Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy new year

Just want to wish everyone who reads this blog (all 3 of you!) a happy new year. I hope all those new years resolutions are stuck to!

Spin update

On Monday myself and a few of the guys from the club hit Djouce again. It was a great spin. We did all the trails at least once, tried a few drops and had a couple of spontaneous sprints on the fire roads. The weather was perfect and over all a super day.

As I am thinking about doing a duathlon in January, I did a 5km run. It was the first run in about 18 months and boy did it hurt - during and after. I had a couple of pains come and go in my ankles, but nothing too bad. I hope these runs get easier :)

And today was another road spin around Kildare - just 60 odd km's. Another super day, so I was happy just to get out on the bike. Before I get back to work on Monday I hope to get a long road spin in and/or a long mtb spin.
In between all of this I've been looking at the new bike - figuring out ways to drop it down below the 10kg mark. All I've learnt is that there is no cheap way of doing it. I'll be buying a new saddle, and may revert back to the 160mm rotor on the front by changing the brake caliper to a post mount. After that it would have to be the fork and pedals, which I doubt very much I'll be upgrading next year. I will investigate the tyres. The set on the bike right now are pretty light, but there may be some weight saving to be had and it would be quite a cheap upgrade. I'm trying not to get too obsessed with this weight thing as I'm a couple of kg's heavier now than I was in June, so personal weight loss is the easiest and cheapest way to drop the combined rider/bike weight!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Christmas week spins

Have managed to squeeze in a couple of spins between feeding sessions. On Stephens day I did a spin of the lake, but felt very heavy and slow :) . But it had to be done as I was off to the in laws for xmas dinner part 2 - the fattening. I did not got too overboard and today I headed off into Kildare for a few hours. I considered Wicklow, but I just did not feel like lugging myself up those bloomin' hills all day, so a spin on the flat (albeit at a fairly zippy speed) was on the cards.

I roughly followed the Kildare 100 route, but missed a couple of turns and by passed the "Mur de Huy" - probably for the best. Still it was a nice spin on a beautiful day. There were some patches of ice on the roads, but nothing to be concerned about.

Tomorrow I'm doing a spot of trail building for a couple of hours. I'll bring the bike along too for a quick spin. Monday I'm back in Djouce for some more fun filled adventures.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Off Road and On Road spins

Yesterday myself and a couple of club mates hit Djouce. I was not too hopeful about the weather as it was damp and miserable in Naas, but in a typical Irish way, there was a miraculous transformation by the time I reached Djouce. Blue skies and mild. It was just a general blast around the main trails (XTC, GC, foxglove climb, benchcut etc), even managed to cycle up XTC.

Today was the big road spin. I left Naas and made for Enniskerry via Tallaght, Rathfarnham and Kilternan. After that it was up the Glencree valley on the Crone side. I met up with Jackie and Sean there and we headed for Laragh, via Sally Gap. They stopped for coffee but I decided to continue on. There were some good climbs. The Wicklow gap was a painful as ever, mainly as it was towards the end of the spin. But Kippure was the highest point reached.It was just a touch over 135 kms with 1300 metres of climbing. Moving time was 5:23.

It was really nice to get the distance in, and will plan on doing something similar over the weekend or early next week. Its amazing what just 3 or 4 of these spins do to your general fitness and your ability to get aerobic fit much faster (and less painfully I hope).

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

3 rock night spin

Great spin up in 3 rock tonight with the club. A night of savageness from start to finish! Its great to head out with a group who are that bit faster than you as it means you are pushing yourself harder than you would when out alone. And that's what happened tonight. There was a brisk pace up to Ticknock and it went up a notch on the way to the ariel's. My heart rate returns to normal quite quickly on the usual sessions, but tonight it refused to drop below 100 bpm even after a couple of mins stopped! I'm taking that as a good sign (but my doctor my thing otherwise) :)

Also, just got the news that the K-capital is not till mid-summer. So the NPS is happening first, starting at the end of April! So 4 more months without racing! This also means the training will need to be knocked on the head till the end of Jan or so. But I'll be keeping an eye on races up north and in England happening in Spring.

It also means that some upgrades for the new bike that I was putting off will probably be done by the time serious racing starts. More on that in another post.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Road spin tonight

Did the usual road spin around Naas this evening. Had 4 intervals. All between 1 and 2 minutes @ 90% MAX HR. Felt really good after them which I put down to having a decent lunch today! If the weather holds up, we'll head out tomorrow and go for 4 X 4 min intervals @ 80% and see how we're fixed.

The good news is I feel pretty good after my 115ish Km spin yesterday. Defo think it was down to me tapping along most of the route. The next long road spin will be Saturday. Before then, there will be another road session tomorrow weather permitting, an mtb spin on Wed, and possibly a cycle to work on Friday.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Sundays road spin

It was cold and dry this morning, but no frost. So went for a road spin south through Kildare and Laois. The original plan was to do the southern piece of the Wicklow 200 route, but I just did not feel like it. Can't put a finger on why, probably just the thoughts of all those big hills or something :)So instead the plan was to head to Portlaoise, and when I got there I would decide where to go after.

After about 15 minutes the cold started to take effect - mainly on my toes. This was annoying as I had my Assos Winter plus socks and Sealskinz. But it quickly go to the stage where they went numb. I stopped a couple of times to get some heat back into them but it was only a temporary fix. So, I've just bought myself a set of wind and water resistent overshoes. During the last hour my fingers also became numb - my own fault as I have a pair of Sealskin winter gloves, but for some reason I did not wear them.

When I got to Portlaoise, I was feeling ok and decided to head to Athy with the possibiliy of hitting Carlow before turning north and back towards Naas. Some really nice country side between Portlaoise, Stradbally and Athy. And just outside Stradbally there is a large estate with lots of forests and hills. Like Kilruddery but on a bigger scale. Might do some research and find out who the owners are and how they would feel about some mountain bikers pegging it around their land.

When I reached Athy, I did think about heading across to Carlow and then towards home, but in the end I thought it would make more sense to head home as I was worried about bonking out on busy roads in the dark.

So, apart from the cold, it was not a bad spin. Overall, the terrain was flat with rolling hills thrown in here and there. I felt pretty strong throughout the spin, but I was taking it easy for the first hour and a half. Will need to do 4 or 5 more spins on that length over the Christmas period to get the much needed base km's in.

Saturday, December 13, 2008


Got a quick road spin in around Blessington lakes this morning before I had to head down the country. It was tough going - which I'm still putting down to the tyres. Perfect day though. Would have be great to have gotten in a longer spin but what can you do.
Tomorrow's forecast is not looking great for the road, so it may be over the mountains for me.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The weeks spins so far

Tuesday was limited by the weather again. The plan was a long road spin, but a bad frost made cycling on skinny tyres a bit of a lottery. So we decided to mountain bike over to Glending. however when we got there we noticed some on the chute someone had placed 4 big wooden posts halfway down - with nails sticking out for good measure. This might be just more deterrents for the MX'rs, but they are a recent arrival, so they might be meant for us too. Will get in touch with a few locals and see what the story is.
So feeling unwelcome we decided to do some exploring on the far side of the lake, heading towards Kilbride and Ballysmuttan. There was one potential forest, which had been thinned out. It had steep sections, flat sections, seriously rocky sections - everything you'd need for free ride, downhill and even xc. The only problem I could see what there was only 1 fire road which did not bring you even close to the top, so from a DH point of view, that meant no up lifts. Still, might be worth investigating further. There is another spot on the Gap road just further on from Ballysmuttan which has fireroads laid down on the side of a big hill (I think its Black Mountain - need to check) which could have potential too. Might take a spin up there over Christmas.
After that we tootled back to Naas. Was a handy enough pace all the way, so it would be a stretch to call it training, but better than nothing.
Yesterday evening a bunch of us from the club had an high tempo xc spin up around 3 Rock. It was a great evenings blast. Everyone was pushing the pace, so it really felt like a proper session.
My hamstring was still acting up (along with my hip for some reason). But when I got home I spent some time stretching which helped a lot. So in the future all spins will end up with me sitting on the floor contorting myself :)
Tonight is a road spin. These are usually an hour in length, but from next week, they will be going up to 2 hours. Tonight I have to decorate the tree!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Turbo trainer type of day

It rained all morning and well into the afternoon today, so that ruled out the road spin. Pretty annoying as all last week when I was working late the weather was great. So did some Christmas shopping instead.
Hopped on the turbo trainer for about 40 minutes - which is a record for me as usually I get bored after about 10 minutes. Got 4 or 5 intervals in there too, so better than nothing. The long road spin planned for today is now happening tomorrow.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Mad Club Champs

Yesterday was the Mad Club Champs and AGM. It was a good laugh. I came a lucky second in the race (would have been third if Scrivo had not gotten lost). Afterwards we retired to the Blue Light for the AGM, before further food and refreshments in the Market Bar. So today was a write off totally. I'm just coming back to life now. Just getting the bike sorted for the big one tomorrow, and will be in bed early :)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Tonights spin

Much better than last nights. Almost 4 minutes faster! That includes slowing down after Gene took a tumble at a junction. The front wheel just slid out from under him. The road was greasy all right. But I think the main problem was his tyres, which are a specialized summer set. During the spin I was thinking about writing a post giving out about my Maxxis Detonators, as I thought they were the reason for slowing me down. But after watching Gene come off at the junction, with cars shooting around, I'm glad I got them.

cold, sooo cold

Went on a road spin with Gene last night - it was so cold I seriously considered turning around after about 3km's. I could not feel my fingers it was that bad. But Gene egged me on, and after about 20 mins and a few sprints, I could feel the digits again. I was not a very enjoyable spin after that either as it was the first in over a week, and I just did not feel I had the usual spring, plus Gene bet me on the sprint - can't be having that :)

I was going to cycle into work today, but slept in. Going to head out again tonight, either on the road or Glending (I think I'd prefer Glending as have not been on a mountain bike in about 3 weeks).

Wednesday is a night spin with the club - bit worried about that as I'm a bit rusty on the mountain bike and expect to be falling over quite a bit.

I've got a couple of days off coming up, so planning big road spin on Friday and Monday. Saturday is the club champs, and Sunday I'll be recovering from a hangover :)

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Week round up

Zero update really. It was work all week, with little time for anything else. I did manage to cycle to work one day, but the trip home, late at night and in the rain was not very enjoyable. Hopefully this week things will ease up this week and I can get some spins in and out of work.
I've not been on the mountain bike in 3 weeks now, so I'm keen to get a night spin in this week also if possible. With the club champs on this Saturday, need to get the feel for cyling off road quick!

I did manage to do some work on the new bike. Changed the bar and post, got the crank on and brakes. All thats left is the 180mm rotor which should arrive in a day or two. Once its fitted I'll drop the bike into the cyclesuperstore to get some bits and pieces I don't want to or can't do.

Almost came off the BeOne on the way into work on Wednesday. Hit a bit of ice on a roundabout. Then I realised its time up upgrade the tires. I got 4 Maxxis Detonators. They come with more on grooves and grips so I'll feel a little more confident on the wet stuff. A nice plus is that they come in a shade of blue that perfectly matches my bar tape - happy days :)

Plan for week:
Cycle to work on Tuesday, night spin Wed, spin to work on Thur and Fri also if possible.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Road Spin

It was a good day for a spin - cool and fairly dry. The lads left Tallaght and the lads made it to Naas in one bit an hour later. From there we headed out to Caragh, Prosperous, Clane, Celbridge, Newcastle and Rathcoole. The Dublin based lads headed back towards Tallaght and we shot back down to Naas. All in all it was 62km's in 2 hours 20 mins. No climbing at all. Next weeks will be out towards Wicklow I think and will be closer to the 100km mark.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

New Bike

Yes, went out and got next years bike... this year. Its a 2nd hand Giant XTC. The frame's about 4 months old and components are this years. Going to make a few changes to it, namely:
  • Change the avid juicy 7's for XTR's - bought and winging their way to me.
  • Change the double XT crank for an XTR - still on the hunt for a good deal.
  • Chop down the crazy broom like bars :) - done.
Otherwise, I think the bike is spot on. Its got a nice set of Wheels (Hope pro 2's with Bontrager rims), and a Fox RL 80 fork which I have on the Cube and are the business. Going to stick the ODI Rogue's on from the Cube and replace them with the set of CRC flood sale Yeti's I got last week.

I don't plan on actually riding the bike at all till the new year, but I might be tempted to bring it out for a trail once I get all the changes made.

MAD Cyclocross race Tymon park

A couple of photos from todays round of the Supercup. The ground was'nt wet enough for my liking but a good day had by all.

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Saturday, November 15, 2008

All work and no play

Well, possibly. Been a quite ish couple of weeks due to work. Got out for a couple of fast spins on the road Tuesday and Wednesday, but no Mountain biking since last Sunday, which is a bummer. I was busy last Saturday and Sunday was the club cyclocross race where I was marshalling and marking the trail.

Decided to cycle to work today - if I'm working late, I might as well make use of the commute. So pulled out the slightly rusty BeOne and trundled off. Its still bright at 7.30am, but by the time I was heading home it was dark. No big deal as almost all of the 22km is lit, but there is 5km section which is essentially a back lane with no street lighting. To be honest, with the day-glo jacket, Blackburn rear light and MiNewt, any driver who could not see me from 200 metres needs their eyes tested. Can't cycle in tomorrow, but might on Friday.

Saturday is the first club training spin on the road. Looking forward to it. It'll be 3ish hour on the flat, starting in Tallaght. I'll probably cycle up and back from Naas - depending on the route.

Been going nuts on CRC. Got my Met Veleno Helmet, which is the best thing since sliced bread. Another, slightly bigger, Top Peak saddle bag for the mountain bikes, I did get a new stem for the road bike, but decided I did'nt like it so its getting sent back and got a Pro PLT. And there's more! XTR pedals! No idea why, guess I want to have the best bits on the race bike :) . But that's it I think... well unless I go carbon with the seat post, bar... and then maybe replace the saddle. I think the only way to stop spending is to get out on the bike more often...

Friday, November 7, 2008

Spending cash, coughing, and not cycling

Right, first off - I'm not impressed with CRC. They decided to have a sale on their flood damaged stock just when I planned on not spending any cash on bikes or bike related stuff till the new year. Its funny how the road 'sale' affects the mind. All of a sudden I was buys bars, grips, cassettes, chains and God knows what else (all that clicking 'add to basket' became a bit of a blur). There happen to be non-sale items in my basket too, but I just thought what the hell and bought them too. The sale was great though. I've pretty much bought a complete replacement drive train for the Cube - I'm thinking it'll start causing problems early in the new year, a really nice carbon bar, and a 100mm stem for the road bike among other things. Happy days.

Also made another significant purchase this week, but more on that tomorrow...

I'm still fighting the sinus monster, but winning. While the pain can be bad, a couple of sinutabs will sort it out. What's worse is the tireness caused by the lack of sleep. Last nights kip was good, so I hope to get out on the road bike tonight, and maybe a spin around Glending tomorrow for an hour, and then a big mtb spin on Sunday.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Sick Sick Sick

As the song goes. Thought I was coming down with a cold, turns out its my dreaded enemy - Sinusitis! I've been getting it for the past few years, the last time was August 07 when it got so bad I had tooth ache in both jaws and eyes so sore I had to keep them closed all the time. This year I've done well not to get it any sooner. I think it might be down to the serious up tick in biking. Once I realised on Saturday is wasn't a cold I pulled out the Xyzal and Sudafed. Today I feel much better, but will probably keep taking both for the next couple of days just in case.

It didn't stop me getting out to Glending on Saturday afternoon though :) . It was a very handy spin - Gene was getting over a bout of sickness too, so we just tootled around, a bit of trail repair here, some exploring there and hit all the drops a good few times. In the course of finding a route to the double drop we found a perfect climbing challenge. Its about 80 metres long, its straight, and not too steep. But the killer are the roots, sooooo many roots! Gene won the first round, getting about 50 metres up. I got close but no cigar. Its a great section to work on your climbing over roots and other obstacles so it'll become a well worn section.

Its going to be busy in work for the next 4 weeks or s0, which works out well for me as I wanted to cut down the amount of cycling in the build up to the training kicking of at the end of the month. But I hope to get out on a road spin tomorrow and Glending on Wednesday. The weather for the week is good, but the weekend and next week is bad so want to get as much off road done as possible before things turn schlompy.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Week wrap up

Trying to take it easy this week - did the big spin on Monday, then went out on a fast road spin on Wednesday night. Still managed to do568km's in OCT.
Won't be out this evening (really should have cycled to work!!!).

I've got stuff on tomorrow, so may or may not be out. Sunday will be a long spin starting in Crone. The weather is looking cold and dry - perfect for biking (as long as you don't stop too often!). Will take it easy for the next week or two before starting up the training.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

2009 bike

OK, missed out on the Giant XTC C0 (some guy bought the last 2!), so better get a plan together on what I'll be racing on in 09...
I've been casually looking at a couple of bikes over the last 3 or 4 months but time to get serious. To make this a little easier I'm going to set out some guidelines...

  1. It has to be a hardtail

  2. It has to weight less than 9.5Kgs (roughly)

  3. It has to cost approx €2,500 (less ideally!)

  4. I don't want to upgrade any components for a year (apart from general wear and tear)

  5. It would be nice if it came with UST tyres/wheels already setup

  6. It has to look good (ok, this is a low priority, but important non the less)

So what types of bikes match that criteria? Well the XTC C0 did, but no point in crying over spilt milk.
There's a couple of Canyon CF's which fit the bill, but its very difficult getting bikes of them this time of year as they are preparing next years stock and I don't have any prices on them right now.
Cube's HPC range is quite nice, but I don't have full bike weights, so won't know for sure if they fit (they paint scheme does though!) the criteria. They are a little on the expensive side though.
There is a Giant XTC C1 going cheap, but to be honest it just does not blow me away.

Decisions Decisions :)

Monday, October 27, 2008

Weekend spins

Good weekend of cycling. On Saturday I led a beginners spin around Three Rock which was good craic. We were out for 4 hours or so. Everyone had a good time I think. The only problem we had was with the wind, which was incredible. We were being blasted off the bike every time we got out in the open. At the end my hamstrings were getting fairly tight. Down to the road spin the previous day. The pain was also on the outside of the legs down the IBT Bands. I did a little bit of stretching that evening, but on Sunday the felt worse, so queue more stretching. Kept off the bikes on Sunday.

Monday a group of us headed out to Cloon via 3 Rock, Fairy Castle and Prince Willies. It was a really good spin. Nice and fast, with few stops. It was 40km, with about 29 off road. My legs were still stiff and hurting at times, so more stretching tonight, and I'll keep off the bike tomorrow. I was thinking about taking a break for the rest of the week, but I don't think thats a runner! Will probably do a road spin on Wednesday and play it by ear after that.

Friday, October 24, 2008

If its good enough for Lancie...

Bike Radar did a review of Armstrongs Trek Top Fuel 9.8. Really interesting bike - and what do you know? ODI Rogue grips!

Friday spin

Did not turn out exactly as planned. Basically I dragged myself out of bed in the dark, got my gear and bits together and headed off. I was 20 mins into the spin to work (past the point when you're asking yourself 'why am I doing this?') when I realised I left my bottles in the kitchen. Without those I was not doing any long spin home. So I turned around got home and had a quick shower before heading into work in the motor.
Pegged it back and was out on the road at 2pm. I basically did the usual big spin, but in reverse - Blessington, Laragh, Sally Gap, Glencree, Tallaght, Rathcoole and home. Did it non stop this time which was nice. In total it was 112kms with almost 1000 metres of climbing in 4 hours 10 mins. I spent almost half the spin at 80 % max heart rate or greater. The weather was perfect - some sunshine and cool. There was a breeze but it was nothing to write home about.

I did the spin with 2 400ml bottles filled with a Torq engery/Glucose mix, one Torq bar and a Torq gel (I only used it as they have a best before end date of December!)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Night spinning

Good spin in Glending last night. The trails had dried out a treat so were only a bit soggy :) . It was cool but not cold and not a breath of wind - perfect. Got a few fast laps in, but because we started later than usual (8pm) we had to head home with an urge for a few more laps. Still, an hour of moving time was better than nothing. Today is rotten - wind and rain, so the trails will probably be off limits until middle of next week.

There's been an increase in motocrossers up there in the past month or so, and in the last couple of weeks the damage they've done is very noticeable. To such an extent the land owners have blocked up the entrances with large stakes so only walkers (and bikers!) can now access. Now I don't want to start any aggro :) and I'm not saying that mountain biking is a perfect example of a leave no trace activity, but it’s a damn site better than MX. Also, the chances of us hitting a walker are much slimmer. But I'm sure once the damage the MX'rs caused has disappeared people will see the tyre tracks we're leaving, then that'll be the end of that.

My new Blackburn rear light arrived today. Its pretty damn bright (1 watt ultra bright led), so I'll feel a lot better on the road spins at night.

Tomorrow is looking ok weather wise, so big road spin on the cards. Still not 100% sure of the route. could head to Enniskerry and on towards Roundwood / Laragh, but might just do the Wicklow 200 route, so turning right outside Enniskerry, up to Glencee, hang a left over Kippure, left at the Sally Gap and over Luggla then into Roundwood, Laragh, Wicklow Gap and finally onto Blessington and Naas. To be safe I'm going to check how long that section took in the Wicklow 200 - don't want to get caught out in the dark. If its too long, I'll just do a spin over Cruagh, Glencree, Sally Gap, Laragh, Wicklow gap etc.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Mid weeks goings on

Monday did the 35km road sprint-thing around Naas. Actually, it was not a sprint , just a good pace. Just did 2 intervals - one of which took a good minute to get my breathing back to normal - must do more of those.

Last night my plan was to get the BeOne on the turbo trainer, but started to have problems keeping traction on the fly wheel. So today I bombed down to Halfords to buy the cheapest grippest road tyre there. Will fit it tonight and give it a whirl. To be honest though, I don't think I'm cut out to be a turbo trainer type person - its just so boring. Ryan's got a good post on it here.

While I was in Halfords I got myself a high vis jacket too. That and the new rear light will make me feel a lot safer on the roads at night.

Tonight I'm out to Glending for a night spin. We've had a good few dry days so it should be in good shape.

Friday I'm still planning on the long spin home from work - but the forecast is not super so I'll play it by ear.

Saturday I'm leading a club spin around 3 Rock.

Might sneak in a few hours on the road bike early on Sunday morning.

Monday is a savage spin to Cloon and back.

Busy bank holiday weekend coming up!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Sunday spin

Short and sweet. 1 hour long and 35kms done! There was a very strong wind which was a dream on your back - tapping along at 50kph without any effort on the flat, and hell when it became a headwind. But it was good to get it in. It was an extended loop around Naas which brought me half way up Saggart hill before hanging a right back towards Eadestown.

My left hamstring feels a bit tight right now. Its been a bit off since Thursday and the intervals. I stupidly did the first one without warming up, so my own fault. Its not a big deal and should be back on track in the coming few days.

Starting to get the head into serious training mode now. I plan on kicking things of around mid-November. The first couple of weeks will be handy enough (one 100+km road spin, two 30km speed sessions and a couple of 2 hour off road sessions a week, but December and Jan will be full on, and I'll be watching my diet this time.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Blessed :)

Great spin today out in Djouce. The trails were in perfect condition, and the weather was cool and dry. Myself and Conor arrived early and got in half a loop of the NPS course. The rest of the group arrived at 10 and we belted around the best trails for the next couple of hours. Even managed a cup of tea and cake down at the water fall.

After the beginners course finished some of us headed out again, XTC, Benchcut (best ever run - only one dab!), and up to GC which was super. After that it was back up to the cars. Great day all in all.

After I got home I unpacked the car, only to NOT find my Garmin. I went through all the bike gear and then the car, but no sign. I was convinced I left it on the boot, or the bike rack when I was packing up, and it fell off on the way home. I was gutted, but decided it might be worth the drive back (40kms or so) on the off chance it was still in the car park. So I got the bike off the rack and stuck it in the back garden. As I was walking out, this is what I saw on the bonnet.
Yes, it was the Garmin sitting between the top of the bonnet and wiper! I could not believe it! It had managed to stay in there the whole trip home. And I drove back via the Sally Gap - not exactly a smooth ride...

Blessed I tells ya!

Epic Blast - the movie

Here's a trailer for the epic blast movie/documentary... looks great.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Uh oh....

Did not make it out tonight - went out for an early dinner - and then scoffed one of these babies...Only it was about 3 time the size of this...

Going to do and extra hour before the beginners spin tomorrow!

Week round up

Not a lot really - eating and drinking too much, but I don't mind :)

Wednesday was a pretty unfulfilling trip to Glending. Its like a bloody big sponge up there. Even the sections which are normally not as wet were soaking. We stuck to a short loop of the dry sections, but after a couple of laps they were getting cut up. So we've decided that there will be no trips to Glending unless we've had 3-4 days of good dry weather. We did less than an hour, but it as ridiculously technical due to the mud n' schlomp.

Thursday night was a bit more fun on the road bikes. Did about 35kms at an average 30km/hr. That's no great shakes, but we stopped a few times. We did 4 or 5 intervals where we pushed for 60 seconds. These coincided with any hills we came across. It was good fun and found the legs going to jelly towards the end, which I've not felt in a while. Its a great feeling to push to almost the limit, and when your brain and lungs are telling to to ease off, you get in 4 or 5 big stomps on the pedals :). We were out for about an hour in total.

The weekend will be busy. Myself and Gene plan on doing a session on the road tonight, Saturday will be Djouce, and Sunday I'll be up at the crack of dawn for a spin around Wicklow (may just be around Blessington lake, but might try further afield).

Monday, October 13, 2008

3 rules of Mountain biking

OK, the guy is a little funky, but what he says is true! And funnily enough it can be applied to a lot of things in life...
Based on his presentation, I think there are 4 though...

You will go where you look
You will do what you believe
Keep your wheels rolling
Relax, dammit

Alternatively you can just add 'Relax, dammit’ to the first 3 rules and Bobs yer Uncle.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Weekend roundup

Busy weekend all round...

Saturday myself and Gene did the Blessington Lake loop. We did not do it in lightening fast time, but was still respectable. The weather was super, and I was half tempted to do a second loop when we got to Blessington - but heavy traffic distracted me so ended up back in Naas before I knew it. We took an hours break and heading out on the mountain bikes to Glending. Its still fairly schlompy on the switchback descent so we focused on the boulder run, while trying to avoid motocross bikes. Decided that untill we get 4-5 days of dry weather, there's no point in trying the descent, so we'll still with doing fast loops around the boulder section.

Sunday up bright and early to help out with the MAD beginners spin being held up in Ticknock. It was good fun - the guys n' gals I was leading we up for anything so we took the hardest route up and then attacked rock n' roll, some downhill stuff and the old club course. Again, the weather was perfect, but the ground was a little dodgy under wheel.

I also fitted my new ODI Rouge grips, which are super. All in all a great weekend of biking!

Next week is a bit scketchy. The weather is mixed, so might try a night spin or 2 in Glending, and possibly a road spin on Friday evening.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Wicklow spin

After cycling back from dropping the car in for service (17km), myself and Gene hit the road for Blessington. It was a nice old spin, the only problem was a tough side/head wind, and spitting rain. Otherwise a nice few hours. Stopped in Laragh for soup and sambo. Met Mel, who was supporting Ryan on his attempt to break the record for travelling the Wicklow way on Mountain bike (which he did by hours I think).

Leaving Glendalough, we heading back up via Glenmacnass water fall (cheered on by a couple of tourists). Left at Sally Gap and back down to Kilbride/Blessington. All in all about 120kms.

I've decided to get a shorter stem for the Giant. Its a 100mm right now, but I think a 90mm would make me feel a little less stretched on it. Update on that later

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

MTB Feedback needed!

A clubmate has created this survey to guage the feeling of mtb'rs - both racers and non-racers - on events of 2008. Well worth participating in.

Titus sold!

Sob! Yes, its true. I sold it last week to a club mate. I had the fork and shock serviced by TFTuned. When the race season is finished, its nice to have a full suss bike to fool around on, but all proceeds from the sale will be going to the 2009 bike...

The search continues....

Next - The Giant XTC C Zero from Pauls cycles. Great spec. Not sure about weight, but ain't a bad old price.

I think I might swap out the Fox fork with the Magura Durin. I've got a Fox F80 RL on the Cube and think they are super. The only reason is that the Magura is a little lighter.

Grippy grips

My factory Cube grips have given up the ghost. The end's have been cut up from leaning again walls and them landing on rocks. So time to upgrade to the ODI Rouge. I would have gone for the Yeti's but they are not in stock right now... booo...

Spins for the week

I helped out on the MAD Beginners spin on Saturday. There was a great turn out - roughly 20 new people out. We went to Kindlestown / Glen of the Downs. Because of its location I don't get out there that often, so it was nice to get out there and remember how much fun it is.

We did a couple of loops of Kindlestown before heading off to GOD, where we had a lot of fun beating about the place and also trying out some of the more fun drops. No one got hurt and everyone had fun (I think).

I was out on Saturday night so was a little worse for wear on Sunday. Managed to head up to Slade valley to check out the trails. It was a waste of time as most of them are now covered by felled trees, golf course, or just over grown. So I just did one loop and headed off to Glending. As usual, it was fun, although I managed to wallop my knee off the handle bar at one point - leaving me with a huge bump on it. The base of the switchback descent is getting cut up by motocross riders, which ain't very nice, but not much you can do about that.

Tonight, its back to Glending for a night spin with Gene. I hope its dried out a little...

I've got tomorrow off, so myself and Gene are going to do a long road spin - probably heading to Glendalough and onwards.

Friday - weather permitting, I'll cycle to work and cycle home via Sally Gap

Saturday - a road spin, or a good spin in Glending

Sunday - Beginners spin, but might do a longer spin afterwards.

So a lot happening. I think I need it as definitely feeling a few pounds creeping on :)

Friday, October 3, 2008

Week wrapup

This won't take long :)

Its been a quite week cycling-wise. Down to work and some things going on at home. Got up to Glending on Monday night with Gene for an hour or so. And then an hour on the road bike tonight!

Tomorrow is a beginners spin in Kindlestown. I plan on heading to Slade on Sunday for a bit. A couple of night spins in Glending early in the week, followed by a big road spin on Thursday (got the day off!).

The official club training is not kicking off until late November, so will need to keep ticking over till then...

Exposure Joystick Maxx

I've been looking for a replacement for my Light and Motion Solo for the past couple of months - something light, not too expensive and easy to fit and remove from my helmet. After some research I plumped for the Exposure Joystick Maxx. The next problem was finding somewhere that actually had them in stock! Both CRC and Wiggle had on their sites you'd be waiting at least a month for them. So I went with Wiggle as they only had a wait time till mid-October. So I was ove the moon when it arrived this week!
So, first off it comes in a really nice case, with each component fitted snugly into the sponge inlay. The next thing you notice is how small the light is - literally the size of a whiteboard marker! OK, it's a little heavier, but not nothing to write home about. The helmet fitting is very simple - a hard plastic half loop which you snap the light into.

Once fitted I was up in Glending with the exposure on the helmet and the MiNewt on the bars (totally blown away by the exposure). It gives off a crisp white light and good spread, which works well at a moderate speed. I certainly had no problems seeing anything anyways, but when Gene was in front with the Light and Motion he could not see a thing because of the shadow which the joystick created! Its got a 4 hour charge and you get 3 hours run time on Max settings. But the best thing about the light is its size and lack of wires! Its so much less hassle not having to worry about where to put the battery or having the annoyance of wires trailing all over the place. Overall a great light for the price (€180). I would definitely look at the Maxx or Maxx D when I decide to upgrade the MiNewt!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Back on the saddle again

Been a few weeks since the last entry - mainly because work and 2 weeks holiday. Brought the Giant and Cube on the holiday but only really used them for the first week. After that, drink and food became the priority! And I feel the better for it. OK, I'm a few pounds heavier, but its the off season now, so going to enjoy myself before the MAD training program kicks off in November.

That's not to say I'm going to be slouching around for the next 6 weeks. There will be the savage mtb or road spins at the weekend, along with a few mtb night spins up in Glending or 3 Rock. But it'll be a little less intense. I did consider cyclocross briefly, but decided, to keep the road bikes on the road :)

Today was National Trails day and MAD was hosting a mountian bike session for people new to the sport. There was a great turn out - approximately 60 riders along with 30 from MAD, and I think everyone enjoyed themselves. Hopefully we'll get a few of them out to our Autumn beginners course kicking off next weekend.

So the plan for the week is: Trail building Monday, Glending on Tuesday (with my Exposure Joystick MAXX - more on that later), and Thursday Glending.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Weekend catch up

Busy weekend biking wise, so with no further ado...

Friday - Got home from work and hopped on the Giant for a spin around Blessington lake. It was a good spin. I kept a 1:55 min/km for the spin even though I had to stop a couple of times to tighten up the saddle which kept coming loose. 50 km's under the belt and the weekend has only begun!

Saturday - Had planned on doing a long (50 kms) mtb spin but Cait had suggested a long road spin instead. I decided to go with the road spin as the mtb route was one I've done too often, and as they say about familiarity... the other reason was I still had my fill of off road cycling after the marathon champs. So Saturday morning I cycled up to the Yellow House in Rathfarnham and met up with Barry, Cait, Oisin F and Nigel. After a bit of a chat, we set of towards Tallaght and up the Bohernabreena road until we met up with the Blessington Road. After a quick stop in Blessington, we took the left for Valleymount and started to hit the hills. Myself and Oisin kept the pace high to the summit of the Wicklow gap and then the blast down to Laragh was a bit of fun. Another quick break in Laragh and I said goodbye to the guys who were going to head back via Roundwood. That would have been a bit too much for me, so I decided to take a left and climb up by Glenmacnass waterfall and then another left at the Sally Gap. I had a puncture on the way back, which provided an opportunity to try out my CO2 canisters. They work a treat, but at almost €2 a canister, you would not want to be getting too many punctures!

All told the spin was 144kms and took 6:05 with 49 mins of that stopped.

The spin was also used to try out my Torq energy drink and gels. I bought the natural orange flavour. Its tastes great and I had no stomach problems during the spin. I also took a Torq gel about half way through and again, very easy to swallow (much runnier than power gels) and easy on the stomach too.

Sunday - Woke up a bit sore, but not bad considering the length of the spin yesterday. So Sunday evening myself and Gene went up to Glending for a couple of hours. We've had a pretty dry week so the trails were totally different proposition to last Thursday. We tried the badger descent 4 times - and was great craic. Its such a technical section and you get a real sense of achievement for every turn you make! After that we just did some of the boulder run, fixing up the trail a little as we went. Just 8 km's, but a fun 8kms!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Marathon Champs review

Wow, that was one intense race! Probably the toughest sporting event I've ever participated in, but it was well worth the pain.

I got to Kippure House have 9am to get signed in and prepare myself and the bike. There was a bike turn out from the club and everyone was in good spirits, especially as the clouds lightened up.

The course was 2 laps of a 30km loop. With about 7km's of road each lap. After that we had lots of climbing (approx 800 metres per lap) and lots of standing water. The 100 riders kicked off at 10am on the button and myself and Morgan kept in the top 30 for the 5km road section. Once off road and the climbing began we begin to move up the order a little, after 15 km we were 25th and 26th over all and about 8 minutes behind the elites! I was well chuffed at that point and pushed on as we rode into Dublin County and towards the mother of all climbs - Seehaun. On the first lap we cycled about half it. It was not just the steepness, but also the terrain that made it difficult. After that we worked our way back to Kippure House. Then my problems started - well, they actually started when I began to drink my SIS PSP22 Blackcurrant flavoured energy drink during the first lap. Quite soon afterwards my tum began to get upset. It was probably a combination of the drink and a couple of gels I took on the first loop, but I've never had a problem with the Torq or Power gels before. It got to the point where I was unable to drink at all. So just as I arrived at the start finish line in a time of 2:05 (which I was over the moon with), I hit the wall in a big way. On the 5km road section I could see Morgan gradually move away but I had nothing left in the tank at all. I forced down a torq bar and some drink and struggled on. I managed the first climb, but after that both calves were cramping and I was getting bad pains on the inside of my thighs and outside just above the knee. I was in a bad way, just spinning along the middle ring / smallest cog being overtaken by all and sundry. A guy from Bray Wheelers cycling club felt sorry for me and gave me a few energy beans. I was very grateful - they got me about a quarter of the way around the second lap! Then I hit Seehaun again. I walked the entire climb very slowly, and it hurt! At this stage I was passed by a few of my club mates and hung onto their wheels (just about) for the last 5 km to the finish. In the end I came in 17th out of 25. My second lap was 2:40 - 35 minutes slower than the first! In the end I was just delighted to have finished, but I have learnt some more about my level of fitness and also race preparation.
First of level of fitness - its not that bad. My first lap was pretty fast - 10th fastest in Masters. While my energy drink was a problem, I'd say the fact I have not done any real long distance (30km plus) off road work played a big part in a poor second lap.
Another problem was how I fuelled myself up the night before and the morning of the race. I think I could have eaten more suitable foods - will be studying this more in the coming weeks.
Also, my energy drinks issue. Clearly SIS PSP22 does not work for me (but SIS Rego does). I ordered a tub of Torq energy drink and will try it out over the weekend. If it fails, I'll be back on the high 5!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Glending, Glending and Glending

Yep, Tuesday Glending with Gene, Wednesday Glending with Gene and Conor and tonight with Adam! Its cutting up a bit due to the heavy rain fall over the past 14 days, but almost 2 days with small amounts of rain fall should help to dry the place out a litttle.

I was thinking about trying the Marathon Champs course tomorrow evening, but since I've been out Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, probably would be good to rest up till the race. The reports on the loop seem to indicate is pretty straightforward with little chance of getting lost :)

Its looking like Sundays event will be my last mountain bike race for the year as I'm on holiday for a few weeks in Sept and its most likely the cancelled Castlewellan race will be run while I'm away. Better start looking for a couple of road races to quench the compeditive streak in me!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Monday road spin

Had the day off so and since there race on Sunday was cancelled, I planned on a long road spin into Wicklow today. The route was Laragh, Sally Gap, Kilbride, Blessington, but I spent from Valleymount to Laragh cycling though very heavy rain. I was pretty fed up so once I got to Laragh, I turned around and heading right back up the Wicklow gap again. One of the guys in the club had did from the junction to the Wicklow Gap sign in a time of 20:01 so I went for it. The climb back up was much better than on the way down. The rain had stopped and the sun even peeped out at one point. I got to the sign in 20:20. Happy enough with that - I'm sure I can go faster, so might give it another lash next week. The weather gradually improved on the way home, so I decided to hang a right before Valleymount to take in the lake drive.

In total it was 91km completed in 3:18 with 380 metres climbing.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Catch up

Not written a post in a few days as not much has been happening...

I was taking it easy in the build up to the Castlewellan round of the NPS. I was just out on Thursday up in Glending for a nice spin. The plan for the weekend was to head up to Cavan for Friday and Saturday, then a shortish drive up to Castlewellan for the last race of the year.

Unfortunately the elements really kicked up on Saturday, to such an extent that the race was cancelled. I was disappointed as felt pretty good, and had been eating lots! But with the amount of rain falling it just was not safe to run. So got home today and had planned on headed out but felt a bit tired so instead I did a bit of trail work in Glending.

Tomorrow - weather permitting of course - I want to get in a long spin on the road - 100+ KM's. Then a couple of short mtb spins during the week and then the Marthon Champs next Sunday - can't wait!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Kildare 100 review

Just finished the Kildare 100. It was great fun and really well organised, just wished it was a bit longer!

We started at 10am just as a monster shower came over. The event was neutralised for the first 38 km's so myself and Arek spent the time just chewing the fat and putting on/taking off rain jackets. We had a food stop near Kilcock for about 15 mins and then another 20 odd km's before the pace (cop) car pulled off. Then things really got interesting. Myself and Arek were about 50 metres from the front, but once the speed restriction was gone, so were the top guys. It was a real eye opener as to the speed of elite riders. We decided to push on in an attempt to bridge the gap to the main bunch. But after a good 5 km's of us driving things along and a 15 guys just sitting on our back wheels, we decided to jack it in for a while and take a rest. The pace dropped right down and gave us time to recover.
The one and only climb of the day broke up our group. It was short but quite steep (at the bottom some one had written 'don't look up'). Myself and Arek got up first, and through Kildare town a couple of more guys caught up with us. Across the Curragh we were hitting 50 kph on the flat - which was a first for me! After that it was a straight forward run back to Naas - for a burger, energy drink, cert and t-shirt! All in all it was a great day, despite the weather. It looked like about 400 odd people came out which was super.

The total distance was 93km's as a section of the route was flooded and made cycling it impossible. Total time was 3 hours 22 mins (with 16 mins stopped). Average pace was 2:11 (min/km) - that was down to the pace car for a good third of the route I'd say. I was at 90%+ HR for over 40 mins which I'm happy with.

I'll be taking it easy for the rest of this week. The final NPS of the year is in Castlewellan on Sunday and I want to really make a big effort for it. I might get some interval training in tomorrow or Tuesday, but that will be about it for me.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Rain, Rain, Rain

An insane amount of rain fell today. Floods everywhere. I had not planned on doing any cycling today thankfully, but I'm worried that some of the Kildare 100 route will be under water. Will know tomorrow.
On Thursday night myself and Gene went back to Glending (avoiding bees this time). We got a good 2 hour spin in - nothing too hectic. We found another single track section with huge potential. I can't get over how I never came across these routes in the past 2 years of heading up there! After the Kildare 100 I'll try to drop up to do some tidying on some of the trails, and will try to get up there later on in the week when I'm taking it easy prior to the 6th and final round of the NPS.
Got the Giant's front wheel back also - nice and straight. It had a couple of minor buckles, but decided to get them all trued up for the Kildare 100. Went out for a quick road spin to test the bike - everything working as expected. Afterwards I decided to play around with saddle height and position on the Cube. Its something that I've always found difficult to get right. So after a lot of adjustments, I found what I think is my correct positioning - which was the saddle a good inch higher and another inch more forward on the bike! Will give it a test run in Glending early next week to check its ok.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Bee sting hell and single track heaven

Myself and one of the local lads from the club decided to head up to Glending this evening. While I was waiting for Gene to turn up, I met a fella building trails up there. We had a good chat and he gave me directions for the single track. So with a giddy excitement we ventured forth :)

It took us a while to find the first section, but when we did, it really impressed us. Nice technical single track through forest, with jumps and a boulder to had to somehow get up on before rolling off it down a ladder. The trail then changed into a sweeping downhill run through ferns and fallen trees - very north shore. Then we came up to a little kicker which got you on a wall run. Because of all the rain we've been having I didn't make it. As I was figuring out what to do next, I started to feel what I thought were nettle stings on my left leg. I looked down to find 5 bees busily stinging the crap outta me. Naturally I screamed, dropped the bike and legged it in the opposite direction. Had to go about 50 metres before the little feckers gave up. At this stage I realised they got me on the bum too. After a couple of minutes they calmed down enough for me to make a dash to get the bike and run a few yards down the trail.

After that it was much more of the same, challenging, technical, flowy single track. I had no idea there was so much in there! So we'll be back up tomorrow night weather permitting and I'll try to get out on Sat to do some trail work also.

On another note - this Kona has caught my eye for next year...well the frame has - the full bike is WAY out of my budget...

Monday, August 4, 2008

Pretty Damn awesome

Get the Flash Video

Bank Holiday Monday = Big Bike Spin

About 10 of us headed off this morning on the same route as last weeks spin around Crone, Ballinastoe, and Powerscourt. This time on the big bikes. I pulled out the Titus. I was a bit unsure about using it as a practice up in 3 rock on Saturday was not much fun. So I got home and changed the saddle position and chopped a couple of inches off the handle bars and decided to go for it.

The weather was pretty terrible this morning but just as we started of the rain stopped and we had a super cycle day.

We took the same route as last week. It was nice to have the big bike but I'm going to get the fork and rear shock serviced as they just don't feel right to me. They still worked perfectly and it was a great day out. I got home and after cleaning up the bike did some more fine tuning - this time on another change to the bar. It's funny how a few minor mods can make a bike feel totally different. I think the Titus will be withdrawn from sale as it is a lot of fun to have it there for a fun spin day.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Turbo trainer vs road

I think the road wins every time, unless there is some insane downpours...
Got the turbo trainer setup on Thursday - no thanks to the instructions. I think they were for a totally different model. Did a 30 min stint on it. When you crank the resistance up you can really pump out the watts, but its going to take a bit of getting used to and I think the only times I'll use it are the wet, dark evenings over winter. I can do dark, but not wet AND dark! A plus of the training is you can stick it in front of the tellie!

Friday I took the Giant to work with a view to doing a long spin home. The weather was very changeable and up until 4:30 I was not sure how long the spin was going to be. But as I was leaving things brightened up so I decided to head for the Sally Gap and play it by ear from there.

First problem, my new Cannondale jersey. Its a great summer jersey....but the pockets are very very shallow, so anything of any bulk or length (like a pump) feel like they are about to pop out. Ah well, my other Cannondale jersey will be used for longer spins in future.

I met up with a roadie from Cork on the road up to the top of Cruagh. Nice fella. We stuck together till the climb up by Glencree, where I left him (temporally). When I got to the Sally Gap things looked ok weather-wise. There were some dark clouds in the direction of Laragh, but I decided to go for it. After a couple of stops refitting my crap BBB saddle bag, I made a mental note to get a new one - which I did today... a very nice Top Peak.

My roadie buddy, caught me just at the bottom of the Glenmacnass water fall (I am so crap as descents). And we continued on together till Glendalough where as the climb kicked in I said goodbye to him for the last time. Got caught in my one and only shower on the climb up to the Wicklow gap, but nothing too bad.

Just getting to the top of the Gap, I was starting to feel the spin (this was about 2 and a half hours in). So got a gel down me with some High 5. I always suffer after about 2 hours on a big spin. Its down to the mountain bike race training I think.

After that it was a straight run home. The gel kicked in after about 20 mins and that got me back to Naas. In total it was a 3 and a half hour spin, 92Km's in length (I also did my usual 22 km's to work that morning as well), with 925 metres of climbing. For about 2 hours after I got home, I was sore, really sore! I took Rego, had a big dinner and desert, and Nocté just before I went to bed. I don't feel too bad today, just a little tired. I'll probably take Nocté again tonight.

I really like that route, and will try to get into the habit of doing it at least once a week.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Shopping and training

I've been doing a bit of both the last couple of days.
On Tuesday I did a short, fast loop around Naas. Nothing major, just getting the cadence nice and high.
Bought a new jersey and shorts from CRC as no sign of the club gear...

Tonight I did 50km around Kildare. Kilcullen, the Curragh, Kildare town, Newbridge and back to Naas. Its essentially flat, so pretty boring to be honest. You can't beat a killer climb to focus the mind!

Decided to buy some road shoes and pedals, again from CRC. With the mtb shoes and clipless pedals I found my toes going numb after an hour or so on the road bike. Its not a big deal, but is something that gets in the way of trying to pump out a steady pace.

Also decided to just get the bloomin' Turbo trainer. The evenings are shortening and the weather is horrible. I just hope I don't end up jumping on it every time there is any clouds in the sky!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Saturdays MTB spin - the Movie!

MADMTB XC spin July 2008 (lrg) from Fergal Kilkenny on Vimeo.Here it is - I'm the fella not in the club gear!

I forgot to mention in the all the excitement after the spin that I think I did some damage to my groin! I started to act up towards the end of the spin, but then disappeared, only to reappear this morning as I cycled into work. I did not feel it on the cycle home, so possibly ok...

Arek from the club has spotted a 50km road race on Saturday - might give it a go!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

MTB'r or Roadie? MTB'r!

Its funny when you start to take mountain biking seriously, you spend more of your time on a road bike. Then you start to like the roadie side of things too. But after yesterdays spin around Crone, Maulin, Ballinastoe and Djouce - I know I'm a mountain Biker through and through.

The 5 of us started at Crone car park at 10am. The plan was for a long spin with lots of tough climbs and fun descents. So we decided to get the toughest climb out of the way first - Maulin. The route up is a disused fire road that has been converted into a walking trail - complete with drains which cut the trail itself, so on top of having to deal with the climb you also have these gulleys which require some manhandling of the bike. When we got to the top we have travelled 3.5 kms and climbed just shy of 500 meters. So a quick breather and then the descent down to the river crossing above Powerscourt water fall. This was another challenging route, which at times was hike a bike, but there were still some fun bits. Then we climbed back up on the wicklow way and down ACK - the most rooty trail I've every been on. We then took the road to Ballinastoe and availed of the biker stall to get some refreshments and a sit down. Once back in the saddle we used some of the trails to climb up to the wicklow way again and onto the boardwalk which is made of two railway sleepers laid side by side for about 3 kms over the mountains. I did this route the opposite way last year and it was hairy keeping a bike on a 2 foot trail raised off the ground. But this time we were riding up it! But it was quite straight forward and challenging when you were climbing and there was a step you had make.
When the sleepers ended it was single track around the side of Djouce Mountain and back to ACK. That was the best section of the route. Fast single track and a super grassy descent to finish it off. Its on video so I hope to get it up here early next week.

Then its was down ACK again, and into a 'secret' trail - its an old forgotten route down to the Earl's Drive which, with a little bit of work, will be an awesome piece of singletrack. Then it was down to the shop for another refuel before the climb back around the base of Maulin to the cars.

It ended up being a 5 hour spin and 30 kms, of which 25 were off road. So all in all one of the best days on a Mountain Bike I've ever had!

Friday, July 25, 2008


I'm pretty damn lazy, woke up this morning and did not feel like cycling in to work - so I didn't. I really don't know why, its a great way to start the day, you get your commute and exercise in one go and save a few quid on diesel...

I'm glad I didn't in the end. When I got home I went out for a spin. No route planned, I just headed out the back road and just decided to let fate (or my lack of imagination) decide where I'd end up.

Ended up doing the spin around Blessington lake. But really fast - 10 minutes faster then I've ever done it before! After last weekend I was very aware about pushing myself for the entire spin, and I did.

But the best bit for me was that my average pace over the 50km's (with 250 meters of climbing) equalled my fastest ever time (1:55 per km) - and that was on the flat over 20kms! I was really chuffed with it. It just goes to show you can push yourself and not totally bonk! Mind you, the last 6 or 7 km's I was starting to weave a bit on the bike.

Tomorrow its a big mtb spin around Crone, Djouce and Ballinastoe, so should be fun.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Bits and pieces

Been up to a few bits and bob's this week...

Did the work spin on Tuesday on the BeOne. Did it in my quickest time (without wind assistance!), even though I was trying to take it easy - fat chance.

Wednesday evening I went out with a few lads from the club and we hit the trails in 3 rock. It was very humid and I sweated buckets, but was good fun. I always worry about evening spins especially after work. Mentally I can feel very tired, and if you are on the technical stuff that's where problems occur. Physically I felt fine, did a really nice sprint up the long drag fire road, and felt good today too.

Tried out the Nocte on Tuesday and last night. Its a powder drink that you mix with water thats supposed to provide your body with the correct amount of proteins for recovery while also 'stuff' which helps you sleep. It actually looks and tastes like Rego, so you wonder what are its special properties that make you sleep better! Still, on both nights I had a pretty good kip, so will keep using it after big spins. Not too sure if you are supposed to take Rego after the spin, and then Nocte before bed, but I'll try it for a while. Every other night will be the Leffe!

Made some small purchases too. Got myself a pad kit for my Helmet. The current one stinks up a storm once I sweat, and washing them does not help anymore!

Purchase number 2 is a new pair of fingerless gloves. The weather has been pretty humid of late, so the more skin showing the better! These came from wiggle and look the biz - they also are fitting in with my blue theme!

Finally, I got myself the SIS bottle. This is annoying. After buying the Rego I promised I would not fall for buying what I thought were the unnecessary add ons. 'Just use the High 5 scoop for measuring and save a few bob'. So instead I got a power bar shake bottle. What a mistake. Maybe its just me, but I can't close the lid properly. Every time I do I end up with Rego all over the kitchen once I start shaking! It just got to the point this week where I just decided to go with the SIS bottle. It does the measuring and lets you shake to your hearts content.
I've some cycling planned for the weekend. Tomorrow is a spin to work and longish spin home via Sally Gap. Saturday is a long spin with the club from Crone up and around Djouce and onto Ballinastoe maybe - should be fun.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Champs aftermath

I've not been a happy camper for the past 24 hours. The result really annoyed me - mainly because I know I did not do myself justice. When the race starts you push yourself to the limit for 90 to 120 minutes however, in yesterdays race I did not do that.

But after a bit of thinking I know what I have to do for the next 3/4 weeks before the last race of the season. And I guess the one big positive from the race was the experience I've gained. Now I just have to apply that in the last race.

Got all kitted up to cycle to work this morning, but as I was going to the shed to pull the Be One out, I decided I needed one day off. I'm glad I did as I feel a bit drained today. Will cycle in tomorrow and do the club league on Wednesday.

My order from wiggle arrived today. Will use the PSP22 at the next race and the Noctè after the club league on Wednesday.

Below is another contender for next years bike. After the battering I gave the Cube yesterday I'm not sure if a carbon bike is such a good idea! This one is Scandium. Cormac in the club has one and I'm well impressed with it.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

National Champs - the aftermath

18th place - out of 23 finishers. Its a bit disappointing as I was hoping for a slightly better result than that. The race its self was fast, with not a lot of time to recover. The start was pretty intense with 25 riders lined up. There was the usual race to the first section of single track, and the usual hold up when we hit the first obstacle. After half a lap everything was going as well as could be - until I ended up in the heather half way up the dharma project climb. Had to let about 6 guys through before I could get back on the bike. I felt ok with the big drops, but it was the small techie stuff that threw me (literally at times).

My first crash happened on the entrance to a steep climb. I was lashing down the fire road and as I came into the single track I noticed two single track lines forming. I decided to go for the inside one, but as I got closer I saw the tree stump right in my path. I grabbed some brake, but the damage was done and I was over the handle bars and quite a bit up the hill! No damage done so I got back on the bike and continued on.

On the second lap, another fall, this time in front of a photographer - no damage again. On the 3rd lap I dropped into a hole, that took a bit of time to climb out of. I'm sure you get the picture - it was not that much fun!

On the fourth lap, things went from bad to worse, I had entered some single track but had heard a bike coming up fast behind me. I got off the trail and let the rider past. Then I walloped from behind by another rider. To make matters worse He managed to lodge his shoe into my spokes to such an extent that it took two minutes to get it out!

I took the last lap easy enough, I was a bit fed up with the crashing at that stage.

The first two laps were hard going for me, but I felt strong on the next 3. However, on reviewing the lap times, I was a minute slower on each elapsed lap. I think there's a few things I need to work on:
Anaerobic fitness - when it mattered I did not have enough there to get myself over the techie stuff.
Pushing myself - I only pushed when there were other racers about. Once I was on my own, I definitely dropped a gear.
Techie stuff - More work required I think.

Its hard to find positives after a race you think you should have done better at (anywhere from 15th upwards would have been nice, given the quality of the field). I did like the climbs, and the big drops and bomb holes were fine. That's about it though. I suppose that I was not lapped was also good.

What next - well I'm back on the road bike tomorrow to work and Tuesday. Wednesday I might do the club league, and back on the road bike Thursday and a long one on Friday.
The detail below:
18 Richard Close 308
Lap 1 - 0:23:46
Lap 2 - 0:24:31
Lap 3 - 0:25:22
Lap 4 - 0:27:10
Lap 5 - 0:26:41
Total - 2:07:30

Saturday, July 19, 2008

National Champs Pre-Ride

Did a couple of laps of the National Champs course in Kilruddery today. Its nice, real nice! Lots of dry single track, not much climbing, but where there is they are stingers. There's a couple of nice bomb holes also, including this little beauty.

There is also a really nice techie rocky section to master which has you climbing up over a steep rocky piece before dropping down a little and hitting a small rock slab. I managed to get through it without dabbing the second time around and it was very satisfying.

The race is going to be very interesting tomorrow. Apart from the first 200 metres or so, there is no obvious overtaking spots for a good 2km's. This will mean a procession for the first lap, and most likely some narky mountain bikers also :). But that's racing and you'll have to take your chances when they come.
I've had my dinner - Lamb Rogan Josh with boiled rice. And a diluted sports drink. Tomorrow I'll have porridge for breakfast with some toast, some fruit, and a couple of hours before the start of the race, some of that left over rice - if I can stomach it!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Keep on spinning

I was watching the highlights of yesterdays stage of the Tour De France on Eurosport today. During a particular quite part of the race the motorcycle camera man did a nice, low shot of the cranks on a bunch of bikes. It was interesting to see how many had cadence sensors. That got me thinking about the benefits of getting one for training, when I remembered I already have one! It came with my Garmin 305 but I never fitted it to the mountain bikes (obviously).

So, when I got back from work today, I fitted it (which was a doddle) and heading of on a 60 min spin. Now all I need to do is make sense of the cadence data! There is an interesting article here. Knowing what cadence you are comfortable cycling in won't win you races, but it is another value you can use during training. The average cadence for the spin I did was 72 rpm. While I was trying to take it easy (National Champs on Sunday and all that), its a value I can look to improve on. In a real training session, I need to be looking at 88 to 95+ rpm.

Apart from that little distraction, its been a quite few days. Been off all the bikes, trying to just relax and build up energy for the race. Tomorrow is the preride. Lots of interesting talk about the course. Its designed to encourage close racing, and they have some nasty techie stuff - which is the bit that worries me!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Dum de dum

What the heck do you do talk about if you are not training??? Food of course!

I was browsing wiggle last night and noticed they were doing very good deals on Science In Sport energy and recovery drinks. Now, my stocks are pretty OK right now, but I've not spent a cent on anything bike related this month, so you can't be having that!

I've been a high 5 fan since I started mountain biking, but heard good things about SIS, and in particular Rego, so decided so bought a tub in May since my training had picked up considerably. I have to say its a super recovery drink. The following day after a long spin, you actually would consider doing an equally long spin (a first for me!). Last night I decided to purchase the PSP22 energy drink and Nocté bedtime drink. I'm really interested in Nocté as I am not a great sleeper, so this claims to improve your sleep post-exercise and provide your body with the appropriate proteins for recovery. I'll write a post late next week with my findings :)

With the pre ride on Sat and race on Sunday, I've decided to go on the dry for the next couple of days... well, tonight is my last night of alcohol, and no caffeine until after the race on Sunday. Most training manuals talk about the 24/48 hours before a race, so decided to take it a little more seriously this time.

Was planning on doing a small spin tomorrow, but my girlfriend needs me to drop her to the train station early tomorrow, so might as well take and easy spin work. Will be very lazy and slow.

My calf is feeling much stronger today, I iced it up on Tuesday and I think it helped. I might push it a bit on the 1 (and only) climb to work and see how it reacts. It won't stop me from racing, but might me a good excuse if I come last :)

Absolutely shattered today - worse than yesterday. It has to be down to the all nighter on Monday/Tuesday. Still a good nights sleep tonight should sort me out.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


Pulled an all nighter in work - had a big install. Got home at 8am and hit the hay. Woke up to the sound of freakin' lawnmowers at 1pm (can't really complain since mowing lawns indicates nice weather).

Got up and went on a fast, flat 37km spin around Naas, Kilcullen, Ballymore Eustace etc on the Giant. 25% of the spin with at 90%+ MAX HR so felt good after it. That'll probably be my last spin till the race. On top of just resting up I have also picked up strain (or something) deep in my right calf. I think it happened on the interval stuff on Sunday. Its fine to walk on and cycle at a steady pace, but stretching it or pushing the pedals and its quite noticeable. So will do some more stretches and maybe wrap it up for a couple of days.

Its the middle of July and I've only notched up 100km! Its mainly down to being sick, but the weather is reducing my cycling opportunities. Plus the race this weekend will mean nothing for the rest of this week. But after that I have almost 2 weeks left in the month to start putting in lots of km's in preparation for the marathon champs starting in the middle of August, and the Kildare 100 in early August. Sandwiched in between is the final NPS in Moneyscalp also. I'm guessing that July's total km's may only reach 500/600 kms.