Saturday, May 30, 2009

Weekend update

Right, been a fairly busy week on the bike - probably a bit too much as my leg can sore/tender afterwards. My holidays start this weekend, so I'll just relax for the next few days off the bike.

On Monday I cycled in and out from work for the first time in ages. Its a nice 22km spin up to the office with a short, steepish climb in the middle. I found it hard enough, and the laptop on my back did not help matters either.

Tuesday was a spin around Kildare with Gene. This was a fast one and we even got in a sprint finish where we got up to 52+kph on the flat. This was a spin I could have done without as my calf tightened up a lot the following day, but you need to test yourself I guess.

Thursday we went out on a spin around the lake in glorious weather. We kept the pace a fair bit down on Tuesday's spin but on Friday morning the pain was there so skipped the planned cycle into work.

I'm hoping a quite weekend off the bike will get the tendons and muscles back to where they were last weekend, but we'll see. I'm not too worried about the fitness side of things as a good hard week's work will get me close to where I was earlier in the year.

So, as I said earlier, its holidays for me so there won't be many posts as its a broadband unfriendly place we're going to. But I should still be twittering, so keep an eye on that.

Enjoy the weather!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Recently purchased stuff...

OK, its been a couple of months, so I'll just give a quick update on how I'm liking them (or not maybe).

Oakley Flak Jacket XLJ (from CRC)
I got these at the height of my feeling-sorry-for-myself-cos-my-leg-hurts phase. Why else would someone in their right mind spend 120-odd euro for a pair of shades? Well, after a months use I can see why.

They come in a very nice case and cloth cover - I bet you could drive your car over the case and the shades would be in one piece (possibly). To be honest I was a little disappointed when I first hand them in my hands. They seemed... well not quite worth the money I paid - very light and the arms were quite flexy. But when I put them on, they actually fitted perfect, which is a first for me. The lens are perfect - none of that weird magnification you get on the lens corners, and the frame overall is very strong and wraps snugly around my head. I had only planned on using these for driving the car, or general hanging out, but I use them all the time on the road bike (zero chance of me using them on the mountain bike, unless Oakley fancy sponsoring me :) ). So BIG thumbs up.

Selle Italia SLR Saddle (from CRC)
I was not a big fan of the WTB saddle that came with the XTC. It was hard, and ridiculously smooth so you were sliding all over the place. After a bit of research, I chanced my arm buying the SLR Saddle (in white, obviously). Its marketed for on AND off road, but I was not sure how much of the rough stuff it could take. However, 3 laps of the Carlingford NSP I can confirm its sturdy on the single track also. Its very comfortable, and (while a personal thing) fits my ass well. I like it so much I wanted to get one for the TCR, but (shock) they have discontinued the white version!

So I've ordered the Selle Italia SLR Gel Flow Team Edition Saddle from CRC and hope that it will be as comfy.

Weekly update

Been a while since I've done one of these, and its good to be back!

So, as scary physio recommended I've been gradually getting back into training again. Sunday was a short road spin around Naas and Wednesday I did something similar.

Friday evening I thought I goofed up big time. I planned on doing another 1 hour spin but I'd only gone a few km's when I noticed lots of ominous clouds rolling in, so I decided to not risk getting wet, and swung around for home. But I sprinted back - trying to get as high a top speed as possible. Probably not such a good idea given I'm only coming back. And typically enough I started getting bad pains in my leg again. Queue a LOT of stretching. Saturday morning the pain was gone and all that was left was a tightness at the top of the calf. So I headed off to go on an easy club spin in Ballinastoe. It was the first time on the mountain bike in a few weeks and was good fun. Arek was there too and we managed to have our own little race which got the hear pumping.
Today the weather was glorious and it would have been very tempting to head out on a long spin (5+ hours), but somehow managed to rein my enthusiasm in and settled on a 2 hour fastish spin around Kildare and Blessington lakes. I also managed to get in the big climb behind Hollywood village which is a killer. OK, the leg is a little tender and still just does not feel 'right' but its improving and there's lots of time to improve before my next race on the 14th of June (and 2 weeks holiday - yay!).

Friday, May 15, 2009

Season restart

Went to my new physio today for a check-up on progress. He's happy with my knee, and put most of the recovery down to the stretches I've been doing rather than his (painful) physio. Still, he did work on the outside of my right calf which was very tight. I managed not to scream out in pain today, but a few of his moves did catch my breath. But the good news is I'm on the road bike for an easy spin on Sunday. All going well, I'll probably spin into work a couple of times next week, but will miss round 5 in Magheramorne as I don't think I'll be up to racing.

The following week I'll build up the distance and intensity, and get back on the mountain bike. The good thing is I have the first 2 weeks of June off, so will be bringing the bikes on holiday with me to West Cork. The roads are not the best down there, but I plan to be doing a lot more off road interval stuff for the holidays. Then, it'll be back up for Round 6 - MAD's race!

So feeling pretty good (dare I say stoked!) about things right now (even if my calf is sore), and will be updating more regularly once I get back in the saddle. But most of all I'm really looking forward to racing again, as I'm keen to make a podium if at all possible before the end of the season.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Friday, May 8, 2009

Latest news

If you measured how good a physical therapist by how much pain they inflict in a session, then my new one is a world champion. He's been doing it for donkey's years and has worked with Kildare GAA and other sports people. I switched from a physiotherapist to a physical therapist because I was just not sold on the ultrasounds, lasers, and (what I think) was a limited approach to just removing the symptoms rather than finding the root of the problem.

He gave me the once over and identified (among other things) a twisted pelvis which has caused my right leg to be a little shorter than my left. He did some manipulations which he feels has solved some of the problems, but I'm told to keep off the bike for a week and to go back next Friday. Again, I've been given a few new stretchs, but this time, I'll actually do them twice a day without fail - defo!

So, with no cycling for at least a week, I'm going to do my stretching and also upper body work - at least I'll make some good use of my spare time.

I'm also a little concerned over the health of my credit card as another week off will mean a few hours on CRC and Wiggle...

The next race is on the 24th of May in Magheramorne, but I'm thinking is will probably not be a runner. That will mean the next race I'll be around for is our own clubs NPS race on the 14th of June. So I'm thinking if that is my comeback race, that would give me roughly a month before the National Champs, which I think will be my target race I think. I'll also be taking part in the K-capital races leading up to the Champs also.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

NPS Round 3 - Carlingford review

Alarm clock went off at 8am, got brekkie sorted (porridge, 2 eggs, and juice - all in the same bowl ;) ) and car packed. Picked up Gavin and we were off. despite the distance, it was only and hour and 15 minutes to Carlingford.

We had to park halfway down the course as the car park was full from early, so that meant lugging bottles, bikes up the hill. But it was our own fault for not getting there till 10.45.

The lap was a figure of 8 (kind of). As I was late I only manged to pre-ride the first section, but the lads were buzzing about the singletrack on the second section, so it sounded like it could be a fun day. The race was going to be a long one though - close to 30 km's, rather than the 20-25km race. That had me a bit nervous due to little training over the past four weeks and a dodgy leg. I also had a problem with the bike. The Specialized Control tyres are not good in the mud, or even remotely damp ground, but I did not fancy having to change tubless tyres. So I dropped the pressure right now to under 20psi, to make up for the lack of knobbly's.

I lined up on the second row, I was happy enough there as there would be plenty of tarmac road to get into a good position before we got to the singletrack. Meself and Oisin were discussing big or middle ring for the start. It was a very steep ascent and I had doubts whether I could keep it going to the single track, but if Oisin was going to give it a lash, I might as well too. The whistle blew and we were off, and straight away there were problems - well, not for me but the fella in front who managed 3 pedal strokes before his chain snapped - bad luck there. Experts, vets and juniors all took off before us (a change from last year when you had Elites, Experts, Masters and Vets), this meant that the slower vets where only a few hundred metres up the climb when we kicked off. The leading group formed quickly, and as we rounded a bend we could see the vets working their way up the hill. At this point I was 8th or 9th, but when I saw the slower riders ahead, it struck me that if I could get a few of those fellas between me and the rest of the masters I could make a gap. So I took off to the front and pushed on for a bit, getting by a few riders, but unfortunately, there was one vet I could not pass before we entered the single track. He was gingerly working his way down the wet trail, stopping at one point - which stopped me also. Then Alfie and Oisin went by. After that I just hung on to Oisin's wheel for the second climb up the tarmac climb and to the entrance of the second singletrack section. As expected, things slowed down here. We were already up with Experts, Elite women and juniors so it was a case of just being patient and overtaking when the opportunity arose.

The second singletrack brought us south, behind Carlingford village. Fergal passed me but stopped further up the trail with a mechanical. A little further I passed Alfie with a mechanical too. I think this put me in second place (but I'm not entirely sure). But I drove on, heading back to the start/finsh.

On the second lap tarmac climb I started to get familiar pains at the top of my calf and behind my knee. I should have given up then and there, but I was really enjoying the course and was feeling really fresh. So I pushed on and had a better singletrack section.

At the start of the 3rd lap I knew I would not finish, the pain was more pronounced (and I could have sworn I felt a pop), but once I got the tarmac climb out of the way I thought I'd just get one more timed lap and leave it at that. So I tootled along enjoying the singletrack However my decision to run low pressure came back to haunt me. I rolled the tyre wall twice which burped out most of the air. I think I only lost a couple of minutes getting the cannister out and re-inflating. However, only a couple of hundred metres up the trail the chain got caught behind the big sprocket, so another couple of minutes lost there trying to yank it back out.

After that it was a case of spinning up the fireroad to finish out on lap 3. The first aid jeep kindly lent me an ice pack and I spent the next 10 minutes icing, stretching, icing etc.

Oisin won the masters race comfortably, with Alfie coming in 3rd. It was a tad frustrating in some ways as I definetly felt I could have made the podium (even with the mechanicals), but not half as frustrating as not being able to straighten my leg out fully this morning. So off to a (different) physio tomorrow to see what can be done.

So that's about it. I'm delighted that fitness-wise I'm in a good place (maybe the lay off from training has helped out there), but the leg is still a problem - not quite back to square one though

Friday, May 1, 2009

NPS Round 3 here I come!

Will be heading up to Carlingford on Sunday for NPS round 3 - yay!

On Thursday evening myself and Gene headed to Glending, but it's taken a right soaking, so we checked out routes for new trials on the most westerly side of the forest and there is potential for a fast swoopy (and dry) singletrack section that lets you avoid the walking trail. Will head up and do a bit of work on it next week.

In the end we just messed around a bit, looking for suitable dodgy drops to take. Which we found - although I had to encourage Gene to take it ;)

Today I went for a road blast around Kildare for an hour. Still not entirely sure that my leg is back to normal. Its quite achy just walking around, and the first 20 minutes on the bike were painful enough. But once I got moving the pain went and I could push along without any soreness.

So that was enough for me to make the decision to head to round 3. I won't have a hope of coming anywhere near the top 5, but it'll be a good training spin for the upcoming races in May and June. And will have no qualms in pulling up if the injury comes back.

Tomorrow we're off trail building for the MAX XC event being held next weekend at 3 Rock, Co. Dublin. It promises to be the biggest mountain bike event in Dublin for years - be there or be square!!