Saturday, September 22, 2012

2012 XC Marathon Champs

In a very below average year, this was going to be the big one for me.  The National Marathon Champs is the one race that motivates me than any other.  You get the countries top riders on the most challenging course, in terms of distance, climbing and techy-ness.

After the Cooley Thriller the previous week, I knew I could do well here - I was thinking top 5, with a good shot at a podium place.  Team Cycle Inn / KTM (ie myself and Oisin) heading down early and arrived in good time to get parked up and get ourselves and our bikes prepared.  With 75 km off road to be completed, Oisins full suss Phinx was looking very appealing.  However, my hardtail Myroon did have advantages... though not as many as usual due to the length of the race.

The first section of the race was a short loop out on the roads and singletrack close to the carprak just to break up the group.  This was a good idea as with no gridding outside of Elites, it would have been tricky to have passed anyone if we just hit the trails straight away.  So I was happy starting in the first 30 or so riders.  Sure enough, as soon as we finished the road section things had thinned out a lot and I was happy enough as we started the first of the singletrack sections.  The Team Ballyhoura guys also include a section of Gravity enduro trails - rough and ready - just like 3rock so I was happy.

Then the race began in earnest.  My plan was the same as when I won in 2010- set my own pace and not let it be dictated by others - even if they are disappearing up the trail.  Easier said than done, but due to the sheer length of this race, sprinting off after 10km was not (in my mind) such as good idea.  I knew a few of my competitors in vest were up there racing with or close to the top Masters and Elites.  When they came into sight, I was tempted to sprint up to them, but for one reason or another I held off.

Myself and Oisin kept a similar pace for the first before he pulled away on the singletrack.  I pretty much kept to myself for the mid-section, picking up bottles, making sure I kept hydrated and topped up with energy.  I began to think 3rd place was a runner, based on my thinking only John Doris and Mick Jordan were ahead (as far as I knew).  3rd was good - 2nd or 1st would be better, but I felt that the guys were strong so I felt it would be a long shot.

However, in the last quarter of the race things got interesting.  On a switch back climb I could see 2 riders ahead - one was Oisin.  In another 10 minutes I had caught up with him.  We continued on at a similar pace. Things were tricky on the technical stuff now - my brake pads had worn away to the metal.  I had checked them before the race and they looked like they had enough life for one more race.  However the terrain and the fact they were resin based had worn them out in the first couple of hours.

As were climbed sections I could see a rider coming in and out of view ahead.  I asked Oisin who it was.  John Doris was the reply.  It was like a switch being flipped, and I suddenly had a reason to chase again (yes, obviously I should have been going hard from the start, but easier said than done in a marathon!)  I pushed on.  We were coming up on one of the longest climbing sections of the race with the first piece quite technical.  I slowly caught up with John and as we exited the section onto a fireroad climb I just pushed on  - even managing to get out of the saddle to sprint a bit.  I was happy at this stage - definitely a podium and ahead of the XCO national champ.  But things improved again (for me anyway) when I rounded a corner at the start of the final climb to find Mick Jordan ahead.  Again I pushed that bit harder and put a bit of an effort in on the next flat section to put out some distance.

Then it was the final descent.  I remember from 2010 it was longer than it looked, and was a pedalling descent too.  I felt strong and wanted to make sure I kept the gap on Mick, but with zero brakes, it was always going to be tricky.  I over shot an early corner mainly due to some iffy marking on the course (but in fairness, I was not complaining as one corner out of 75km of superbly marked trails ain't bad).  Then, just as I thought I was at the finish, instead of a left turn and down, it was right and up.  Back up the Gravity Enduro section!  This was tricky first time around with some brakes, but with nothing I was probably just going to run it.  Then as I was near the top of the climb before dropping into the singletrack I looked around to see Mick coming back - like the bloody Terminator!  I knew this last section was not going to be pretty.  So I threw myself down the first section and proceed to fall off the bike on every corner.  I wish I could say it was some form of controlled braking, but to be honest, it was panic stations - at that stage I did not care how many bones were going to be broken.  It was all or nothing.

I lost count how many times I came off the bike in that sort section, but somehow, I managed to stay ahead of Mick.  There was a short climb before the final single track which then dropped me onto the finishing straight.  I managed to get out of the saddle to sprint to the finish line, and the win.

Mick was 6 seconds behind me, with John Doris closing in fast - only 30 seconds.  To think, in a 75km race, it was all down to less than a minute.  I was a bit in shock to have gotten the win as there was no proper preparation put in, but it was a course and race format I suits me.

So 2 national titles in 2 years in 2 different categories.  Not a bad return really.  I was not really sure what I was going to do next year in relation to biking.  2 young kids and a full time job were starting to really impact on the time available to train, or even just head out on social spins.  But this win has had more of an impact than in 2010, and while I won't have as much free time I am determined to make the most of it and have a proper go at the NPS series 2013.  I've never felt strong in the XCO format, but with a more targeting training I think I could have a strong year.

But for the next few months, it'll be family, social spins and some cyclocross.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Cooley Thriller 2012

Was looking forward to this race as its set in an amazing location, with lots of techie bits and tough climbs.  But best of all, this year it was held a week before the national marathon champs, so was going to be a final attempt to get some distance on a mountain bike under my belt.  I really enjoy this race and that was a main motivation for signing up again this year - well that and the fact I won the masters category in 2009.  But that's the only time I've actually finished the race.  In 2010 I DNF'd and skipped last year as there was a baby on the way. 

While the weather in the week leading up to the race was mixed, the morning was blue 
sky's and sunshine.  I had no doubt it was going to be mucky in places on the hills, but nothing too bad.  There was a great turn out from all the main clubs north and south of the border.  I got signed on quickly despite the large numbers and dropped off my bottles.  Then it was a quick spin back to the car to get ready and to the start line.
The first big challenge was the climb up to the mast.  Its a brute - long, steep, and windy.  At this stage Aaron O’Donghue  had pulled a gap on James McCluskey, with myself and James McMaster maybe 20 seconds behind.  After that you had Aidan McDonald, Jim Haide and Sean Downey (as far as I could see) not far off.

After a quick walk briefing, the race started with a loop around the town before the climb up the hill to the traditional route.  I kept as close as I could to the front to stay out of trouble, but was not too worried as the long draggy fireroad climb would thin things out quickly.  And before we made it to the location of the NPS race from a few years ago - a lead group had formed of about 4 riders - thankfully including me.  But all the while there was plenty of other strong riders all the way down the fire road.

The climb went well, event the techie bit at the end.  I felt I could have bridged up to James, but was happy to sit where I was for now (in hindsight, it might have been a good idea).  We got to the first bottle stop and I grabbed a bottle and handful of jelly babies for good measure.  Then the fun started.

I had managed to miss the bog hole of doom (see Pixels Pro photos HERE) and was following James McMaster comfortably.  James McCluskey and Aaron were out of sight now.  And at about 23km, we made a wrong turn.  Well, the problem was we did not take a turn, ended up going straight and taking about 2km off the course (and a tough climb to boot).  We did not realise as with about 300 metres of the mistake being made we found the course markers again, so we were none the wiser.  We did realise there were not fresh bike tracks on the course, but we put that down to James McCluskey and Aaron getting lost, not us!

Myself and James ploughed on, keeping a good pace up.  James did start to pull away before the windy gap, but I had managed to keep him in sight until the final climb.  At this stage I was starting to see other riders coming up on me, but I felt happy enough with how the day had went, so even if they passed me I was happy.

I crossed the finish line in 2nd place, but after speaking with Aidan McDonald afterwards, it became clear we'd made the mistake.  Initally it did not bother me too much as I had gotten good marathon prep out of the day, but on the trip home it gnawed on me.  After doing a bit of analysis on my times, I figured I would have come in around 6th overall and 1st in my category.  But there's no point in dealing in what ifs - the mistake was made and it was time to take the positives out of the day - which I did... probably about the following Thursday!

Apart from a little dodgy marking, full marks to Cuchulainn cycling club for putting on another super event.  And if there's one race you should attend in Ireland, its this one.

Full race results here

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Bull Raid 2012

That was a tough day in the saddle and wallet. 2 hangers, a rear mech and chain. The conditions for the majority of the race were pretty challenging with heavy rain showers for the first 4 or 5 hours. The course held up well though. The problems began when the rain stopped and the course started to dry, turning the mud tacky. That with the corn field were causing a lot of mechanicals. 

Myself and Oisin started well and were comfortably in the lead. Our first problem was when Oisin got a puncture - no big deal and did not cost us much time. Things started going pear shaped when I broke my first hanger which cost us over 15 minutes. In the end I hopped on Oisin's bike while Conor, Sean, Cormac and Scrivo got my bike up on the stand and started to see what was salvageable. Oisin took the next 2 laps - as we could not get the remains of the hanger off my bike. We got Daragh Maloney to find a drill, and with the help of Alfie got the bugger out. 

Bike scrubber duties
The mech looked a mess, but seemed to be working ok. Oisin came back in after putting in 2 savage laps, pulling back about 12 minutes on the guys from MBCC who took the lead. I went out on my bike and grabbed the last 3, passing the MBCC rider before the NPS course. Unfortunately my 2nd hanger broke on the far side of the loop so another 20 minutes was spent walking back to the start to grab Oisin's bike to finish my lap.

After that we could not get back the time. I only could manage 1 more lap as was falling asleep on the bike so Oisin did the final 2 laps (but puncturing one more time!). We finished in 2nd place 1 lap down on the winners.

Its nice to have gotten 2nd, but the win was there. Massive thanks to Conor for the tech support and motivation and Scrivo for the hugs. As well as Cormac, Sean and Alfie. Big thanks to Oisin for his superhuman efforts on the bike too (and the home brew)!

Daragh did a great job with a small team keeping the show on the road in very very difficult conditions. He made the right call taking the corn field out later on in the day. The BBQ was great craic afterwards too.

There was a very poor turn out to the event compared to last year. Possibly to do with the weather, cost and early start. I think a lot will be learned from this years race and I hope some changes will be made in relation to the duration of the race and the start time (shorter race, later start). Given the type of race, there's no need for chip timing which would bring down the cost of the race and entry fee. I'll be back next year and I hope we can get a big crowd from the club to race and support a great event in a great location.

2012 XCO National Champs

The location: Djouce woods, the race: 2012 National XCO champs.  The category - vets!  Yes, officially an 'auld fella' now, but any delusions of a bunch of slow auld fella's in the nationals were well and truly shot down once the whistle went on Sunday afternoon.

I'd not been in Djouce since the 2012 national champs hosted by Epic (which was shocking as I practically lived there pre-kids).  But the lack of spins out there was not much of a handicap as the loop was kept under wraps by Robin in the lead up.  What was a handicap was the complete lack of mountain biking I've done this year - the Lough Derg race and round 1 of the NPS.  I was fully aware that with Robin designing the course and me not having ridden a mountain bike in months, the odds were stacked against me for even a top 10, but you can't turn down the nationals, especially when they are in Djouce.

Once I got signed up I headed out on the pre-ride.  The course was similar to the 2010 national right up as far as the climb to XTC.  But instead of heading down, the loop brought you straight on and up a couple of hundred metres before switching down right into a new section.  It was pretty rough and ready, with a climb that had me pushing up.  There were plenty of line options in this section, so if you had time to study them you would find a decent line.  After that you dropped into XTC for some rest before heading out on the flat walking path before diving down to the right to a very technical section.  I forget the name of it, but it was used in 2010 also.  I was pretty handy in that section back then, but without any recent practice, I was all over the shop.  Once you exited this section it was a rooty, draggy climb before a drop to the right and onto the singletrack switchback descent and climb back up over where the 'step' used to be onto the old trail.  This would drop you on the fireroad, but Robin and Team WORC were busy and build a whole new section which climbed up and then ran parallel with the fireroad before dropping you onto it not far from the exit to XTC.  Then it was the usual route back up to the fireroad, into the last section of singletrack before getting back out to the field.

Vet's had 4 laps of the course, which sounded pretty OK to me.  There was no gridding which was going to make this a bit of a lottery.  I somehow managed to find myself out the outside of the front row which was just down to luck and being a bit cheeky.  Elites went off first, then masters a minute later and then Vets.  There were a number of switches in the course before you hit the single track and I found myself slipping backwards through the field.  When we hit the singletrack I could see 9 or 10 guys ahead of me and I knew I needed to get a grip on this so I pushed on the climb to XTC.  Things started to settle down, but from that point right to the finish I had no idea what position I was in.  There were a few people telling me I was 6th, 7th, or 8th, and I took their word for it!

The racing was fast and furious.  I spent most of my race in a good tussle with Vinnie Fitzsimons for most of the time, but there was plenty of elbow to elbow stuff throughout.  Micky Dardis came by me like a rocket about half way through and I did not see him for the rest of the race.  He came in 2nd, which was no surprise.  While I was pushing along during the race, I never really went into the red - mostly out of fear for not knowing if it would totally wipe me out, and that's down to not doing enough racing or hard training.  Before I knew it we were on the final section of the last lap and there was Vinnie and Gordon Lucas, plus 2 other guys that I thought were in different categories.  As we dropped out of the last section of single track we all knew the first person to the final short trail section would come out on top.  So the pace dropped a little as we all elbowed (literately)for the ideal sprinting position.  Vinnie was first to go with Gordon right behind.  I was determined not to let lose this mini race so I pushed on as hard as possible.  And as the fireroad raised up slightly before the left into the singletrack I edged out the 2 lads.  I did have 2 more guys in the group to content with and I was not taking chances so I out sprinted them to the finish line... well, it turned out one was and elite and the other a junior, so they may not have been taking me that seriously.

So I was happy with my little win.  Later on that day I found out I had actually came in 4th which was a big surprise and I would have taken that prior to the race.  But as usual, once the analysis kicks in I realised a podium was there and most likely the difference between 3rd and 4th could have been boiled down to attending the IMBRC club league and doing 1 more mtb session a week.

But there you go, I've no one to blame but myself.  You get out what you put in with XC (and that goes for all sports), so considering the little I did this year I can't complain.

Congrats to John Doris, Micky Dardis and Paddy Mackey - well deserved.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Update, the lost months

Feck, 2 months since I last wrote a post. I guess its a sign that I've not been doing much racing/training. And thats the case. After Belurgan, I had plans for attending the rest of the NPS races, but between one thing and another I managed to miss them all. Work was very busy so I just cycled into work when I could, but that was about it. I was on holidays in June so used that as an opportunity to get back onto the bike. So there was plenty of spins on the road for the rest of June up to now, but no Mountain biking as the Cube has had problems I've only just sorted tonight.

I did get out to Mondello for an open race last week. I did better than in the past and hung on to the lead chasing group to about 50 minutes before blowing up in style. I was a good workout though.

I've not been training, just going out on spins at a decent pace, so pretty unstructured. I have decided to have a good at the national champs in July, as need something to target and focus on, but with only a couple of weeks to go, I don't hold out much hope for any amazing results, but it should be a fun day out (weather permitting!).

The only other target I have for the year is the Marathon champs in late August and then have some fun at the Cooley Thriller and Bull Raid with Oisin. There may be one more road race also in Dunlavin, but its time permitting again. As for the winter and 2013.... really not sure what to do. CX is a nice idea, but it would be good to get a decent race bike beforehand... so we'll see. I'm very limited time-wise these days so 2013 could be a quite one, but we'll just play it by ear.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Olympic XC course

Just found this on Vimeo.  It was taken by Manuel Fumic at the test event last year.  Not sure what to make of the course.  The majority of it looks to be very smooth - can't see too many sets of Nobby Nic's making an appearance.  The only other interesting point is that Telly Tubbie land does exist and there's an Olympic XC course in it!

Ups and downs

Got the green light to race in Tracton - wohhoo
Mick in the cycle inn solved the niggling issue with my headset - wohhoo

The family have been hit with another vomiting bug.  I managed to avoid contracting it for a few days, but today it finally got me.  While no vomiting (yet), it's totally floored me - no energy, no appetite etc.  Gutted as was keen to get up to the club league tonight (Tuesday) and also get sorted for Tracton.

So will just play it by ear and see how long it'll take to get rid of this latest ailment.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Irish XC NPS Round 3 Preview

Really well put together review of the course.  Looks like the lads from MBCC put a lot of effort into making this a cracking course.  It has a lot of similarities to Slade (based on the video, I've never raced there), so looks like something I might enjoy... and looking like a race I'll be going to as well!  Thanks to the family for another day release :)

Friday, May 4, 2012

NPS Round 2 - Bellurgan, Dundalk Co. Louth

I was not expecting to race so soon after the Lough Derg race as it would have meant a whole day away from the family again, but somehow I managed to get the pass so I was in business!  We made it up early and got signed up quickly.

The course was very similar to last years race, with the only real difference was the first section of singletrack had been replaced with a wider track section that brought you up to the proper climb.  This was a good idea as it gave riders a better chance of passing before you hit the singletrack.  The next interesting feature was 'The Drop' - a step with a steep rock face which then transitioned to flat ground before you had a choice of lines to get you through a wall.  I did not do the drop last year as I'd turned up late and had no chance to practice it so didn't fancy doing it first time in a race.  And in the end I only managed 2 laps before I had a mechanical.  I headed up to have a good look at it this time as the chicken run added 20 seconds to every lap which in an S1 race is not a runner.  It was a funny drop as the challenge was in your head.  When you arrive up to the drop, you can't see where the front wheel is going to go due to the step, so its all down to trusting that after the 30cm drop into fresh air, you hit the rock face (which was probably 'just' at an 80 degree angle) and then your done.  Its over in the blink of an eye and your lining up for getting over the wall and into the berm on the other side.  So after plenty of humming and hawing, I finally just did it, and what do you know, it was doddle.

After that it was a really enjoyable few kilometres of rolling, swooping singletrack with some bridges and other features, before you went into the field and across the start/finish line.

I did a bit of a warm up and then we were called to the line for the start.  I was late in arriving, but it worked out ok as the starting area was so wide almost all the riders were on the front row.  I went to the outside of the line as just thought 2nd row on the inside would lead to plenty of tussles and blocking.  We got the count down and a before I knew it we were sprinting out in the open field section.  After about 200 metres there was a hairpin turn which brought you back to the start finish line for the start of the first lap proper.  I'd done much better than expected and probably in the top 6, but unfortunately I started to think (instead of going full gas) about the long climb ahead and that maybe it would make more sense to slow down and pace myself up.  It was a bad call - first lap of an XC race is full speed all the way, track position and also I suppose, imposing yourself on the race are hugely important.  So I quickly dropped back as the faster guys came through.

I worked my way up the climb and even my 'pacing' was probably a bit too fast and I found I was struggling to keep up with the riders around me.  The drop came and went before I even realised - so that was not going to be an issue for the race.
The Drop!
On the second section of the lap I made a silly mistake.  I was holding up a few riders, but no one was attempting to pass me - apart from one guy, who what passing gave me a gentle nudge.  It was not intentional and nothing major, but it happening on a singletrack climb meant I ended off of the trail and had to stop.  Then 5 or 6 guys passed me.  I was pretty annoyed, but got back on the bike.  I was annoyed for another lap and a half - mainly with myself for getting into the situation in the first place, but I eventually snapped out of it and got back to focussing on the race, looking to be as fast as possible in each section.
I eventually began to catch up with Vinny and Alfie on the climbs but lost them in the techie sections.  This yo-yoing continued for a lap or so until Vinny dropped off the pace and Then it was just Alfie.  It was not until the last lap that I started to catch up with him and made it stick.  We got to techie section for the last time and I managed to keep close to Alfie for all of it apart from the very last section where he put in a bit effort and zipped out of sight.  I was not ready to give up year so I charged on.  As we came into the field we were neck and neck.  I was not sure if he was keeping something in reserve, so I got the KTM into the biggest gear and sprinted the last 50 metres for 12th.

12th is not as impressive as 3rd the previous week, but I would never have expected to come close to the top 5 given the quality of the field and how hard XCO is.  But its a start, and a better one than I had last year, so can't complain.  The next step for me is a top 10 finish.  To do that will require plenty of club racing, intervals and more racing.
Peter Buggle does it again!

My next race will be in Lady Dixon Park in Belfast (won't make Cork), so that gives me a few weeks to look to improve.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Lough Derg MTB Challenge 2012

Right, its all done so gonna get this written down before I forget.

Saturday Morning - stupid O'clock:
Car park packed, had brekkie, waved bye bye to the family and I hit the road.  90 mins later I'm in Killaloe (or possible Ballina)  anyway, I drop down to the registration area on the banks of the River Shannon, sign up effortlessly and grab my goodie bag.  Lots of nice bits and pieces in it, so we're off to a good start.  Next, up to Whitethorn B+B.  Get unloaded, and changed and off to the start.  With no spare time on my hands, it means to time spent worrying about whose racing or how I think I'll do or time to mull over tactics.

Me heading up the first climb on stage 1
There was a good turn out - about 140 for the race, and we had the weather which was a bonus.  There was a police escort out of the town and up the first section of the road to the hills.  Myself, Max, Richie F, Peter and Kev were all out on the front row and once the police car pulled out, we turned right and over the bridge heading for the East Clare Way and Slieve Bearnagh.  We started climbing once we crossed the Shannon.  I went to the front and pushed the pace a bit - I'd no idea when or if the stage got technical but did not fancy having 30 or 40 riders trying to get on the ideal line at the same time as me!

On we climbed.  The lanes got narrower and steeper, and then tarmac stopped to the replaced with a rough, rocky, washed out lane with a small stream running down it and plenty of steps to get up - a right tricky little beast.  Buggle jumped ahead of Richie F and myself.  Within a few minutes it got quite out back as what remained of the group thinned out further and worked their way up the climb.  Peter started to pull away effortlessly on the technical section and I waited for Richie to respond, but nothing happened.  After a minute or so of thinking about it I passed Richie and went chasing Mr. Buggle.  Chasing is probably being a little cheeky as Peter comfortably kept me at arms length for the rest of the stage.  The rest of the loop was fire road and short sections of singletrack.  The final few km's was a descent down a tarmac lane way.
Myself, Peter and Richie up the first climb
 I came in about a minute behind Peter, with Richie coming in about 1 minute behind me. The stage turned out to take a lot less time than we (or the organisers) had initially thought - with Peter finishing about 56 minutes.  I was really happy with how things went on the first stage as my 'training' for the past couple of months consisted of the commute to work, and a couple of spins in Glending.  I had no illusions of catching Peter, but did think I'd have a chance with Richie, so a minute in the bank was a good start.

So we cruised back to town and I went back to the B+B to relax, eat, drink etc.  The afternoon stage was, in theory going to be harder.  Again it was a police escort to start, but we were on the Tipperary side of the river this time, heading for the Tountinna - a proper little mountain :)  Again were were not even out of the town and the climbing started.  I was still feeling good so kept a steady pace at the front.  A few lads went up the road but were reeled in before we went to the off road section.  As the climb went on I was feeling good and pushed it a bit, but Peter and Richie never let me get more than 20 or 30 meters ahead of them.  There was a small drop before we swung a left into a bog pit - literally.  While it broke up the climb, it was a bit of a pain to try to get across.  It was tough going and we were all carrying and running across it.  Richie and Peter were clearly better sprinters than me too as they bounded in a gazelle-like fashion across muck and pulled out a gap there that I did got get back.
Peter and Richie get away from me up Tountinna

Me chasing the boys up Tountinna - I was firmly in the Hurt Locker at this stage
I climbed to the summit and then began to descend down a tricky, switchback trail.  It was loose shale with plenty of water bars, and narrow to boot!  But it was great craic and a nice reward for the hard climb.  I could see the guys a minute or so ahead of me on a road section so I pushed on also, almost missing the left turn when lead up to the second climb of the day (the one I did not realise was there).  It was tough, with steep switchback ascent this time.  After that we started descending... straight down the mountain.  With the only thing holding us up being stiles which we had to carry the bikes over.  Then onto the tarmac.  This is where I realised how much fun stage racing is.  If this was a once off event, knowing I only had a couple of km's to go and with 2 guys ahead of me who I was not going to catch, I would have just eased of and made do with 3rd, but knowing Richie was gaining time on me, I had to push as hard as I could.  I crossed the line in 3rd, but did lose my advantage to Richie - in fact he gained 10 seconds.  But in a mountain bike race that's nothing so I was hopeful.  Max had a puncture at the top of the second climb which essentially ruled him out of the GC, but I was fully expecting him to be up the front pushing hard for the remaining couple of stages.

Myself and Max hit Gooser's bar for some great nosh that night, before heading back to the B+B for some well earned kip.  Sunday was going to be fun.

Amazing views were rewards for hard climbing
Woke up at a about 6am - forgot to switch off my internal alarm clock :( And went about sorting myself for the day.  Legs felt a little sore.  Time-wise we had only raced for about 2 hours, but had climbed 1000 metres so no surprise I was feeling it.  I had a super breakfast courtesy of Anne and headed to the start of stage 3 at Ballycuggeran, which was the location for a round of the 2010 NPS.  There was a good buzz around the place with plenty of marquee's to dash into in the event of downpour, but, again the weather looked to be playing ball.  This stage was going to be similar to Stage 1 and was in the general area of it also.  So we all lined up again and while I was not feeling in tip top condition, once the hooter sounded, it was like reset switch was flicked and my legs felt good again!  So I lashed off and set the pace up the climb.  Again, after about 10 minutes we were left with the usual crew.  For a while the pace died down and I began to think we were calling a truce for this stage and save our energy for the afternoon time trail - no such luck.  We hit this bog section and Peter dashed in ahead of me and Richie and then started to drive things on.  The group broke up at this stage with me and Richie chasing hard with Max, Martin Smith and Chad (I think) not far behind.  At this stage Richie brought up the point that this was more like Paris-Roubaix than a mountain bike race - dodgy roads, hard riding and a Cancellara type character powering away from everyone else!

This chasing continued on for about 10 minutes.  We then hit this section that looked like the top soil/bog was scraped away just leaving large rocks, mud, puddles and hidden steps for about 200 metres.  Richie pulled slightly ahead and I followed his line.  While I was concentrating on not falling off, I did not notice Richie almost endo'ing.  He took this as a sign and ran the last 50 metres.  I kept cycling.  Then I hit something - not sure what, but I felt the rear rim hit it hard and I got that bad feeling in the pit of my stomach... but kept pedalling - only 10 metres to the fireroad.  I made it, took the right turn but as I started to accelerate, fizzzzzz, pop!  Rear wheel flat.  I attempted to re inflate, but there was a big hole in the tyre.  Big mistake, should have checked it first.  If I did I would have not wasted my only CO2 can.  Instead I'd have chucked the tube in, blown it up and would have only lost a few minutes.  Anyway, you live and learn.

Max and Peter going for a cooling dip
So with nothing to do, I just started to run.  I still had about 5km to go, but had to do something.  After a few minutes, Aidan McDonald passed me and gave me a pump.  If there is one person I owe my overall result to its Aidan.  Even though he was racing he stopped and got the pump of the frame for me.  I also got a CO2 can off of an MBCC rider, so thanks very much to him also!

So, wheel off, tyre off, tube in and plenty of pumping later I was back in business.  I was hard to get back up to speed after all the messing around, but I pushed on as I still had a chance of holding onto 3rd overall.  I'd lost about 7 or 8 minutes by the time I crossed the line.  It was a little disappointing as I had hoped to keep the possibility of 2nd alive until the last stage.  Not happy, but at least I'd given it everything.  I'd dropped to 4th overall, 4 seconds behind Martin Smith.  So I new what I had to do for the final stage.  Mind you, so did Martin.
Me finishing stage 3 after puncture

I did a few things wrong in hindsight on Saturday and Sunday and specifically between stages 3 and 4.  I probably did not have a big enough dinner the night before, and too big a breakfast that morning.  I also drank about a gallon of coffee (it was great though).  Between the stages I was in a bit of a tiz trying to swap over the tyre, and cleaning up the drive train a bit.  I think I just had an electrolyte drink, a gel about an hour before the start of stage 4 and some chocolate.  Not ideal preparation for last critical event of the weekend.

Max, AKA billy-no-mates on this stage :)
The route took in all of the great singletrack from the NPS course.  Lots of rooty, techy stuff which I am normally not that good on, but as I've done little or no mountain biking this year, I was going to be totally useless on.  The climb was slightly different - in the NPS there was a section of fireroad which brought you downhill briefly before you climbed again, but in the TT, they took it out, so you just climbed and climbed and climbed.  We were to be set off in pairs and your partner for the stage was going to be the rider you finished closest to on stage 3.  I was paired with Donnacha Cassidy.  As we were waiting to start, I spotted a rider about 30 meters up the trail with his bike upside down.  Then I realised it was Martin, the rider 3 seconds ahead of me on GC.  So, even before I started it looked like I had 3rd place back.  But I did not want to take any chances and planned on leaving every last watt of energy I had out on the course (unfortunately for me, I did not have that much left in the first place).  It started off well and I soon caught up with Aidan McDonald and then near the top passed Kev.  However there was very little left in the legs at this stage and within 15 meters of the top of started to run out of gears and dabbed.  Some furious pushing got me into the singletrack.  The less I say about the rest of the TT the better, but I was pretty woeful.  I just about made it though in one piece passing the start/finish area, before sprinting back up the hill to the finish line.

I knew I had done enough, but I also knew if Martin did not have a mechanical, he'd have won, so I did not feel like I deserved it based on my efforts.  I suppose you could also argue if I did not drop 7 minutes in the previous stage I'd not have been in the situation anyway, but it did not make me feel that much better at the time.

So that was that.  The evergreen Peter Buggle came in 1st, but Richie Felle coming in about 4 minutes behind and then me 13 minutes further back.  Kev finished 4th, Martin 6th and Max 7th.  Aidan came in 8th position.  The rain finally arrived in anger as we received our prizes and after a few quick photos, we all hit the road home, very tired and happy.
On top of thanking Aidan (again!), I also have to thank Revolutions cycles who got me out of a hole on Sunday morning with the bike.  Anne O'Connor in Whitethorn lodge B+B could not have been more helpful and accommodating during my short stay.  Big thanks to the organisers, Dolmen Sports, who put on a superbly organised event, which has the potential to become huge in the years to come.  They took care of us at all times, before, during and after the stages.  MBUL need to be mentioned to for assisting Dolmen in planning the event.

Photos from the event here.
Results here.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


So, Easter has arrived and a week off from work.  You might think that's a reason to go nuts on the bikes for 7 days and flog myself into the ground, but its not quite like that.  As mentioned in previous posts, March was a very busy month - mainly because of a late start to training.  So by the end of last week, I felt pretty shattered.  I was well in need of a rest week.

A rest week for me means a couple of days of relaxing, 1 or 2 spins of about 3 hours and then a couple of very short and fast sessions.  The short sessions are a maximum of 90 minutes and can be off or on road.  I use a flat road route sometimes as you have no rest time (ie descents), but you can kill two birds with one stone by going off road and getting in the technical skills and the additional workout on the bike.

The reality is I can only free up a limited amount of time, and tie that in with motivating myself to actually get out, and you not looking at much useful training.

Luckily we had an inter-club mini league run locally for the month of April.  It was 1 night a week - and 30 minutes of full on XC racing.  It was the perfect start back into XC for me and kicked off that high-intensity work I had not done since, well, last summer!

Next up is the IMBRC Club league, which kicks off in May and runs through the summer.  Same again, 30 to 40 minutes of full on racing.  As I won't be doing all the NPS rounds, having this will keep me ticking over between races.  For anyone starting off in XC, club racing is the best way to get up to speed (pardon the pun) on your fitness and technical skills, and its normally free or very very cheap to enter.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Things I'm lovin right now

DHB leg and arm warmers
I got the leg and knee warmers recently and despite the summer starting early, I still make use of them for the early morning starts.  Great products and a super price.  Will be getting the arm warmers once things start to get chilly again (ie, April).

Peanut butter
I'm lovin' this so much right now I bought 1kg of the stuff.  Its great - you can smear it on anything to make it taste nice (steady now).

Home made protein bars
Yum, chocolate, honey, peanut butter, porridge, protein, other stuff - and a heck of a lot cheaper than buying the ready made bars with the nasty preservatives etc...

Farmers tans
The outcome of 3 hours on a bike in March in Ireland!

Energy Gel bottle
Not one of Squeezy Steves, but something I bought years ago, and found during a clear out recently.  Tried it at the Des Hanlon and works a treat.  Much handier than 3 or 4 individually wrapped up gels.

Waking up early

Well, not a huge fan of this, but sometimes you've little choice.  Still I'm lucky enough to be cycling through some of the most scenic landscape in the country, so little to complain about there.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Des Hanlon 2012

First off, I was late, and missed the official sign on, but managed to convince the chap behind the desk to throw out another sign-on sheet.  Disaster averted.

Then it was a case of getting myself and the bike prepared for one of the top races in the Irish roadie calendar. I did it last in 2009 and that did not end well.  So my only goals for this years event was not crash and stay with the lead group/breakaway.  Sounds simple but is it ever.

The night before the race I stuck on the 11-25 and a new chain.  A bike mechanic I ain't and despite getting it all attached correctly and tuned in I was not convinced, but I was not organised enough to get it to a shop for a professional to throw their eye over my handy work so I was going to have to make do.

The race following the same loop as last time I entered.  Out the Stradbally road, hang a left onto the N78 to Castlecomer before turning left and into the hills - big ones and small ones, and some nervy descents.  This brought you up by Rossmore (with great views of Carlow town) and down into Tolerton, where it was another left onto Crettyard and into Castlecomer.  The finish this year was on the Killeshin road as opposed to the old main Kilkenny road.  The weather was perfect, though the wind was blustery enough.

Once the A1/A2 group had departed, the A3's rolled out about 10 minutes later.  Not sure exactly how many signed up, but it looked like roughly 100.  And in the same manner as 2009 a group broke off straight away.  The bunch did not bother chasing so that was fine with me, doing my usual hanging down the back, and doing my best to hide the hairy mountain biker legs.  The pace picked up and dropped off regulary as guys jumped off the front or a team decided to try to bring the breakaway back in, but nothing major.  I had my first nervous moment when a bottle fell onto the road on the fast tricky descent from Arles.  Naturally enough it bounced all over the shop before the lid came off and hit my rear wheel.  No damage done but did nothing for my nerves.

We then hung the left onto the N78 and the pace picked up - until people realised this was a long drag of a climb, then it dropped down to Sunday social spin territory.  This was the point when I started to get a little grumpy, as I like fast climbs and many people don't so, in roadie world its the only time I am on par or have a small advantage.  Anyway, I knew there was going to be plenty of climbing to come so just held back.  But as we came to the steeper section of the drag I could see the breakaway being reeled in.  I decided to head up to front for a closer look (this was not a big effort - we were barely moving!).  I did think about bridging across, but spent too much time thinking and before I knew it I was swamped with riders coming through at the top of the climb.  And that was that until Castlecomer.

The sharp left just before Castlecomer is where the race proper starts.  You drop down and then have 100ish metres of a steep climb before it eases off and continues on for about another 3km.  Lesson number 1 of roadie land - don't get stuck down the back.  Should have known it was going to happen, but a couple of lads tangled on the climb (yes, climb) and the ensuing confusion, blocked the whole road and brought everyone behind them to a standstill.  The usual abuse was hurled and everyone got back on and chased to the guys who managed to avoid the stop.  We worked our way up the climb and onto a hairy descent (well it was for me).  Before a draggy climb up to the Butts.  The race continued on like that to the end of the 1st lap in Tolerton - work my way close to the front on the climbs and hills and then lose it all on the descents.  You know the term descend like a stone?  I descent like a feather.  It was the biggest fault of mine yesterday.  I just could not let go of the levers, what with the skinny tyres and tiny brake blocks on the rims.

But I got around the first lap.  The first section of the 2nd lap was a complete bore-fest.  Everyone realised how tough the climbs were now and planned on conserving as much energy as possible.  This became frustrating and I did consider just stopping.  But I went up the front and had a chat with a few lads, considering a kamikaze break, but decided to do the roadie thing and sit in.

Left turn at Castlecomer and we're climbing again (yeah!).  Lads are scattering everywhere now and the main group is down to maybe 40 (the breakaway was caught).  I decided to push things along a little on the drag around Coolraheen and I felt good.  Things were starting to break up at the front with a couple of guys pushing on and it was making things interesting.  But my DIY mechanics came back to haunt me when the chain dropped on the climb.  I tried to get it back on with some gear shifting and began to slow right down - and into the main group, who starting giving me grief for not sticking my hand in the air or possibly throwing myself into the ditch in order to save them from my crazy antics.  Not wanted to sound like this annoyed me or anything, but had I done either on that narrow road, at the pace we were going, it would have been sure to have caused a crash.  Anyway, I got the chain back on but was stuck down at the back of the group.  Disaster.  Knowing the most important descent was close (the one which brought you to the foot of the Rossmore climb), I was going to waste a lot of energy just to try to catch up.  But there was no harm in trying.

I got to the bottom of the climb and could see the group 100 metres ahead.  After finding a decent gear (that is, one which did not jump out of the sprocket), I began the long and hard job of working my way back up the field.  As the climb progressed we began to be passed by the team cars from the A1/A2 race mopping up the dropped riders.  Now I began to feel what it was like to be some poor sucker up on a mountain stage in a major tour - weaving away through the team and support cars, looking for any bit of help.

I made it to the top, but did not manage to get to the group.  However a strong bunch who also got dropped began to form and with the help for a vocal Barrow Wheelers rider, we got stuck into the job at hand, descending like loons in order to try to get onto the group ahead.  I got a little carried away at the start when I spotted a struggling Robin Kelly (top A1 rider) ahead, and tried to catch his wheel, but I was a tad over optimistic as once the climbing was out of the way he sped into the distance.  I thought the chase was a lost cause personally, but everyone else was giving it their all, so I thought if nothing else, it would be a good workout.  And everything was going well until the Tolerton junction.  A left turn brought you onto the lap and a right to the finish line.  Unfortunately one the group (might have been an Orwell Wheelers rider) overshot the corner and ended up on the deck - though he was lucky in that there was no ditch or wall, just plenty of grass.  Though I'm not sure how bad it was.  That just left a few of us to finish out the chase.  We had about 5km to go and with the vocal support of the Barrow Wheelers rider and a couple of dropped A2's we made it back!  For me that was the highlight of the day.  But we still had a couple of km's to recover and try for a sprint.  This is not something I'd be comfortable with and really what I should have done was follow my man through the group out to the front.  Instead I hung in and as the pace picked up and riders dropped off (either due to the speed or just not wanting to contest), I found myself close to the front, but there was no way through the mass of riders across the road, so I just hung in there and crossed somewhere in the top 20 maybe.

Immediately after the race I thought I was done with road racing - when you're not racing, its boring - simple as.  And during those phases at the Des Hanlon I was just thinking about the XC race in Bunclody I had sacrificed.  But after looking at the numbers in Strava and comparing with the other riders who uploaded theirs from the race, it gave me a bit of consolation in that I was pretty strong on the flat and climbs (though sucked big style everywhere else).  And the last 15km's was fun and hard work too.  But to get results on the road you need to be committed to discipline - letting it all hang out on the descents, and pushing your way into position for the sprints, something I'm not sure I have the time, interest or stomach for.  But I'm not totally giving up on the roadie stuff - though this will probably be the last one for a while, as I need to remember how to ride a mountain bike :)

Friday, March 23, 2012

Sh*te Mountain bikers say

Its been doing the rounds for a while, but this is good - and funny cos its true....

And the not so funny roadie version

More updates

March has been busy.

On the down side, there's been no mountain biking since January - I think the last time I was on a trail was last summer.  I've had to do with cycling to work.  As its the only way to get any kind of 'training' in - which might not be the best way to describe slowly lugging myself up hills around the back of Blessington, but desperate times and all that.  I'm also setting my alarm before 6am in order to get a decent spin into work.  That's not a big deal as I'm usually woken between 4 and 6 anyway with some child looking for some attention.

On the up side, I am doing a lot of cycling - in fact March is looking like its going to be one of the best in terms of distance and metres (slowly) climbed ever.  I can't complain where I am right now considering I only started cycling again properly in February and have a a couple of tummy bugs in that time too.

Its 5 weeks to the Lough Derg Challenge, so my plans will be to reduce the km's and increase the intensity to get to some level of race pace into the old bones.  I've got a couple of races coming up - the Des Hanlon on Sunday and will try to get to the Ticknock Biking Blitz next weekend.  The reason I chose the Des Hanlon over the Leinster league in Bunclody was simply because these races have been clashing for the past 3 years and I've chosen the XC for the past 2.  Another reason is Des Hanlon is a local race for me, having grown up around Newtown, Crettyard, Castlecomer area, I spent many a day rolling around those roads on a grotty old bike 20 plus years ago (eeek!), so its nice to get back.  Finally, this is an Irish 'Classic' and will attract all the top riders, so I'm sure to get a good workout over the duration of the 110km.

So its feet up tomorrow with the exception checking the bike and finding an 11-25 cassette :)

Monday, March 12, 2012

Almost race season

Well for me it is.

I've only had one race this year and plenty of sickness, but the last 6 odd weeks (barring the vomiting bug) have not been too bad.  Its all be one the road and about 80% of it tied in with my commute to work.  As things are right now with a couple of kids, its the only way it can be done.  I've not been on any mountain bike since January, so that's a worry, but I'd hope to be heading off road in the next couple of weeks.  In from a fitness point of view, I'm OK.  I'm not feeling that strong, but who is in April before regular racing kicks off?

I've signed up for the Lough Derg Challenge.  This is the first multi day/multi stage event for me so from a training point of view its all new.  I'm going to figure it out as I go along, but I guess most of it will involve lots of long spins back-to-back, with plenty of climbing.  No goals set as to where I'd like to finish but  I'm just going to give it socks and see how it pans out after the first day.

But before that there's going to be at least 1 road race - the Des Hanlon in Carlow.  Its a nice one with plenty of rolling climbs, so a good work out for the Lough Derg.

So with 6 weeks to go, its time to start taking things a bit more seriously!

Monday, February 27, 2012

The return of the pox and other news

I thought things could not get much worse after the illnesses at the start of February, but I was wrong.  Despite that, it was not shaping up to be a bad month training-wise.  In fact, it was one of the best in terms of distance in over a year so I was keen to finish the month with a couple of big spins before taking it handy for a week or so.

However, nothing goes to plan and in the middle of last week when my son began throwing up I did get a little worried.  But by Friday that seemed to have stopped and he was on his way back.  But the following day things starting going downhill for me, cumulating in plenty of worshipping in front of the porcelain throne.  Sunday was a total write off and today, despite my big (pre-Friday) plans, was spent doing very little.

Just to help me get a picture of the races I plan (and you know what they say about those) on doing... here's the list:

Dublin Wheelers Grand Prix  - Race cancelled
St. Paddy's day race - 17th March - maybe nope....
Newbridge GP - 18th March - gone!  Christening that day...
Des Hanlon - 25th March
Lough Derg Challenge - 21st/22nd April
NPS Round 2 - 29th April
NPS Round 4 - 27th May
NPS Round 5 - 10th June (maybe)
NPS Round 6 - 25th June (longshot)
XC Champs - 15th July
Marathon Series - 5th August
Marathon Champs - 26th August

The Cooley Thriller will be in there too I'm sure and hopefully the Bull Raid.  Won't be doing Bontrager this year unfortunately.  Its looking to be pretty quite after June race-wise, so hopefully some one off events will appear in the calendar.

Ned Flannagan Memorial

I was trying to decide whether to go to to the Biking Blitz in Ballinastoe or Ned Flannagan Memorial.  I went with the former as it was handier to get to, and less chance of having to much bike cleaning.

So I checked in with Gene, and after a bit of encouragement we were on the way down to Monasterevin.  The weather was cold but dry, so ideal for a road race.  As it was the first road race of the season, it was sure to have a big turn out and it did with 120+ riders across all categories.

The race was to be run as a handicap, A4's got 2 minutes head start on us A3, with I think 1 minute between us and the A1/A2 group.  As we rolled out the pace was up straight away.  I had no warm up, but it seemed the A3's were keen to get the legs warmed up.  As usual I was hanging on down the back.  We had a headwind on the way down to Portlaoise, so in some ways it was not bad to be stuck down the back.  After just over 10 minutes we caught the A4's.  But the pace stayed constant.  Also at this point I started to feel like I was able to ride a bike again and worked by way up to the front as we were hitting the rolling hills just before Portlaoise.

I kept the pace up and was starting to run out of steam when a lad jumped off the front and gained a decent gap.  A few lads went off after him, but it was never going to last and it all came back.  We hung a left towards Stradbally and the pace picked up again.  A few more guys went off the front but again they were brought back.  As we descended down to Stradbally the A1/A2 group came through, with the top guys slicing through us like butter.

I understand they pushed on as we got out the far side of Stradbally, but the pace stayed high and it started to take its toll on me and soon I was on the back again.  I grabbed a wheel and was just focussing on holding that - head down thinking happy thoughts :) .  Unfortunately by not looking up I did not realise that the wheel I was on had detached from the main group.  And with that I was in no man's land.  I was still 4 km's or so from Athy, so I decided now I was on my own I would push as hard as I could and if I did not make it back, I was going to just tap along back to the finish.

I did not connect back up, but as we hung a sharp left, I took a look back to see a large group coming up.  I did not realise that the race had split up that much.  Another plus was these guys were keen on making it back to the lead group.  So I tucked in and did a few turns on the front.  And with about 5km to Kildangen, we got back on.

After that there race finally started to slow down due to a few km's of rolling roads and I start to feel a little better.    We were unsure of the situation in the race- there could have been 20 guys out front for all I knew, so I was not planning on contesting a sprint finish.  Although in hindsight, I probably should have had a pop with a few km's to go and see if anyone wanted to join in.  But I didn't, and came in with the main but a couple of minutes behind Robin Kelly and Ryan Sherlock (1st and 2nd respectively).

I enjoyed the day, mainly because I stayed in the main group of a handicapped race (a first)!  Plus it was a fast one - for me averaging just under 40kph for 1 hour 45 mins.  So I'll be doing 2 or maybe 3 more road races before the mountain biking starts for me this year.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Febuary training & not crossing the N81

Well, post respiratory tract infection, things have not been too bad at all really.  Regular spins to work, and a couple of long steady weekend runs have helped get me back on track.  Well, a couple of months behind what would have been the normal schedule, but what can do you.

I managed a 4 hour road spin last week, but was in the horrors for the final hour, so definitely have a long way to go to get fit.  I used to do a 2 hour commute to work on occasion in the past - heading out around the lake a Blessington or up to Sally Gap, but even doing 1 hour 15 is a challenge.  But I plan to put a big effort in for the remaining 11 days of February and hope to be back up in the mountains at some unGodly hour of a Friday morning when all sane people are still tucked up in bed.

Racing starts tomorrow - both on and off road.  I'd like to do something but I think I'd be better off just getting some base kilometres in...still you can't beat the craic of race day so I've got the mountain bike and road bike ready to go :)

I'm pretty sure I'll sign up for the Lough Derg Challenge.  Its something to aim towards and a hard event to boot.  And its also sure to attract a strong field after the good reports from last year.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The G-Ride

A new race in a new venue coming up in March.  And since it was designed by Robin, no doubt it'll be hard on the climbs and fun on the descents...

Online registration for this event is now open HERE.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Ride the Giro - virtually

This is a nice way to preview stages of the 2012 Giro -, but you also get a view of all the main passes and also some of the 2011 world tour races... enjoy

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Pre-season kick off.. take 2

Mostly over this affliction now.  I've just 1 more day on the antibiotics and that should be that.  So today I decided to get out on the bike and see how things felt.

After a lot of humming and hawing I went on the road.  Mainly because I was feeling lazy and did not fancy the packing, driving, unpacking, riding, packing, driving, unpacking, cleaning that goes with the mountain bike.  The plan was to do a handy spin on the flat for a couple of hours to ease the body back.  But I ended up pushing things for most of the spin.  I did my best to stay on the flat, but somehow I ended up on the Newbridge GP loop.  And since I was there it would have been rude not to do a couple of laps.

Its a great little loop of about 17km.  There's less than 200 metres of climbing a lap, but most of them are crammed into a kicker about 1.5km long and a 3km drag.  There are some flat bits in there, but you feel most of your time is spent going up or down.

The first lap was hard going, but I felt better on the second and starting on the drag a group of lads from South Dublin CC passed me.  As they passed I resisted tagging on the back... for about 30 seconds.  Then as their group began to splinter I just had to push things on :) .  Its great having people faster than you to chase and I made the most of the lads in that respect.  I'm also glad I bumped into them because one of the lads spotted the QR on my rear wheel was flapping about, on the descent!  So with that fixed I finished off the lap and tootled home.

I was great to be back on the bike but I was cramping up on the way back, probably due to the time off and the extra effort I put in chasing the guys on the climb.  Anyway here's to more of that in the coming months!

I've lofty plans for the week - 2 hour spin into work on Tuesday and Friday, with the Wednesday night spin in there and maybe a TT session on Thursday, but if I managed half that I won't complain.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


Had enough and went to the doctor on Monday.  So it turns out I've a Sinus infection and that means antibiotics and some other drugs to sort it out.  Its a nasty infection in that I've got stabbing pains in my right eye and tooth ache in my upper right jaw, but its not a patch on the infection I had 5ish years ago when I ended up in bed for 4 days with the symptoms on both sides of my head!

Apart from the pain, I'm also not getting much sleep so all in all, I'd say I'm right back to square 1 in terms of training.  But as I mentioned before, it's not like I have specific goals this side of June so there's no pressure on me.

If the antibiotics do their thing, I'd like to think I can get back on the bike on Friday with a handy spin into work, but will play it by ear.

Apart from that, I've just been doing some bike maintenance with the KTM rebuilt and looking lovely (and still for sale!) and some serious work done on cleaning up the Kinesis with was not getting much loving over the past month or so.

Looks like my first competitive race of the season will be a road race in Monasterevin in mid-February.  I'll be hopelessly unfit for that one, but will be performing domestique duties for Gene Ryan :)

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

2012... setback number 1

Got some weird head cold / sinus thing.  Has totally flattened me since last Friday.  And things were going okish too.

Had a few good spins on the road.  Tried to keep the pace high and stay on top of the gears.  The times were nothing to write home about, but it was a good start.  I also managed a couple of hours on the mountain bike (wheels holding up nicely - could turn out to be the bargain of the year!)  I'd not started on the Turbo trainer, but was planning on doing a bit this week.

Then Aidan starting coughing...a lot.  After about 3 days I started to get a head cold.  Tied in with 4 nights on the trot with a combined total of 15 hours sleep, things went from bad to worse.  I got the first symptoms last Thursday afternoon, but cycled into work on Friday as I was only hurting above the neck, but by Saturday/Sunday was in bits.  I had to just go to bed early.  But despite getting about 8 hours sleep over the past 2 nights I wake up feeling like I've not slept at all.

I don't think I can do much more than put the feet up and take it easy (well as much as you can with 2 kids).  I won't be stressing about not hitting my training plan that's for sure :)

Saturday, January 14, 2012

FOR SALE - 2011 KTM Myroon Prestige

I’m selling my 2011 KTM hardtail XC bike. Its got approximately 14 hours riding on it since I got it in July. The bike is as new with the exception of a couple of cosmetic scratches (all highlighted in the video below). Its a truly pro XC race bike decked out from front to back in top end kit and coming in at 9kgs with pedals, there’s no excuses!
I used the bike in a couple of rounds of the Irish NPS series, the Bull Raid and Bontrager 24/12. The 2011 KTM catalogue can be found here - Pics and a video of the bike below also.
I’m based in Ireland but in my mind the bike is well worth a trip over if you wanted to try before you buy.
KTM Myroon Prestige (19" medium)
Original factory spec:
-DTSwiss XRC Single Shot Race 100mm forks with remote lockout
-Full 2011 XTR Groupset 2x10
-DTSwiss XM1550 wheelset
-Ritchey carbon finishing kit
-Schwalbe Rocket Ron tubeless tyres
Size: 48cm/19"
Seat tube length: 480
Top tube length: 587
Seat angle: 72
Head angle: 70
Head tube length: 150
Chainstay length: 430
WheelbaseL 1070
Looking for £2200 (€2700). The original list price £4780 (€5700)
More Pic's of bike here

I can be contacted via Facebook just search Richie Close