Opinion: Early start to Irish road racing season must be scrapped

Posted on: October 25th, 2017

Riders race in the snow and freezing conditions of the early season while there is little or no racing in often balmy September (Photo: Sean Rowe)


The road racing season starts much earlier than before while racing is trailing of in late summer and early autumn when the weather is perfect for competing.

However, there is now a proposal from several clubs – to be discussed at Cycling Ireland’s AGM – to stall the start of the season by a couple of weeks.

Cycling Ireland must step in and address the problem because the whole season could benefit, writes Paddy Doran of Peak Endurance Coaching.


Really early season races – in mid February – have become a trend in the last few years. It seems that there’s competition to get the first race on the calendar..

Is this a good thing for Irish cycling?

Let’s look at just one factor of racing so early in the year; the air temperature.

When we look at the historical temperature data for the centre of Ireland, February is not much different to January; very cold!

This leads to the risk of icy and frosty roads, more potholes from the winter weather conditions and generally freezing conditions in which athletes; bodies don’t perform at their best.

We then see a gradual rise in temperatures over the following months, right into the autumn.

If we look at September, for example, conditions are much warmer than in February and March and yet the number of races has dropped to a trickle or none at all.

September can be very mild, bringing perfect conditions for racing.

If the road racing started a bit later and a real effort was made to maintain a really busy programme of racing right up until the end of September, might the domestic fields be bigger and the racing much better for longer after the Ras?

If so, the entire post-Rás period – of June, July, August and September – may be reinvigorated.

Cycling Ireland has a responsibility to step in a calm the early season enthusiasm to get racing going again in mid March in favour of boosting the second half of the year.

If necessary, clubs must be told when they can and cannot run races.

Think of the possible benefits of a later start

  • Less risk of icy weather and races being called off.
  • Safer racing generally.
  • Healthier, fitter cyclists with a few more weeks of good training in their legs.
  • Cyclists not being saturated with racing too early in the season.
  • Volunteers operating in better weather conditions.
  • Less insurance claims from falls and crashes.
  • Great racing in September, and even an improvement in summer of riders know there is plenty of life in the campaign after the Rás.