Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Enjoying the break in racing

This was an almost ready post sitting in the pipeline, published now. Race report from the British NPS and Enduro Round 3 will follow soon :)

Ryan and me just had a 2 week stint of no racing before the next British NPS, a rarety really and much appreciated, even though it means that long necessary work like cleaning the kitchen and doing the washing need to be done on these "free" weekends. Similarly, they allow us to be a bit more social, so they are usually planned out with parties, BBQs and dinner attendences in the evenings.

Nonetheless, they also mean another thing: lots of time for looooong spins, preferably somewhere further away (this kinda feeds back to the dinner invitations, a long spin = lots of calories burned = lots of nice food can be eaten :)). So, on the beautifully weathered bank holiday weekend Ryan and me had decided to take the car down a bit into the Wicklow Mountains on Saturday, dropping Ryan off at Djouce and me then parking the car in Roundwood. Ryan would go do some of the Djouce trails, head up to the top of Djouce and then basically hit the Wicklow Way and head south on it till Drumgoff in the Glenmalure Valley. I'd be starting from Roundwood up towards Lough Tay, but turning left into the Wicklow Way south, going to Drumgoff, then call Ryan to see where he was and see if I should wait for him in Drumgoff or do another small loop till he arrived, then go for a cold drink together at the beautiful little pub there. So was the plan and off we went.

I can't believe how beautiful the weather was, sunny blue skies and hot. The best weather this year so far, just absolutely amazing. And how much it adds mentally to the enjoyment of a spin! I was rested anyway, but I felt I could go on forever and felt really strong.

The Wicklow Way from where I was going was mainly fireroads, with a few fun singletrack bits and lead me around areas I've either never been before which was a lot of fun. I also passed by the leg I did in the Wicklow Way Relay last year (from Oldbridge to Glendalough), it's soooo much faster and easier on the bike than on foot, of course! With the weekend being such a beautiful bank holiday weekend, there were hords of people around Glendalough, so not that great to pass through on the bike, need to find a different way through. Then the way up from Glendalough I met Greg and Grainne, recceing Grainne's leg of this years Wicklow Way Relay on their mountain bikes. This leg was also an area familiar to me, from last year's Rogaine with Fergal - only we had done it mainly in the dark - it looks a little different and a lot shorter in daytime and on a bike.

So I finally made it to Drumgoff, in only about 2 hours from Roundwood! Time to call Ryan, but... no reception!! I walked around with my mobile in the air looking for reception, but nothing. Hmm, we had made the plan that when one of us had no reception, we'd cycle on uphill till we have reception. Ok, judging from where Ryan was last when I heard of him (top of Djouce, me halfway between xxx Bridge and Glendalough), I thought I ride on uphill the Wicklow Way south towards Slieve Maan until I have reception. And you know when I got reception? Only when I was on top of Slieve Maan, i.e. on the very top of the climb, after having climbed for about 30min, checking my phone every few min to see if I had reception.... When I tried to ring Ryan from there, he seemed to have arrived in Glenmalure valley, since then I only got through to his answering machine.... argh!! So, I was riding around on the top of Slieve Maan trying to find the Wicklow Way again (since I had lost it on the way up, having missed a turn and having gone the last bit on the road), found it and started riding it backwards towards Drumgoff. Eventually I got a call from Ryan, he was back on the top of the Shay Elliott climb - basically on the mountain opposite me on the other side of the valley.... Ah well, we decided he'd do a bit of a loop around Mullacor, then return to the car and me to go straight to the car.

Since I was at the car 15min before Ryan, I cycled on towards home, so that Ryan would pick me up on the road. In total I had done about 83km cycling, about half of it offroad (mostly fireroad though) in about 4.5hours. What a great day and great top up for my farmer tan too!

Sunday was another amazingly hot and sunny day and I went on a long road spin. I felt great for the first while, made it in just over an hour from Dundrum to Sally Gap and in another 35min to Laragh, feeling surprisingly strong after the long ride yesterday. However, on the climb up from Laragh to Wicklow Gap my powers waned almost from one moment to the next and the rest of the 4.5hour ride felt pretty draggy and I felt powerless. I was really happy to finally descend from the last big climb back into Dublin. It was great timing that Ryan and me were invited on a dinner party that night - the amount of food we ate!!! No guilty feelings either when we ate the amazing heavy chocolate cake and cheesecake.... oh I love mountain biking even just for the fact that you can eat so much nice and tasty food afterwards without gaining a pound!

On the second weekend the spin volume was down to normal, so I did a 3.5hour road spin on Saturday:

On Sunday, Ryan and me decided to go to Djouce together and session a few sections together and race each other on a few sections, i.e. I would get a headstart and Ryan would try and catch me. I found that this is a great way for me to push technical riding comfort limits, also because you know you are safe if you crash. I always go a lot more careful when I ride out by myself. Roll on the races!!

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