I've been a mountain biker since i first heard of it as a wee lad climbing in Glendalough. Watching the old boys of Irish mountain biking descending the zig-zags wondering where they had come from and where they were going. All i knew at that time was that i had at least an hour walk out from the crags, and they would be drinking a beer in my name.
Several years later i had been mountain biking for a few hours when i saw a few lads (Robin Seymore, Joe McCall, Dave Gill) descending off the top of 3 rock down a run called Bone-shaker on what looked like road bikes. This route i considered a DH run, and used to hit it dressed head to toe in armour and donning a full face to save my gorgeous looks.
Three years ago i got my first cross bike after doing a few races on my MTB. An old Flanders beater i bought for €100 off a mate. I loved it, i thought i was Sven Nys.... albeit it 94kg and couldn't run up hill to save my life. This also corresponded with the lowest point in my personal life. I was in my final year and i pretty much opted to drop training for a year
Cross in a way was a saviour, an eye opener to a new world of potential and what i could do on a MTB. Along with triathlon and a fair dose of help from Pauline, i ditched most of the weight by the start of the next season. A summer of MTB and track, and 7 or 8 triathlons (god knows how many duathlons) left me eager for cross.
Roll on the Team WORC club cross sessions on Tuesday nights. Hard training, with the best, no bullshit, no place to hide, but more help than i ever imagined. The cross season rolled by, did the 3 peaks, i did ok, had a few top 30 races finishes, and a 24th in the national champs. This cross thing was addictive. The summer spent typing Dugast/tubular/Tuffo into ebay looking for that ever elusive deal, and yet roll on 3 peaks 2009 and i still hadn't coped on to how to train for cross. Still training like a MTBer who likes to run and swim.
Another cross season rolled past, entered more races, got a 6th place, ran a national champs and finished 15th. Getting better, nearly getting money in races. But alas all things have to come to an end. HTN it was to be. The race, the challenge, which is better? Race the 2 hour hilly course on a MTB, or do it on the CX bike. 'll take the CX. The bike that i'd done well on, the one i knew how it handled better than any other.
Was taking a leak when the riders were called up, buggerit, managed to get in about 4 rows back, not my normal starting position by any means but sure its a long race. Starters orders, clipped and ready to roll. Shivering in my skinsuit with anticipation and cold. Usual hammer for the first section, people who have no idea how to race in front of me get barged, sorry lads, but if you dont like it get out of my way. Elbows, knees whatever it takes. Running the sections people are trying to ride at the start gets me into the first 20 riders. OK, keep it down, draw a gap then settle in.
lap round and i see Jason standing at a corner marshalling and shouting at me. Glare at him, i currently want to kill him as its taking all i have to stop my stomach contents erupting. Must keep precious fluid in! Few laps later and its all settled, not going to loose any places unless i mess up. Every lap i get a cheer from locals and a few comments along the lines of 'go token Irish bloke' and 'you've come along way' also the kind words of Ed to another rider 'GET OUT OF THE WAY OF THE FAST BLOKE!' Precious.
One crash later, that has cost me quite a few Euro it looks like, and the race ended with me in 16th. I'd wanted top 20 as i'd heard there was a better list of riders this year. Happy with my result, not ecstatic, but happy. Unfortunately now the cross bike goes back into road mode, the TT bike come out for the long rides, and the MTB comes out for the even longer rides.
24 season is on the way. Take HTN, repeat by 12.