Friday, April 23, 2010

Holidays (and a little racing)

It been a quite week. I made a conscious decision to do less biking as between lack of sleep and a lot of cycling to work and mtb spins, I was shagged. That said I had planned to go out to Slade on Saturday but after getting up at 5am with the young fella I was not fit for much.

I did make it out to Slade for an hour on Sunday morning though. Did a few laps on a very dry NPS course. Sunday was non riding and Monday I managed to cycle into work, but took it very easy. I skipped the spinning class on Tuesday as part of my taking it easy plan, and Wednesday was a gentle road spin for 40 mins around Naas.

Nothing done either Thursday or today. I don't necessarily feel full of beans by not cycling, but I don't feel any worse for it either, so its worth taking the odd break I think.

Tomorrow will be spent driving the clan down to Baltimore, West Cork where we'll be on holiday for a week. I'll drive up Sunday morning to Killarney for the NPS which should be fun. Then back down for a week of rest and relaxation. I'll have the mountain bike and road bike, so if I feel like it and the weather is good, I'll do a couple of quick spins, but the main plan is to just relax with the family.

Won't be doing much updating of the blog either as the nearest internet connection is in Skibbereen!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Weekly update

Monday - really should have stayed in and rested. I was a bit spent after the weekend ordeals, but Gene was keen to try the Slade hill climb so my arm was twisted. I'll leave out the gorey details but basically no records. It was a lovely evening for a spin tho.
Tuesday - Spinning class cancelled... woh hooo. Chilled out
Wednesday - Myself and Gene went back to Slade to try out the NPS loop. It was much drier, so was running much much faster. Managed 2 laps at full blast on the Cube but they were very messy laps, lots of overshooting of corners etc. Going to head up over the weekend to try the loop again, just a little slower this time!
Thursday - Spin into work the easy way
Friday - Spin into work. Decided to take the most country route to work, so to avoid all towns and villages I hung a right from my estate and heading to Punchestown, left at the junction and crossed the Blessington road and across towards Slade.
It was depressing to hit Rathcoole after all that nice quite countryside. The weather was a super morning (maybe a couple of degrees below perfection) and made me feel very lucky to be able to cycle into work at all, never mind on such a nice route as that one.

This weekend is going to be quite-ish. I hope to get back up to Slade at some point on Saturday for a couple of hours, but Sunday is eating and hanging out with friends.

I've been feeling a bit run down the last week or so. Between the lack of sleep, and lots of cycling I'm thinking I might just ease off on things a bit, so might end up doing some easy stuff the start of next week before resting up for Killarney.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

NPS round 1/Leinster League round 3 review

Well that was an odd race. Things did not go too great for me on the run up. My son has been sick with a tummy bug / high temperature which had him (and invariably his parents) up for large amounts of Thursday, Friday and Saturday night. So I felt pretty spaced heading up to the race. The weather was glorious that morning and got there about 11am. Its great having a race only 15 minutes from my house! We got signed on and out on the trail for a pre-ride of the lap.

The loop started on a fireroad which climbed upwards for 200 metres or so before dropping down to the ride for the first section of single track which was a fast descent into a swoopy forested section before popping out for a quick fireroad sprint before hitting the rabbit trail which swooped, climbed and dropped down the side of Slade valley for an age before you started to climb up to the next small section of fire road. It was only long enough to get a glug from the bottle before a short sharp climb up a loose rocky trail when then veered off to the left with the terrain changing to grass. We crossed over a bank via a wooden bridge, hung a right, and finally started to descend through more single track. We then took a left, up a trail I actually helped build about 4 years ago, before jumped off it to the right and descending down into a new forested section which was extremely tricky as it was a maze of roots, stumps and tree’s. Up over the specialized bridge and back into the sun with some schlompy bits to remind us we were not in Spain. Back into the forest via a very tricky fallen trunk and exposed roots and then back onto a gently climbing fireroad – more glugging time. Right turn into the next single track section lots of rough stuff with sharp rights, lefts, pallets, muck etc. A nice little drop onto the fireroad and sharp right. Then a sprint to the next single track section in the forest which starts straight before swinging left and further into the darkness. Some tricky, rooty corners before you move into deciduous forest and other some of the original trails. Then you drop into a bordering field to the start finish line. After that you’ve a kicker climb back up to where we started.

As in the Bunclody race, Masters would head off last, and as this was the first race of the season, it was un-seeded so it was a free for all on the start line. I thought I was maybe 10th or so from the front, but it turned out to be about twice that. And it turned out there were close to 80 in the masters field – probably the biggest I’ve seen in a single category ever.

So we were brought up to the start and set off. And I had my first problem. The lads on either side of me decided they wanted to cycle the line I was on so that was not going to end pretty. I came out the worst and had to come to a complete stop before starting off again. I sprinted up the fireroad trying to make my way through the backmarkers where the gaps allowed. But when we got to the first section of singletrack more frustration as a bunch of lads decided to hop off their bikes to walk down the slight incline! To be honest I was too tired to care and just got in the queue of riders for the rest of that trail and the rabbit trail.

Because of the numbers things moved slowly through the singletrack, especially on the sharp, rooty turns. Once someone in front had to walk it, it became very difficult to not do the same yourself. There were a few lads getting stuck into the fellas who were walking certain sections which is a bit much as it’s the nature of xc races that you’ll end up having to run/walk some bits.

We exited the rabbit trail via a nice kicker out onto the road where I got by a few riders. And this became the routine throughout the race – pass people when you could. However there were a few guys taking suicide lines into corners (out of frustration) which always had them losing out. I had an ok time in the singletrack but was being (even more) cautious than usual due to being feckin’ knackered. The second lap was pretty clear, but I ended up getting onto the back of a train of riders in the rabbit run on the 3rd so I was starting to lose interest fast. And on the 4th lap when Robin passed me half way through the last lap I threw in the towel and just spun home, which in hindsight was dumb as I think 3 or 4 masters riders passed me! I was just mentally shattered at that stage and I was just thinking of bed. I crossed the line in 17th place which was nowhere near where I thought I would finish, but that’s racing – everyone out there ahead of me wanted to race and be competitive – I didn’t (on the day).

Another factor was the amount of singletrack – there was a lot and some very technical sections, with corners which seemed to change on every lap.
Again, its something I need to keep working on, but it’s the usual problem of getting the time to practice them on.

It was a great loop though and a credit to the hosting club IMBRC who put in a huge effort building the trails and putting on a great day - they even got the weather sorted :) .

I was glad to have fitted the Pronghorn riser bar – it made a huge difference on the tricky sections and with some more practice should improve things. I bought a cheapie riser for the Cube just so the two bikes are setup more closely.

Again the Pronghorn was great, on the fireroad climbs it was fast and I felt I could rest, while catching people! On the techie stuff the riser made a big difference and as mentioned earlier will be out getting more practice when I can. In general the bike is going really well – for such a light frame its incredibly stiff and the power transfer feels more like a road bike, so can’t blame the bike for the poor form :(

And how could I forget that Pronghorn got their first win on Sunday! While I was wondering around the trails mid-table(ish) Oisin was powering his way to first place in Masters. A great result for him and a great testament to the Pronghorn hardtail!

Gene had me out last night doing the Slade hill climb, no record breaking times but was good to get out and loosen the legs. Nothing today (Tuesday) but hopefully I’ll be out on the Mountain Bike again tomorrow night. Then I’ll be back on the commute to work for Thursday and Friday. A quite weekend is in store as there are family events planned.

The next race will be in Killarney on the 25th of April. We’re on holidays in Baltimore in West Cork starting the previous day so it’ll be fun packing the car for an XC race and 9 month old baby (and 2 grown ups)!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Training log

Right, after the race on Sunday, I took Monday off as fancied a rest. I'd been doing quite a bit over the past few weeks and the legs felt very tired. So Tuesday was spinning class which was the toughest one ever. Different instructor and just meself and 1 other guy in the class so we were pushed hard all the way. And right at the end just as we were easing off he throws me 2 dumb bells to hold up in the air for 2 mins while spinning at high resistance! I was shattered. So took Wednesday off too :)

I cycled into work on Thursday, but went the easy route. As we both had Friday off Oisin dropped down and we went out on a spin to Glending. The weather was poor, cold and snowy, but we made the most of the trails and Oisin enjoyed himself. Rain started to fall as we figured out our next move. I was thinking home, but Oisin was keen to head over to Slade. So we decided to chance cycling over. The pace on the road was brisk to say the least, but we made it up there. At this stage the rain was bucketing down, hands and feet had lost feeling and we were cycling on snowy trails - not exactly fun. We met a couple of IMBRC lads working on the trails for the NPS race, but couldn't hang around long as we were freezing. We did get in some of the next sections of trail specially built for the NPS, but getting home and thawing out was the priority, so a blast down the hill and the fastest route back to my gaff to dry off and get some food.

It was probably the most miserable spin I've had in years, the wet and cold just sapped all will to keep cycling. But was a good old workout all the same.

Saturday – sitting on my ass and bike cleaning / maintenance

Sunday – Decided to give my hill climb a proper go with the Giant and without the backpack. Up until now my best time was 17:26 during one of my spins into work so I was curious to see was the difference would be. In the end it was considerable - 15:13 is now my best time!

Monday – Sneak spin up in Slade for an hour to try out the new sections of single track – yummy!

Cruagh hill climb

Was not sure whether to do the hill climb, spinning class, or neither and just have and easy day – in the end I did both. The spinning class was tough, not as excruciatingly painful as last week, but probably the 2nd or 3rd hardest of the year in terms of perceived effort and average HR/max HR. I got the jelly legs so that in conjunction with the miserable weather had me thinking about skipping the hill climb. Gene was on about an easy road spin in Naas so I was just about ready to throw in the towel when I started getting stick off of Ryan and the weather started to improve. Feck it. I decided to go for it, so armed with a bottle of Coke and a banana I set out for the starting point.

The course itself was 5.98 km’s long with 325 meters of climbing. Compared to my Slade climb its shorter and steeper, so not much to compare. Ryan had thrown out the idea on and a bunch of guys from various clubs were interested.

So, I parked up in the Merry Ploughboy, got myself together and tootled up to the start at the bridge. There were a few boardies there all ready and after a bit of chat we started to set off at 1 minute intervals. I went about 5th or 6th out of the 11 or so who were out. Just before I started the rain started to come down, but as the first half of the climb was fairly sheltered I was not too concerned about a bit of rain/wind. I had done a practice start in the big ring, but after a couple of hundred meters in you had to start dropping down the gears fast, so decided better to start in the small ring – something I’d regret a little later.

Anyway, I got my count down and off I went, the first section was a ‘nice’ gradient with some kickers thrown in. I stayed out of the saddle for the first few hundred meters (something I’m trying to do more of as it’s the only way to get my heart rate up these days) and then settled in for the long slog. Things were going ok in the first few km’s – did not feel too out of breath and was regularly getting out of the saddle. Before the viewing point at the top of Cruagh I could see some of the guys who started off ahead of me so I had targets to chase down. I was still in the small ring but gradually moving up the gears as the gradient dropped off. However the chain started slipping in 3 or 4 gears which impacted my momentum (and annoyed the bejaysus out of me as I have had a replacement drive train the my CRC basket for weeks now but have not actually bought the bloody thing). So coming up to the turn at the viewing point I starting shifting gears, only to find the chain dropping off the crank. So queue 10 odd seconds of trying to get it back on and back up to speed.

After that that I put more of an effort in knowing that the worst had passed. The rain shower had cleared and we were greeted by a pretty impressive rainbow as we came out of the forest. Then it was an all out effort for the last bit. I finished up doing the distance in 18.02 which was the fastest time of the evening, but I think I could be closer to 17 if it were not for the mechanicals and I did not do the spinning class. I’m looking forward to doing more of these hill climbs during the year and I understand there might be a mountain bike equivalent up Killmashouge in the next week or so.

It was an enjoyable way to spend an evening and nice to put faces to boards names also. Looking forward to the next one.