Friday, December 21, 2012

pro team kit 2013 (updated Radioshack, Argos)

At last the full lineup for 2013, Radioshack kept us all waiting

Very similar to 2012 the only notable change is the addition of Focus as a bike
Sponsor, they seem to be taking up more space on the jersey that KUOTA so they must be putting in a few more euro’s.

Rás 2011 winner gets a new national champs jersey for 2013, i think the An Post version was much better but he looks happy with it, why wouldnt he be he is pro tour at last!!

Argos Shimano

Surely the worst kit of 2013, 2012 was a nice white kit but now they have blended grey with the white, not a good move in my book


Some small subtle changes but you would still recognise them in the bunch as the men from the great land of Kazakhstan.

Blanco - Giant

The old Rabobank team, now look like a team of Estonian champions. I am sure they will pick up a sponsor in time for the tour.


As predicted no change just a change of manufacturer, Daniel Oss displays the kit before a training ride


The “old” liquigas team, this is not an official shot and I have a hard time believing it as when you see it you think Liquigas not Cannondale as the design and colours have not changed a lot from 2012. I hope they go for something like the cannondale cycocross world team a nice green and black, classy like Carrick Wheelers


More black than last year which is no bad thing as the glare off those orange jerseys can be hard to take, probably a reflection in the change in ownership status of the team.


Very very similar to the 2012 kit. They appear to have lost Big Mat as a sponsor and have gained BTWIN as a very small sub sponsor. BTWIN are a brand of Decathlon who used to supply bikes to AG2R a number of years ago. According to a rider at the time the bikes had to be replaced after a matter of weeks as the frames were so bad they would go “sloppy” very quickly, fortunately for the FDJ boys they will still be riding Lapierres

Garmin – Sharp

One of my favourite jerseys from 2012 no spy shots yet but hopefully they follow the leads of other teams and don’t change much.

Looks like they are not changing much for 2013 going off this shot


Design is the same as 2012 but the colour has changed from navy to black, a good move in my opinion a very cool kit, wont feel so cool in the height of summer though.

Omegapharma - Quickstep

A variation on last years design which really grew on me as the year passed, more black and an interesting twist with the riders twitter handles on the back of the jerseys. Also have a symbol to signify they are world team time trial champions.

Orica Greenedge

Very similar to last year, not sure if anything has changed

Lampre – Merida

I was right on my predection of bright pink and green but they have kept the green to a minimium so it still looks like a lampre jersey which is a good thing

Lotto Belisol

Not a lot has changed here, Telnet has come in as a sub sponsor with a yellow shoulder to reflect their arrival.


Very similar to 2012 kit, they all still look like Luxembour National champions. Should change a bit in the spring as they are announcing a new sponsor


They have had the same style now for the last 3 years. A change in supplier from Adidas (really MOA) to Rapha would lead me to guess that we will be seeing some changes, however the bikes seem to have the same paint jobs so perhaps not. Pictures from the training camp have shown some of the riders testing unbranded Rapha shorts, MOA make some of Rapha’s gear at the moment so perhaps the riders wont notice that much of a change, apart from the price they will be able to receive at the end of the season when they stick their kit on e-bay!

One of the most anticipated kits of 2013 was released today, I am a little disappointed it was not a more dramatic of a change, we have only seen the front of the jerseys so far it will be interesting to see if they continue the theme of last year with white on the back and do they still ride the thin blue line??

I like the union jack design they have gone for to signify that Wiggins is an ex national champion its a change from the normal of bands at the end of the sleeves

Saxo – Tinkoff

Practically the same as 2012, a kit that looks great in the flesh looking forward to seeing Nicolas Roche in it.


Continuing the theme of 2013 jerseys of evolution rather than revolution the 2013 jersey is still very recognisable as Vaconseli which I suppose is the name of the game.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Night Spins

This week saw me undertake my first “night spin” of the winter, about a month later than normal but I convinced myself by racing cyclo cross I didn’t need the night spins as sessions on the turbo would do. I was probably lying to myself but I am sticking to my story!! For anyone out there planning on 2013 being “their year” with the goal of riding the Rás, starting racing or even riding some of the harder sportives they will look at incorporating night spins into their training programme especially if they have a 9-5 job. Below are a few pointers and tips for making the most of your night spins and maximising your training.


Might sound like an obvious thing to anyone undertaking a night spin but you would be amazed how many guys aren’t lit up well enough. I would recommend a minimum of two lights on the front and two on the rear. Your main light on the front should be a good quality rechargeable light, with the secondary more of a light that lets you be seen rather than one that helps you to see, set it on flash mode to make you stand out more. I also find a small light attached to my helmet to be a great help, especially going around corners as when you are looking around the corner you can see where you’re going as opposed to your lights following the direction of the handle bars. On the back of the bike I have two lights as well one red one white both set to flash to draw maximum attention. I also find it good to have one of the lights attached to your helmet as lights on the bike are set low so if you have a light at helmet height there is more chance of a guy driving home from a long day in the office paying attention to you. Never have just one light on the front or back just in case the battery goes in one.


More is better is the rule I apply when training at night, if you can fit two pairs of socks on do it, nothing worse than suffering through a couple of hours of cold feet. I would always wear a long sleeve thermal base layer a long sleeve jersey and a thermal jacket with a rain cape in my back pocket in case it rains or I get a puncture. I would have a good hat on under my helmet and a good pair of gloves. I would wear the thickest tights I have and the heaviest duty pair of overshoes I own.

Perhaps the most important piece of kit I would wear would be a high vis jacket. You may think it’s best to wear your fancy Assos or Rapha thermal jacket because it has a reflective strip at the rear but safety is the name of the game so dig out the high vis!!! Bike shops these days sell specific high vis jackets for cyclist so that could be a good stocking filler this Christmas.

I also find that an arm band that walkers wear occasionally are good to have around the calf on your leg as your leg will be constantly moving and drivers will see it quicker.

Remember at the start of a spin during the day if you are chilly for the first ten minutes you have the correct amount of gear on as you will warm up as you go but on a night spin the temperature will drop as you go on so make sure you have plenty of clothing on. You won’t look like a pro wearing all this gear but you’re not a pro if your training at night so the objective is to arrive home in one piece!!!

Be wrapped up like this guy


You’re going to burn more calories on a night spin as your body is working harder to fight the cold so great for burning off the “winter weight” but not so good if you get the knock 10 miles from home on a poorly lit stretch of road so stick a bar in your pocket better be safe than sorry.


If you are horrendously motivated and your coach has you doing some form of intervals as part of your plan I wouldn’t recommend doing them on a night spin. Firstly for safety reasons it would not be a wise idea to be doing 25mph in the dark; no matter how good your lights are its easy to get caught out by a pothole at night. Secondly training at night is a strain on your system mentally and physically doing intervals is a strain mentally and physically so don’t overstress yourself by doing both; save the intervals for the turbo….or March!

Eye Contact

As you would on a normal spin always make sure you make eye contact with a driver as you approach a junction, if he hasn’t locked eyes on you its probable he hasn’t seen you he may be admiring your vast array of lights but it’s doubtful so take care and don’t end up going over the bonnet like Mr Wiggins.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

group riding "rules"

The club spin probably happens all year in clubs the length and breath of the country the below is rules for their group spins over the winter. During the winter the group swells when the racing members of the club return and commence their winter training. This can lead to a wide variety of abilitys in the group so a few rules are no harm especially with clubs booming and new members coming to the sport. Wexford are lucky as they run up to 3 spins on a Sunday morning so they can cater for all abilities.

The below are applied to their fastest group but they apply to all groups of cyclists training on the roads. The Wexford area would have had a reputation for over training during the winter with club spins turning into racing so its great to see the club progressing, this will lead to the riders training better during the winter and better results being achieved next season.

The club appointed a ride captain who is this case is Simon Lambert who would be the best rider in the club, Simon starts the spins by telling the group where they are heading and reminds the riders of the rules, this only happens for the first few spins as the "rules" will quickly become second nature and habit.

Its important for every group spin to have a leader he/she does not have to be the best rider in the club but has to be well respected and comfortable taking charge. Some people may not be happy being told how to ride on their weekend but the group as a whole will benefit. There is a world of differnce in a well organised spin as opposed to a disjointed one where the pace is up and down and there is no plan for what happens when their is a puncture etc. If you are at a different fitness level to the majority of the group (i.e. a lot worse) dont expect the spin to wait for you if you get dropped crossing a railway bridge its not fair on the rest of the group. In a club like Wexford Wheelers you are lucky that you have 3 groups to choose from so choose your group wisely as aim to increase your strength so that you can progress up to the fastest group.

All I would add to the below is to make sure to call pot holes but also point them out, if you are in the 4th row and you hear "hole" being shouted you dont know where that is so if your on the first row call "hole" but also drop your hand to your right or left to indicate where the hole is. If everyone in the group adopts this approach there will be a lot less punctures and stress in the group.

1. Team

Cycling is a team sport . We are all one club so therefore we are all one team no matter what grade.

2. Endurance Spin

The Autumn /winter Saturday Sunday spins are for endurance,  therefore long and steady .

If anybody wants to do intervals they can do during the week separate to these days .

3.  No half Wheeling

Stay nice and tight to the person beside you . No half wheeling !!!.   Particularly  on the front.  Half wheeling on the front, increases the pressure on the Behind rider, the pace balance at the front is lost , and the group pace is disrupted.
Not to mention your partner will not be impressed with having to work harder.

4. Steady on the hills .

No changing ( up and over)  at the front until cresting the top of hill. This will ensure a steady pace while climbing hills .

5.Speed it up on descents.

Who ever is at the front going down the hill has to push on and be in the big ring so as the rest of the group is not free wheeling behind .

6.Toilet Break

There will be a designated toilet break somewhere on the spin about half way through. Everybody must stop at this time !!! Then everybody must start again together !!!

I dont know if they have a rule about ice cream stops!!


If some one punctures,  the person beside them stops to help them mend it . The people on the front have to be told what is happening . (messenger travels up the outside of the group, delivers the message ,  then returns to their position).
 The group does not stop but continues on for ten minutes then turns around to go back for the outer riders . This way the group stays warm .

8.One Unit

If something is happening within the group the people on the front have to be told e.g.
                                Someone having a mechanical problem
                                 Someone getting dropped
We have to behave as one Unit.


Who ever is on the front has to ride a little bit harder but still steady so as everybody within the group stays warm.

10 .Side by Side

Everybody is to ride side by side two abreast Never three abreast !!!.single out quickly when called for cars .

11.Tired Person

If someone is tired they can stay at the back until they recover if they can . But they have to let the person coming back know as not to disrupt the flow of the group and the people moving forward .
If you are able to move forward you should continue to do so, in order  to keep the group moving , no missing turns .

12. Food & Tubes & Money & Mobile

Make sure you have enough food and drink for the spin. Everybody must have two tubes one set of leavers and a pump essential . Money and mobiles recommended.

13.Start & Finish

We start together so therefore we finish together .
These points should make for a enjoyable spin together happy cycling !!.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Fixx Supercross Cup Round 4

For round 4 of the Fixx Supercross Cup we “let ourselves go” to the races, well to be more precise we left ourselves go to the car park of Punchestown race course. Does not sound like a great location but turned out to be a good course 100% rideable with a mixture of gravly sections grassy sections and a section through a very small wooded section that had a whoop whoop section (basically up and down up and down).

The racing benefited from the course as it was not as super technical as other courses so people could race more instead of plodding around on their own definitely suited the roadies and would have being a great introduction to anyone starting out.

The start is super important in cyclo cross and I was yet again on the last row so I was not expecting much. I was on the extreme left of the grid the first corner was a rough left hand turn with the inside bit of the corner being rough. When “GO” was shouted I got a perfect start straight into the pedals and I was gone, everyone drifted to the right as they wanted the cleanest line through the first corner but I kept to the left as I had clean air to race into I decided to hit the corner hard and hope I came through it ok, as people to my right eased a bit for the corner to turn left I kept sprinting and decided if I took it too fast I would just bounce off someone to slow down. To my shock on entering the corner I was in 6th position, I was actually stunned it felt wrong to be so far up, I lost a couple of positions more or less straight away in the first couple of corners but I began to settle in, the first few riders had pulled away I was aware that I was a bit of a blockage in that I was holding up a few guys but if they wanted to get past me they would have to fight for it. I was 9th after the first lap I had lactic coming out my ears but I was confident enough I could hold firm once the race settled down. On one of the corners after the start of the lap Tim O’Regan came past me, he then made a small mistake in the next corner and I got past him again, he then tried to go the long way around me on the next corner but I had the racing line coming out of it and a nudge of the elbow was enough to remind him I had it, he had a good nudge back to say he was determined to get past, it’s easy to see who has raced in Belgium when you are leaning on someone in a corner in a race situation!!

Tim eventually got past a corner or two later as he was clearly stronger and was disappearing from sight to eventually finish 5th. So on the third lap I was sitting pretty’ish, as pretty as you can when you are going flat out in the middle of November with lactic acid up to my ears! Going through the wooded section I hit a piece of wood buried in the mud and punctured the front wheel, bloody disaster but at least I wasn’t too far from the pits so I had to run back there lost a minute in total on that lap so my race was effectively over. I plodded away steadily enough over the next few laps picking off a rider here and there but I did not have much to aim at so it was hard to stay motivated. With a couple of laps remaining I could see that Mr. Seymore was gaining in the rear view mirror so I remembered my goal at the start of every cross race of not getting lapped so I put the foot down to try and stay away from him unfortunately he caught me with 200 meters to go, the only plus side was I was spared doing an extra lap.

 I finished 25th in the end I reckon I would have being around 15th without the puncture but if’s and but’s never won a race, need to get myself a set of tubs to cut down on this puncturing lark.

It would be good to see neutral pits introduced if possible at races, I have seen a few lads pack the B race as they don’t have spares, perhaps a few guys from the A race could leave their spares into a neutral section of the pit while the B race is underway and a few B riders could return the favour if they are watching the A race. Puncturing for a lad based in Dublin may not seem like a huge deal but for someone like myself who may have drove 2 hours to the race or more for the lads from Cork it really is a wasted day out.

Speaking of the lads from Cork they are looking at promoting a race in December. Riders were asked on the line of the A race if they would travel and less than 10 said they would, I find this disappointing, surely everyone wants the sport to grown and wants more racing? The season is really short at the moment and it would be great if we can expand it by getting new clubs involved especially in new parts of the country so I would encourage the lads in Finbarr’s to run the race and plead with everyone else to ride it if its run.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

winter world champions

By following pros on the twitter the last week or so has seen many of them returning to winter training. Some started a few weeks ago such as Mark Renshaw, he actually started training for the 2013 season when the 2012 one was still under way with the Tour Of Beijing but he is obviously targeting the Tour Down Under next January but the vast majority of pros enjoyed resting up for the month of October and once the 1st of November rolled around they dusted off the training bike and commenced the 2013 season. A lot of these pros would be shocked to find out that many Irish amateurs are way ahead of them in the their training for 2013 the fabled winter world champion is already 2 months into his 2013 training and at the moment is clocking up 10 hours plus on the bike a week while holding down a full time job. Those that are new to cycling (and there are many) may ask what is a “winter world champion” when they hear the expression.

The WWC is usually an A4 or an A3 who had a disappointing 2012 season and called a halt to his own season just as the Tour De France got underway. He spent July and August enjoying life going to the pub eating what he wanted and resolving to himself with every pint to enjoy it as 2013 would be his year he would get really serious over the winter and he would dominate the local club league next June and July.

While the pros were preparing for the world championships in early September our WWC would be dragging the bike out from the shed and because he was taking it seriously this year he would decide to train on his racing bike. He decided to jump straight back into it and did 60 miles with the local group on his first Sunday back, cracked 15 miles from home but considered it a good day out and was happy that he jumped in at the deep end as he needed to do that to have a good 2013. This was a pattern repeated for September and October, only for the volume to be increased in October, our WWC is now doing 2 nights on the turbo 2 hours on his own on a Saturday and 3 hours with the local group on a Sunday and comfortably winning the sprint into town at the end of the spin. He is now starting to show his WWC legs. Our WWC knows he needs to up his game it’s one thing giving guys who bought a bike and a Team Sky jersey on the bike to work scheme in July a hard time but he knows that soon the more serious A1 and A2 riders who have rode the rás and will be riding it again in 2013 will be making an appearance in the group, he needs to show these guys that he is going to be a vastly improved cyclist in 2013, so our WWC head’s to his local bike shop to buy the best set of lights they have, he has to train at night to keep the edge over the rest of the group.
So November rolls around and he is doing 2 hours on a Tuesday and Thursday night, 3 hours on a Saturday morning and 4 hours with the group on a Sunday. Sunday fills him with pride as the local Rás riders comment on how well he is going, he is taking long hard turns at the front of the group and is not winning the sprint into town any more he is attacking 3 miles out the road just to be sure.

All of the above may be funny, but it’s funny because its true it happens in every training group in the country. Training and especially a training programme if there is one in place will be based on gradually increasing the volume of training and then when the racing season comes closer including intensity. If 4 hours is being completed as your Sunday spin in November do you up that to 5 hours in December and 6 in January? There won’t be enough hours of daylight by the time the season rolls around. There are approximately 16 weeks until the season starts with the Lacey Cup in Tralee, the objective of our fictional WWC is his local league in June/July that’s at least 28 weeks away. It's a long way from when local greats such as the late Bobby Power used to start training on St Stephens day, but back then the pros would only showup at the first race of the season with a couple of thousand km in their legs, us amateurs are becoming "victims" of the pros starting their year earlier and earlier.

 I see this every years guys train like they are a pro targeting the Tour Of Qatar over the winter and haven’t a leg come April and their moral is on the floor in May when they realise they haven’t the legs to compete in the upcoming league, they desperately try different training in May in the hope of coming good but are crushed when the guys they hammered on the Sunday spin from November to January and killing them when the local bragging rights are up for grabs.

So at this time of year take a chill pill if your goal is the Lacey Cup or Rás Mumhan your training will need to be structured and well planned out but if you want to enjoy your bike and racing next summer when the weather is good relax and reassess your training. Pick the date you want to have your best form and work back from that, hire a coach or talk to the more experienced riders in your group on a Sunday instead of tearing the legs off them. Enjoy your cycling at this time of year don’t fall into the trap of becoming the local Winter World Champion

Friday, November 2, 2012

to fight or to back down?

Just over a week ago Paul Kimmage was interviewed on Off The Ball radio show after the UCI held there management committee meeting and subsequent press conference in which they officially stripped Lance Armstrong of his seven Tour De France titles, (this was before Pat McQuaid and Hein Verbruggen had decide to suspend their legal action against him,) he was asked was he hoping that they would have took the decision to drop the lawsuit against him and he said he wished they did. Kimmage sounded like a guy who was under immense stress, you could hear it in his voice it was as if he was a spring coiled to the maxium waiting to explode.

Kimmage stated that the case has taken over his life with the last two months he described the case as an absolute "pain" to him. It must have being a great sense of relief to him when McQuaid and Verbruggen announced a few days later that they were going to suspend their legal action against him. But in the earlier interview he also stated that he felt he had a responsibility to those riders who carrer's had being affected by doping and people such as Emma O'Reilly and Betsy Andreu who had the guts to testify against Armstrong, he stated that he would use everything within his means to fight the case and would charter a jumbo jet to get people to Switzerland.

People may have considered this just fighting talk and that surely when the dust had settled he would retreat to a corner and write a piece about it for the Sunday Independent and that would be the end of the matter, surely that is what McQuaid and Verbrugge were hoping would happen. But this is not Kimmages style he seems to be stubborn at the best of times and was not to let the matter go, he must have took great strength from the support fund set up by Bloggers Andy Shen of and Lesli Cohen of which is now standing at more than $85,000 and has being contributed to by almost 2,900 people. He decided to fight back in the way he was attacked by going after McQuaid and Verbrugge in the Swiss courts. His lawsuit is a criminal complaint based on for slander/defamation and for strong suspicions of fraud. Hi lawsuit comprises a 28-page document with 55 exhibits of evidence that will be presented to a Swiss judge who will in turn decide if Verbruggen and McQuaid have a case to answer.

The 55 exhibits of evidence will prove to be very interesting if the case comes to court surely it will involve people such as Greg Lemond who seems very keen for McQuaid and Verbruggen to go. Surely the majority of the evidence will be information that is already in the public domain through the USADA reasoned decision on the Armstrong case. If Verbruggen and McQuaid are found guilty I don't know if that will automatically force there resignation from the UCI but I am sure that Kimmage is hoping that if they are found guilty public opinion and the UCI management committee will force their removal.
This court case if it happens will at the same time be a disaster and a positive thing for cycling. A disaster in that cycling will be dragged through the mud again and the headlines will be dominated by bad news as opposed to the good of cycling. But it will be good in that cycling needs this, it needs to be purged and cleansed of the past. I don't know if McQuaid is guilt as outlined by Kimmage but in his shoes would any of us have being able to stand up to the influence of Armstrong? This is a man who forced grown men to take drugs to ultimately benefit him. Its undeniable that for a time Armstrong was good for cycling and good for all the people around the world fighting cancer, would any of us have being able to stand up to Armstrong and all he represented?

The rules were bent for Armstrong for a time he was bigger than the sport he was simply too big to fail. Those such as Kimmage and David Walsh were pushed to the sidelines. The UCI needs to recognise the mistakes of the past, Verbruggen needs to go, perhaps McQuaid as well. McQuaid could take this opportunity to change the sport for ever, the sport is now truly at a cross roads. Drug testing needs to be administered by an independent body such as WADA national federations and the UCI should have nothing to do with drug testing and implementation. Bans for testing positive need to be increased, if someone tests positive for EPO ban them for 4 years, no one takes EPO by mistake. If someone tests positive for a tainted food supplement for example ban them for 2 years as they are still responsible for what enters their body but they still should be entitled to a second chance. A four year ban should end a career and this is the message that needs to be sent to all those riders considering heading to the "dark side". When someone tests positive they should be banned straight away we should not see the stupid situation where someone races for up to a year when awaiting an appeal and then when finally found guilty are only banned for 6 months in effect, they still have the racing days in their legs and the wages and prize money in their bank accounts.

Change needs to happen or we might as well go back to 1998 again, that is why we should applaud Paul Kimmage for having the strength to continue his fight, he could have taken the easy option (many would not have blamed him) but he wont back down. The sport needs more like him, hopefully because of his actions and others like him in 5 years time we can have a sport we truly believe in.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Fixx Supercross Cup Tymon Park

Round 3 of the Fixx Supercross Cup took place in Tymon Park last Sunday on a cold morning with plenty of showers thrown in, perfect cyclo cross weather if you are a bike handling god not so perfect if you struggle a bit with the technical stuff. Having watched the you tube clip of last years race I was confident enough I would be able to handle the course ok as it did not look as technical as the previous round in Swords. I managed to ride 3 laps of the course before the race and was happy enough as there was a few long straights that would suit a roady like me. The spiral section I was less impressed with basically this was were you turned left for 3 circles that got tighter with each turn and then right for 3 more circles in the opposite direction. There was a also a drop off on the course and a bit of an off camber section up and down a banking but overall a good course that was drenched due to all the rain.

I learned my first lesson of the day (there would be a few) upon completing my warm up laps. I had done my laps with about 45 psi in the tyres and and spent the laps slip sliding my way around I was chatting to a lad in the car park and I asked him how much pressure he had in his tubs and he said 25psi I had clinchers so I asked him how much he would recommend and he said 28!! so I took his advice and went with 35 to play it safe as I did not want to risk a puncture. It made a big difference to the grip levels but I still had the fear of a pinch puncture. My second and third lessons of the day were learnt before the start of the race, the first was to wash my bike after the warm up laps I had complete three laps and it was covered in mud which would make a difference as the race dragged on, the second lesson was to get to the start line as early as possible as I am not ranked in the top 20 its a battle to get the 21st position on the grid, the start is super important and starting in 35th does not help your day. Must camp out on the start line early for the next race.

The race started at the usual 100 miles an hour the first lap settled down to the usual lungs on the handle bars experience as I tried to get around the rider in front while trying to prevent any riders over taking me, one or two riders slid out on corners on the first lap but I managed to avoid the worst of the carnage. Laps two and three went ok I was managing to hold my own but was loosing about 5 bike lengths to everyone on the spiral section, must practice riding around in circles more!!! On lap 4 I learnt my fourth and most important lesson of the day: that despite the race being only 1 hour long you can still get the knock and blow up! I started going backwards on this lap and during the following laps I was loosing the will to live and hoping the race would end soon. I had started the race with the goal of not getting lapped by Robin Seymore as you don't get lapped by Robin there is a chance you will be knocking around the top ten. But I was very happy to see Robin lapping me after 6 laps as this meant my race would be over a lap earlier than planned. On my last lap I blew completely and was about 3 minutes slower than my first lap, on the run ups I was not running any more I was walking on the drop off I was not concerned about hitting the three at the bottom of it I was dreaming of cans of coke and the fastest way possible to get calories into my system. I was very happy to see the finish line, I was also very disappointed with my performance but you have to have the bad days in this sport to appreciate the good ones and at little bit of me was already looking forward to the next cross race

Friday, October 19, 2012

blog 1 cx race 1

50 meters that's how far i got in my first cyclo cross race of the season before i punctured, i hope this is not an omen for the season ahead! I rode the first half lap on the flat, i had no spare wheels with me but fortunately Joe Christian from south east road club gave me a wheel so i did not have a wasted trip to Dublin on my hands.

 I restarted in dead last position and began to pick off a few riders, the course was very technical especially as it had flogged rain for the previous few days and it quickly became a mud bath. The course started out with a fast flat section before dipping down through a couple of bends to the course's two gravel pits, the first that you had to run through but the second was rideable but this pit was pulled out of the A race as a number of riders in the B race snapped of rear mechs riding through it. The first rider I met on Sunday was Damien Heffernan from Wexford Wheelers who's race was ended on the first lap by a snapped rear mech so a puncture for me was not too bad. After the second pity we had a small flat muddy section and a right turn onto a small but really steep tarmacked climb, followed by a flat section and then a steep technical descent that at the bottom of we had to jump over a board and run/walk up a really steep incline, this turned immediately onto a steep technical descent that was off camber for the most of it just to keep it interesting. Then we entered a single track section through a small forest that was 3 inches deep with muck and then we came out onto another flat section that was 6 inches deep with muck, then we had a gradual tarmacked climb to the finish line.

I knew that any possibility of a good result was long gone so i focused on trying to have the best race possible and try to get a good days training out of the race. The worst part of being so far off the back was that i didn't get to see any of the lines that the good riders were taking through the corners, this was only my 4th cx race so experienced i am not! i rode a number of consistent laps and was happy not to crash on the descents and was able to ride all of the mucky sections, i am not sure would it have being faster to run the muddy sections but i didn't really have anyone to compare myself to. Fortunately Robin Seymore lapped me with two to go so i though brilliant i will have a chance to see what lines he takes, unfortunately i was only able to stay with him for about 20 seconds so that was that plan gone. i caught Murt Rice and another couple of rides with just under two laps to go so i gave it full gas for a bit but unfortunately giving full gas meant i ran out of gas very quickly and they quickly passed me out again!!!! the mud with the last number of laps was incredible the bike handled really differently as they was kilos of mud sticking to the bike, some riders had two bikes and were swapping them every lap while they had a helper in the pits washing the bikes, a clean bike would have made a big difference every lap but its hard enough to have one cx bike never mind two.
The race finished with me in 16th and happy to have the first race of the season over. I was looking forward to the cyclo cross season with a long time, i bought a bike on impulse last year and only got to ride 3 races. i had a bad crash earlier in the year and missed out on riding the Ras but the thoughts of the cx season made it easier for me to get back on the bike and racing during the summer. I only wish the season was longer and there were more cyclo cross races, guys based in Dublin have a lot more selection as they can ride the Ulster races every second weekend and the Fixx Super Cross races in Dublin, but for me to drive to Belfast from Kilkenny for a 1 hour race does not really make sense.
All the cycling news for the last week or so has being about Lance and the USADA report, I must say none of it is a huge surprise especially after reading Tyler Hamiltons book. The most surprising aspect of it all is that the riders on the team were forced into it by Lance it really shows what a bully and a control freak he is. You can argue that they were grown men and could have made there own decisions and said no but I can also see how they would crack and go on the gear especially when the rewards in the form of the big us postal contracts were available. But at the end of the day they have to now face the consequences which admittedly are fairly light when you consider all the people and riders they deceived for years. Its the riders that raced clean in those years that i feel sorry for. I remember Ciaran Power coming back from riding the Giro D' Italia to ride the national championships in Cork. He was the big favourite as he was the only pro that we had back then but he was absolutely dead on the road and had no power, that's what racing clean against doped riders will do to you.
For me the most disappointing story to come out in the last week was that of Matt White. He was always a decent pro who you not have considered to be a doper, I based a lot of this on the media image I had of the guy and the time I spent racing in Belgium in 2007. At the start of some random 1.1 I rolled up to the start line and found myself beside Matt White and Robbie McEwan, I said hello to the two of them, McEwan just grunted and wouldn't engage White on the other hand was full of chat and was asking about the team and our race programme and how I was finding Belgium and the racing. We chatted for about 5 minutes and I really enjoyed chatting to him he was telling me how he had being called into the race at the last minute as Steven Cummings had crashed a few days before and he had no interest in being at the race. I suppose it just shows nice guys can be dopers as well and rob the clean riders of a living