Monday, December 31, 2007

Objective: Achieved

To an outsider, it might seem slightly crazy. To my family, it seems insane. Yet to the 50 or so individuals standing at Kilmacanogue on Thursday, it seemed perfectly reasonable.
Being so near to Christmas, and in the off season, everyone seemed pretty cheerful and no one appeared to be taking it seriously - until the gun went off on the 2nd Charles Barrington Memorial Race. The all hell broke loose.
As it was my first race and I knew very few people other than the very fast, and the not quite as fast I decided to line up towards the rear of midpack with Rachel, despite her urging me forward...should really have listened...Once the gun went I noticed that the top 15 or so took off up the tarmac at decent speed, but everyone else seemed to mingle about in a pack together, despite there being singletrack from 200m right the way up. As I was feeling good, I tried to drift towards the front and found myself in about 20th entering the slippy, muddy singletrack. My shiny new runners, which marked me out as fresh meat, were completely filthy 300m in! Probably lent me some credibility :-)
After a few hundred metres, I was feeling great and the HR was nice and low and I was sitting in a pack of 5, just behind the top 10 or 12, whom we could see were starting to stretch out ahead. Time to do something! One by one, picking off fit looking people who were coming to a standstill. Talking to Alan Ayling afterwards, he remarked that I seemed to be sprinting when everyone else was walking, and passing an EPIC jersey did feel good :-) Now the HR was climbing fsater than I was but just kept the head down and focused on the guy in front. Colm Mullen, the winner passed me on his way down just as I got to the foot of the final scree slope, with Peter and Eoin Keith chasing down like a pair of hares after him. I caught 1 more on the scramble to the summit, then let go of the brakes for the nice long descent back to the finish, fully expecting anyone to come charging past, as I had noticed that Fergal can easily outpace me on the descents in training. As it happened, no one caught me, but I didn't catch the duo in front either, despite the vocal applause from a few walkers en route.

1st run, 122% of winner, 9th place.
Happy with that.
The primary goal was to be inside 125% and set a good benchmark for the season ahead, hitting a top 10 was a bonus really :-)
Looking forward to lots more in the New Year....

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Sunday, March 25, 2007

K Capital Cup Round 2

After a dismal showing in round 1, I was eager to get into action in the second round, held in Rostrevor.
The course consisted of one long, steep fireroad climb which sapped the legs before darting down a very technical singletrack section, which I did not enjoy much - of the 1 practice lap and 5 race laps I did, I can honsetly say I was happy with just 1 of my attempts at this section - I was making mistakes everywhere. The fact that I was using brand new pedals and cleats, one of which came loose on the practice lap and was just barely screwed tight enough to hold, but made it impossible to get my feet out - will remember never to use any new gear without having put at least 10 hours in on it beforehand.
The second climb was a lot shorter and not quite as steep, but still testing. This led into a much nicer singletrack, still technical but faster and flowing with lots of roots to beat you up.

Off the start line, I hung with the lead group up the first climb but was not feeling good. My HR was refusing to budge above 187 and my legs were a bit numb. To make matters worse, a goo which I had taken prior to the start began to repeat on me and left a horrible feeling in my stomach. In the first singletrack section, I lost touch with the lead group but diced out with Niall Quinlan, Andreas and Alfie for the rest of the lap. My legs suddenly woke up on lap 2 and I could turn the pedals a bit better. Andreas was first up and soon after catching him, I made it up to Niall again and followed him down the singletrack. At that stage I was feeling good and enjoying the battle, Niall pulling away in the singletrack and me getting ahead on the climbs. At the beginning of lap 3 I pushed a bit harder an dropped Niall on the climb but the effort had worn me a bit and I made a huge mistake about 50m into the descent. Off I came and planted my hip on a large, hard root or rock The pain caused by the effort on the climb was instantly replaced by a shock up through my hip and thigh. After a second or two hopping around getting my bearings, I climbed aboard but the first few pedal strokes confirmed that the pain was here to stay. Every turn of the pedals resulted in a pain like a knife being twisted a little further into my hip. Niall got away from me here and I was not to see him again until the finish.
I could manage the long climbs OK, as I could settle into the pain a bit and climbed alright, but was lacking a bit of power and suffering a lot. Different story on the singletrack where sudden, sharp bursts of power were required for digging out of holes and clearing roots and things - this became very painful.
Managed to get around the 5 laps and put some points on the board, but could have done so much better if it wasn't for 1 stupid mistake.

Here's some pictures of the war wounds:

Hip Damage.

Some interesting tyre marks on the inside of my right calf - must keep my legs out of the way of my tyres in future.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Sunday, January 14, 2007

A missed oppurtunity, a meeting and a slow spin

The AGM of the CI Off-road commission was held yesterday in Carlingford, Co. Louth - one of the coolest places to ride in Ireland.
Originally a plan was hatched that we would drive up there early in the morning, ride some of the Marathon Champs course and then attend the meeting. I agreed to take Ryan's bag up for him as he would be cycling up (120km) That all fell to pieces when Morgan bailed out and decided not to go riding up there, and as I had Ryan's rucksack, I couldn't really join him for the ride up with Robin and Niall. So it was an 8am start on a very windy day to get some solo road miles in before taking the 1.5 hour road trip with Morgan for the meeting.
As meetings go, this one was as banal as any other, no real sticking points or heated debates. MAD had a strong representation of 4, Morgan, Fergal, Ryan and myself, possibly the largest group from any club. No trash-talking and only one major argument early on, with CI president Micheál Concannon becoming embroiled over something that nobody seemed to know about.
After the meeting ended, Ryan, Morgan and I toured the town for some food and found a small Pizzaria. Due to a mix up with the Italian monikers, I ended up with the wrong pizza - olives, anchovies and capers - none of which I like, and even after I expertly picked off the toppings, there was a woefully fishy taste from it. The others enjoyed their pizza though.

Sunday morning saw 10 riders assemble at the YH for a trip to Djouce, a route I've done several times lately. The pace was quite slow - myself and Chris dropped everyone going up Ticknock hill while at conversation pace! After much stopping, slowness and a bit of frustration on my part, we eventually reached Djouce with the piéce de resistance, XTC, riding beautifully as always. There's a rather large hole after appearing on it though. I spent the whole day in cruise control and unfortunately this carried through to my descending, I just wasn't concentrating and my mind was elsewhere.
By the time we reached Maulin, I had given Tom my second bottle after he had finished his Camelbak and lost his remaining bottle, fortunatley I know my body well enough to be able to control myself and get through. I wasn't exactly exerting myself anyway. 5 hours after leaving home I had still only had taken on 500ml and wasn't feeling any worse for it. I filled up with some water in Enniskerry and took on some Coca-cola and some jamtarts in the garage, which was fine for getting me home. Need to take on extra water tonight though :-)
I arrived home at 16:15, 7hrs30mins after I had left and feeling no worse than I would have had I just popped around to the shops!
Spins like that won't go any way towards the top end of experts this year.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Cyclocross Picture

Jumping the barrier at the Larne CX race on October 14th last.