Monday, June 30, 2008

Ouch, me hammies!

Weirdest thing happened this morning - I was awoken to really horrible spasms in the backs of my legs. Pretty sure they were the hamstrings. Bloody hurt like hell for a couple of hours, but now feel much better. Did some stretching on them this evening also. Strange thing is the rest of me feels ok after the weekends cycling. Odd.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Roadie Day Three

I'm hurting a bit now. Did the big spin today - it ended up being longer than I had planned.
Set off at 10.30am from Naas. Weather looked good so ditched the sealskins for normal dinky cycling socks. Brought 1 and a half Torq bars and 2 bottles of high 5, each with a Zym catapult tab. 40 mins into the cycle, a couple of km's past Valleymount the biggest bloomin' downpour I've ever been stuck out in started...
and kept going for about 40 mins. I was soaked to the skin way before it moved on though. I was not alone in that regard as there were a lot of cyclists on the road getting equally drenched. As I got to the top of the Wicklow Gap, and after a couple of thunder claps for good measure, the sun came out.

I've figured out that I don't do descents with wet rims too good. Was pretty unnerving on the drop to Laragh not having immediate stopping power that goes with hydraulic disc brakes. All I had were the Ultegra's and a swirling, gusting wind. So with great joy I got to Laragh village. I would not have stopped only I thought it might be a good idea to wring out some of the water from my socks and gloves.

Got the gear back on I started on the section of road which would bring me to the Sally gap via Glenmacnass waterfall. Met Morgan going the other way, most liking doing last minute preparations for the l'Etape. The climb was nice up past the waterfall and as I headed in a North Easterly direction I got the benefit of the wind behind, so made it to the Sally Gap quite quickly.

The plan was to head over Kippure and down to Cruagh, but I was feeling good and the sun was out so decided to drop down to Glencree and then head to Enniskerry on the military road via Cloon. Was a nice spin over the shoulder of Kippure - got really moving on the top with the wind behind me. Passed Mel on her Mountain Bike getting some training in too.

By the time I reached Enniskerry I was out of drink, so decided to drop into the Cycle Superstore down in Tallaght. Also as this stage various parts of my body were starting to hurt - legs, tum (probably from too much high 5 and not enough water), and my jaw for some reason! I was also swinging into the wind, and would have it in my face for the final 30km home - crap.

Needless to say the last leg was not very enjoyable. The tum cramping up was the worst though, so need to figure out the best way to avoid that.

Here's the stats:
Distance:134 kms
Total Climb:1,000 metres
Duration:5 hours, 34 mins (with 10 mins stopped in Laragh and 10 in the cycle superstore).

So that was my mad weekend of roadieness. Feel pretty good about what I've managed over the 3 days. Did not make the 1,000 kms this month - 913 was the total which is still a record for me!
The plan for the week is just to chill out, with no cycling until probably Thursday when I might pop up to the local trails in Glending. Then its the NPS in Tymon Park in Tallaght at the weekend. There is a team relay on Saturday which will be a laugh, and then the race on Sunday.

I've put a lot of road training in this month, with very little on the mountain bike, but the course in Tymon park will be flat so it'll be all about speed and endurance as opposed to lots of anaerobic
effort. So hopefully there will be no mechanicals and the training will translate into a good finish.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Roadie Day two

The legs were feeling the cycling yesterday so instead of the long spin today, I did the 50km loop around Blessington lake at a high(ish) tempo. The spin was nothing to write home about - apart from the driving mist/rain on occasion.

At least I'll have a good 24hrs rest before the big spin tomorrow. Hoping to do the 140km's. Weather ain't looking too bad either.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Day one of Roadie weekending

Was not exactly as expected. Took the Giant into work and plonked it behind reception (I'll leave the Be One in the bike Shelter, but not the Giant!). Unfortunately got stuck in work again so my plan of the spin home via Laragh did not happen. I did manage to get to the Sally Gap before hanging a right and heading for Kilbride, Blessington.

It was a nice spin until I hit the climb up past Glencree towards Kippure. A driving mist came down with strong winds to boot. Was pretty miserable until Sally Gap when the sun came out. After that it was a pretty straight forward run home.
61 kms in distance (not including the 22 to work)
580 metres of climbing (was good to get in the Cruagh and Glencree/Kippure climbs)
2 hours 28 mins.

Was disappointed in not getting the spin to Laragh, so instead of heading to South Kildare, I might do the same spin in the opposite direction including Laragh tomorrow - weather permitting (but its looking good).

Not sure if I'll make the 1000 kms this month, but I should beat last months 903 kms.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Big weekend of road cycling ahead

With the ribs a bit tender still, and a week to the Tymon Park NPS, time to go nuts on the road!

Weather permitting)
Tomorrow I'm cycling into work on the Giant, then taking the secenic (and hilly) route home via Laragh. Will be in the region of 110kms.

Early on Sat I hope to do another 100ish km, this time on the flat, heading towards South Kildare.

And more of the same on Sunday - may just do the spin around Blessington Lake, or go a little further afield and take on the wicklow gap, and back around by the Sally gap.

That would bring this months total distance to about 900km. Its about the same as last month. But I would like to break the 1000km if I could!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Nice spin to work, crappy day at work, crappy spin home

Sun was shining this morning and I managed to get myself into my gear and cycle to work. The ribs are still at me, but does not hurt as much on the road bike. I'm hoping they are just bruised.

Crappy day in work - less said the better, and pet emergency during the day, which meant I had to get home fast as I could in order to get the cat to the vet. With a real nasty head wind I decided to just head down the N7 instead of taking the usual back roads. Won't be doing it again though. There are points on the road where even when you are right in at the edge of the hard shoulder you still have cars on top of you. And the bloody wind!!

Made it home in 50 mins, 5 mins slower than the way in, but thats probably down to the wind.
Still, its another 45 kms done and I guess they all count.

Monday, June 23, 2008

My CRC wishlist

Its been pretty empty for the past couple of months now, I'm sure the postman/courier must think something is up. Not for long though. With the crappy weather forecast for the foreseeable future (well end of week anyways) I'm thinking about investing in a turbo trainer. Have not hit the purchase button yet as I have not given up completely on the Irish Summer...

My Shed

Left to right: Lawnmower, Cube, Titus, Be One, Specialized (the girlfriends)

Um, I really need to do something about it. On top of the normal garden stuff, paint etc, there's 4 bikes in there too. And that still leaves one in the kitchen!!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Dream bike for this week is...

This weeks winner is the Cube Elite HPC XTR. Have a thing for Cubes at the moment. I ride a Cube Reaction XT, but in the event of me winning the Lotto, this would have to be the bike.

How much? The guts of 4 grand on Chain Reaction and only by special order too! But check out the Teamline paintwork!!!

Slightly more in my price range could be the HPC XT, which comes in at €2300, but the strange thing is that it only comes in only about 300 grammes lighter than my Reaction.

Sunday spin

Gale force winds, driving rain - perfect cycling weather! Held off till early evening for my spin in the hope the wind would die down a little - which it did but not by much. I decided a spin up the Wicklow Mountains would be painful with the wind and rain, so went south west on the Giant. Had the head wind to Kildare town - that was tough. I had planned on going to Monsterevin - another 10km further on from Kildare, but the wind was just too much, so I turned east and passed through Nurney, and on to Ballitore.

Managed to avoid most of the showers till I got to Dunlavin where the heavens opened up and had me scrambling for the biggest tree to shelter under for 5 mins or so. After that is was a nice 20 km - with a tail wind, back to Naas - sweet. The road quality varied, from really nice between Naas and Kildare, to crap between Kildare and Nurney.

Time - 2:47
Distance - 76km
Total Climb - 155 metres (in other words, flat as a pancake!)

I've a busy week coming up in work and at home, but I want to cycle into work for 3 of those days. If for nothing else to save diesel - bloody expensive these days.!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Wet Saturday Spins

Led the beginners spin out to Djouce today. We got 6 hardy souls out braving the weather. Barry, Liam, Ollie, Ash and (new) Paddy. Funny, you can only get so wet - after that you're grand! Did the NPS course. Its holding up well (if you don't mind the small lakes on xtc). The drops however are well dodge. The entrance to the mini DH section has a small river running through it and if the rain keeps coming it'll just end up being an unridable gulley. Apart from that it was all good fun. And a plus of going for a spin in the rain is there's very little cleaning on of the bike!

The ribs that got a battering in the Djouce NPS last week are hurting a little after the spin - sneezing is a problem :) I won't be back on the Cube till Wednesday at the earliest, so fingers crossed it will improve before then.

Stopped raining now, and looking okish for tomorrow, so hopefully I can get a good 100km in on the road bike...

Got the rear wheel of the Giant back too, so the Be One can return to its commuting duties.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Its a Blast...

The Epic Blast is on the way. Pretty impressive poster. Won't be there myself as I'll be on 2 weeks holidays in West Cork - and training for the marathon champs!

The best laid plans...

Did not make the commute to work this morning. Woke up feeling tired and lazy. Even a blue sky could not get me on the bike. I did have a lot on in work today and would feel under more pressure if I cycled in. So decided to just get out on time and do a spin around Blessington lake.

Got home, stuffed two bananas and jaffa cakes in my mouth and was out the door at 5:20pm. I was on the Be One as the Giant's rear wheel was still in the shop. The fact I only had the Be One probably did not help motivate me either, but once I got moving I could not believe I went almost 3 and a half days not on a bike!

The Blessington lake spin is a 50km route, starting at my front door in Naas, out to Blessington, then around the lake clockwise. Its a great spin - not too long, nice and hilly (with some great kickers especially in Ballyknockan village), and great views. There's about 280 metres of climbing also, which adds a little spice :)

It took me 1:40 mins today. Probably my fastest time. At the start of the year it was my long distance training loop, now its my high tempo spin - its great to see progress!

Tomorrow, I'm leading a fun spin around Djouce. The forecast ain't looking too good, but we might sneak in a couple of hours.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

So tired...

OK, my planned local spin did not happen tonight. Working late and after work errands to run put a stop to it.

Tomorrow I'm on the be one to work and will take a detour home around Blessington Lake to stretch it out a little. The weather's not looking too bad either...

The rear wheel of the Giant is in the Cycle Super store getting trued up. The pot hole I hit on the Wicklow 200 has put a buckle in it to warrant a good old straightening.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


Hello and welcome to my blog. I've wanted to have a blog for years, but never actually had anything to write about. But since Mountain biking has taken up a vast portion of my life... problem solved!

I began Mountain biking in November 2006. I bought a Carrera Vulcan from Halfords to get things going. I joined the Mountain Biking Association of Dublin (MAD) and joined them for a few spins in Wicklow. The Carrera lasted about 2 months before I got myself a Specialized FSR - now I was a (beginner) Mountain Biker!

Throughout 2007 I slowly built up my technical skills, but a job which had me working/commuting 14 hours a day hampered things some what. I decided to jack it in last June and take a couple of months off. During my break I began to get some training in for some Duathlons, and when I was not doing that or general house DIY, I built up my Titus Motolite.

No one told me Mountain biking was so expensive, cos by August, I had to get back to work. An long commute (3 hours round trip) but more regular hours did not help develop my mtb skills.

So 2008 arrived, and a new job in March, only 15 minutes drive away - and more importantly 45 mins cycle landed on my lap. So that was my decision to make a big effort to get fit for the K-capital, NPS and marathon races that were to take place from March through to Sept of this year. It was also a little belated, as the first race was in March! So for me that meant 4 months of training and racing simultaneously. It also meant selling the Specialized (boohoo) and buying 3 more bikes (wohhoo!).

First off, the new job meant I could use the 44 km round trip as training. Enter the Be one Briza 1.0 - a cheap as chips (but perfectly capable) road bike. I bought it at Chain Reaction Cycles. The commute slowly brought up my fitness levels. I would occasionally take a detour home around Blessington lake to stick another 25km on a spin.

I also needed a new XC bike - and decided on the Cube Reaction XT 2008, again from CRC. A great value bike which is suited for someone getting into competitive MTBing, but not quite at the business end.

I had planned on racing in the Sports category during the K-Capital series to get into the whole race thing, but with some 'motivation' from club members I went for the Masters Category (30-40 year olds), one of the most competitive cat's out there! I missed round one of the K-Capital in Killruddery, Co. Wicklow due to a really, really bad stomach bug. In hindsight, it may not have been a bad thing as I was in no shape to race.

Next race was in Moneyscalp in Co. Down. A tough course. Lots of off camber wet rooty trails and nasty climbs. I started well, but things fell apart once I hit the muddy single track. After that it was a hard slog - or maybe I should say 'good experience' :)

Round 3 was in my favourite location - Djouce woods. I liked the course, felt the month of commuting was starting to pay off and I was getting the hang of the Cube. First lap went ok, but got a puncture on the second which ended my day. Decided to ditch tubes at this stage too as was getting punctures on a regular basis. Went for Joes no Flats and Maxxis Crossmax tyres.

Back up north for the 4th and final round - Castlewellan. The race took a lot out of me but I managed to beat the guys from the club I wanted to (just about!)

So, that was the K-capital finished, and my first 2 and a bit competitive races. I did really enjoy them (though probably not at the time!), but I knew I had to improve my fitness and technical skills. They do go hand-in-hand in many ways though. The best way to get through a technical section of a course is to do it fast, and to do it fast over 1.5 to 2 hours requires aerobic and anaerobic fitness. First off I increased the distance on the road, I also made sure that one day a week was spent doing hill climbs on the mountain bike on the Bone Shaker trail on 3 Rock.

The first round of the NPS took place in Ballinastoe, Co.Wicklow on a mix of purpose built trails and some build specifically for the race. It was fast and furious, and at the end I did not get to beat my club mate Arek, but when he went by me, I just had nothing in me to keep up with him.

I missed rounds 2 & 3. May was a tough month on a personal level and did impact the races I attend and training. It was also the month I put the most training in - over 900km's on and off road. At this stage I also decided to participate in the Wicklow 200 Challenge in early June. A 200 km road cycle around county Wicklow with approx. 2000 metres of climbing. That was a good excuse to go buy another bike! A Giant TCR Alliance 0 from Pauls Cycles in the UK. Its a super bike - a big step up from the Be One. Apart from a double puncture 50 km's in (my fault) it was a great day and took 7.5 hours to finish. I really enjoyed the road spin and will try to get a couple of road races in now I have a decent bike.

Round 4 of the NPS was days after the Wicklow 200 and I was not sure if I was going to be fully recovered for it. I took the following day after the 200 off. On the Tuesday I did an early pre-ride of the NPS lap. It was great to be back on the mountain bike again! And the course was awesome - lots of super single track, tough kicker climbs and very technical drops and descents. Took another break on Wed and Thursday was a quick road spin to keep everything loose. Got out of work early on Friday and me and a club mate did another few laps of the course.

I was going into the race hoping for a solid mid-table finish. Since the race was near Dublin, there was going to be a big field, with a lot of very strong racers. However, when the day of the race arrived, I was just not 'feeling it'. My legs felt very heavy - probably down to the 200 and the spins during the week prior to the race. But it was a big late to be giving out! The race started and I just pushed on hard to try to get some life (and blood) pumping into the legs. The aches gradually started to recede and I found myself where I wanted to be - in mid table. I also had a club mate 100 odd metres ahead of me! Perfect motivation to get me through the rest of the race. On the second lap we traded position a couple of times and were wheel to wheel at the start of the final lap. Morgan did start to pull away from me early in the lap, and I was torn between pushing on and try to take him or hold station, happy that I achieved my goal. In the end I did neither - I fell back a couple of hundred metres and decided I would push in the final 2 kms of the 8 km lap if he was still in sight. Unfortunately the best laid plans...
On one of the steep climbs half way through the lap I felt my right foot move quite a bit on the pedal. Next thing it came off the pedal! I looked down to see the cleat - which should be bolted to the bottom of my shoe now locked in position on the pedal! So with the ability to clip into the pedal gone, it was a nightmare on the climbs and descents. I was going to just throw in the towel there, but thought might as well get to the finish line. However, over the course of the last 4 km's I lost 6 positions and had a monster endo on a steep drop (which I was very lucky to just come away with only a couple of sore ribs). Made it to the finish disappointed and was so for the rest of the day. But these things happen and you just have to take the positives out of the race. For me that was a strong race up to the 'wardrobe malfunction' (as my club mate described it). I also have 3 weeks to the next race to bring the fitness up a little further. Plus our club league is starting next week, which will help the old race-craft!

So that's the intro - from November 2006 to 10pm Wednesday the 18th of June (listening to NERD)! I've covered a lot in this post and will come back to some of it in the coming weeks.

Decided to take a couple of days break from all bikes, but hope to be back on the road bike for a high tempo 30km's tomorrow evening then a spin to work on Friday and a long spin home.

(Thanks to Phil and Martha for the pics).