Tuesday, May 27, 2008

2008 Irish NPS Round 3 - Magheramorne

I almost didn't make it up... Last year I remember doing the third round of the NPS, driving for hours there and back and riding like a pleb and burping both my tires. If I was going to travel up to Magheramorne Quarry (close to Larne, Northern Ireland) again – I was going to do things differently.

With that in mind, Saturday started off with an active recovery type road spin with Mel, with a couple of power intervals thrown in to open up the legs. Almost 700 Watts for 60 seconds in one of them was a new personal best although it has been a while since I tried that on fresh legs. On my warm up for the efforts I 'dragged' Mel up a climb getting her a new personal best up one of our training climbs (5 minutes climb). It took a while until she was back on good terms with me again – lets just say she suffered a bit :) After that, we headed to my family home in Monaghan for a relaxing evening - it would also break up the drive up to Larne the next morning.

Not very good detail in Google Earth

Nice and early we arrived up at the Quarry to find the course pretty much identical to last year. While warming up I did a 22 minute 'tootle' lap of the course – we were only racing for 6 laps so I knew it would be a short race. Most of the usual Elite suspects were present with the addition of Lewis Ferguson – I hadn't seen him in an XC race this year – apparently he is turning into a bit of a roadie... The gun went and we were off – after a slight tussle over the first minute and a half I moved into the lead before the first section of single track. That gave me the lead for the rest of the race. I kept the pace reasonably high for the first lap but approached the drops and technical sections pretty cautiously (I was in the lead – no need to rush). The second lap I eased a little only to see Lewis crash off (I think he was a DNF) and then it was just Peter Buggle and I. The next couple of laps we simply cruised around – neither of us wanting to go too hard. It was then that I knew, like in the first Irish NPS this year, that we were going to have a blazing attack at some point. I decided that I would keep it steady, be nicely hydrated and gelled up and attack hard just into the last lap – no real climbs on this course (a thing I'm strong enough at) so it will be on the flat. I didn't know what Peter planned – but if he went, I was ready :) Then, surprise surprise, Joe McCall caught onto the back of us midway around the 5th lap. I was pretty impressed with him catching on as he was pretty far back on the third lap but he did look like he was working hard so I didn't worry too much. The last lap came around and about 200 meters into the first single track I noticed Peter and Joe were about 15 meters back – I thought that now is as good a time as any to go, so I thought about the crappy race last year (anger – going to the dark side) and I put the throttle down... I still kept it pretty careful on the very rocky sections (no burping/flats for me) but most of the rest of the lap I was flat out.

The start

I ended up crossing the line 38 seconds up on Peter and around a minute on Joe. I enjoyed the race and was glad it wasn't too long or hard. I've been working pretty hard in training and I didn't really want a 2.5 hour race effort at a 'C' race at the moment. As I will be abroad racing for two of the other rounds of the NPS it means that I will probably be giving up my Elite Irish title this year. :(

Many thanks to Aine for helping out in the feed zone and taking the pictures!

Mel had another good ride but for most of the race she had to contend with the Expert men for competition – she (like me) can't wait to the next UK NPS.

Anyway, results are up here and there are some photos here (some I grabbed for this blog)

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

No Racing = Long(ish) spins

With no races this weekend I was able to get down to some long spins. Saturday was a mountain bike ride following the Wicklow Way to the Ballinastoe Trails, a couple of loops of that with a loop around Djouce and home via the road. A bit under 5 hours made it a lovely day.

The MTB Spin

Profile for the ride

On Sunday I got out to do one of my long road loops - basically 3 major climbs over about 120km with about 2100m total climb. The first time I did this loop (about 20 months ago) it took me about 4:45 - Sunday it was 4:09 at an easy enough pace (except for the climbs - did those at a hard tempo)

Lollipop loop

On another note, one piece of kit that I have been using that I really like is the new Specialized BG Pro SL shorts. Basically a pair of bib shorts made for warmer weather with a slightly less bulky chamois. They stay in position and fit me perfectly. For a long time I basically rode the cheapest bike shorts I could find - I still have lots of them which I wear on shorter days but the comfort of a good pair of shorts when riding for longer then a couple of hours is really worth the expense...

Friday, May 16, 2008

Delivery Companies...

Over night delivery - yeah right...

As my friends say - Dominos or Four Star Pizza should sort the "last mile" delivery problem. They always find my place :)

Speaking of annoyances - why the hell does Tesco have to change around the isle orders on a weekly basis. Only it is so close I would change to a different supermarket. I was able to do our weekly shop in less then an hour (including walking over and back) in the past but now it takes 1.5 as I have to find that the eggs which have moved four isles and the orange juice that I didn't buy because I couldn't find it... Ahhh...

Monday, May 12, 2008

2008 British XC/Marathon NPS - Drumlanrig

8 hours of suffering (and loads of driving) – that was my weekend – but I loved it!

It all started on Friday morning when Mel and I packed up the Silver Bullet (my little car) and headed to Belfast to catch the Ferry over to Scotland. We left with loads of time so our trip to Drumlanrig Castle was pretty chilled. This trip was for the second round of the British NPS Cross Country and Marathon series.

A slightly damp course (but warm humid weather) welcomed us on our preride. The track was basically 90% twisty, rooty, rocky single track with about 180 meters of climb per lap. The Elite men were to do 5 laps of the 7.5km course but with an hour to go, it was upped to 6. (Dohh) The course is very similar to the Epic Club Course except a lot longer and a little more technical.

Mel riding a particularly beautiful section

Race morning arrived and I felt pretty good – my legs felt fine in the warm up and my heart rate was responding. After the last gridding nightmare I was at the start with lots of time and had as good a position as I could ask for without being officially gridded – all good so far. The race started fast up the hill and from the start I felt pretty good – my legs were working and half way around the lap the leaders were still well within sight. Now comes my unlucky (stupid?) bit. On one of the fast fireroad sections I was passing another rider on the inside (I let him know where I was, lots of room for both of us) and some how my front wheel slid out – I couldn't believe it. I was unhurt (slight cut) but the front rotor on my bike was taco'd. I could see it swerve horribly and knew it was taking away all my power. (I guess a mistake I made here was not to calm down and try and fix it properly – it was so bad, you would try to spin the wheel as hard as you can with your hand and it would stop in a quarter turn!) I rode on anyway and caught a few that had passed by but coming into the start/finish area, another spill – I just couldn't believe it – I picked myself up and then suffered through the next two hours of the race. I wish I took my spare wheels with me (didn't think I would have room as I was picking up some new equipment from the UK) and switched them as I genuinely felt very strong but I think the wheel robbed a lot of the power. Two crashes in the first 7km of the XC race (neither were after hard efforts, I was pretty recovered/concentrated during each crash) and 0 crashes in the remaining 137km of racing I did during the weekend...

Second lap - still hammering in groups

See the slight cut? Picture from here

So that was Saturday, a 19th place and my body felt toast. I was really wondering how I could do another 100km the following day. Regardless, Mel and I went back to a Thai restaurant we found the previous night and filled up on rice.

I awoke on Sunday to a pretty sore back and dead legs but as the morning progressed they seemed to loosen out. Unfortunately, Mel and I seemed to mess up our timing a little so I ended up rolling up to the start line of the 100km Enduro without a warm up – ahh well, at least I was on the front row. I knew it would be more the 5 hours of riding so lots of time to get warm during the race – besides, I was saving energy! :)

We did 8 of these 12.5km laps

The race started and for most of the first lap a lead group formed with Nick Craig, William Bjergfelt and Duncan Jamieson with myself and Stuart Bowers just a little back. I didn't feel particularly bad but I knew I had put in a hard effort the day before. I let a bit of a gap open to Start towards the end of the first lap and from then on I mostly rode by myself (except when lapping). The course had more fireroad then the previous day but a few really nice additional single track sections. I actually enjoyed this course more (maybe it was all the extra power I had without the rubbing rotor!) and felt that I got a lot of single track riding practice in. In the end, I rolled in 15 minutes behind Nick Craig (the winner – he didn't race the XC race the day before) but a little over 4 minutes off a podium (damn). The race was really long at 5 hours and 29 minutes but I didn't suffer nearly as much as the previous day – I didn't (couldn't?) push as hard and my average HR was really low for a race – it was over 5 hours though so I guess that can be expected. It was amazing the amount of drink that I went through during the race – 8 gels and 8 550ml bottles of drink – no cramps and I felt okay when I finished (it would have taken a very very big stick to make me do another lap though!)

After all this – the worst bit was still to come – the drive home. A two hour rush to Stranrear, then a relaxng ferry ride, then another 3 hours from Belfast. I woke up this morning and I felt like I was hit by a train.

Thanks to Rachel Wisdom for doing the feed on Saturday's race (I need to find someone for the Marathons, stopping 8 times does not help your racing much) and well done to Robin for coming 3rd in the XC race.

Mel had an interesting weekend of racing too, but I'll leave her to talk about it on her blog (posts up soon)

Results are available here and there are reports/photos here and here.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

What I eat in a day...

When your training hard it is just amazing the amount of food that you eat and yet you are still pretty constantly hungry. The worst is the recovery ride day. On that spin you may only burn 500 calories but due to the previous days work your still starving all day...

Anyway, this is me for today.

Oats (with raisons, cinnamon, banana and a small yogurt) I eat this almost every day
Bagel with Jam (when I have a longer spin...)

On the ride:
A TorQ bar
2 Nutri-grain bars
2 Bottles of TorQ Energy

Mel and I try to eat as much of this as possible

Straight after the ride:
100 grams of TorQ Recovery (tasty stuff, a bit like chocolate milk – make sure you mix it well!)

15 minutes after that
A large Ciabatta with a chicken and pineapple salad.

now the rest is all spread out
A large yogurt and an apple
Some rice cakes with honey (don't usually eat rice cakes)
Some Oats with Jam
A Pear and a Plum
A Cereal Bar

Still to eat...
Dinner – Brown Rice with tomato based Thai Chicken Curry
Dessert – Fresh chopped fruit salad
and then probably some more snacky stuff before bed... I'm guessing 4,500 calories...

Man I eat a lot...