprice

5th Seamus McGovern

6th Declan Mc Entee

7th Mamraz Nagi

8th Kenny Boylan

9th Christopher Mc Carey