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 ..um 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.