Friday, April 30, 2010

A video from the 2010 Dalby World Cup

Some footage Mel shot form the final lap of the Dalby World Cup. The riders are descending Medusas Drop

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Photos from the 2010 Dalby World Cup

A few pictures from the World Cup at the weekend. Taken while either Mel or I was supporting the other.

2010 XC World Cup Round 1 - Dalby

Monday, April 26, 2010

2010 UCI XC World Cup Round 1

Basically not a good day for me - not going well and then crashed out into the DNF bin. Video blog says it all.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

No Bundasliga Round 1

Due to the world ending - I mean, giant dust cloud flowing over Europe, Mel and I can't get to Germany to take part in the Bundasliga in Munsingem. We were both really looking forward to it and were even going to spend two days having a look around the area that Mel used to call home.

With that cancelled and my day off work booked, we decided to go to Powercourt Gardens to have a look - it was closed due to the untimely death of the owner of the estate...

I think I'll now play it safe and go ride my bike or something... Road racing this weekend I guess.

Monday, April 12, 2010

2010 Des Hanlon Memorial Road Race

This is just a quickie report on the 2010 Des Hanlon Memorial Road Race before I get back to talking about the excellent Ras Mumhan.

The days leading up to it I started to get a bit of a head cold (very rare for me) and some pain in my right knee – I think the pain was due to 5 hours sitting in a car from Ras Mumhan or possibly the pedals being a little wider on my training mountain bike that I was riding during the week. Lots of physio, icing, frictioning and massage and I felt reasonably good on Sunday morning for the 145km classic.

Race was simple – I missed the break (stupid stupid me) - chased very hard with Martin Irvine and Tim Regan (both Irish team road rides) as hard as we could but failed. All the 'big' guns were gone so it turned into a training ride. Mid way through the race the break had 3+ minutes but with 45k to go we had it down to 1:25 and I thought we could pull them back. What happened next was just ridiculous, two very large horses (with riders) where trotting along the narrow road. 70 riders coming at 60kmph down hill spooked them and all hell broke lose. I am very happy to say no one was hurt but the incident was terrible and should not have happened – there should be more than enough warning vehicles ahead to give those riders enough time to get off the road. This incident delayed us by about 1.5 minutes and all our momentum was killed off. I continued riding at the front and finished up getting a good workout in with a bit of a sprint at the end.

Funny, I tried to get a break going a bunch of times, say 7-10 strong riders but everything was chased down, and do you know what the people did when they caught us, they sat up - giver uppers!

Power figures were interesting enough - 333W Normalized Power for the race for me (3:40 ish racing time - I was doing a lot on the front). With close to 30 minutes in anaerobic power zones so I did get a good workout anyway...

Next week – round 1 of the Bundasliga – this will be tough!

Friday, April 09, 2010

2010 Ras Mumhan - Stage 2

Stage 2 of the Ras Mumhan was known as the Queen Stage – at 140km it was not massively long but the final 80km would be constant climbing and descending over Kerry's most picturesque roads. We would even have a hill top finish on the world famous, Molls Gap. The climbs were pretty long but none steep unfortunately, still, having heard about the course several months earlier it was a stage I looked forward to.

Mel and I woke on the morning of the stage to a miserable day, high winds, lots of rain and pretty cool temperatures. The final 60km would also be directly into a 40-50kmph headwind – fun... The conditions would only add to the stages epic feel.

At signon, it was announced that the first 8km would be neutralized to get us outside of Killarney – happy days I though, less need for a normal warmup as it was pretty miserable – 3 jerseys and 2 thermal jackets were just about keeping me warm. As we rolled out, a few riders and coaches nudged me and knowing my mountain biking background said that I should really like this stage, well, here goes.

The first 60km were pretty uneventful – there were a few harder sections but not much happened. A break got off the front of about 8 riders but I could see strong climbers still with me and the peleton seemed to be motivated enough to not give much time so I didn't worry much. By the time we hit the first major climb, the Cat 2 climb at Lauragh, I knew it was time to bid farewell to the peleton and bridge to the break. Mark Dowling and 2 others made the faster trip up the mountain with me and we continued pushing it all the way down the descent catching the break just after the roads leveled off. The descent was pretty scary, a lot of rain and high speed kept me on my toes and I was glad to be with the break.

No sooner had we caught the break then we started to climb the Cat 1 Healy Pass – it was 6km at around 5% so not very big by alpine standards but the wind and rain kept it tough. I and a few of the other climber types kept the pace reasonably high on the front all the way up with a bit of a sprint at the top for the King of the Mountain points. I didn't want to go too deep early on the stage and settled for 3rd over the climb but pushed on through so that I would lead on the long, very windy descent. I would rather ride on the front than sit on someones wheel for the descent so I took us down to the base. A little more flat riding and then a horrible drag on a long straight road. The wind was horrible and a couple more riders made it across to us from the peleton.

Climbing the Healy Pass - picture from here

A few kilometers before the next big climb, Tim Barry, Nial Delahay, Charles Predergast and myself made a break for it. By the time we got to the base of the Cat 2 Caha Pass we had created a 40 second gap. Tim and I rode tempo on the front as we climbed the pass but unfortunately Nial and Charles were paying for their earlier efforts. We slowed the pace as having those riders would greatly help us on the descent and flat section before the final climb of the day. By the time we got to the top it was obvious they were gassed – Tim and I were feeling good so we bid farewell and continued on. The break was pretty close behind us, about 20 seconds but we soldiered on through the wind.

I followed as closely as I could to Tim on the descent, we were descending like deamons and I really had to trust he knew the roads (I found out later he knew them very well). As we reached the bottom, 2009 Hill Climb Champ, Paul Griffin and Dutch man, Wim Botmon made it across to us. We quickly dropped into an efficient pace line and pushed out our gap to the break from around a minute to 3 and a half by the base of the final climb of the day – Molls Gap.

I had been feeling very comfortable all day and my legs felt great, but at 4% with a massive headwind, attacking on Molls Gap wasn't really going to be an option. Wim and Paul stopped working and it was left to Tim and I to pull us to the long climb. I was riding well within myself and as we passed the 5km to go sign wished that the wind would ease a little to allow for some attacks. It didn't happen and we rode to the top at a steady tempo – I actually rode the climb a lot easier than I would in training, but anyway – the wind was simply nuts – looking back, I probably should have tried to get away a few times anyway, but hindsight and all that...

250 meters to go and we were all looking at each other riding at a pedestrian pace, Paul Griffin led out the sprint and I followed, soon, Wim kicked just hard enough that I couldn't catch him but I passed Paul before the line to finish 2nd. Not the win, but I would be lying if I said I wasn't happy. Shortly afterwards, I was told that I also now lead the mountains classification – I hadn't really been thinking of that but it was a nice surprise and I also moved up from 49th in GC to 6th.

The wind howled and I put on more and more jackets as we all became icicles for the presentations. Flowers and a nice new mountains jersey were the rewards for my days toils – I really really enjoyed the racing – bring on more stages like this.

Stage results are available here - the RTE news (Irish National TV station) had a small section on the news about it - kinda cool.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

2010 Ras Mumhan - Stage 1

Ras Mumhan has the reputation of being the toughest stage race in Ireland outside of the FBD RAS. It was this reputation and the associated hills that led myself and Mel to sign up for the race. As it turned out, Mel was the only female rider M.A.D. enough to take part so she was going to have a very tough time - lots of hard training for her. We booked ourselves into the Kilburn House B&B (which was simply perfect) and then took the long drive down.

The weather forecast for the race looked terrible – lots of rain, high winds and even some snow – we packed a few extra layers and were determined not to get too bothered by a bit of harsh weather, although by the end of the race, we felt some of our tan had somehow washed off.

The stages lay like this: the first was a mostly flat 100km, second stage was flatish for 60km and then some long but not steep climbs (I had my eye on this one) for the final 80km. The next stage had lots of smaller climbs and was very exposed while the final stage was two 35km laps and then a circuit race around the base town of Kilorglin.

140+ riders started the first stage – basically I spent all of my time trying to stay around the front of the peleton but always being squeezed back – it has been a long time since I raced in a big group so it took a little getting used to again – after the first stage I was fine. It was at one of the times when I was squeezed back on narrow roads that I could see a break get away. There was nothing I could do... 100 meters back on packed tiny country roads – damn – rookie mistake. As the race progressed I got to the front and tried to get a good chase going with a bunch of attacks – at one point we had a 30 second gap on the peleton but they chased us down. We headed back to Kilorglin for a mass sprint behind the break. A crash in front of me on a tight corner caused a break in the peleton and I was a further 10 seconds back. After the stage, I was 5:34 back on yellow (It is important to note the 5:34 for when you look at how far I finished the stage race behind yellow).

It was a windy stage but the scenery was beautiful with Kerry's finest snow capped mountains being our backdrop.

Later – stage 2 (much more interesting!)