Tuesday, October 27

Another race and a result of sorts

Another weekend another cross race. Season is kicking off fully now with most people having dusted their bikes off and getting them covered in mud all over again.

Sunday saw a long drive up to Carrickfergus for the second round of the Ulster Cyclocross League, first round also being the Supercross Cup the weekend before in Lurgan. 2 hours 45 mins later we finally arrived in a field in the middle of nowhere. Wind blowing, rain tanking down, and what looked like a sodden field beside the playing pitches. Thankfully we found out that we were going to get showers after the event so the mood was cheered up a little....despite the obvious standing water in the field.

Only 34 riders turned up due to weather, roadworks, and general apathy. On top of that only 5 riders from down South, poor show lads. Gridding up after a pointless two lap warmup, which ment that 30 mins were spent cleaning the bike before warming up on the road again, had me sitting on the second row with a direct line at the holeshot.

10 seconds, clip in, check the gearing. GO. Gun it up the hill and get into the first corner in 6th place. Hold it through the first few corners until the second hill. Drop a place to Fergus and so the fight began. 5 laps back and forth each of us fighting for every inch in the corners and hills. Every descent I'd take him, only to loose it on the hill. 5th lap and I put in a big effort, get a gap of 4m going into the hill and just kept going, needed to drop him! Top of the hill and he's blown, keep it going on the descent and by the end of the lap I have maybe 10seconds on him and he's slowing.

7th lap and disaster; chain pops off as i hit it with my heel pedaling through a tight right hand corner. By the time i have it back on and get moving again Fergus has caught me and gone past. Doing my best for a lap to get back onto him but not a chance, he's motoring and i cant get back.

7th place, just outside the prize money. But good points in the league non the less.

Lots of photos from Andy Potts at : http://mitzelphoto.fotopic.net/c1773205.html

Saturday, October 24

Strip strip strip the weight.

Made some changes to the cross bike during the week and got it down to a nice 9.4kg ish just before the race in Lurgan last weekend. So more fettling insued this weekend to strip it down even further for as cheap as i can!

XT rear derauiler : 260g
XT front deraulier : 160g
Truvativ Cranks & Rings: 655g
Truvative BB: 120g
XT cassette: 345g
Bolts n bits: 50g

105 rear deraulier: 240g
Biopace ring(40): 100g (uurrrrgh heavy)
Truvative cranks & BB (Elita): 692g
Chain plate: 26g
Ultegra 12-27 (9s) cassette: 200g

Weight loss:
332g net profit! A few other grammes from changing tires but forgot to weigh them :( Now down to a more respectable 8.9kg.

Just like Iaranrod Eirean, we're getting there.

Wednesday, October 21


Man that session was crazy after all.

Session time total: 1hr 40mins
Distance : 19.5km
Climbing height: 116m - wouldn't of thought we did that much climbing!
Avg Hr: 157bpm for the session - that included all those breaks we had
Max Hr: 181bpm - my max Hr about 193 at the moment*


Man that session was crazy after all.

Session time total: 1hr 40mins
Distance : 19.5km
Climbing height: 116m - wouldn't of thought we did that much climbing!
Avg Hr: 157bpm for the session - that included all those breaks we had
Max Hr: 181bpm - my max Hr about 193 at the moment*


For the last drill we did i'm just stunned with how hard we were all going!

11 times in total up and down that hill, race distance of5.5km and took 20mins, so 2 mins average lap like we said at the end!

Max HR: 181bpm - surprising...no...still suppressed from Sunday.
Avg HR: 170bpm - ouch... 94% of session max Hr, 88% of MAX Hr..wow
Max Speed: 34kph...on grass...wow that's faster than expected on that course


Now real interesting bit...ok interesting to me....maybe Ryan....

Look at run number 6 up the hill, Bob was behind me and told me to go as hard as possible...so i did.....as you do. Heart rate through the roof...but then slowly slowly starts to drops, then boom through the floor.

Total decoupling of HR and effort, i was in bits at this point. Binned it once, then 3 laps later and Luke passed me.

Moral of the story, my session was over there, no top end sprint work, and racing on a flat out course like that means one hard attack and I'm binned. So need to do some recovery work.

Man im a nerd...but its my job!

*yes i can work harder Bob

Monday, October 19

Supercross Cup Round 1

Up early to meet the lads from WORC and to scab a lift to lovely lovely Lurgan. Racing up North always has a different feel to it, you dont know who's going to line up and it makes for better racing as you dont know just how hard the others can go. Add to that first race of the season and you have a perfect recipie for a good race.

Last years nationals were hosted in Lurgan and it proved to be a mixed bag, good but not great, not a race i'd rank as A1 but not a B class race. Yesterday the Apollo boys pulled all the stops out and the course was as good as any UCI cat race you are going to get in the UK.....not as good as the St Anne's round mind you ;)

Warmed up with the WORC boys (my other club) which felt good, all 5 of us trucking around, checking out the roots and lines and generally looking professional. I'm sure we looked like cocks but sure thats just the way. 5 laps warm up, then told the race is 30mins late, 2 more slow paced laps and we're lining up. Very warm day by cross standards so shorts and jerseys were the order of the day, long finger gloves still though.

30 seconds to start, clip in right foot, look for a line through the mess that's about to occur. GO, hard out, hitting max HR in about 30 seconds, into the first 15 and hitting the first bend, get a few places here and push push push. Boards, flat, boards, uphill and corneres, singletrack, straightaway, start finish area. 9 more times around this...this is going to suck.

Ollie on left, Arek on the right, Polish Ultra Man!

Got dropped by the bunch on lap 3 and ended up in no mans land. Stuck it out for a lap then let Arek and Ollie from MAD get up onto me, hid behind Arek into the wind section, passed him on all the tech stuff. Ollie was there 2 seconds ago..where's he gone! Good hard racing, needed to stay alert as Arek was bound to attack me. Laps 6-7 i recovered, watched Arek and figured i could beat him on the last straight and all the runs, on the singletracks i needed to get ahead of him, he owned me there. Must work on my twisty stuff.

Lap 8 it all kicked off, we had picked up another northern rider and they started rotating attacks on me into all the single track sections. Had to dig in hard so as to not get beaten to them. Every time we got in i eased up and tried to get the breathing under control while checking every 5 seconds. Mind was getting tired but the body was even worse, cramping, needing to puke, usual joys of cross.

Massive attack from Arek, tried to go around me on the straight. out of the saddle 50*14 trying to get ahead of him, massively late breaking into a corner nearly puts me in the spectators but he didn't get past. Suffering, need to recover. Northern lad attacks, cant get his wheel, he's into the singletrack before me, riding fast need to catch him. Cant get him, flat section, Arek goes past. Boards, the boards will save me, these guys cant run. Hit the boards section flat out, in between the lads and running hard, quick mount and back on the gas, ahead, now recover on the twisty climb. Second boards, 5m's on them. Into the single track Arek right on my wheel, can hear him breathing hard, he's on the edge. Must attack early.

Last section of single track i'm clicking up the gears, hitting the exit onto the fast section i'm in 50*15 and still going faster, click, out of the saddle, click, sprinting, 100m to go, quick glance, he's blown! Click click click down, squeal go the brakes, right, left 180 turn, roll over the line. Roll around catching my breath, shake hands with the lads, roll off and try to keep the vomit down, i need a drink bad. Stomach and thighs cramping. Best feeling in the world.

All this for 22nd place. You gotta love cross.

Saturday, October 17

Operation Lightificate cross bike

Season offically starts tomorrow. Round 1 of the Supercross Cup. Lurgan Park, a technical course with some sloppy slide moments on it and some odd bits, apparently the water feature has been removed though!

So in order to get the bike ready for the nationals in Jan I've started to tweak.....not myself, but the bike. Geometry is all dialled in now with the switch to a 90mm stem and a rise of the bars, we know how we will be riding. Now to sort what ill be riding.

I'll not be changing frames for this year, just updating what i have. So a list is in order and a few pics:

Frame: Planet X: Uncle John Cross
Fork: Planet X: Carbon Cross fork, alu steerer
Cranks: Truvative Rouler compact 50/39
Pedals: Eggbeaters, cro-mo basic ones
Drivetrain: Shimano XT F/R
Cassette: XT MTB one, 11-32
Shifters: Shimano 105
Brakes: TRP EuroX
Stem: Some Deda brick of a thing I've borrowed of Mick
Bars: FSA Carbon Pro
Headset: FSA Orbit CX (knackered, new ones on way from On-one)
Bartape: Eastons finest
Saddle: Planet X Team Ti
Seatpost: Planet X superlight (??)
Cables: Mix of DA and XTR cables
Tire options: Vitorria Cross XG pro, 700 x 32, Continental Twister Pro 700 x 32 (345g per)

Wheel option 1: Shimano Ultegra Fr/Mavic Open Pro with Powertap SL 2.4 hub (3,200g with cassette + skewers)
Wheel option 2: Shimano Ultegra Fr/Rr (3,200g with cassette + skewers)
Option 3: Zipp 404's with...nothing yet as i haven't decided on what tubs to use yet.

Total Weight : 10.1kg

Time to start the lightificating procedures

Monday, October 12

My First Motorbike

Just saw this flick up in the side bar on my computer. I'd nearly forgotten how the bike that i learnt to ride on looked like. 1987 Honda Transalp, 600cc and my first bike.

I remember when i learnt to ride i started at the 'school' on a Virago 125cc, horrible piece of shit, hard to steer and hard to even get comfy on. After 30 mins the instructor moved me onto a BMW F650. Hopped on, and within 10 mins was whizzing about. Reason why? Cause it was just a big MTB.

Now i have beastly, my lovely Africa Twin. 750cc of pure Japanease lovely. But this is where it started, on a bike JUST under the legal limit....when it was full of petrol. Good old power to weight.

More on that tomorrow though
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End of season review

I do hate this part of the year, but at the same time it forces me to think and re-assess my training and look towards what i want to do next year. The 'season' or training period starts for me each year in November, i like to take a few weeks off in October, turn off, drink some beers and catch up on TV. Training tends to be nice and un structured and just keeps me going. Last year i had just started working with Rich so October was not a month off, it was a month to tweak running and start me up for the cross season. So info for the last season is 13 months.

This will take a few posts to get thorough i think....

  • Bike: MTB & CX 73hrs / 810km
Not a huge amount of MTB distance compared to last year, not enough if im honest! However i tweaked my wrist at the start of the march , and i did decide the i was going to focus more on the triathlon side of things this year, so all in all not to bad. Probably missing another 100km in there from fatty spins with the DCU lot, but not worrying to much
  • Bike: Road: 176.4hrs / 3,079km
Time here is not totally correct, i don't always include my spin into and from college unless it is an actual training session. On top of that, a large skew for me this year was the focused week in france riding. Great training, great hill work and i will be back next year. Happy enough with the road mileage but on years previous this is quite down. I do feel this also showed in my on bike work during the year, and i didn't bike as hard as i could during races, however i did bike more sensibly.
  • Racing 19hrs / 285km
General idea between MTB race, CX races, running, and tri. Not a whole heap of racing hours when i look at it. Not including some things like 3 peaks and some MTB challenge races, but actual focused race time. Not that much when i look at it this way.
  • Run: Road 32hrs / 232km
Massive volume increase for me here, untold increases in my running have been gained this year. Only way i can say this happened was through a long slow process of refining a poorly developed running cyclist into a slightly less poor one :) Happy that i can now run 20min 5k's off the bike in sprint races, can go under 1:45 for a half marathon and am in and around the 44mins for 10km on the flat.

  • Swim erm not sure yet
I dont tend to track my swim volume and time. I probably should, its now my weakest area. Somewhere to focus on for the next few months.

Saturday, October 10

Two weeks post and allot of cake

I do like the off season. Three peaks was to be the defined end of the season. I only actually noticed that i'd made this decision over a year ago when i went to play with WKO+ and noticed that it'd rest to 2008 :)

So what have i been at, very little. Random un-organised training, blowing in and out of exercise for the last two weeks and i have to be honest its been good. Getting my brain on track, catching up with old friends, making new ones, and getting a better focus in work.

Backing off all things competitive, not even thinking about it has felt good, i'm even feeling the focus coming back. Albeit slowly.

Had a good weekend out in west of Ireland with Waggers. Headed off to ride the Derroura trails near Galway. I'd been there a few months back with Pauline and thought of them as Ballinstowe with Soul...yes capital S. First lap around was fraught with Wag's having some major drivetrain issues,thankfully great weather and a 'couldn't care less' attitude meant that the 2 hour lap for 17km was not annoying. Fixed the issues back at the van, donned lights to the bike and headed back out for a second lap, much more respectable 1hr 3mins. Have to say i love those trails, rocky and slippy in the right way, with all the height gained on proper single track climbs.

That night we we drove to Clifden for dinner and beers as i had to test in Westport with the An Post boys the day after, plan was to get some of the western way in on the way up. Great night out after we found the local old mans pub and settled in for the night. Few scoops, couple of games of pool, and some good talk. Great evening, first time i've switched off in a long time.

However Waggers decided falling out of his hammock and landing on the large storage boxes was s good idea in the middle of the night. Long story short, he walked like and old man for a day, drove home, and now he has broken ribs. Off the bike for X weeks :( Funny as hell at the time! So as he was broken i went for a run on Croagh Patrick. From the back side, ohh er, i summited in 28 mins, great time up, dodgy on the way down, 21 but took a longer route.

This week i have done nowt, few spins on the bike, light running and a cross session on the nationals course yesterday. Was supposed to go for a ride with Ollie today...but he was hungover...and im feeling lazy. Run later, going to work on bikes for a few hours and get all greasy!