Monday, December 21, 2009

2009 Virginia CX Race

On Sunday I got to take part in my first ever snow race – it was also the first time that I wore full length leg warmers (and needed them) in a race. A heavy frost and snowy roads detered many from making the trip to Virginia Cavan for the event ran by TC Racing. With the weather, and the naturally beautiful backdrop it made for some picturesque racing.

After arriving I started a lap preride, I made the second second set of tracks on the fresh snow and three quarters way around the lap I payed for it. My front wheel dropped into a hole (filled with snow) and I went over the bars hard. It took 20 seconds on whimpering until I got myself off the ground – a dead leg (still in bits), a very sore thumb (currently twice it's usual size), a thankfully not broken but twisted shifter and a bruised ego... With that, I went back to the car, fixed the shifter and switched out my carbon tubular wheels for my spare wheels – dry weather wheels! (A shipment of Rocket Ron CX tires will soon arrive). The course was very technical as far as cross courses went, it was more like an MTB course but thankfully before the start the course was tamed down a lot.

The race started and Aidan McDonald went to the front with Alan Clogher – as I rode, my tires slid out on every corner and could never put the power down. I was here for training (my choice was this or a LONG 4-5 hour training ride in the frosty hills – easy choice) so let them go and concentrated on getting a few things right that I have been working on.

After 1:09, at around 15kmph (slowest race of the year) I rolled in for 3rd incident free (well, I had one working gear and had to stop twice to pull out sticks from my wheel – but that is minor in comparison to my last race!).

My Dad and brother (thanks for the pictures Mark) made the journey from Monaghan to watch (and freeze!). Thanks – come to CX Nationals, I promise a good race :)

Thanks to TC Racing for putting on the race – the grounds (Park Hotel) were amazing and I enjoyed riding in the snow – next time though, open the course up a little.

Friday, December 11, 2009

2009 Supercross Cup Round 4

Sunday was the final round of the this years SuperCross Cup. Roger Aiken had already claimed 1st place overall but 2nd through to 5th was still up in the air with myself, Joe McCall, Lewis Ferguson and Evan Ryan vying for position.

My club, MAD MTB, were the host club running the event in Corcaigh Park. My duties were putting together sandwiches for afterwards (7 loaves of bread!) and putting together a video of the race (which can be seen in this post).

Race winner - Connor McConvey

At 1pm we lined up and started – immediately Roger went to the front and attacked. A few groups formed from the start and I was silly not to be in the lead group (I was following wheels that I should not have been). Towards the end of the first lap I left my group moving after the lead group – a lap or two later, Roger fell off the lead group and we started riding together. We rode well together sharing the workload on a very windy course until with 3 laps to go he had a little trouble in one of the very muddy sections and a gap formed – at this point, I moved off in hunt for third position. On the final lap, with about 600 meters to go I passed Joe on the tarmac section but then things went horribly wrong – my bike skidded to a halt. Looking down, I found my rear derailleur (a beautiful 2010 Force one with about 14 hours of use) mangeled into my wheel. Nothing was moving. With Roger still behind me (somewhere), I picked up the bike, threw it over my shoulder and began to run – oh, I hated the running. I made it around the course to nip in just ahead of Roger with only a couple of seconds to spare.

With my 4th place result, I ended up finishing 2nd overall in the series – my first cyclocross series. I really enjoyed the racing – there was always 6-7 people that could make it onto the podium and that created a great race atmosphere, everything was up for grabs.

The damage

Thanks again to MAD for running the race and K-Capital Source and Cycleways for supporting the events.

More pictures from Ollie.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Video of Supercross Cup Round 4

I bought a Canon HF200 recently and this is the first clip I threw together - I was racing so Oisin Fitzgerald took the footage. A few lessons have been learnt (iMovie takes up a lot of resources - iMovie isn't that great beyond quick tasks - editing takes up lots of time if done right - I didn't do it right).

Anyway - enjoy - make sure to watch in HQ mode.

It is widescreen, so you probably have to go to the youtube webpage...

Thursday, December 03, 2009

2009 Cycleways Sale

Last year, Cycleways had a mega-sale the likes of which we hadn't seen in Ireland in a bike shop before. Mel and I ended up spending 2-300 hundred each picking up bit and bobs (An Assos Climajet Jacket for €50!), shorts, jackets – even a set of rollers.

Its that time of year again and they are having another one – the sale has just started and I'll be heading in tomorrow to see what I can find.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

2009 Supercross Cup Round 3

The alarm goes off and it is 8:30am (or just after midnight in California where I was two days earlier), I don't really want to get up – I heard the rain hammer down all last night and the thought of racing in it, during my 'off-season' wasn't exactly appealing. I drift back to sleep...

Startled, I awake – I think to myself, if it is 10am or later I'm skipping the race, I check the time – 8:50. Okay – time to get ready for a bike race.

After my puncture in Round 2 of the Supercross Cup, I dutifully filled some NoTubes sealant into my rear wheel with the hope that I wouldn't have to rip off another Tubular and restart the gluing process again. On the three weeks I was away between rounds, the tire held pressure perfectly so I was confident that I would not hit another mishap this weekend.

With the car packed, I started driving the 1.5 hours to Rostrevor – for the first hour, biblical rain fell and weather warnings beamed over the radio – hmm, I wish it was 10am when I woke. When I arrived, the weather had turned to being overcast, cold but overcast – race organizers were confident that the course would remain fast and holdup well. With all the rain recently, I didn't share their confidence.

I still was not in any sort of race mood when I started riding two laps of the course as a warmup – this changed quickly though as I realized the organizers confidence in a fast course was justified. Fast straight sections, flat out 90 degree corners, kicker climbs and bermed 180 U turns – I loved the course. There was even a run up where carrying your bike was the optimal mode – a first for me in a CX race.

At 1pm the race started – first time for me this year wearing a base layer and arm warmers. On the first descent section I went to the front to push the pace, at least that was my plan. On a very tricky loose left hander kicker (the looseness was caused by inches of wet leaves), I lost the front end of the bike and also took out Joe McCall who was sitting on my wheel. We went from first and second to somewhere in the early teens. Ooops – don't panic. By the second lap, Joe and I had gotten across again and a lead group of 7 or 8 had formed. Over the next few laps, I had some of the closest racing I had all year. Connor McConey and Roger Aiken were running their own race attacking off the front and watching each other – I tried to join the party mid way through the race attacking off the front but with a transatlantic flight 36 hours earlier – my lungs and legs didn't respond - I could ride pretty hard, but not super hard. The following lap, Connor and Roger attacked and stayed away for the remaining two laps. Joe, Evan Ryan (who was riding a stormer) and I came around for another lap – the last lap 'bell' went off. I thought we had at least two more laps to go (time flies when you are having fun I guess). The thought of an uphill sprint finish, although suiting me, wasn't exactly what I wanted so I attacked on the descent and flat section on the bottom and got a 10 second gap. I could see Conor about 15 seconds in front of me. With a half lap to go, I didn't think I would catch Conor (he looked very strong) – I eased off a little, watching the race for 4th unfold behind me and rolled over the line to take 3rd with a smile on my face. Evan edged Joe out for the sprint finish and both looked worse for wear for their final lap efforts (that's why I didn't want to be in a sprint finish!). Average speed for the race, despite the mud, was 23.5kmph - imagine if it was dry!

In the end of the day, I am very glad my alarm clock read 8:50 and not 10am. I had a really fun race with a great group of people. The course was possibly my favorite CX course of the year (a hard one to call), the organization was seamless and I'm really 'stoked' for the final round this weekend, held by MAD MTB in Corcaigh Park. If I can't convence you to race - come out and watch the event, starts and 1pm and is very spectator friendly - cow bells are optional.

Results are available here, some photos here and a report here.