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.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

More intervals

Got up early this morning and went to Glending for the interval session. Its a 300 meter climb with up to 20% gradient in places. Again, kept the chain in the big ring (albeit in the big cog too). The total distance was 6.7 km, but managed to squeeze in well over 300 metres of climbing. I managed to keep the heart rate well up too - was at max HR for over 30% of the session, which was 37 mins long.

Its a perfect day for a road cycle, but I'm off to visit the family today so won't be out in it unfortunetly. I will be cycling to work tomorrow though, and probably back to Glending on Tuesday. Then its put the feet up till race day!

Saturday, July 12, 2008


A couple of the lads from the club went to the Mega. Some nice video of the action here.

If they were not paying me I'd quit :)

So, absolutely zero biking done since Wednesday as I've been in work all day and evening since then. But there is light at the end of the tunnel and I am hopeful of things returning to normal by the middle of next week.

I can't complain too much though as I did manage to do a big mtb spin today. Starting at Taylors in 3 Rock, myself and club mate Phil travelled across to Djouce. The weather held out for most of the day and it was a really enjoyable spin. In total about 50 km with 30ish off road, so really nice.

I've plans for tomorrow so not sure if I'll make it out on the bike, but will do my best to get a sneaky fast 50 km on the road or something.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Glending spin

Super weather this evening, so I made the most of it by getting out of work on time and heading to Glending. Spent an hour in total up there, with about 40 mins on interval training up a steep 300-odd metre climb. I wish I could give you more details, but for some strange reason, my Garmin would only save location information, and nothing else. Hope its not busted... Reset everything on it and reinstalled the software.

Planning on cycling to work tomorrow - but there is some nasty weather on the way, so will play it by ear.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Pre race servicing of bike

Well, everything is fine apart from the brake pads, which had been feeling a little bit off for the past month. So I've stuck in my order for Shimano Pads XT M775.

I noticed the turbo trainer in my wishlist... hmmm, the weather does look like its picking up, so might hold off for another month!

Time to get back in the saddle (so to speak)

Hard to believe I've only been on 1 spin in the past 7 days! Up to my last spin on Wed, I just wanted to get out on the road or mountain bike every day. But since I've been sick the motivation has dropped back. I think its a natural reaction when you are sick - in order to get better you need to rest and not exert yourself.

Thankfully that's all behind me :)

Had an upset stomach until lunchtime today, but some plain food has helped - along with lots of water. It was a lovely evening to go for a spin, but I had do to a couple of extra hours in work (hopefully the last for a while).

Its probably not a bad thing taking a week off the bike. I've been training hard (by my standards) for a good 2 months, so 7 days break should do me some good.

So my plan for the week is to get into training for the National champs on the 19th. It'll mainly be on the mountain bike - a few short (1 to 2 hours max) intense spins. The first one is tomorrow up in Glending. I hope to cycle into work on Wed, and back out to Glending or 3 Rock on Thursday for more of the same, then cycle to work on Friday and home via Laragh.

Saturday I was thinking of a big mountain bike spin from Taylors to Djouce, and maybe on to Ballinastoe. Sunday will be a rest, and possibly Monday. Then Tuesday I'll be back in Glending / 3 Rock for an intense spin.

And that'll do me for the Nationals!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

No NPS for me

Crap sleep last night, and my stomach was still not right when I woke up this morning. Tried a quick test run locally but I was in bits afterwards. So it made sense not to do the race. A bit disappointed as was hoping to go for the top 10 finish. But when you're sick there is not much you can do.

Sunday evening now and feeling quite a bit better so will try to have a good dinner (have eaten very little today) and if I'm up to it, try a cycle tomorrow evening.

Next race is in 2 weeks - round 7, which is also the National Champs. I defo will make that one!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Getting better

Woke up this morning feeling much better. I had a good nights sleep which made a big difference, and almost felt up to doing the relay. Unfortunately my tum did not think so. Instead of taking part, I headed in to watch the other guys race and also had some time to take a few pics and get a look at the course (pretty much the same as last years).

The racing was fast and furious and a bit of a laugh, with teams from WORC coming in first, IMBRC second and MAD 3rd (I think). Its an interesting course, but will be pretty cut up for tomorrows race.
Still not sure if I'll be racing. Ate some food which has stayed put in my stomach, which is nice, so will see how I'm feeling in the morning.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Km's under the belt

Since the whole idea of this blog is to document my progression from a weekend mtb'r into (hopefully) a competitive XC racer, I better give you an idea on my training history to date.
The data starts in April 2007 cos that's when I bought my Garmin. Basically it shows me doing not very much for most of last year - apart from July when I was training for the Ballyhoura Blitz. So training really only kicked off properly in April (lots of road work). January to March I had increased distance but it was essentially the Specialized fsr on the road. The training done between April and June have made a huge difference in my fitness - both aerobically and anaerobically and if I make it to the race on Sunday it should show through. The split between on road and off road is about 80:20.

2009 Race bike candidate

When your house-bound the Internet is your best friend! Went up on the Canyon site for a gander at their top of the range race bikes and this is it - the Canyon Ultimate CF 9.0 FBI.

Apart from having the longest name I've ever seen, its quite an impressive bike. The price is also impressive - €4,000, which puts it in the same ball park at the Cube HPC. However, Canyon have an outlet store on their site where they sell last years stock with a considerable mark down. For example, last years version of this bike -the Ultimate CF 9.0 SL Einzelstück 2007, has €700 discount! So, if they apply a similar discount to the 08 version of that bike, it would be a deal that's hard to beat....

Perfect timing

Don't know if it was the spin on Wednesday, but on Thursday morning I came down with a nasty virus. One had been doing the rounds in work for the past week, so probably was inevitable that I was going to catch something - but this weekend of all weekends!!

I did not sleep well at all on Wed and woke up tired, but feeling really weak also. I had a small breakfast and went to work, but I knew I was too shattered to be of any use. So I went home, took some Neurofen and went to bed. I slept for most of the day, only waking up to take more Neurofen. As this point I knew the Relay on Saturday was out, but I was still hopeful for the race on Sunday.

Had an OK sleep last night and slept til about 10.30 this morning. Feeling better - well my head is a lot clearer, but still feel a bit weak. Took a Zym and have perked up a bit! Still not sure about Sunday though, watch this space...

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Ahhh, you always feel better after a spin!

Was looking like another late night in work, but thankfully a server fell over and we called it a day. So with the sun still up, I went for a 60 min blast around Glending. Its a small forested hill about 10 mins drive away. I love the place. There are a few trails, but nothing major. Just natural paths and loads of wild life, cycled by a hedgehog at one point. I've have not seen a live one in the wild since I was a kid!

Only did about 6 km but kept it in the big ring for 90% of the time so I did get some good out of it (on top of just getting the cycling fix!)

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Or maybe its me Iliotibial bands..

Well, what ever it was, the pain is about gone...

Can't believe its only been 2 days since my last cycle. Feels like about a month! Don't know if I can keep off the bikes till Friday. Might go for a sneaky quick spin around Glending tomorrow - nothing hectic, just a little tootle...

I've signed up for the Kildare Challenge in August. Its a cycle in aid of the Marie Keating Foundation, and will be led by Martin Earley. As Kildare is pretty much flat, I can't imagine it being too tricky. But it'll be a good way to get to know the local roadies.