Monday, January 31

Week in Lanza

Back to the real world with a massive CRASH.

Had a great week training in Lanzarote with the Manchester Triathlon Club. Clocked up some amazing hours between bike, run and, swim.

Have to catch up on real world work before i can stick up stats. But to say i've put a block in is an understatement.

28hours in 6 days....oh yes

Monday, January 10

Irish Cyclocross National Championships

So long 2010, roll on 2011. national championships were yesterday, and a major focus for me all season.

Not the greatest turnout with the defending champion not turning up for reasons known to some of us, an injury for others. Got a nice gridding spot on the 3rd row on the outside and the UCI commissar refused to let anyone slot into missing spaces so the grid was safe for the first few corners.

Tough course with most of the corners either sheet ice, mud over ice, or leaves over ice. All in all a very fast course, but one that could drop you at any stage. Frist lap saw me on the ground for a brief period not loosing any places though was a benefit, getting gapped to the first 10 was not.

Hard for the first lap, hard for the second lap, see where the gaps were, then ride from there. Ended in a bunch with a lad i knew from many races this season, and another roadie who was incapable of staying upright. 4th lap and i just had to go ride away as i'd nearly been in two crashes because of him so power on and ride off.

Yesterday was all about riding solid, staying on the bike, getting in as third rider for the club, getting the team prize. Nothing else. That was all that mattered to me. Ride smart, ride strong, don't get a mechanical.

55mins later we crossed the finish line. Team prize secured, personal goal of top 15 finish attained (14th overall, 12th senior). Season over. Standing on a podium is something ive not done in a few years, and man it felt good.

Also beards make you faster. FACT.

Big thanks to the guys from BikeHub in Howth for pitting for me, Dave and Paul. Bikehub sorted me with a bike for this seasons racing at a great price and have fixed it a few times after ive ruined it. Real help when it comes to not having to think about my kit.

Saturday, January 8

Twas The Night Before Cross Nats

Twas The Night Before Cross Nats,

Not a rider was stirring, except in one house;

The skinsuit was hung by the chimney with care,

In hopes that cold weather soon would be there;

The tubs were nestled all snug on their rims,

While visions of mud rut danced in their heads;

And mamma in her 'kerchief, and I in my lid,

Had just settled down for a long summers kip,

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,

I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.

Away to the window I flew like a flash,

Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen rain

Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below,

When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,

But a miniature rider, and 9 massive gears,

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,

I knew in a moment it must be St. Slick.

More rapid than Sven his coursers they came,

And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;

"Now, Seymour! now, Ryan! now, McCall and Campbell!

On, Convil ! on Newman! on, McDonald and Ahern!

To the top of the steps! to the top of the hill!

Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!"

As wet muds that before the wild hurricane fly,

When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,

So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,

With the bike full of carbon, and St. Slick too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof

The prancing and posing of each little hoof.*

As I drew in my head, and was turning around,

Down the chimney St. Slick came with a bound.

He was dressed all in lycra , from his head to his foot,

And his clothes were all tarnished with blood dirt and muck;

A bundle of tubs he had flung on his back,

And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.

His eyes -- how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!

His cheeks were so gaunt, his nose like a cherry!

His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,

And the stubble on his chin was as cool as the snow;

The stump of a Torq bar he held tight in his teeth,

And the smell it encircled his head like a wreath;

He had a broad face and a little round belly,

That shook, when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly.

He was skinny and ripper , a right jolly old elf,

And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;

A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,

Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,

And filled all the kit bags ; then turned with a jerk,

And laying his finger aside of his nose,

And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;

He sprang to his bike, to his team gave a whistle,

And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.

But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,

"No Sherlock, no Ferguson, we're in for a fight!"

*you try find something that rhymes with hoof....good luck tomorrow all

Wednesday, January 5

Specialised Crux Review

First off i have to give a HUGE thanks to the guys at BikeHub in Howth. They have been a huge help to me this year after i smashed up my bike a few times this season. Paul sorted me with some great racing kit bike wise this year and i cannot recommend the shop enough. They keep buying me coffee and lunch too...

Earlier in the season I realised it was getting to double bike time. I've managed to race 3 seasons on only one bike, but was starting to get to the point where i was crashing out enough to warrant having a spare. That and some of the other kids are at it now as well ;)

Spent weeks searching the net, as you do, and pretty much decided on the Crux. Fills all the blanks about weight, fit, and colour. It was also a pretty damn close match for my UJC which I've ridden the past 2 seasons on.

Changes from stock were pretty simple; Ultegra rear mech, and a set of Frogleg canti's. (Didn't get on with the Avid brakes, and getting carbon pads for less than 45 Euro was near impossible). The Zipps and tubs were my own...more on tyre choices for the year later.

  • Internal cables on a cross bike. What more can i say. Makes it easier to shoulder, keeps the gunk out, and makes the bike look much much better.
  • Fork, its so stiff. No flex, no straying off line. Stick it where you want and it goes there. Braver than me.
  • Chainstay clearance is much much MUCH better for my heals than the last two bikes ive had. Probably not going to need to constantly apply helitape.
  • Looks like a carbon frame :) The amount of people who have done a double take when they realise its not..priceless.
  • When i was looking at the bike the first time i noticed the open end to the tubing on the downtube. OK..water does not tend to go to much upwards into the tube..but...when you are washing the bike and water gets into the tube it can flow down towards the headtube, where it then flows into the toptube...and wont come out. Pain in the ass.
  • Fork break brace thingy. Pretty much makes it impossible to carry with your arm across the i do. So either i learn to carry under the downtube or i deal with the bruises on my forearms for the near future.
  • Brakes, the stock Avid brakes are terrible. No modulation, but lots of kinda ok..but impossible to get carbon brake pads for in Ireland. So pointless. Swapped them out for Froglegs.
Would I advise someone to buy one? Yes. Would i buy one as a second bike for next season? Yes.

Christmas & BikePure GP 2

Being over in Bradford for the National Trophy meant i missed the first instalment of this race. Based on how i rode that weekend it probably would have gone pear-shaped anyway so no issue.

The week before was the happy festive eating period and a time of busyness getting things done before the college closed. But the snow of the weeks leading into it left me with more time than usual as most parties were cancelled, people couldn't get about, and in general the country slowed down. Honeslty it was the nicest lead into Christmas i can remember.

Training was minimal on the bike as it was pretty hairy most days, the turbo got some use, but i got out for a few longer rides on the MTB with lads from Team WORC. All in all a bit less intensity, but a good bit of a base prep to ward off the beer and cheer that was going to follow.

Pauline finally managed to get over to Ireland after taking 4 trains, a bus, ferry, and a bus so i could drive her home over the mental roads. Honestly it was great to just get away from Dublin for the whole of Christmas. I'm not one for it, or the historical BS that has come with it in my life and it was a fresh blast of air akin to all this Vit D that I've been taking when dealing with issues.

After braving the frozen lake and roads we had to head home to Dublin to catch yet another ferry to the UK. On the way it was decided that i was racing as the roads were clear and everyone was going to be there. Awesome elite field with pretty much the entire club turning up. So at least the racing was going to be fast.

Sub 5minute lap was on the cards, plan was to hammer it, see what happens, but not fall over for a change. Was happy with the outcome of the race, even though the field was small, 9th, muddy, tired. What more could you ask for TBH. had some good racing with Andy and Philip until I dropped the bike and lost a place to Andy. Starts are still weak though. going to have to get the aggression I had in Lurgan back. Think that fall did more to me than hurt my elbow.