Friday, September 22, 2006

Last couple of 2006 races

The last couple of weekends saw two races and one weekend of long spins.

The first race was the final stage of the NPS series and was being held by IMBRC out in Slade Valley (the same venue as the MAD Rush a few months back). Horrible rain on the Saturday meant that the course was going to be very muddy (most of the course was on new cut trails). I did not get out on Saturday for a few practice laps so I warmed up before the race on a practice lap – the course looked good.

The race started and my legs felt fine with a fast pace but a poor line choice up a muddy dual track section (I wish I had more time to find the proper lines before hand) meant that I was stuck behind a few people for a fast single track descent (I did get to see one of the guys have a spectacular crash though). That dropped us out onto a fireroad which lead us to the top of the hill. I had a couple of battles on this lap and ended up going through start/finish in third place. On the fireroad climb on the next lap I caught up with second place – he hung on to me (exchanging positions a couple of times) until a hard steep climb towards the end of the lap where I dropped him for the rest of the race. Then, to my surprise, I found the race leader at the side of the trail with a blown out tire (I actually caught this guy on the last lap of the last two races we both took part in – a very quick guy). Now I was in an interesting position – a few people chasing behind but I was in front. For the last lap I basically went hard on the non technical terrain and took it easy on the technical stuff (trying not to have any crashes/mechanicals). The tactic worked and I won my first Expert NPS with almost a 4 minute lead. The win meant that I actually finished 2nd overall in the Expert NPS standings :) As a first timer, I was very very happy. Overall, I really enjoyed the race, it was cool to win, especially on a course that was so much fun. I think at this stage I'm pretty good at riding in the mud! :)

The Mel's race she ended up finishing 12th in Sports men or 1st women.

Mel just before the start of the race

This line looked nicer :)

The bomb hole at the end

The Mad winners from the weekend

Last weekend saw the Epic Blast. A lot can be said about this event. It was my favorite race of the year. It was basically a cross between downhill and cross country racing (so I took the Enduro). All sorts of riders arrived with everything from downhill beasts to carbon fiber wipit bikes. The format was basically a heat, a final and then the blast.

On my first heat I was hampered with mechanical problems the whole way down (pedals would not all me to clip in – try descending on clip pedals down technical terrain!) and eventually came in in 7th. In the final, I no longer had the technical problems and ran out to win the run. It was a lot of fun taking the jumps and drops at race pace not having to follow someone.

Finally, The Blast. 120 riders (170+ started the day) start at the top of a big hill and head straight over the heather for the singletrack. It's simply chaos! He is a video of the start.

Epic organized some great prizes for the winners (thank you BikeRack) and I was still buzzing from the event the next day. Hopefully next year there will be a couple more of these events!

Thursday, August 31, 2006

A bit of an update

It's been a while since I last said anything. Over the last couple of weeks we raced most of them and had two weeks with no races. Aside from that, I watched a couple of movies and series 1 of “Six Feet Under” - which I liked. I have ordered series 2-5 now on dvd :) A group of us went to the International Comedy Club on Saturday– go to it, it was great. Two and a half hours of great comedy for €10!

First off was NPS 5 which was being held by MBUL in Killaloe. On the way to the race I had to pick Mel up from Limerick as she took part in an Adventure Race the day before. We arrived at the venue too late for Mel to take part in the Ladies Sport event so she would has to ride elite for the day. I started out on a practice lap and at the end of the very long climb on the lap, the heavens opened up. I had to then do a steep, very slippy descent on the worst rain that I had ever seen while on a bike. The course had started dry, so I had dry tires on, in a scramble before my race started I switched the front tire to something that could deal with mud a bit better.

A few minutes later, the race started for Mel and I – the course was quiet simple to describe. A long climb followed by a flat section followed by some more climb, then a steep twisty forest descent, a road section and a climb back up to the start/finish line. This race proved to be my best result this year by finishing 3rd. Mel, of course, had to ellipse me and finish first in Elite. Although to be fair, there was no 'real' elites in attendance.

Two weeks later Mel and I had a double bill! On the Saturday we would take in a two person team adventure race called the Annacurragh Adventure Challenge. It was basically a 17km MTB ride followed by a 6.6 km run (with almost 500m of climb!), followed by a 22km MTB ride (with a river crossing where the water went above my knees!) and then another bike section of about 16km. Mel and I made it back in about 4 and a half hours which placed us as the second fastest mixed team but unfortunately I missed two way points that we had to stamp our sheet at...

The next day, with tired legs, was a return to Castlewellan for the 6th round of the NPS series. The first round of the series was set in the same venue and I really enjoyed that race (It was my first race). Mel's race was on first and she finished first sport lady but more importantly, she finished 12th in Sport men. She had a great battle with a few of the guys around her during the race. My race started at a frantic pace, a pace my legs could not handle so I decided to take it a bit easier on the first lap or two. At the top of the first climb I was probably sitting in about 8th or 9th place. As the race progressed I started to feel a bit better and I started in increase my pace. I would say my last lap was the fastest of the race. I ended up getting 4th in this race which I was well happy with. This weekend of racing was the hardest on my body yet - my calves were sore for about two days afterwards. It was a good bit tougher then the Wicklow 200 earlier in the year.

Last weekend Mel and I rode around Slade Valley on the Saturday and on Sunday went on a long spin together. We had a rolling time of a little over 5 hours and stopped off in Enniskerry on the way home for pastries and drinks :)

The route Mel and I did on Sunday. It was about 63 km with around 1700m of climbing

In other news, Edgespace turned two years old :) I've also decided to go back to Spain for some more mountain biking in a couple of weeks and I'm still undecided as to where I'll be going for my big holiday this year... Africa, Central America or some MTB holiday... New Zealand maybe?

Me cutting our second birthday cake

Ahh, one last thing. I was riding along Sally Gap on my road bike last week and I felt something hit me on my forehead. Somehow, a bee flew through a vent on my helmet and stung me at 55km/h! The pain (and adrenalin) started and I removed the stinger. When I woke up the next day my forehead had started to swell. By 3pm, a doctors appointment was needed as I started to look like something out of Star Trek. After some antibiotics and a few days of looking strange, I'm back to normal again. I contemplated putting up a picture, but I think it's best not! :)

Friday, August 04, 2006


Two weeks ago Mel and I took a 5 day trip to Paris. The weather was beautiful although really really hot (I could hardly sleep in the first room we had). We basically walked around and had a look at the various sites and ate lots of yummy food.

One of the days we went out to the Palace of Versailles. I was actually quite disappointed with it. The best things about it were the gardens. One of the trips highlights was a meal we had in an Ethiopian Restaurant called Addis Ababa. Mel had not tried Ethiopian before and it was all cooked to perfection.

We met up with some of Mel's friends for coffee one evening

On the Sunday we got to watch the final stage of The Tour de France. We had to wait around for about 4 hours in the heat but eventually all the bikes rode through a few times. They were going by quickly over the cobblestones and it was reasonably difficult to figure out exactly what was going on.

Photos from Paris are here and there are a couple from The Tour here.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

I'm selling some stuff!!!

Clearing out some of the stuff I'm not using anymore :) Click the links for descriptions and prices etc...

Stumpjumper Comp - Sold!
GBA - Sold!
Game Cube - Sold!

2006 National Championships

Two weeks ago Mel and I took part in the National Cross Country Championships. It was a reasonable flat fast course a beautiful estate with a few small obstacles to navigate. The weather was beautiful, a bit hot if I have to nit-pick and MAD had a BBQ after the races.

Mel was off first in the Sports race – she had a great start but broken seals on her front fork (a SID race - order new seals from these guys) mean that she had zero suspension from about 4 minutes in. Mel finished 3rd overall in the Sports Women. Not a bad result for her first year and on a fully ridged bike!

Mel going down a fun section

Kerry going down the same section

She is still smiling too much - it's surposed to be hard!!!

A little later I had my start. The Expert race was four laps – Sport was two. I didn't start very well and crashed on my first lap. (Trying to pass some slower traffic :( ) On the fourth lap my legs were cramping up quiet badly but the end was near and I put in my fastest lap time of the day. I even got my first sprint finish against a Team Work guy winning by a second. I think I was a bit lucky as I caught him off guard :) Almost died after the effort though! I came in in 6th position which I was very happy with.

I think this is the VETs just after the start

It took all my effort to make the smile ;)

As usual, there are lots more photos here.

Friday, July 14, 2006


Took this photo a while back out my window.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

The MAD Rush

The weekend just gone by MAD were running their first proper race with the current set of members. Several months of planning and trail building left a course that was almost entirely single track with a couple of really fun sections. The aptly named Happy Valley was my favorite which was a chute into a slightly twisty (and very slippy with the rain) valley that had berms in all the right places to keep your speed up. I arrived home from the US the evening before (and then built up two bikes before getting to bed) so my race was basically total pain and lack of power on the ups (just look at my face in the photos) and fun on the descents.

Me entering the Happy Valley

Mel also got to race this race, winning her category, on her new bike that actually fits her – an S-Works hard tail. After giving out to me for a long time about my mens saddles she finally got a womens one with the bike – and guess what, she is changing it back to a mans because it restricts movement too much.

Mel smiling (too much?) on her new bike

The event went very well with everyone raving about the course, so hopefully next year we will be running an NPS :)

This week I'll be taking it easy ahead of the nationals at the weekend.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

The last few weeks...

It's been a while since I updated my blog and lots has happened since.

First off I had the fourth race in the NPS series. It was held up in Balinastoe forest again. Unfortunatly, Mel was not able to race as she did not have a bike... (I'll come to that story soon) I pre-rode the track the day before the race in beautiful sunshine (It had not rained in about 3 weeks). Of course it had to rain all Saturday night and Sunday morning so I arrived at a muddy course. The race went quite well even though some sections became unridable. The descents were still great. [More photos]

The following weekend Mel and I took part in the Rogaine. It's basically two person team 24 hour orienteering event around the Southern Wicklow mountains. We were both well prepared kit wise so we happily set out on the long hike. I think that this, for me at least, was mostly a mental challenge. Physically it was not extremely demanding but it was hard to keep yourself going. For the experience, we slept out rough inside plastic bivvy bags for a couple of hours. We both finished well and conked out when we got back home. [More photos]

The next control was at the far side of the lake

Until we went to sleep it was difficult to get a rest because of the flies! We sat here for one minute.

Rain clouds were just leaving us...


For the last two weeks I have been in California on business (flying out the day after the Rogain!). I took my road bike with me so that Kieran and I could go out on a few spins over the long weekend (It was the 4th of July weekend over there). I even ended up doing my first road race when I was there. A Low Key Time Trial race over a 16km slightly hilly course. I enjoyed the race.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Wow - I want to be able to do this!

Found this on the Epic forums. Watch all of it, it gets progressively crazier!

Friday, June 16, 2006

Wicklow 200

Last weekend Mel and I got ourselves involved in the Wicklow 200. It's basically a 200km tour through the Dublin and Wicklow mountains with about 3,300 meters of climbing. Mel left about an hour before me (you can start anytime between 6am and 8am) so that she had more time to complete it and that we could meet somewhere in the middle.

The course was really nice taking in some beautiful mountainous scenery – a good chunk of which I had not seen before. I eventually caught up with Mel, who was riding my cross country bike with skinny tires, about 4 hours in. I was very impressed with that – I was flying along on my efficient road bike (got it two weeks ago – lots of fun - it's red :) ) and it still took 4 hours for me to catch her!

It was a beautiful day for that type of event – mostly sunny, not too warm and both of us really enjoyed it. The pizza and ice-cream afterwards tasted great.

There were photographers along the route – here are all the photos I could find of Mel and I.

The descent off the Wicklow Gap

Starting the Slieve Mann climb

Mel after she finished

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

A couple more pictures from Spain

The view half way up a mountain before our first major descent on the first day

One of the streets in Bubion

Clive on a climb

The view up to the next village

Monday, June 12, 2006

Bubion, Spain

Last weekend I went to Spain with a group from Epic to do some mountain biking with a company called Switchbacks. The trip was amazing – easily the most fun 4.5 days of biking I've ever done. The weather was a bit dodgy when we arrived into Malaga but apart from that (and you can see from the photos) it was perfect – not too hot, just warm and sunny.

Bubion - the village we stayed in. This was the view from my house :)

Don (I think) descending the final section of a long rocky trail

Us after the first day of biking - the water was so nice and cold

All of us who went on the trip (apart from Clive)

Kieran descending the "Impossible Corner"

The trails where pretty rocky and almost all naturally formed. My favorite trail was the Cresta Run which was basically a 10 minute descent down a gullied bermed trail. Everyone came away from the trip (more or less) injury free with fully working bikes :)

Friday, June 09, 2006

Riding through a bomb hole

Everyone seems to be putting videos on their blogs... So, here I am going through a bomb hole at the Balinastoe NPS race. It's not exactly a 20 foot gap jump... give me time :)

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Wedding in Germany

(The first post by Mel onto the Blog!)

Ryan and me went to Germany to my cousin Gesa's wedding with her long-term boyfriend Joerg of eight(!!) years two weeks ago. As my big sister and Ryan and me had booked different flights from Dublin, Ryan and me arrived first in Hamburg-Luebeck on the RyanAir flight and then were picked up by my parents to then drive on to the Hamburg airport to pick up my sister. So it took actually quite a long time until we arrived happily in my childhood home where my little sister was already eagerly waiting for our arrival. I had not seen her since last year September and before that for about another year or so due to her and me living in different countries for a while (she was actually doing an au pair in the States).

As lots of guests were expected Ryan and me had to sleep in the sauna house of my uncle which was not too bad apart from the fact that the shower of one of my uncles tenants was broken and this person had to use the sauna house shower in the very early morning... he woke us up when trying to open the door which was locked from the inside and I was so tired and confused when he came in I started to talk to him in English! "Was fuer ein verruecktes Maedel" he must have thought. Ah well, the next day saw the arrival of my brother with his family from Munich and so we were all together awaiting the big day.

Dressed in beautiful dresses and gown we attended the wedding that took place in a chapel in a picturesque little castle in the middle of a lake. An awe went through the guests when the beautiful bride went down the aisle in an amazing white dress. The ceremony itself was enjoyable and quite funny actually, especially when we found out we won't have song books and have to sing some songs by heart and therefore they quickly chose some common church song classics were everybody at least knows the first one or two verses but the words got more and more mumbled towards the end which was really funny and then the Pastor wanted to sing another verse but nobody else knew the next one, so the organ stopped as well – hilarious! Anyway, the rings were exchanged after quite a long vow and lips kissed and flowers thrown and pictures taken and we made our way to a really nice restaurant with a big hall which was tastefully arranged with red gaze laid over the tables. Ryan even got a specially translated menu card! When the 80 odd guests had finally all found their assigned table a few speeches were given and then the big feast began with an amazing starter plate of nine different little tasters followed by the main course of three types of meat with crocettes and different vegetables and after a break to let everything settle a bit we had an amazing ice cream buffett. Mmmmh, pity you can't eat more than your stomach can hold, it was sooo tasty! But I understand it's a good thing as well – the amount of cycling and running I have to do to get rid of all that again! Finishing off with a few schnaps to help the digestion, the dj soon put on the tunes and the bride and groom started the dance with a slow waltz and soon the family and friends joined in. The evening was mainly spent eating, chatting, watching funny acts involving an elch and a blue bear and trying to put a good figure on when dancing until about 4am in the morning when the sun started rising again.

After a good nights sleep (no shower interruptions – or at least non noticed) and some shopping in Flensburg Ryan was introduced into the first family tradition of playing canasta – even winning the first time round and into another traditional family ritual (eating LOTS of icecream). After a good nights sleep we had to head to the airport again (this time we all went on the same flight from Hamburg – my big sister, Ryan and me), but what was that: traffic jam from half way onwards! We actually cut it so tight that we arrived 47 minutes before departure only to find out that our airplane was delayed for 50 minutes anyway – ppphhh.... . And so was spent a delightful and tasteful (literally!) weekend in Germany.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

NPS Round 3 – Lumpers

Last weekend saw both Mel and I racing again. It was on a course that was reasonably technical and almost completely on single track through the forests above Dundalk (there was a 5 minute fireroad climb at the start of the lap). The weather had been nice for a while and we went on a preride of the course on Saturday, it was bone dry and really flowy. The then rained for the next 12 hours...

What had been a nice dry course on Saturday had now turned in a wet slippy course just waiting for a few hundred bikers to make it super muddy.

Mel started first in the sports category. She was going to be doing 2 loops of the track. After about an hour of racing she finished in 14th position! (out of 23 who finished) Very impressive for a complete beginner.

Mick and Mel at the start of the Sports race (look how clean they are :))

My race started shortly after Mel's ended. Experts were going to be racing 4 laps of the now muddy slick course. After the initial dash up the fireroad the race turned into a parade through the single track as there were few passing opportunities and when a technical section caught out a rider, the whole parade behind also got caught up in the stop. About midway through the lap a guy in front me slid and crashed across the trail causing me to go over my bars too – I got up to find my gears and brakes in the wrong position. Damn it – my first mechanical. I calmed myself down, got out my tool kit and set about fixing (as I watched about 5 people pass me by). For the next two laps or so, I couldn't really get focused on riding properly. I was not very happy with the way I was riding and not very positive about the race (even though the single track was great). By the end of the fourth lap, I pulled back a few positions and finished in 9th position.

On the only fireroad climb of the course

Decending a slick section towards the end of the race. On Saturday, in the dry, I was ramping off this stuff

Overall, the course was excellent – I just wish that it was a nicer day. The rain didn't bother me during the race but it didn't entice me to hang around for the criac after the race. (Cold, wet, tired and covered in mud - a sure way to get a cold)

There are no more XC races until June 18th for us now, so it will be back to going on long spins at the weekend.

Monday, May 08, 2006

NPS Round 2

Mel and I were racing again at the weekend. This time we where taking part in the NPS round 2 which was been held in Balinastoe forest.

This is a description of the course:
Basically, you climb a fireroad, then a really steep fireroad, then MORE fireroad. Then left into some muddy single track. Then back onto some fireroad, then left into a long enough single track section - lots of ups and downs (by the end of the race this was actually quiet tricky as there where big slippy roots everywhere). Then a sharp right onto a fireroad climb followed by a fast fireroad decent. Then a single track climb onto some, guess what... fireroad climb. Then right into some fun single track that ended with a rollable jump and a bomb hole and back out of the forest to the start/finish line.

Mel's race (sport) had 2 laps of the course while my race had a grueling 5. My race started reasonable well. I wanted to make sure that I was ahead of most of the group going into single track (two weeks ago I got stuck behind people on the single track) I managed that but my chain fell twice on the first lap (I had to get off twice) which lost me a position or two. The other four laps went well enough until I crashed mid way through the last lap (damn slippy root!) but it was nothing serious – just a sore knee. I finished out the lap with some energy left with an overall time of 1:48 (something). That was enough to give me 8th position overall which I was happy with. Two races in and I've already learned a lot!

We still don't have the full results of Mel's race yet, but I'll post them when I get them.

Not many pictures this time, but I did find this one of me on my first lap (I think)