Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Beer, Mince pies and plenty of ice

Still doing my best to single-handily clear the house out of the Christmas goodies which were bought. Only a couple of mince pies left and a bottle of wine (or two) left. On Monday myself, Gene and Mark decided to do the Taylors to Powerscourt spin. The weather has been very cold over the past few weeks, so by the time we hit the boneshaker at Ticknock we here struggling to overcome the solid ice / frozen snow.

We did think about just bombing around 3 rock for a bit, but we all wanted a good, long spin, so despite the under-wheel conditions we decided to press on. When we got up onto the Wicklow Way the fun started - the trail was solid ice for 20 to 30 meters at a time, so it was fun trying to stay upright, even moreso when we were on inclines - yeah, cycling on ice going downhill :) . To be fair, I don't think the Maxxis Ignitors were not designed for ice, but they did a great job keeping me upright.

When we got around the far side of Fairy Caste (easterly facing) things improved slightly with the right side of the trail less icy than the left. we made it to the Wocca's without too many problems and onto the short road section.

When we got to the base of the Prince Willies climb, the icy conditions returned, and I had my first fall of the day. Cycling up hill I hit a spot of ice and fell like a ton of bricks. As I'm sliding uphill I hear a clatter behind me - its Mark, who after seeing me fall, braked and came off too. No damage - in fact Gene had a great laugh watching it all unfold. The further we climbed up Prince Willies the more ice/snow we had to deal with - it was easier to cycle just off the fireroad. But we made it to the top and had a quick break for some food and off again, dropping down the other side and away from the wintry conditions. It actually started raining at this stage, but only for about 10 minutes and we were lucky to have some shelter.

After that we headed across to Crone in the ice and onto Djouce. We were running out of light at this stage, but managed to get in the Best Descent (properly). When we were leaving the main gate at Powerscourt I went down again, getting some nice road/ice rash on all knees and elbows and bringing down Gene into the bargain. After dusting ourselves down we gingerly made our way back to Taylors on the road.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Post Christmas report

Well, I survived it - plenty of food over the past 2 days, and a lot more today I expect. With time very tight due to lots of family visits I could only manage Turbo Trainer sessions. Yeah, you read it right - I was on the TT on Christmas day and today :) . Tomorrow though I'll be out on the mountain bike - not sure where yet, might be a long steady spin (Taylors --> Djouce) or Short n' fast in Glending.

I've also got to spend some chain reaction cycles vouchers - yay!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

2010 Training starts........


Bit of a false start last week - went out on a spin around Djouce last Saturday and clattered the inside of my knee of a rock which put me out of action for a week. However, I got my Christmas holidays from work this week, so going to get everything back on track.

Monday morning I went up to Glending. Mainly to check out the knee, but also to reacquaint myself with biking (never mind off road stuff). It was a good spin - mastered the wall ride and finished off with a couple of sprints which almost had me throwing up. Definitely a sign of how unfit I've gotten. That evening I dusted down the Turbo Trainer and put in a 40 min stint (10 min warm up, 3 X 5 min full efforts with 1 min rest between. It was good to get the first TT session out of the way. It looks like I won't have my circuit / spinning class this year, so a fair bit of Jan will be on the TT.

Tuesday I went out with Gene for a night spin in Glending. It was minus something or other, but after 5 minutes of cycling it did not matter. We got a few good laps in, blasting the usual trails.

Today I hit 3 rock for a couple of hours. Again it was more just getting back into the off road thing really (not that I've been doing much on road recently either - the Giant TCR has been sitting in the shed for months). It was treacherously icy in places, but good fun. Rock and Roll was class (as usual), so did that a couple of times.

Tomorrow is Christmas eve, so lots of family stuff going on. But the plan is an hour on the TT. No plans for Christmas day, but I'll be either in Glending or on the TT on St. Stephens day for an hour or so before more family stuff. Next week is pretty open, will start to put more effort into the sessions and feel that burn :)

On another note, I'm lovin' my Maxxis Ignitor LUST tyres which I got a few weeks ago. They are perfect for the winter conditions over here - you know, ice, mud, snow, water, etc.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Awesome customer support!

Over the past couple of week's I've had to return a couple of lights as I was having problems with them. I was not expecting much joy in getting the problems fixed, yet alone getting a reply before Christmas!

First off my Blackburn Mars 4.0, which I've been using a hell of a lot on road and off road for the past year. In the past couple of weeks, the on/off switch started to act up (not switching on, not switching off etc.) After checking out their website I discovered they offered a lifetime warranty for all products. The Mar's rear light is the best one I've ever had so I decided to chuck the broken light in an envelope and post it to their offices in Illinois, USA. To be honest I was not expecting anything back, but a week later, I get a box delivered first class with a brand new Mars light! OK, the Blackburn light is not cheap, but in terms of performance and customer support, its well worth the money.

Next problem I had was with my Hope Vision 4 battery. I think it got a knock or I dropped it, but the battery inside the battery casing was loose and a couple of times the light did not switch on. I was inside the warranty period, so I emailed Hope support explaining the problem. Within 5 minutes I had an email reply saying to send in and they would check it out. So again, battery in envelope and off to the UK. Again, within the week I got a package in the post which contained a new battery, and the newer version too (which is that bit slimmer).

Anyway, moral of this post is if you need a rear light go get a Blackburn and a Hope if you need a front light!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

2010 Bike

It's arrived! In parts mind you, so the Christmas holidays will be spent putting it together. So here's the deal.

Back in June I came across Pronghorn racing on the web - a relatively new Danish bike manufacturer who specialise in top end race bikes. The full suss bikes had a distinctive rear shock configuration, with the can sitting on top of the top tube, while the hard tail frame was coming in at a tiny 1.03 kg and the kit options were pretty class. I had been thinking about getting a new bike for 2010 at that stage, and after a couple of weeks of research I knew that the PHM1000 hardtail was what I wanted.
It was also at this stage that I noticed that PH were looking for riders to sponsor, so I got a mail together and sent onto the marketing manager Jez Crook. A week later Jez rang and after a good chat we worked out a deal for me (and subsequently Oisin) to ride in the Pronghorn colors for 2010. Yes, sponsorship!

After a bit of humming and hawing I finally figured out the bike kit I wanted and here it is:
  • PHM1000 hardtail frame (18")
  • Pronghorn 1490 wheels
  • Shimano XTR Drive train
  • Shimano XTR Pedals
  • Shimano XTR Brakes
  • Pronghorn handle bar, stem and seatpost (all carbon)
  • Pronghorn foam grips
  • Magura Durin Race 80mm
  • Selle Italia SLR saddle
  • Ashima AirRotors
  • Schwalbe Nobby Nic's
  • Cane Creek IS-3 headset
The Christmas will be spent putting the bike together. I'll be sticking up photos as things progress (right now its all still sitting in boxes in the spare room). Our racing kit will arrive in March.

I'm really excited to have gotten sponsorship - especially since I'm an old fella :) . Seriously though, it'll give me that extra motivation in training which hopefully will pay off in the races. Once the bike is built up I'll be sticking up a few posts on my initial thoughts.