Monday, May 30, 2011

2011 AnPost Ras race files and articles

As some of you know, I was writing a blog entry for the Irish Examiner newspaper throughout the AnPost Ras. I have links to the online articles below as well as links to the actually race files from my bike computer. In some cases the HR data is wrong due to interference - also I lose power data for the final stage when I had to change bikes.

I hope some people find the files etc... interesting.

Openers (500W for 4 minutes or 1900VAM)
Examiner Piece

Stage 1
Race file on Strava
Examiner Piece

Stage 2
Race file on Strava
Examiner Piece

Stage 3
Race file on Strava
Examiner Piece

Stage 4
Race file on Strava (altitude data incorrect due to the weather!)
Examiner Piece

Over the Healy Pass in the front group (via Stevie McKenna)

Stage 5
Race file on Strava
Examiner Piece

Stage 6
Race file on Strava
Examiner Piece

Stage 7
Race file on Strava
Examiner Piece

Stage 8
Race file on Strava
Examiner Piece

2011 AnPost Ras Stage 8

2011 AnPost Ras Stage 4 - Irish Examiner Blog Article

(A report from Stage 4 of the Ras)

Having finished today's 142 kilometers from Castleisland to Castletownbere, we are officially at the midway point of this years Ras and I'm glad to say that I'm feeling better as the kilometers tick by.

Today's stage was mostly flat for the first 70 kilometers but the final 70 went over some of Kerry's finest mountain passes. As we left Castleisland, the sunburn that many riders acquired the previous day was a distant memory as high winds and rain battered the peleton. From time to time during the day we would have a brief respite, but wet roads were a common theme – to some riders detriment later on in the stage.

A small group escaped pretty early in the stage but it wasn't significant for the general classification so it was mostly ignored while group after group tried to make their own escape on the roads to and out of Killarney. I was in a few such groups but everything was pulled back by a very attentive AnPost team (AnPost are the current yellow jersey leaders).

After 70 kilometers we hit the first climb of the day – it is more a long drag, and again, the race was controlled over both Ladies View, Molls Gap and the resultant descent. Even the next climb, The Tourist, was handled at a pretty pedestrian pace.

As we hit the category 2 climb of Knockanoughanish I realized that I had mistaken it for another climb and suddenly the race, and peleton, started to blow apart – my position wasn't the best, but I used my climbing legs to make sure I was in the front split as we crested the climb. A slippery descent made everyone nervous but I think everyone in the front part of the race made it down safely.

The final climb of the day, the Healy Pass, was where the final culling of the front group took place. A reasonable tempo was set at the front – I was comfortable (this is my terrain afterall), but riders where dropping off quickly – it was only when I got to the top of the climb that I realized I was still in the big chainring on my bike – I guess the ascent was fast enough!

The climb caused people bother, but the descent was much worse. Small, windy, well travelled roads were lethal in the wet. I expected it to be dangerous so I made sure I was in the front couple of riders as we crested the climb – only to see rider after rider fall on the descent – it made me nervous too so I was pretty cautious.

After a few kilometers on the flat roads towards Castletownbere the front group formed of 35 riders. There were attempts from riders to get off the front but it all came back together for current yellow jersey holder, , to win another stage. I finished 16th in the sprint and lost out on the county rider prize by a tire width.

I enjoyed today's racing – my legs are starting to feel good, I think I'm at about 90%, but that is a lot better than a few days ago and I'm super motivated to have another strong day tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

2011 AnPost Ras Stage 4

An interesting enough day in the hills - report says it all.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

2011 AnPost Ras Stage 3

Why does it take me a few days to start feeling okay... Starting to come around today and we hit the hills tomorrow.

Today's report after the race.

2011 AnPost Ras Stage 2

We didn't have good internet connectivity yesterday so I'm only getting yesterdays report up now. The wind, oh, the wind!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

2011 AnPost Ras Stage 1

Tough day - report says it all. Also a piece in the Irish Examiner online/paper.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Feeling broken

As I have mentioned in a few of my other posts lately, I have not been feeling great since the start of March. I have had some reasonably good days, but in general, my body and my general feelings have not been as consistent as usual – my body has been acting weird. I had put in a really great winter of training, recovery and watching my nutrition and was in the best shape I have ever been. In February, I was fit, strong and confident - but since March, it seemed to be whittling away.

The motivation is usually there for racing but during training, a lethargy encased my body. It was hard to push, hard to really give it everything, was I a 'wuss', did I need to HTFU? Was it over-training? I gave my body time to recover, looked through the symptoms – but I really didn't think it was overtaining. Was it something else? Did I pick up something while I slid along the Malaysian side walk or some virus/bacteria afterwards? All I know, is that since then, I have not felt normal.

Initially, I put it down to needing more rest, so I focused on that, but the feelings were not leaving. In races, I was hitting max and average heart rates I have not seen in years. In training, I was still going out and setting some personal bests on climbs – they were shorter climbs though. Nothing too long. I was stronger than ever, but there was something holding me back.

I was frustrated and got more blood tests done – oh, why didn't I do this earlier? The results highlighted a lot of what was wrong – my Hematocrit (PCV) values where 20% down on where they should be – Hb (Hemoglobin) was also way down. That and a bunch of other results showed one thing – I am anemic. This explains a lot – the high heart rates, the tiredness, the recovery issues, why I could set personal bests on shorter distances/efforts but just 'normal' on the longer.

Knowing what is wrong is half the battle, the other half is fixing it. I'm on the first steps in that direction and am confident that I'll be tearing the cranks off again soon.

With all of this, it was really unfortunate that I had to decline my place on the National Team this weekend for the Lincoln GP – a classic road race that would have been great to race in (my teammate for the weekend, Philip Lavery, finished 2nd in it last year). But alas, my body needs a little down time (well, I'll still be training, but training for 4 hours, is a lot easier than traveling and racing for the same!) - the An Post RAS is just a few weeks away and I want to be fresh and ready for it.

There were actually other issues uncovered, allergies, breathing issues etc... but they are a little less interesting than the above and a little easier to fix. Man, elite sports is hard on the body!

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

2011 Ras Mumhan Part 2

Stage 3 – 142km

This is a repeat stage from last year – the Waterville stage where we go on a very lumpy tour of the surrounding area and a circumnavigation of Valentia Island. Last year, the weather was terrible and there were huge crosswinds – I was in the break for the day and had a pretty good ride. Today, the sun was shining and the scenery splendid. Kerry at it's best.

A small break went pretty early, which I was happy about, I missed getting onto it but wanted to bridge to it on the first 5-6 minute climb. Unfortunately, the break was caught at the base of the climb. The dutch team in yellow were keeping tight control of the race (a mistake? Why not let a break of “no-hopers” from a GC context get a few minutes?). Attack after attack came and everything was chased. With 40km to go, a dangerous move went and I missed it. I was left back in the peleton (well, what was left of it – the days hard roads and strong winds tore it to pieces). Paul Griffin drove the pace over the final climb of the day and we were only 20-30 seconds off the break. With the main teams represented, it made sense their riders didn't work to catch it, but everyone else... Maybe they were too shattered, or just gave up, but no one came to help Paul and I (and a few others) pull it back.

With 20km to go, after I put in a hard pull, Andrew Roach made a huge effort to get away and bridge – damn, that was my ticket outta here and I missed it. Paul, hitched on and after a few km, they made it to the break. Me, well, anything I did had 30 riders tagged along looking at me. Eventually, I got away too taking a few riders with me. Of the 6 or 7, 3 of us were working – the others sat on. We were close to catching the front of the race, but still the others sat in... Why the hell did they make the effort to get on my wheel and form a chase if they didn't want to chase? A race WIN was only a few seconds up the road...

Anyway – I finished up a few seconds off the front having ridden full gas for a long time... Really great training though. I changed my position on the bike a lot recently, and now feel I'm getting very comfortable with it.

Stage 4 – 113km

2 laps of a big loop, followed by 10 laps of a shorter course around Killorglin. The big loop was straightforward while the short lap had lots of scope for splitting the race (like every other year).

I woke in the morning feeling good, my legs felt fresh and I was starving – a good sign. From the start, I was aggressive, in a few groups off the front and solo off the front for a while (hoping for some other strong riders to bridge). I was enjoying myself. After about 15km, my teammate, Martin O'Loughlin came up to me – the peleton has split – we have a lead bunch of 30-35 riders and the yellow jersey missed the split! I looked around, Sean Lacey and many other Edge riders were up with us (Sean trailed the yellow jersey by a second). We all kept the pressure on until there was a sizable gap and then the Edge team (and some others) went to work on the front pushing out the gap to a max of 2:20. The Edge team worked amazingly well with teammate after teammate destroying themselves keeping Sean and Timmy (mostly) fresh for the finishing circuit.

As we hit the finishing circuit, the gap was a little over a minute. The front group would split a bit, then come back together, then split again. Through all this, the elastic would break and a rider or two would be dropped off the back. As I said earlier, I was feeling good – in the final couple of laps, I stayed around the front and scoped out the line I would take for the tricky left hander onto the final short kicker climb to the finish line. When the last lap came, I stuffed it as I was almost thrown into a parked car, lost momentum and chance for a win. We finished 1:40 up on the peleton moving me to 7th overall.