Sunday, May 30, 2010

2010 FBD Ras Stage 8

The final daily RAS installment. I kept it steady, finished in the front group and won the county rider overall. 17th overall on GC and second Irish person (behind AnPost Pro, Conor McConvey).

Saturday, May 29, 2010

2010 FBD Ras Stage 7

A tough day today going over my training hills - the video says it all.

Friday, May 28, 2010

2010 FBD Ras Stage 6

Another fun day in the RAS - a bit more climbing. I made the front group over the big climbs and thought that was it for the day. But another group of 30 chased on. I got 22nd in the sprint into Gorey. Video blog says it all.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

2010 FBD Ras Stage 5

An epic day for me on the bike - crashes, bikes changes, chasing for an hour, got on, pucture, chased back on - gassed. Tough final climb - on a heavy unfitting bike. Still, I survived and no major injuries. Video blog has more.

2010 FBD Ras Stage 4

Another video blog - a good day for me, attacked into the break of the day and scored 15th overall. (2nd county rider - behind my teammate - the only county riders in the break).

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

2010 FBD Ras Stage 3

A hard day in the saddle today. 47kmph for the first 2.5 hours and we were not even on big roads. 171km with only 800 meters of climb. 3rd 4,000 calorie day in a row.

Monday, May 24, 2010

2010 FBD Ras Stage 2

Another quick video update after the massage. Dinner soon. Easy to see the time I was in the break today. Last 1.5 hours was neutralized after the big crash.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

2010 FBD RAS Stage 1

The Profile - pretty tough at parts!

36th today (153 starters), 4th county (non pro team) rider, our team, Eurocycle is 1st county team.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Biking Car Boot Sale - Tuesday June 1st

Many of us have biking bits and bobs that have been sitting around for way to long. An XT mech you bought just when you switched to a SRAM drivetrain... spare mud tires, stems, posts, the list goes on.

On June 1st, from 7pm to 9pm at the Blue Light carpark in the Dublin Mountains we are going to have our first car boot sale. Turn up with your bits and bobs (and cash!) and you never know what space you will create in your garage for your new bike bits. Afterwards, have a beer or two with us - what more can you ask?

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Me, I'll have lots of bits for sale - pretty much all high end and mostly new. Stems, bars, tires, forks, saddles and more.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

2010 Noel Hammond Memorial RR

I hadn't planned on racing at the weekend – two long rides, one on the mountain bike, one on the road bike was planned – a weekend away from racing. As it happened on Saturday evening, the temptation was too much – the course seemed to be pretty hilly and with only seven days to the start of the RAS, I knew there would be a good turnout of riders fine tuning their form.

The A1/A2 combined race started on some rolling roads that led to the start of our lap and a very fast descent. The course was a ride out to a lap we cover five times – basically, a long fast descent, some windy rolling roads and then a reasonably long (for Ireland) climb with a few steeper sections. From the start, I stayed in the first few riders to stay out of trouble. Along the bottom of the course, a few attempts were made at escape and I covered anything I felt was dangerous and let one or two smaller ones (with less 'firepower') go. As we hit the climb for the first time it all came together – Niall Delahaye and Conor McConvey made a bit of a go but towards the top they were caught again – it was at this point I decided to have a go – I put the head down and pushed for a few minutes with only Niall coming with me. We stayed away for three quarters of a lap until ten more riders (all the suspects I would expect) bridged across to us. That was the end of the peleton for the day. We were a strong group and worked reasonably well, some skipping turns etc... but mostly good. There were a few attacks and digs as we went around but nothing major.

On the penultimate climb, fireworks went off with Conor and Niall setting a blistering attack, that was neutralized, then it was the turn of myself and Paul Griffin and Mark Dowling, cracks where appearing and over the top of the climb, Conor and Paul led just five of us as a group over. We rode pretty well for the lap but got caught by the chasing seven at the base of the last climb. Mark Dowling attacked on the climb early and got a gap but I didn't worry – despite the group being larger again, it was myself, Conor, Paul and Niall that moved ahead catching Mark and splitting the group again – it was the same five of us off the front. With a quick descent to get the gap and then some cagey riding (need more experience at this) we got the straight for the sprint – I finished fourth of our group of five.

My only gripe about the race and organization (and it really was a very well run event, and one that I will definitely be back at) was that there were no markers for how long it was to the finish. A simple “1 KM” or even “500 M” sign would have worked...

Anyway, it was a great race and I was happy I decided to give it a go. There is another report available here.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

2010 Race Bike - Specialized S-Works Epic

For 2010, both Mel and I are racing on near identical 2010 Specialized S-Works Epics. The bikes are basically the stock S-Works bikes with some modifications from our other sponsors: KCNC, Schwalbe and a little help from Stan at NoTubes.

Outside of the paint work, the major changes on our bikes this year are:
  • Full SRAM XX drive train, we have a double (39x26) on the front and 11-36 on the rear. Shifting has been amazing – I love the twist shifts that I used for the last 3 years and when SRAM eventually (hopefully!) release a 10 speed twist shift, I'll move to it. I have to admit though, I do like the triggers – shifting has been crisp and perfect – shifting on the front ring (although, with a 39 tooth big ring, it will be a seldom used operation) is especially slick.

  • NoTubes Podium wheelset – from NoTubes, we are running the NoTubes Podium tubeless wheels – total wheelset weight is 1.26kg. Slightly heavier than my old ZTR 7000 wheels but the additional weight is in the ZTR hubs which, due to the flange spacing, will give a slightly stiffer (and more affordable!) wheel

  • The frame has been upgraded with a stiffer carbon front triangle and the liberal use of ceramic bearings for the bottom bracket etc...

  • The rear brain shock has also been updated – a slightly heavier weight in the inertia valve gives better terrain sensitivity. It is also now produced with Fox which should alleviate some of the quality control issues some earlier versions had.

KCNC components are used throughout to also drop the weight down to a hardtail beating 9.4kg (20.7 lbs). This is not showroom weight, but ready to race weight with tires, sealant, bottle cage and pedals. It feels light, very light.

Tires, we stick with our general purpose setup of a 2.1 Schwalbe Rocket Ron on the front and a 2.1 Racing Ralph on the rear. We use this exact setup for 95% of our racing and training.

I have a few rides completed on it now – like last year, the bike wants to go, and go fast. When the terrain is smooth or on most climbs, it's stiff like a road bike – every ounce of energy goes into the wheels with no suspension bob front or rear and with the light wheels and tires you really feel the acceleration. Descending or riding technical terrain, it feels that the bike is running away from you – it wants to go faster than you can handle. It's an amazing feeling – it is like, extra little motors in the hubs giving you a speed boost. Both Mel and I are throughly impressed with our new race bikes and can't wait to get more races in on them.

Many thanks to our sponsors for helping us put all this together - Cycleways, Specialized, Schwalbe, KCNC and NoTubes.

"His and hers"

Monday, May 10, 2010

2010 Tour of Ulster

After the Ras Mumhan, I wanted to take part in another 3 or 4 day stage race before I tackled the much bigger, longer and faster 8 day FBD RAS. The Tour of Ulster has long been the final testing ground before the RAS so on the May bank holiday weekend I made my way up to Dungannon (staying with my sister and her family who live locally – thank you!) for the 3 days and 4 stages.

The first stage was billed as the most difficult, lots of going up and down hills but unfortunately nothing long or particularly steep. I and a few other lead riders missed the break and ended up putting a large amount of work in trying to chase. I was in multiple chase groups as the day went on but none stuck until on one of the longer climbs between Paul Griffin and myself blew the peleton apart (there was a big split, about 25 of us now in the chase). Not many riders wanted (or were capable) of working and I even made a go myself on a solo effort. As we hit 40km to go, heavy rain came down and as we were on small twisty roads so the pace dropped significantly. The final 5 km where dry and a mad dash to the finish line ensued. I finished towards the front of the chase.

The second stage was another long enough one – about 150km around Lough Neagh. The roads were mainly flat but there was a nice kicker towards the end. Breaks came and went during the day and I had to make a few big efforts to make sure I stayed towards the front. There were a few riders out front but in the final few km there were a few nice climbs. 4 other riders and myself broke from the group with a few km to go and on the final kicks, I myself kicked to get a gap. Unfortunately, some of the course marking was not so great (I believe Philip Lavery lost his yellow jersey on this stage for a similar reason) and I made a wrong turn which sent me from off the front of our group to off the back. I chased back and caught some of the riders by the line. A really nice finish – just wish I was directed better.

Stage 3 was a very short time trial. I have not taken part in a (flat) time trial before and unlike a bunch of riders I would be rocking no aero gear or TT bikes. I warmed up fine and felt pretty good. During the 2 minutes 50 seconds (yes, I said it was short), I was careful not to go too hard at the start but ended up having way too much left in the tank at the finish. It was undulating and I don't think I kept in a hard enough gear (cadence average was 110). Power was pretty low too – only 470W...

The final stage was a circuit race with a few sharp corners and a few short climbs. 10 laps in all. I tried to get myself into a few moves and a few things looked promising but groups were getting away and being pulled back all day – I had to choose my battles alternating between attacking and then getting some recovery. On the final lap, 5 of us got off the front and were making good progress to get across to a break – we were off the front for a lap and got within 25 seconds of the break, but with the yellow jerseys team driving the peleton, we were caught with a couple of kilometers to go. I was sitting in 11th (would have been 7th only for the wrong turn) but dropped to 15th overall after the final stage. I had a big week of training leading up to the race and didn't ride particularly smartly during the race as I was simply using it for training – I didn't mind doing big efforts etc...

Guess the efforts - power data is heavily smoothed

I enjoyed the racing, and felt stronger as the days and stages progressed. It was also nice being up north for a change. I could really get into this stage racing thing... Now – less than two weeks until I start the RAS – after that, focus goes back to mountain biking – my MTB racing has really suffered lately as I have focused on the road these last 2 months.

Friday, May 07, 2010

MTB and the Dublin Mountains on TV

Last night, RTE 1 (Ireland's main TV Station) showed a program about the use of the Dublin and Wicklow mountains by various groups: walkers, artists, scouts and most importantly, Mountain Bikers.

My club and I were involved in the mountain biking segment from about 7 minutes in. I think it worked pretty well.

Click on the image below to watch the video until May 27th

Cycling, road, MTB, track, commuting, fixie etc... have been on our National TV channels almost weekly now for months. It's great to see and hopefully secures in peoples minds that Ireland really is a great country for riding in - no matter what your discipline or level.