The Hill

This is a Guest Post by Niamh O’Donovan. Niamh is from Modeligo in County Waterford, is a member of Dungarvan Cycling Club and races her bike uphill and down with TC Racing. Last Sunday, September 16, 2018 Niamh dominated the infamous Lacca Climb to win the Munster Hill Climb Championship, organised by Southside Wheely Wheelers. This article was originally published on Niamh’s instagram and is reproduced here by kind permission.

Munster Hill Climb Championships 2018

My first 🚴‍♀️ jersey! This is weird to say but it actually was a little emotional to be able to tell my Mam and Dad that I randomly made the trip to #southsidewheelywheelers last Sunday morning and surprisingly came home with the Queen of the Hill jersey. Here’s why,

I have so many wonderful childhood memories from my family home on ‘THE HILL’. Significant to this story, my family home, in the parish of Modeligo Co.Waterford, which is a valley, can be seen from everywhere, perched on top of as everyone calls it ‘the hill’. We used get post addressed ‘yellow house on the hill, Modeligo’ 😂 We even had tug-o-war competitions where the four sides of the Parrish used pull against each other, they were ‘the Glen, The Hill, Churchquarter and I think Sleady Castle’. Growing up I hated living on ‘The Hill’, home from school meant a kilometer hike back up the hill, a cycle to the shop meant, pushing my mtb back up the hill with a gear bag full of penny sweets and mr freezes from mrs Bannon’s shop, playing hurling, if you missed the catch, you had better get running or the ball would be gone so far down the hill, i used roll down the garden with my school friends, we used have competitions to see who could cycle to the bottom the fastest, apparently my neighbor made it in 7 seconds, legends were spoke of in those who could cycle up it back in the day without getting off, and that was before there were gears on bikes. The hill in total is a mile and a half long. My family home is half a mile up. My dad told me that one spot in his ‘top field’ is the highest point in Modeligo, there is also a Fairy fort here. I used go up there with friends and make a wish in the fort. I am so grateful i have had this childhood, full of innocence and adventure. I have enjoyed writing this and I hope you have enjoyed reading it.

Ballyorgan, County Limerick


Link to original post

Event report from Southside Wheels Wheelers

Follow Niamh @spokeslady_niamh

Mix And Match Groups 3 And 4

Pádraig is the author of Burkes Biking Blog. This week he loves latté and cycling in early Autumn. He loves dahlias, begonias and Marion too, but not Strava segments that finish 10 metres beyond a junction.

My week on the bike:

  • Tuesday: with my friend Declan
  • Wednesday: easy group spin to Kilmacthomas
  • Thursday: off-road Waterford Greenway with Marion and lunch
  • Saturday : I wanted to go, but I was stewarding for Tried & Tested Triathlon Club’s annual event and the garden needed gardening

And So To Sunday

What a beautiful morning to be out on the bike with my club. The forecast last Friday gave epic rain for Sunday morning, but thankfully it arrived overnight. I had seen the announced routes and planned to go with my usual G3 and have coffee with G4. Everything went without a hitch. Here are the DCC notes from the road for 16/09/2018: (credits PRO Carol and group scribes)

With the evening light restricted members were out in force for the weekend activities.

Group 3

On Sunday G3 stayed close to home with 14 doing a ring of West Waterford. Turning off the main road for Ballinameela, across Villierstown, Camphire to Tallow, up Ballyduff to Lyons Cross and back down to Lismore. (My note: I left the group in Cappoquin and soloed to Lismore to sit in a suntrap with coffee, chatting to riders from Youghal and Dungarvan who also love suntraps)

Group 3 on way to Ballyduff

On the road from Cappoquin it was a 50/50 split for straight home or the black hill to Colligan. A super day to be out on the bike with 90k covered at 28kph.

Group 4

Four G4 riders set out on a dry & bright Sunday morning. Numbers depleted due to a few late cry offs and one doing the spin on Saturday as the early forecast for Sunday was not good. Thankfully it was wrong and the 4 enthusiastic riders began the climb up Colligan. Onwards towards Half Way and onto Cappagh cross heading for Lismore with very pleasant perfume wafting in the wind to overcome the slightly pungent smells of the countryside. A refuel stop at the garage in Lismore in glorious sunshine meeting and greeting other cyclists from Youghal and Cork swapping banter and in some cases shoes!!!

Group 4 at Lismore

Padraig (that’s me) from G3 on extended coffee break joined us for the spin home. Back on the bikes up the hill in Lismore turning left for Deerpark with one who didn’t study the route heading for Tallow. All was well as he realised he was on a solo run! All straightforward to Cappoquin, Military road, Ballinroad and home. A great spin just over 80Km.

Strava details

I’ll stay away from the off-licence

About The Author

Páraig is the author of Burkes Biking Blog. This week he loves latté and cycling in early Autumn. He loves dahlias, begonias and Marion too, but not Strava segments that finish 10 metres beyond a junction.


Cannonball Run

Group 3(b) took advantage of the fine weather on home ground as 11 ascended Millstreet sheltered from a strong NW wind. After Ballymac, there was no shelter, yet they pushed on at pace to Clogheen. The ascent of the Vee was thronged with motor enthusiasts awaiting the Cannonball Run, and the group had a sense of real professionalism as they were cheered, photographed and filmed. The cheers had the greatest impact, and the climbers had a small battle to the top. Given that they were only minutes ahead of the motor cavalcade, it was decided not to stop at the top, but to continue the descent into Lismore for coffee, staggered rather than as one group. The spin home via Deerpark, Kilmolash and Bog Road was at a PB pace, as they had a strong tailwind. 105km @27.4kph and 950 metres elevation.

Farmers’ Market, Lismore

Meanwhile, a large contingent of our group headed to the Rebel Tour in Kenmare. The club pro had given a great account of this and all other weekend activities. However, as the weather was very poor, I picked out a quote from one of our many funny men:

“To be honest, it wasn’t too bad; was balmy in the main with one heavy passing shower around 8.45, it just took 9 hours to pass!”

DCC Group 3 again

It’s the first weekend of September, and we were rewarded once again with lovely weather.

Group 3 club spin to Tramore via coast road. On to Kilmeaden, Portlaw, Newtown, Kilmac and home by 5X. No big ring for last 25k as Di2 battery was low. 9 started and 7 for full spin. Hard lumpy route. Managed fine, but left knee pain after Kilmac to the finish.


dcc ge 09 2018
Between Tramore and Kilmeaden

Tuesday 10 October 2017

Pilates at 10am with Caroline Anderson. Good session. 

1pm with Marion. Warm with strong SW wind. We went to Five Crossroads and by Clonea on the way home with coffee at Durrow. 

Strava link

Later at 5pm with Declan to Seafield and over to Hickey’s with a few short hill efforts. Strong headwind home on the Greenway to Durrow and very easy pace home from there. Back just before the rain. 

Strava link

Lasagna in Kilkenny

A journey is of no merit unless it has tested you. (Tahir Shah, In Search of King Solomon’s Mines)

Saturday, 11th February, 2017.

Weather: severe cold with strong north-east wind. 

Our February long spin headed towards Kilkenny on a cold windy morning. Tom, Declan and I were accompanied by Tony on his maiden Audax 180k. Fortunately we also had the company of Ray, Johnny and Benny for the initial 40k to Waterford. This turned into a 50k spin because Declan broke a pedal (right pedal to be precise) and after a few kilometres of pedal-in pedal-out, he decided to divert home for a replacement. The rest of the group cycled on to Griffin’s Garage and turned right to meet with him again just at Five Cross Roads. The three lads doing the shorter spin were very good to us, staying on the front for the entire journey to Waterford while we sat protected from the wind, avoiding exposure as much as possible 

As they turned for home, we realised how much work they had done and how much work lay ahead of us. In fact, having negotiated our way through the city, we faced an even stronger headwind for a full 50k to Ballyhale, Stoneyford and Kilkenny. For this section we decided to ride single-file so that three would be able to shelter behind the leader, and we rotated every few minutes. Anyone who has cycled this road will know that it is very slightly uphill for the first 20k, but there is a lovely slight descent most of the way to Kilkenny after that.

Warm soup on a cold day

Tired and cold, we sat in for a beautiful lunch at an Italian restaurant just beside the Nore bridge in the city centre. How lovely to be served good fresh food rather than pre-cooked fare. Each of us had soup followed by lasagna, and departed for the return journey in good spirits. The fantastic tailwind blew us on towards Callan and Carrick, and as soon as we reached the top of the climb at Crehana we knew it was plain sailing from there. On the final leg we ramped up the pace a bit to Durrow and once we viewed the sea at Ballyvoile we pushed on harder still to the finish. 

Aerial Relive of the route

Distance 190km in approx 7h 30m.

Be safe out there, 


About: – Páraig is the author of BurkesBiking. He has completed many 200k events, and is hoping to try Audax Ireland long-distance cycling up to 600k. If there’s any time to spare,  Paraig also has a gardening blog at Petals by Paraig.

Autumn Sunshine In Mallorca

​October 2016 (written on January 28, 2017.)

It’s been a cold, wet, windy week in Dungarvan and therefore perfect to do my long-promised review of cycling in Mallorca last October (2016).

Marion and I flew to Palma on October 12th, and the one hour bus journey from the airport to Port de Pollenca at the northern end of the island was the beginning of some firm friendships.

Once we had settled in to the hotel, our next task was to collect our bikes and within ten minutes we were ready for road. As it was 4pm, we decided to simply cycle around town to be sure the bikes were right. We stopped for coffee and an opportunity to watch the world go by, seated outside in sunshine and shorts. Indeed, the little town seemed to operate at a slow pace too. Siesta was just over, and the locals were coming back to life. 

Coffee and tapas

Later, we attended a briefing for the 25 new arrivals, at which all was explained and queries were answered. 

The evening meal was buffet service, and there certainly was no reason whatsoever for anyone to go hungry! 

Day 1: As with dinner last night, breakfast was buffet service. Cyclists need to be fuelled up for the journey. Marion and I decided to cycle together with the easy group. This turned out to be a very social group, and we pedalled along through beautiful flat landscape while chatting with so many interesting people. The group stopped for coffee and cake in Muro, before returning to base for a mid-afternoon swim.

There’s a DCC Jersey there somewhere

Day 2: to Santa Maria and back with a faster group @29kph approx. A great spin, fairly nippy. I dropped my bottle early on and was relieved that nobody came down trying to avoid it. Later, we stopped at a bike shop in Binnisalem. Guess what I bought? 

Post-ride relaxation at Tolo’s

Day 3: Binnisalem again, this time with Marion’s group. After 30k I had a gear cable malfunction and was unable to use the big ring. No matter, because the route was so flat, and the cycling was easy. We intended doing Selva Gorge after coffee, but the leaders decided against it because of the weather. They were right, as light rain turned very nasty on the return home.

En route to Binnisalem

Day 4: Marion took a day off, while I went with Tony, Sean and Siobhan on a short spin to the lighthouse at Formentor, stopping at a beautiful beach on the way to get a glimpse of Catherine Zeta-Jones’s house. Unknown to the others, it wasn’t the house I was really looking for. Later, at the lighthouse, the goat was incorrigible! Advice for visitors: the café at the lighthouse is really expensive. 

This fella would eat cardboard! So would the goat.

This spin was very short and we were back before midday, so Marion and I went off-bike visit to the old town of Pollenca for the afternoon. 

Day 5: full day in Alcudia, just doing the tourist stuff. 

Day 6: The long-awaited highlight of the week was the Sa Collabra route, a 100k round trip including the famous descent to the little port followed by the 8k climb back up. It was very manageable, and nowhere was there any section as steep as some of our Waterford climbs. 

Day 7: Return journey to Ireland. We were so glad that we did not have any late drinks with our friends last night. That really would not have been a good way to finish our first cycling holiday together. 
Happy cycling, and stay safe out there,


About: – Páraig is the author of BurkesBiking. He has several international cycling events behind him, but Mallorca is extra special because it’s the first time his wife Marion has joined him. Very likely there will be repeats. 

Paraig also has a gardening blog at Petals by Paraig.

Milestones And Kilostones

When I started cycling in 1998, I had no goals. I soon progressed to having some very small goals. The first and foremost was to be able to hang in with the group on a club spin, and to finish the spin in a state of not-completely-knackered. This is critical, and I’d assume it’s the main priority of most group riders.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Milestones are important. In general, we measure every aspect of life by milestones. From a very early age a baby’s first milestones are recorded in the heart of a mother. First tooth, first step, first word, first day at school, first sleepover, first pretty-much-everything.

Reminds me of a lovely story from many years ago. I had met an old Kerryman. He was so interesting, and at one point I asked him how old he was?

I’m not exactly sure, but I was born very young!

This may be seen as an example of milestones being rubbished as being unimportant. Indeed, milestones are not unimportant! It is via measuring ourselves against “normal” that we actually come to realise that we are in fact quite normal. Furthermore, anyone with a wee bit of savvy will have realised that “normal” does have quite a wide range, so it does not come as much of a surprise that my first tooth and your first tooth may be separated by weeks or even months.

Yet, there is an important point I feel is worth making. It is this: Each and every one of us is far more than the sum of our milestones. For a moment, let’s move ahead to an adult version of the world, one where we create a goal, and by various means we then set about achieving it. This might be seen as a milestone, yet some adult milestones tend to be seen in a rather less-than-shiny light. For example:

  • turned thirty
  • married
  • first child
  • separated or divorced
  • turned fifty
  • retired/pensioned

In particular, because this is a cycling blog, let’s turn our attention to cycling goals. This was mentioned last week, and now it’s time to put some meat on the bones of it. In my case, when I started cycling in 1998, I had no goals. I soon progressed to having some very small goals. The first and foremost was to be able to hang in with the group on a club spin, and to finish the spin in a state of not-completely-knackered. This is critical, and I’d assume it’s the main priority of most group riders. The cycling bug hits us in many an identical manner. What comes next? In my case, moving from being thankful to be able to just stay in the bunch to a higher place: managing just fine in the bunch. This is a goal of many a group rider and is rightly prioritised. In cycling-speak we hear of phrases such as these:

  • flying
  • some buzz!
  • happy out

It is just after this euphoric point in a cyclist’s career that things may go pear-shaped. While some are content to remain in this blissful state, others want MORE, in the form of faster or longer or steeper or more challenging. Let’s examine these


Most leisure cyclists want to participate at a level that allows them to enjoy the sport. Indeed, they do want to know their place in the pecking order, and to this end, a little bit of a race up a hill or at the end of a spin is enough to cement ones’s position until the next time. On a more competitive level, cyclists who opt to race are prepared to lay their ambitions open to scrutiny in a winner-takes-all scenario. Finally, truth be told, whether leisure or competitive, there is an upper limit to our ability to go faster. We just get tired sooner, or enjoy it a bit less.


Moving on, some of us prefer longer events. While many sportives offer the three-tier approach (50k, 100k and 160k) there are some that go above and beyond. In 2016 I became a member of Audax Ireland and the event calendar for the coming season looks pretty impressive daunting. Myself and a few buddies will be hoping to tackle 200k, 300k, 400k and 600k between now and August. Beyond this, there’s ultra long, but we won’t go there just yet!


Perhaps there are some out there whose kicks come from harder steeper mountainous rides. I’d not be one of them. The main reason for this is because coffee stops are less regular, and sometimes not available at all. My peak of steepness was back in 2006 at the Alpe d’Huez. Nowadays, I admire the mountain goats rather than pretend to be one.

 Group Century

A beautiful day for cycling saw 11 Group 4 cyclists set off with a new route and a new challenge of longest distance yet. Keith joined us en route as we hit towards Carrick at a brisk pace. The sun on our backs had spirits up and the banter on You’ll NeverWalk/cycle Alone had everybody smiling. After a coffee stop in Kilmeaden it was decided to lengthen proposed spin of 90K by 10 more and as we hit the 100 there were raised hands and shouts of “Yippee my 1st 100K ” from some. The group returned a pace of 24.6kph for 101km and a great day’s cycling was thoroughly enjoyed. This group is open for new members. If you can cycle at approx. 24-25kph pace, you’ll be in good company. (Tony S)

Reading through an interesting running blog recently (link forgotten and seemingly unfindable), the tables are turned. A milestone becomes simply a point in time when, as athletes, we set our sights on the next milestone. So here’s a thought for the group I’m currently cycling with. We are training to participate in and complete the Sean Kelly Tour 160k next August. What if that then becomes the starting point for something more challenging? Perhaps longer. We are limited only by lack of ambition. Could we cycle an extended three-day event? Could we cycle England-Scotland before they tear themselves away from one another? Could we cycle the French Alps?

Perhaps faster? We could decide to cycle with a different faster group. We could decide to race.

We could decide to do whatever it takes to stay motivated. We could decide to enjoy the journey.

Critically, let there be no devastation when setbacks get in the way. Akin to the old Kerryman, let’s do whatever it takes to stay young.

Full Dungarvan Cycling Club notes


Happy cycling, and stay safe out there,


About: – Páraig is the author of BurkesBiking. He began the cycling adventure in 1998, and because he was given so much good advice by experienced riders back then, he likes nothing better than to pass on some of it. Many milestones later, Paraig is chasing a few big ones for 2017.

Paraig also has a gardening blog at Petals by Paraig.

It’s Trump Friday

It seems very difficult to be SMART about how to achieve enjoyment. Perhaps it’ll just happen if I go with my gut feeling. Perhaps enjoyment cannot be written down, planned or organised.

Friday, January 20, 2017

It’s the third week of January and it’s a good idea to have your (cycling)  goals for the year set out.

One of my twitter followers @bikingqueen has it worked out:

What are your #goals for 2017? I decide mine during #January and set out achieving them from #February be #positive Patient & Persistent!


Together with the SMART goal picture above, she has included a selfie cartoon. I’m sticking with the original SMART goals, and including my selfie:

I’ve got a few goals for 2017. My top two are seemingly complete opposites, and it’ll be interesting to see what happens.

  • Goal #1: do everything necessary to continue enjoying my cycling
  • Goal #2: complete long-distance Audax events up to and including 600k

It seems very difficult to be SMART about how to achieve enjoyment. Perhaps it’ll just happen if I go with my gut feeling. Perhaps enjoyment cannot be written down, planned or organised.

My second goal will need very specific planning! Writing down the details of this goal and giving them exposure here will be my form of SMART planning, in order to give myself the best possible chance of achieving what I set out to.

Donald Trump has been installed as the 45th president of the United States of America. Has he got a few SMART goals, I wonder? And even if he does, he sure doesn’t have a Bitmoji selfie to match @bikingqueen or myself.

Happy cycling, and stay safe out there,


About: – Páraig is the author of BurkesBiking, and whenever not on the bike or writing about it, you’ll likely find him in the garden or writing about it. Páraig loves a subtle blend of specific planning to achieve goals and a lazy it’ll-be-grand outlook.

Paraig also has a gardening blog at Petals by Paraig.

Satisfaction Guaranteed

It’s a little like wrestling a gorilla. You don’t give up when you’re tired. You give up when the gorilla is tired

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Once again it’s short (and sweet?) this week because painting has been prioritised over cycling. The timing was good actually, because the weather turned foul and a week of rest (from the bike) will be good.

Last Sunday our lovely group had an easy week too. The route was shortened as we wanted to keep the bikes clean, so instead of heading to Ballyduff after getting up the tricky little hill near Tallow, we returned directly to base with only the important coffee-stop and group photo to delay us.

Knockroe Hill is just outside Tallow in County Waterford. Yes, it’s a decent hill, and one not normally cycled up or down simply because there’s a longer less steep detour. It’s short at just 1k and registers on the steepometer at 10%. In short, yes it’s a bit tricky.

We conducted a quick survey in in advance, to find that of the 17 in the group, only 2 had completed it. All completed the job very capably, so from here on it’s on to bigger hills!

Climbing an unknown hill can be a bit nerve-wracking. The body must push hard, and sometimes beyond hard. Grit and determination are needed, oftentimes to a degree not shown before. On top of that, the head must send the right messages. The bike must be right too. The last thing a climber wants is some silly mechanical that ruins the long sought-after rhythm. If there’s an element missing the hill becomes torture, and the result may be in the balance. It’s a battle, really. A physical and mental battle. Preparation is key, and it’s a good idea to have a plan. At our level of cycling, it’s not a competition, so the trick is to settle into an easy rhythm. If a cyclist is fit, this alone will get him (her) to the top. What other advice might be helpful?

  • Cycle against the hill, not against another cyclist
  • Stand out of the saddle for brief periods (maybe 10-20 seconds) every few minutes
  • Change position on the saddle. Sit further back for a short while to use different muscles
  • Focus on breathing. When the gradient becomes very steep, deep breathing is important. Take in a huge amount of air through open mouth, and then force  it out quickly
  • If you have a heart monitor, use it wisely. More on this later
  • Do not climb in the drops. Some can do this, but the general advice is to avoid it. Oxygen intake is restricted
  • Zig-zag the road if it’s safe to do so

In life, there are many hills and valleys to pass and you cannot avoid them! The most important thing you need is to know this: You must pass them!

There will be harder hills to come during the year ahead. Many in this Group 4 are targeting the Sean Kelly 160 in August, and apart from the length of the ride, it’s the hills that will get into people’s heads. But, despite tackling this little hill last Sunday, the plan is to have a couple of easy spins until February rolls around. Even then, it’s very early in the process. Late March and April will be time enough to put Power’s the Pot and the Maama Road on the agenda. Mahon Falls will likely be conquered in May, and the dreaded Tickincor in June. July will be spent combining at least two of four these challenges in various combinations.

For now, our Group 4 are content that they’ve climbed a hill harder than any they’ve met before. Time to savour the satisfaction of a job well done, take a few easy spins together and extend the cycling distance to 100k over the next few weeks.

It’s a little like wrestling a gorilla. You don’t give up when you’re tired. You give up when the gorilla is tired.

Great tips here: How to cycle uphill (Photo Bernard Thompson)

Is there a best way to train to become stronger on hills? I’m sure that there are as many ways as there are coaches selling them, but much of the advice may be similar. Over the next few weeks, I’ll pass on some of the advice I’ve been given by experienced riders. Stay tuned, and in the meantime ride that hill!

Happy cycling, and stay safe out there,


About: – Páraig is the author of BurkesBiking,  a firm believer that TEAM is the motto (Together Everybody Achieves More) and that life’s obstacles are there to make him stronger. Coffee helps with everything too.