Thursday, December 9, 2010
The off season
Well, I've been doing a few bits.
After the marathon champs, I pretty much stopped mountain biking and road cycling with the exception of commuting to work. I did not have much time on my hands with work and the little guy and after a busy end to the season I did not fancy doing much.
I did over do the cycling to work however, and ended up getting a bit run down. A trip to the doctor confirmed this and a course of iron and plenty of rest for a couple of weeks sorted me out.
Next came cyclocross in October. I did a few of the training session organised by Team WORC and really enjoyed it. Initially it was a case of swapping tyres on the Kinesis for the training, but once I decided to do a few races I bought a cheapo set of wheels for the road and used the old set for CX. I raced in the Tymon park and Corcaigh Park Supercup races and found them shockingly tough, but seriously fun. You were always chasing or being chased and it was all over in an hour - perfect. There were not many races in the Dublin area this year, but judging by the number of competitors out, there will be plenty for next season. And it gives me time to upgrade the Kinesis groupset and brakes :)
I then decided to sell the Pronghorn. Its a class bike - and it will be hard get a better XC race bike, but I'm working on something for next year so hopefully I won't regret getting rid of it!
Then the big freeze kicked in. So that meant no biking of any kind. I had been thinking about what to do training-wise this winter and one thing that came to mind was core training. Its something that I have never thought much about, but its seemingly pretty important. So, flush with cash from the Pronghorn sale I got a good deal in a local gym and signed up for some core classes. They mainly consist of planks, light(ish) weights, and press ups - plenty of those! I don't think it'll do me any harm, so its worth trying out.
But its no substitute for biking - on or off road. So Thats what I need to start doing. Today (Sat 8th) was to be the first day of training, but snow, ice and rain put me off, so todays my rest day :), will defo head out tomorrow...
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
I'm selling something
Know to figure out what do ride next year...
For sale - 2010 PRONGHORN PH1
I’m selling my 2010 PRONGHORN PH1.
This bike has ONLY been used in 2010 NPS races, national champs, and 2 endurance races. Its in excellent condition
The bike has roughly 300km on it so its in perfect condition, just about ridden in! There are 2 of these bikes in the country and this year between them they won: The Masters NPS series, The Cooley Thriller, The Bull raid 12 hour solo, The Marathon XC Champs (Masters), 3rd and 4th place National XC champs. They also grabbed 2nd place at the Bontrager 24/12 race in the UK!
The setup is as follows:
FULL 2010 XTR GROUPSET
MAGURA DURIN 80MM FORK
PRONGHORN SEATPOST, RISER BAR AND STEM (bike will come with flat bar also)
SELLE ITALIA SADDLE
PRONGHORN 1490 GRAM WHEELS
More info on the Pronghorn brand can be found here http://www.pronghornracing.dk/
Reviews of Bikes here - http://www.pronghornracing.dk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=10&Itemid=2
Drop me an email/tweet for more info
Thursday, October 7, 2010
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Marathon Champs 2010 Report
However before the first feed station, Evan had pulled away slightly and James passed me and was just up the road, with Oisin just a little ways back. I tried to keep the James in sight while trying to take a decent drink. The plan was to stop at the feed station, but James didn't so I thought better of it as I still had enough in my bottle to get me to the next station at 26km. We dropped straight into the Singletrack section and I tried to keep James within sight. Oisin who would be much better at getting a good steady flow on the trails, got past me and pulled out a gap. Luckily for me, it seemed that at the end of every singletrack or techie section was a fireroad climb, so anything that the guys gained I could claw back.
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Course profile for Marathon champs
Saturday, September 18, 2010
Saturday, September 4, 2010
Almost end of season...
Sunday, August 29, 2010
The Cooley Thriller XC Marathon 2010
Friday, August 20, 2010
The Bull Raid
It took a good week to recover after the twentyfour12, but I was still not feeling super. Did not do too much on the bike – a couple of spins to work, an evening mtb spin and a big road spin at the weekend – but the tank never felt full. But myself and Oisin had planned to compete in the first Irish MTB endurance race – The Bull Raid – hosted by Dundalk cycling club. Unfortunately, Oisin had come down with a cold which left me in a dilemma – try to find a partner to race pairs with, OR try the solo. I had sworn not to do another endurance race again after the twentyfour12, but as the pain receded I began to warm to the idea of doing it solo. So, with very little thinking I decided to go for it.
Preparation did not need to change – I just did very little. Unfortunately I had plans on the Friday night so instead of camping the night before at the site, I decided to head up very early on Saturday morning as the race started at 8am. To be honest I probably got a better nights sleep, even though I was getting up at a ridiculous hour. I had cooked up a mountain of pasta the night before and a quick zap in the microwave I had the perfect pre-race breakfast - well fueled for a good few hours anyway. Car loaded, and I was up the M1, making it to the race venue in Belurgan at about 6:45. I met up with the rest of the guys from MAD and began sorting out our pit area. I also had to re-register as a solo rider with the organisers. There was no time for a pre-ride and the only info I had on the course was from the guys who did the Leinster League race back in Feb, and that was not great. Basically there are serious amount of schlomp on the singletrack. The week leading up to the race was dry enough, but it had rained the night before so I was not too optimistic.
As we got everything organised in the pit, we got the call for the pre-race briefing. All commonsense stuff and straightforward enough – cycle for 12 hours and the person who’s cycled the furthest wins – simples.
The first difference from the twentyfour12 was the running start a la Le Mans.
So we all pushed out bikes halfway down a field, dropped them and walked to the ditch where we waited for the start. Once the bullhorn went we were off, trotting across the field to our bikes (sprinting was not on as all my tools and food would have been fallen out of the pockets and scattered across the course). I hopped on the bike and the race was on. Again, like twentyfour12, I had no plan in terms of pace setting, but thought it would be good to get a couple of fast laps in before settling down to a comfortable pace for the rest of the 12 hours. And that’s what I did, managing to keep with the 2 and 4 man team riders for the first couple of laps before dropping the pace. I had not planned on stopping much either. I was going to stop on every lap to pick up a bottle and around the 4th and 8th hours pull in for some food.
The course itself was very impressive. Technical singletrack, tricky drops, tough singletrack climbs with switchbacks, tricky bridges and not much fireroad. Oh and a motocross track thrown in for good measure! The course did start out wet, but within a couple of hours the trails were dry. The land owners did a great job laying hardcore on the wetter areas of the initial singletrack climb, so my concern at the start of the race proved to be unfounded.
To be honest the hours slipped by pretty fast and before I knew it I was in for my ‘lunch’ which Aine got for me (free pasta all day from the organisers). I tried to steer clear of the gel’s and energy drink as much as possible but at about 6 hours in I was running out of steam, so started to take a gel every second lap, and alternate between water and energy drink each lap, with the odd energy bar thrown in. And even tho I was using them sparingly, after a few hours the familiar tummy pains started to kick in.
As far as the race went for most of the it I had no idea where I was. I had a feeling I was up near the front, but after a few pit stops it was hard to tell. Again, team manager Aine came to the rescue and after a chat with the time keepers she had the info I needed to hear – in 1st place up 1 lap on Paddy, my club mate, who was in turn a lap up on Declan McCabe. At this stage it was 6:30pm and using my feeble maths I came to the conclusion I just needed to do 1 more lap, and I could take it easy doing to too! I was delighted as after 10 odd hours I was hurting. I crossed the finish line 40 minutes before the 12 hours were up and after a quick chat with the race director I handed over my timing chip and made my way back to the pit. I had completed 13 laps. If I had to I think I could have managed 2 more, but there was no point in putting myself through that! I starting feeling pretty sick as I sat down and in general I felt like I was run over by a steam roller. It took a good hour to summon up the strength to stand up again. I managed to pick up my belongings and pack the car before heading up to the BBQ. At this stage I still was not up to eating so got a cup of tea instead! As we sat around the blazing bonfire waiting for the prize giving I started to feel a bit better and managed a burger. Later I felt much better and went to the local chipper for battered fish, half pounder and chips!
The prize giving was great – it was my first time on the top of an actual podium and we go some great prizes too. Unfortunately for me I left my winners jersey and other goodies behind, but did manage to hold onto the cash and trophy!
I went home that night and got to bed pretty late. But I was feeling OK the following morning so decided to do the Kildare 100 – bit silly, but I was at a loose end and had paid up a few weeks earlier… plus there was a t-shirt and burger at the end!
Again, the Pronghorn was perfect. This was a real Irish course, plenty of rocky technical stuff, but the bike did not have a problem - its rider on the other hand had the odd off the bike moment, but for the most part I managed to keep myself attached to the bike.
More info on the race and results on the official site http://twelvehourmountainbikerace.wordpress.com/
And race video:
Thursday, August 19, 2010
Myself and Oisin had signed up for this earlier on in the year as neither of us had ever tried an enduro event or had raced in the UK. We decided to gradually ease ourselves in and go for the 12 hour race - as opposed to the 24 hour pairs.
But the first job was actually getting to Plymouth. Some of the guys from the club were planning on taking the ferry from Rosslare, but due to time constraints we went for Holyhead and then the M5/M6. In hindsight I think flying might have been a lot easier, as it took us 9 hours from getting off the Ferry to pulling into the camp site, totally shattered. We pitched out tents and had some food/beer before hitting the hay. Unfortunately we were located by the toilets, showers and floodlights so there were generators going like the clappers for most of the night. I probably got 2 or 3 hours sleep. It rained too, which had be worried as I did not fancy having to switch to the Toro in the morning.
We were up early and got signed in - getting our goodie pack also. Then it was lots more food, and preparation. We had not put a huge amount of thought into tactics apart from we would both do a couple of 1 lappers full on and see how things went. Next was the race briefing by the organisers and Keith Bontrager himself. Before we knew it Oisin had to line up for the start. As we had no time to do a pre-ride it was going to be a steady first lap and the see what happens after that. The first lap was a little longer to stretch out the field before the loop began proper. Oisin stayed up the front for the mini loop bit and came through the start/finish proper in a good position. I wandered back to the MAD marquee and sat around for a few minutes before I just decided to go to the transition area and wait for the hand over.
Before I knew it I could see Oisin dropping down the hill overlooking the arena. I got myself together waited for him to come in. After a couple of minutes he came into the transition area and I grabbed the baton (which was a headset spacer on a necklace). I trotted over to my bike and exited transition and off on my first lap. After leaving transition you had a short section in the camping area before crossing a small river via a narrow bridge. It brought you out to a small section of fireroad and through a field. Then a nice little drop, sharp right and onto a disused fireroad which had you climbing for 3 or 4 minutes.
You then hit the first singletrack section proper. It kicked up sharply up to the right and worked its way through a mature forest. Lots of roots and swoopy turns before dropping out and across an embankment which led you onto the only road section. It was a sharp left turn into a climb. Unfortunately, the start of the climb was greasy as you exited the singletrack and I came out a big fast, so as I turned nothing happened and before I knew it I was skidding on the concrete with my calf and finger getting a good old grating. I was not planning on getting road rash at an mtb race, but there you go. I quickly got myself back on the bike and pushed it hard up the hill into the next singletrack section and got back into a good rhythm. The singletrack flowed along and you were never on fireroad for long before you were back on swoopy, technical trails. The variation kept you alert all the time, and there were a few sections which brought you into the camp zone which was great also as you got plenty of cheers along the way.
I got back to the transition area and Oisin was waiting. There was no time to chat – just hand over the baton. We communicated with a notepad back in the marquee and passed on messages via Aine, our team manager/mammy J. I felt good after the first lap, as it was only a 35 minute loop so really was no problem. I stopped into the first aid tent to get my finger cleaned up and then back to the tent. I had some fluid, checked the notepad and before I knew it, it was time to get back to the transition area. Oisin came in and we agreed on doing another 1 lap stint each before switched to 2 lap stints. So after a couple of fast 1 lappers we decided to switch to 2 lap stints. This would allow the other person to have a good rest and get some food in or get bike cleaned up. So Oisin came in and I went out. The first lap was fast, but the second was tougher and I the pace was notably slower. I got back in shattered and had some food. Despite having over an hour to rest up, before I knew it I had to get back to transition for my second 2 lap stint. Same situation again, first lap fast, second lap a lot trickier. But despite the going getting tough meeting and passing people on the course took my mind off things. There were so many racing on the course you would be calling ‘Rider up!’ every few minutes.
By the time I got in after my second 2 lap stint it we were over half way through the 12 hours. And then it started to rain proper. Because it was a warm evening, it was less miserable than you’d think, but an hour after the rain starting the singletrack descents were getting sliddery and one rooty climb was just about rideable. At this point Aine told us we were in 2nd place which came as a shock to me. I never really set any goals for the race and had been enjoying the race, but now we had something to defend it suddenly got serious!
It started to get tougher once it got dark. The rain had abated, but a freaky fog settled in the forest sections at the highest points of the course. And with lights on full power you could just about see 2 or 3 metres ahead. I guess it added to the challenge but it did not do my nerves any good. After a couple of more laps I was back in transition with the help of Aine trying to figure out where we were and more importantly were the guys in 3rd place were. We had figured out that the guys were about 20 minutes behind, so 2nd place looked good. Now the only thing I was worrying about was Oisin coming in before 12am and forcing me to head back out for 1 more lap, which I did not want to have to do! Luckily Oisin arrived at the finish line at 12:05 to my relief and 2nd place was ours.
Over the course of the race the Pronghorns performed perfectly, they were great on the climbs and had no problems over the technical stuff. And when things got schlompy neither of us had problems with frames getting clogged up with muck or branches etc.
We were both totally exhausted and in the mud and rain we all trudged slowly back to our tents. Unfortunately the majority of the other racers finished at midnight also so there was a huge queue for the showers. So we just decided to dry off as best we could, pull out our celebration beers and get some food. However we were so wrecked we enjoyed neither so tried our best to get some sleep as we had to leave at 9am the following morning to get the ferry. Unfortunately due to the general nature of a camp site and lot of generators around there was very little sleep. So I got up an managed to grab a shower about 5am and found a few people to chat to in the tented area before getting another couple of hours sleep before getting up for breakfast and packing up.
Despite the long distance travelled, lack of sleep and mucky conditions it was a great weekend – not just because of the 2nd place, but also to be a part of a big enduro event weekend. Ok, next year if we go we’ll be either flying or taking an extra couple of days to make sure we were not under any pressure. Plus, I think the night before the race I’d stay in a B+B to get a decent night’s sleep and then camp the following night.
More info on the race can be found on the official site http://www.twentyfour12.com/
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
National XC champs 2010
Just before the sports race started a gang of us from MAD got out for a pre-ride. The course after the start finish line the course moved into a singletrack section when brought you to the lower carpark before the climb up to a slightly extended XTC. Once you were out of that it was walking path over to some of the sections used in the races last year. But some of the sections were taken in reverse, such as the switchback climb up to the highest point of the course, After that you worked your way across to Toro, and out onto fireroad which brought you to GC, and then out along the new straight trail down to the river. Then a small fire road section which brings you to the single track climb up by the step and then across before dropping down to the main fireroad, and sprint back to the lower carpark where you drop to the left and into a bermy singletrack section before entering the field which contains the start/finish line. All in all, I actually enjoyed the course. The only real tricky section was a rough singletrack drop which was about 50 meters long, but otherwise I thought I could handle it ok.
Monday, July 26, 2010
NPS 6 and 7
Thursday, July 8, 2010
New post coming soon
Sunday, June 13, 2010
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
NPS round 5 - Killaloe, Co. Clare
Then, completely out of breath, you enter the forest and a rocky single track section, which climbed up and down over and around various obstacles. A very technical section followed with 360 turns on the descents followed by drops through gulleys. Less hairy descended followed, but not before you were heading sharply up again before a chicken-wired drop (!) and then onto a fireroad section. Then a sharp right and descend down to the last singletrack section and onto the start finish line. Jeez, even writing that description is exhausting me, so you can imagine it in a race.
I was seeded in this race (7th), so was on the second row. To be honest it didn’t really matter where you were as you had almost a mile of climbing so there would be no sprinting for the first section of singletrack.
So we were set off. Rob Tobin set the initial fast pace and with a few hundred meters the lead group was whittled down to about 6, with me hanging on by their coat tails. It was fast, but I did not feel too bad. I’d defo done harder sessions so was happy to hang in. As we got to the top of the climbing section the main guys moved away and I had only had Andy Newman and Kevin Stanley in view. The singletrack was tough, but going through it the first time I was happy enough.
The second lap was ok too, it was slower and I was making a lot of mistakes on the singletrack, but I had said to myself to get through it at my own pace and get a slow, steady flow the whole way through rather than trying to keep up with guys who were much stronger and messing it up.
Things started to go pear shaped at the end of the 2nd lap. After the chicken wire drop I ended up in the ditch due to taking my eye off the trail – very dumb., but it got worse. While still cursing myself for the first crash, coming off the drop onto the fireroad at the start/finish section, I somehow managed to slide the bike and ripped a layer of skin off my knee cap and elbow. Really stupid thing to do caused by a lack of concentration. I lay there for a few seconds just to see how bad the pain got. Once I figured out it was at a bearable level, I hopped on the undamaged bike and pedalled off.
Lap 3 was hard, on the climbs the knee hurt and I could not get any flow through singletrack and would have been faster walking it. I lost count of the number of crashes – one of which twisted the seatpost/saddle 90 degrees off.
The 4th lap was hilarious. I had slowed to a crawl on the climbs and walked large parts of the singletrack as I had lost all confidence on the bike. I had totally given up on racing to the extent when I saw a bike computer on the trail, so I stopped to pick it up thinking it was Gene’s and it would be the sound thing to do. Turns out it wasn’t his and because I stopped he passed me a little further up the trail!
14th position sucks. It’s very disappointing as I should have been more like 6th or 7th worse case. But if yer not making mistakes (and learning from them) you’re going nowhere.
So where did it all go wrong? Well....
• The previous couple of nights I did not have great sleep – between the little guy on Friday and a party being held in a nearby house on Saturday, I didn’t get my usual not much 6 hours. But there’s I can do about that.
• Tyre pressure wrong – so wrong. There were probably close to 30 psi as I was thinking about the long climbs in the race and because the rims were not UST I was concerned about rolling them off and game over. It was a complete disaster, as the damp, rooty sections needed plenty of rubber on them to keep you upright. I was in Slade yesterday and dropped it closer to 20psi and it made a huge difference in the rooty singletrack section.
• Maybe went off too hard from the gun – not entirely sure about this. I felt good on the first couple of laps and took the gels, but I had dropped right off on the last 2 laps. But I think that might have been a combination of normal tireness and just mentally already being in the car, driving home.
Thanks to Conor for the pictures
Friday, May 28, 2010
NPS round 5 - Killaloe, Co. Clare
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
NPS Round 4 review and training plans
Saturday, May 22, 2010
Sunday, May 16, 2010
Hammond Memorial race
Monday, May 10, 2010
NPS Round 3 - Lady Dixon Park, Belfast
After a couple of kickers and swoopy drops/climbs you were out of the trees again and up a kicker which transitioned into a draggy climb. But before you knew it you were diving down into a little hollow and then climbing, before a taking a roller coaster of a drop which - if you got enough pace, allowed you to free wheel up the other side.
After that you had a long grassy climb back up towards the start finish. But before you got there, a final single track section had to be tackled... then feed zone and start finish.
So thats the 3rd race already finished - the season is almost half over! Next race is up North again next Sunday, but I planning on a road race this Sunday as I'm keen to try one where I actually go out to try and win it as opposed to using them for training/having a laugh.