Happy New Year

When out on the spin there arose such a clatter, I sprang from my saddle to see what was the matter. Away to the front I made a quick dash, And steadied the half-wheeling chap in a flash.


Saturday, December 31, 2016.

The Christmas excesses are now stored as fat, and given that a mental fog has persisted, today’s piece is very short. Gone is the advice column and the spin reports. Perhaps also the attempt to find an angle to an incident is beyond my state. Fear not, however, because fog is sometimes a breeding ground for poetry. Yes, poetry, albeit stolen and relicensed.


Copyright Paragon Machine Works


Version one:

‘Tis the day before New Year and all through the house

not a Bisto was stirring, not even a turbo….


Version two:


‘Tis the day before New Year, and all through the den

Not a turbo is turning, not even a wren.

The STOCKINGS were hung by the top-tube with care,

In hopes that BurkesBiking soon would be there;

Group 4* were nestled all snug in their beds;

While visions of 160 danced in their heads;

And ladies in  longs, and I in my velo,

Had cycled our brains out for a long winter’s (Audax) solo,

When out on the spin there arose such a clatter,

I sprang from my saddle to see what was the matter.

Away to the front I made a quick dash,

And steadied the half-wheeling chap in a flash.

That was the end of the half-wheeling from that day forward. Yet, the dense fog remains!

There’s more to be learned about half-wheeling here on the Dungarvan Cycling Club website.

* Insert whatever group you normally cycle with.

Happy New Year to all my readers, cycle safely out there!


Barbara And Baileys

Bicycling isn’t just a matter of balance… It’s a matter of faith. You can keep upright only by moving forward. You have to have your eyes on the goal, not the ground. I’m going to call that the Bicyclist’s Philosophy of Life. (Susan Vreelan)

December 23, 2016.

The storm has arrived. It’s only our second storm of the winter, and it’s called Storm Barbara. I’ve waited for it. Normally, I’ve attempted to get the latest Burkes Biking article online by Wednesday each week. This week is different, though. I’m extra busy, but now that the wind and rain are all around, just two days before Christmas, I’ve taken time out from the busyness to sit and write. Time out from wrapping gifts, endless cycling, tidying my room and preparing sherry trifle while trying out the Baileys cream. There are thirty-seven other jobs that need doing, but right now I want to write during the storm.


Mostly, I just want to write about bike stuff and other STUFF. Nothing unusual there, but as Christmas draws near, there are things that need to be said.

The Shortest Day

The mid-winter solstice has passed and we are once more drawing nearer to the sun. It is my 58th time to make the trip. This is a time for setting targets looking to brighter days ahead. There will be many targets on my horizon for 2017. Given continued good health,  I am certain to achieve some and hopeful of others. There will be a wise (!?) mix of the challenging and the purely enjoyable.


Sometimes Less Is More

I’m planning to do more, and I’m going to set my sights high. I will be attempting a 600km ride during the coming year. The build-up to this has already started and will continue as soon as Barbara has moved away. Yet, in my build-up to the monstrous mileage in my head, there will be time for short easy cycling with my wife and friends. Here in Dungarvan we are most fortunate to have the Greenway on our doorstep, so I’ll be a regular to Kilmac for coffee. I’ll be more than content to cycle slowly at perhaps 20kph. It’s there I relax and recharge.

I’ll be a regular with Group 4 on Sundays. I’ll dip my toe into other Sunday groups from time to time just for the added spice, and I’ll be on a regular monthly monster with other regular monthly monsters. This mix of long and short, fast and slow, challenging and easy will feature here through the coming year.

Banter And Craic

Cycling is a very time-intensive pastime. It could be difficult to make small talk for three hours in a group. Fortunately, the answer is simple: cycle with cyclists who enjoy the craic*. As adults, there’s a strong tendency to take ourselves too seriously. The old Irish saying “Giorraíonn beirt bóthar” (The journey is shorter with two together) is even more apt when two or twenty-two can laugh at themselves.

Space For Reflection

When I am on my bike I am close to God. Nowhere do I feel the connection to be as meaningful. I am alive. When I cycle alone I can reflect with gratitude for everything in my life. When with others, I can connect with those who share my passion. At times we can talk a lot of horse manure, but there’s a deep level where we are united in friendship. In fact, we are community in minding one another.

Happy Christmas

It’s time to have a few days off the bike: time for family and loved ones, time to gaze into an open fire, time to be thankful. I recently saw a cute fridge magnet and written on it was:

We haven’t got it all together, but together we have it all.

I wish you a Happy Christmas. Don’t forget to tidy your room. The great biker in the sky is circling!

Those are my thoughts this Christmas week, yet there are wiser heads than mine. Here are the words of three others:

  • Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass.  It’s about learning to dance in the rain. (Vivian Greene)
  • Bicycling isn’t just a matter of balance… It’s a matter of faith. You can keep upright only by moving forward. You have to have your eyes on the goal, not the ground. I’m going to call that the Bicyclist’s Philosophy of Life. (Susan Vreelan)
  • My theory on housework is, if the item doesn’t multiply, smell, catch fire, or block the refrigerator door, let it be. No one else cares. Why should you? (Erma Bombeck)

We’re almost there, fellow bikers. Just two more snippets:

  1. Maybe Christmas, the Grinch thought, doesn’t come from a store. (Dr. Seuss)
  2. Finally for this week, a retweet from Ard Scoil na nDéise in Dungarvan, in relation to last week’s article about junior track cycling in Holland:



When you do return to the saddle, stay safe out there,


This week I’m separating the usual club spin reports to another (yes, separate) article. You can find it here. Do follow through for the craic*!

* “craic” is the Irish word for fun.

Dungarvan Cycling Club (Photo P. Kenealy)

Dungarvan Lion’s Club Charity Morning

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Traditionally, Dungarvan Cycling Club has supported the Lion’s Club at Christmas, and so it came to pass that Ray McAndrew and his club members arrived to bid us safe journey this morning. We had emptied our pockets in order to be as light as possible for our spins, knowing that our donations to this very worthy cause would be put with so many other donations from the people of Dungarvan and West Waterford for disbursement over Christmas. As arranged, some arrived at the Civic Offices bedecked for the Santa Ride. Noticeable it was too, that the lower the group number, the greater the effort! I suppose it’s understandable really because faster-flying cyclists cannot be hindered by unnecessary attachments, whereas the slower-paced among us actually benefit from baggage because it helps to keep the pace slow.

Plenty Baggage

Here, I quote the acccount of the club PRO, Pat.

A great turnout of over 70 cyclists turned up across all the groups with many cyclists and bikes decked out in festive attire. Special mention must be given to our secretary Rose on her effort complete with working fairy lights, to Padraig who put great effort into his Santa outfit and Gearoid for his tie!

I took some time (2.4 seconds approx.) to get a suitable link outlining the effect of loose clothing, and include a short video. This is the bike tip for the week:

Then, for the sake of balance, and understanding that some cyclists have other priorities, I was impressed by a feedback comment to the above:

I’d rather be comfortable and look less ridiculous and get to the cake shop a minute later. If such tiny issues bother a rider then they have no business eating cake anyway. (Joeinpoole)

Group 4 Trip to Tallow
Bikers don’t sit on Santa’s knee, but they get the message across

The Group 4 spin was a long one this week. Following the master’s plan (see below), a fine group of 11 pushed gently on the N72 to Lismore and Tallow via the very picturesque Dromana Drive, weighed down by tinsel, tossels and ties. Several items of interest along the way were noted:

  • as agreed, the spin proceed very slowly from the departure point as far as Powersfield House (2k) in order to assist with gentle warming of cold hamstrings
  • as agreed also, the group regrouped at Kereen Bar to admire the gorgeous greenery and at Dromana Bridge to make a wish at the Finnisk
  • the pace downhill to Tallow was at a controlled pace, but two cyclists (no names please!) were reindeered in for being unaware of our downhill policy (see below)
  • Santa met with a surprised child in Tallow, while others spent time petting four dogs on their pre-Christmas morning dog-trot
Under the tree at Daybreak

Following the mandatory coffee (at the coffee-stop), and photograph this week at the tree, on they sped rapidly towards Camphire Bridge. A teacher of mine once insisted that this phrase should be included in every essay. In fact the full version was: “On they sped rapidly, up hill and down dale”.  We did indeed have some hills and dales, yet they were not as much of a hindrance as the mucky road surface back to the banks of the Blackwater.

On the mucky road: Judit, Rose, Criostóir and David

From Cappoquin to Dungarvan the pace was kept very steady because we knew our cyclists would have a really busy week ahead. There was a brief agreed skirmish from Richmond House to Affane,  with no prizes on offer. Had there been even a small prize, it might have been contested more vigorously.

Quote of the day:

Would ya look at then two Yorkshire terriers half-wheeling!

Wise advice from the Mucky Road:

A bad attitude is like a flat tyre. You can’t get anywhere unless you change it.

Distance: 82k. Pace: 24.4kph. Enjoyment by common consensus: top class. Entertainment & costumes: A+

Room for improvement: The group might consider attending an online foundation writing course, as our reliably talented group reporter was unavailable on the day, and the short straw finally fell to Burkie, aka Burkes Biking.

Group 4 Constitution

Group 4 downhill policy: riding ahead of the group by breaking ranks in order to race downhill is not advised, simply because it may tempt less capable bike-handlers. We do advise cycling at a faster pace (obviously on downhill) while widening the gap between bikes.

Group 4 monthly plan:

  • week 1 is hilly
  • week 3 is long
  • everything in-between is normal easier. (There is no normal within Group 4)
Mince Pies For Group 3
Kevin Forde (Daybreak) fed all the G3 elves

G3’s pre Christmas spin had a festive flavour on Sunday with some strands of tinsel and Santa hats in evidence. After the annual Lions club collection it was back to the job in hand and 16 jolly elves and Mrs Claus set off up Colligan and across the Mill st stretch. Before Cappoquin a left turn towards Villierstown. A quick word from the oncoming G5 warned the group about a gathering of the local coursing club further along the road and the necessary speed reduction was enforced. Safely bypassed it was onwards towards Aglish and a detour at Geosh across the mountain to Kiely’s cross. The party season took its toll on some here but the group soldiered on across Old Parish and homewards. Brilliant to have Patrick who crossed oceans to join us on Sunday and Walter along for the spin. Thanks to Captain Claus who further enhanced the festive feeling by arranging a rare coffee stop for the group. Huge appreciation to G3 member Kevin Forde for looking after us so well with complimentary coffee and pies! G3 would like to wish all our riders a very happy Christmas and we look forward to seeing you all further up the road in the New Year! (Carol B.)

Group 23k

G23 : 2 cyclists flew the flag for group 23 on their Sunday spin. The group followed G4 until Master McGrath where the group turned right and headed on the Clonmel road towards Colligan and past Beary’s cross and towards the turn for Millstreet. After turning left the group headed through millstreet  and onto the Welcome inn were the group turned right and headed through Cappoquin and onto Lismore were a coffee stop was needed. The group met with G5 and joined them for coffee and a chat. After refuelling we prepared to head home. The group joined G5 for a short distance and then picked up pace and headed for home Distance 65.8km an avg 22.4km (Anthony M)

Group 5


The last Group 5 spin before Christmas saw 8 seasonally decorated riders out on a lovely calm December Sunday. An uneventful start brought them to the Welcome Inn and then onto Villierstown. Care was needed coming down onto Dromana Bridge as a large number of cars, people and dogs were gathering for coursing. The timing was good as it meant Group 5 were able to warn speedy Group 3 of the gathering as they were flying down the hill. A brief stop before Cappoquin for an emergency banana led the group to decide to head straight for Lismore. A promise of rhubarb and strawberry pie led them up the hill, but no Farmer’s Market was to be seen. The group headed back to Houlihan’s where happily hot drinks and fine food were consumed with the welcome company of G23k. Back to Cappoquin the group encountered another big group of pedestrians and parked cars, a salutary reminder that care must always be taken as people are leaving Mass. Tight rollups brought the group home to Dungarvan with a chorus of Jingle Bells astonishing passers by! A lovely 58km at 19.3kph, Merry Christmas to all from Group 5. (Rachel N.)

Caption this please. The mind boggles

Happy Christmas to all,



December 2016.

Guest post by Elia Tutty (Dungarvan Cycling Club)


We made it!

It was an early start on Friday the 18th of November, for me excited was an understatement that day. If you didn’t know, Aoibhe Power and I both from Dungarvan Cycling Club (DCC) went to Alkmaar, Holland for a training camp with Women’s Commission of Cycling Ireland in a velodrome. The days leading up to the trip were the most exciting yet nervous ones for me. I would be meeting girls from all over Ireland, the organisers of the trip and travelling with them to Holland by myself and let me tell you, what an amazing adventure it was!

Day 1:  Friday, 18th November

It began in Dublin airport where all I could see were people rushing and racing frantically to catch their flights. We met up with the organisers and all of the girls and within 5 minutes of being with them in the queue to check-in, I knew this would be a great weekend! I would get to experience track cycling and a new country – Holland!

My first view of The Netherlands was from the air, where I spotted a massive wind-farm in the sea. I had learned in geography that the Dutch use their waterways for everything and they sure do!

Windmills, windmills everywhere

My second impression was in Schipol airport, where I managed to buy a refreshing smoothie and a brown roll for €1.80!! While I thought this was great, it still didn’t stop the group from trying to find the nearest ‘Burger King’ of which there are many, just like at home! The bus drive from the airport to the hotel was a pretty weird sensation. Firstly, I couldn’t get over how flat the land was, and secondly how many wind-farms we passed, I lost count there were so many! Once we had arrived in the local town Alkmaar, I began to notice all the bicycles, literally, bikes, bikes and more bikes! It’s incredible how it’s the ‘norm’ over there.

Bikes, bikes and more bikes!

After checking in to our hotel we hopped on the local bus to the velodrome for a training session with the great Herman. I was about to experience my first ever time on this sort of (what I thought) Death Wall! I looked up at the curved walls that were towering over me and thought to myself how will I ever get up on that? I was so nervous on the track bike too, (no gears, no brakes!) I’ll never forget it! Lots of the girls on the trip had been on a track before, so some even considered themselves track cyclists. For some others and I, Herman warned us of the basic rules us ‘roadies’ would have to follow whilst cycling on the track. At this point I still couldn’t get the thought of falling off the bike out of my head! I soon learned from the others that had been on previous trips, that Herman never took ‘no’ as an answer. Even when I told him I was nervous, especially going up on the high wall he never took ‘no’ for an answer. I soon got over my fear. Before I knew it I was flying around the track! I was comfortable on the bike now; I just had to keep peddling!

 Day 2: Saturday, 18th November

The 7am breakfast in our hotel was very healthy, not quite your average Irish fry-up! We got the bus straight to the velodrome, for another incredible training session.

Colours of the rainbow

That afternoon we were all lucky enough to go back to the velodrome to see the Holland Nationals. I thought all the racers were semi-professionals until I realised that these were the juniors (U18’s) and I thought to myself how fast they were! It was unbelievable. Having been at the velodrome twice that day, by the evening, all of us were absolutely wrecked!

Day 3: Sunday, 19th November

Before we knew it, it was our last day. It was sad having to leave Alkmaar, but on the other hand, I couldn’t wait to see and tell my family about the amazing experience I had. We left the hotel and headed for another very early track session. This day was my favourite as we did lots of different races including team pursuits and individual ‘flying 200’s. At this stage of the weekend, I was really comfortable on the bike and wasn’t a bit nervous!


I found Sunday great for learning more about racing on the track because as you can imagine, it’s extremely technical! Once the training and racing came to an end it was time for the presentation and prizes on the podium. Aoibhe was delighted when she got a prize for winning the Omnium which was a fantastic achievement for her.

As a relative newbie, I was super excited to receive a jersey for the most improved rider of the weekend camp, who would have thought? All in all not a bad outing for the juvenile DCC girls! As well as having a great time cycling I made lifelong friends who share the same interest as myself and I hope to meet up with them soon for the 2017 race season.

Who would have thought?

I would especially like to thank the Women’s Commission of Cycling Ireland, and especially Orla Hendron and her team who organised the weekend for us and of course Herman our coach.

I really hope that the Government will build a velodrome in Ireland in the near future so that all riders can experience what I experienced! I couldn’t believe how fast the weekend had gone! It was definitely one of the best weekends EVER!  It has been almost three weeks now though and I am still craving track!

An amazing experience

Elia Tutty (right) is a junior cyclist with Dungarvan Cycling Club, Barracuda’s Swim Club in Dungarvan and West Waterford Athletics Club. Elia participates in a wide range of events locally and nationally. 

Aoibhe Power (left) is a junior cyclist with Dungarvan Cycling Club and similarly, participates in local and national events.

The Freedom Machine: Intoxication to Immoral Acts

Michael Gilhaney is always going to a particular destination or other on his bicycle at every hour of the day or coming back from there at every other hour. If it wasn’t that his bicycle was stolen every Monday he would be sure to be more than halfway now. (Flann O’Brien, The Third Policeman)

December 11, 2016

Recently, Cycling Ireland has estimated that the boom has peaked. The cycling boom, that is. Registrations have dropped ever so slightly in 2016. That’s the official statistic, yet it’s very likely that the number of people cycling is continuing to rise. It’s just that they’re not Cycling Ireland members.

I read a really wonderful article by Paul Rouse in the Irish Examiner (Friday, October 28, 2016*) and I urge you to go there and read it in full. Outlining 150 years of the bicycle in Ireland, he describes how cycling has changed people’s lives, “and this change has been dramatic”.

You will read about Flann O’Brien’s depiction of Michael Gilhaney:

“…some people simply lived on their bikes. This was an obsession picked up on by Flann O’Brien, who – in his novel The Third Policeman – has the sergeant describing how a man in the parish, Michael Gilhaney, ‘has spent no less than 35 years riding his bicycle over the rocky roadsteads and up and down the hills and into the deep ditches when the road goes astray in the strain of the winter. He is always going to a particular destination or other on his bicycle at every hour of the day or coming back from there at every other hour. If it wasn’t that his bicycle was stolen every Monday he would be sure to be more than halfway now.’

‘Halfway to where?’

‘Halfway to being a bicycle himself.’

Women On Bikes

You will read about the reaction to the arrival of women in cycling. Likely, you will not be surprised that certain national establishments expressed the view that cycling to dances far away from local eyes led to “ranks of reckless girls who became outcast women”.

Furthermore, when women wanted to wear men’s clothing (you know what I mean), the response was remarkable.

Verbal abuse was commonplace and the female editor of a newspaper called the Rational Dress Gazette was hit by a meat-hook while out cycling in trousers in Kilburn in London in 1903.

Thirdly, of grave concern to menfolk was the notion that “cycling would destroy a woman’s feminity, by giving her muscular legs and arms”.

In my view, the important equality becoming increasingly evident within leisure cycling might well be partly attributable to three lasses who, in the past, have spoken out to bring matters to the attention of the few remaining bigots:

  • “I hate men who are afraid of women’s strength.”
    Anaïs Nin
  • “No woman gets an orgasm from shining the kitchen floor. ”
    Betty Friedan
  • “A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle.”
    Irina Dunn (That’s deep!)

We’ll leave it there, so…

DCC Audax 2017

I mentioned last week that there’s another new group within Dungarvan Cycling Club. That makes seven now! Here’s the info from Declan:

An audax group is being formed within Dungarvan Cycling Club, commencing in January 2017. Audaxing is the term used for long distance cycling, from approx. 200k upwards. Members of DCC may also wish to join Audax Ireland (not compulsory), as some events (eg 300k, 400k 600k) are organised and may be on our planned rides). Initially, the idea is to have a long spin on the second Saturday of each month, weather permitting. Later, when the event season kicks in, long audax events will be selected approximately once a month. Who is this new audax group for? If you are interested in this type of riding, and if you have the ability to cycle at approx. 25kph pace, then this may be for you. Planned spins / events will be posted as per club policy together with all other club spins. Members will be most welcome to join us for these spins (or part of). Several coffee stops and a lunch stop will likely be on the menu. The group will be captained by Declan Earley, and routes / events selected by him, as per all other DCC groups. Anyone interested is asked to contact Declan (or Paraig de Burca) just so that we can get an indication of interest.

I will be a keen participant in this venture, and very likely at the start line of Dungarvan’s 200k Audax in early March of 2017. Watch this  ____ space.

And so to the bread-and-butter of some of the spins last weekend:

Group 4 On Tour
Before the fog descended

On a bright crisp morning for cycling, 9 group 4 cyclists left Dungarvan heading in Lismore direction and we were joined at Cappagh by Seamus who made wise decision not to leave home until he found his gloves. As temperatures dropped we met a cold damp fog . Coming out of Lismore, a brisk pace was set and some of us were glad to hear the call  “Slow it a bit as we are ahead of our planned pace”.

The words “Fail to Prepare … Prepare to fail” came to mind as, heading for Ballyduff, the word Puncture was uttered. Prior to leaving, puncture procedure was discussed: what exactly the group does when someone punctures. Some said he drew it on us, but the plan was put into effect perfectly! … 6 rode on as the puncture was dealt with, although it took 3 attempts as first two tubes proved faulty. As we regrouped, another maintenance request was called for a faulty brake cable and a comment was heard that it was the two guys with the dodgy-coloured Tipp / Dublin jerseys that had come croppers. Not sure what was being implied and maybe some GAA jealousy. While proceeding through Ballyduff at Mass time a potential accident was avoided as good calling and calm heads dealt with an incident where a pedestrian hadn’t noticed group coming through and stepped out on to the road. Leaving Ballyduff a good pace was set heading for Lismore to get blood circulating as air temps remained low. We stopped for coffee in Lismore and watched Group 5 pass by. Soon, we were joined by group 23K and enjoyed some good humoured banter as those who couldn’t make the club Christmas party listened with open mouths as the Kris Kringle presents were discussed. Following coffee we headed back to Dungarvan going through Tourin and soon arrived in Cappoquin. Regular changing at front of group ensured a good roll up on way home and the good rhythm shown on dance floor on Friday night was in evidence again as all stayed together to return a pace of 25.2 kph for a terrific 70K spin. Special thanks to Seamus for the CO2 canister, when Criostóir punctured. Many hands get bikes going again! (Tony S.)

I am reminded of something I wrote back in 2014: “It’s actually easier for one person to fix a puncture, but men tend to think that 10 hands are better than two!”

Fun and coffee in Lismore

I thoroughly enjoyed our morning together. At one stage, with about 15k remaining, I pushed them outside the comfort zone that we all enjoy. I was reminded of a veteran holiday bike-touring leader who said that the trick is “to push them without breaking them”. In that way, there comes a realisation (once the zombie-like state moves gently towards recovery), that one’s potential is usually several kilometres ahead of self-limiting beliefs. De réir a chéile a thógtar na caisleáin. Rome wasn’t built in a day.

On a lighter note, I am attempting a summary of our Group 4 Kris Kringle experience, but as yet it will have to remain as a DUD (Dark Unpublished Draft). I am fearful of slander, ostracisation and letting my standards slip. Perhaps one day, when my cycling career is over, it might see the light of day, but for now it shall remain in the fog.

Group 3: The Long And The Short Of It

For a long 90k spin, the report is short. In the words of Van Morrison, “There be days like this”. I’d guess it was because of the dense fog!

Shaking off any cobwebs from the club Christmas celebrations, 10 members of group 3 headed towards Cappoquin, Lismore and Tallow. The group shared turns at the front making good progress until after Tallow, and the inevitable climb, when a slight change was made to the route due to thickening fog and poor visibility. No visit to Inch then but instead a slight detour to Ardmore this time enjoying bright winter sunshine! Home via Kiely’s Cross and the main road. In all a spin just shy of 90km and a respectable 28kph average. (Carol B.)


Group 3  descending the Sweep into Dungarvan
In the beginning there was no fog
Tip Of The Week: Clean & Maintain Your Bike

We had a mucky spin last Sunday, Dec 11th. Be sure to run a hose over your bike immediately afterwards. 30 seconds each side, after EVERY spin, but especially today. It’s much more difficult to get the muck off if you leave it until later

  • Every third week, the bike really will need a good thorough cleaning
  • If you don’t have time to do this, try to make time. Done properly it’s about 20- 30 minutes. 
  • Very likely, twice a year, get your bike serviced at your local bike shop. (Some will be able to do servicing themselves). A good time might be early autumn (Sept – October) and spring (March – April), but it all depends on usage. Perhaps one may be enough
  • You know it’s overdue if gears start slipping
  • There will always be an unexpected repair from time to time
  • Change your shoe cleats before they get worn

NOTE: for the very time-pressed cyclist, I’m offering thorough bike clean service. Deliver your bike to me, and I’ll deliver it back. If you are even more pressed for time, I offer a “Collect, Clean and Return” option. Private message me one-to-one if interested.

There are numerous good video clips from the guys at Global Cycling Network. These two will guide you to having the cleanest bike on the block.

To end this week, I am asking for feedback, dear readers. Please review the choices below to suggest a name for my BIKE. I’m not promising I’ll heed the feedback, but it will be processed over the Christmas, and the name emblazoned on the top-tube for a maiden spin in January.

Off-bike Fun This Week

My dose of off-bike entertainment this week comes also via a link from The Irish Examiner. Donald is set to appoint Breaking Bad anti-hero Walter White to head the Drug Enforcement Agency (the off-bike DEA) Be sure to watch the video within, “The Lead with Jake Tapper”)

To add a semblance of balance, I’ve chosen to add a gorgeous photograph snapped by Mícheál Burke (He’s my brother):

Winter scene at Knocknamaulee in the Comeragh’s

Until next week, happy biking and stay safe out there,


Follow @burkesbiking for all blog updates. Same goes for Instagram

*Irish Examiner. All rights reserved.

And Never Stops At All

To be able to race in the rain, ride a sportive in the rain or even train in a group in the rain you must ride your bike in the rain. A little hardship is a good thing. The place where all the magic in life happens is just beyond your comfort zone so go out there when it’s uncomfortable. (Barry Meehan)

December 4, 2016

I saw a good photograph last week. It showed Irish sprinter Sam Bennett, together with his friends from several other professional teams, out for a winter ride together. A few days later, I got a further update from Monaco.

Bennett leads the pack on a winter spin. Guy behind is saying hi to Group 4

“Guess what pace they were doing?”, my friend asked.

I wanted to get the answer right, so I took a while to reply, and was generally vague.

“I suppose somewhere between 35 and 40?”, I replied, but it was more of a question than an answer.

“They averaged 25”, he said, and we quickly agreed that was a sensible winter training pace, even for professionals. Kilometres per hour, by the way, not miles.  Also, by the way (once again), that’s our Group 4 target pace. These professional boys are in good company.

Group 4: The Hills Are Alive
Ya gotta pick a pocket or two. No wait. That was Fagan

Last week there was mention of Christmas lists, and now that it’s approaching the official start of the season, Group 4 cycled several hills just to meet the man of the moment. The woman of the moment was by his side, keeping him on task, and by the looks of things, well fed too.
It has been a full month since the newest Dungarvan Cycling Club group was kickstarted. Mind you, things are happening thick and fast in this club, and now the group is no longer the newest group, as there has been a further addition. I’ll be on to this like a fly on butter as soon as there is news to report, but in the meantime will concentrate on the stylish Group 4 once again.

A large Group of 15 riders  assembled for their first monthly hill spin on an overcast and windy morning. You could sense the excitement from the group as they chatted about tactics for the upcoming ascents which would culminate with a meet and greet with Santa and Mrs. Claus and maybe a pic of two. The group headed towards their first climb of the day up to Ring. Even the strong cross winds couldn’t deter the good steady pace that was set from the start. With the group nice and warm and the fist climb over,  the group headed through Old Parish into Ardmore and onto Piltown. With the coffee stop in sight at the Blackwater Garden Centre the steep 1 km climb was attacked at various speeds with Tony at the front with thoughts of being the first to meet Santa. Unfortunately, Tony was eclipsed once again by Rose and Karen who got to sit on Satan’s knee… ( while Tony looked on thinking that’s not fair I got here first). The group refuelled with coffee and mince pies and Paraig had a quiet word with Santa regarding a new bike for Christmas, and we headed for Piltown. A good controlled pace was set into Clashmore where the group took the high road into Aglish then onto Ballinameela and back to Dungarvan. A total spin of 67 km with an Avg of 23 km.

The group would like to welcome David, Siobhan, Criostoir, Majella, John and Micheal on their first outing, and a massive thank you to the Blackwater Garden Centre for a very warm welcome once again.Very well done to all in G4. (Keith M):

While I was having a coffee and mince-pie at Blackwater Garden Centre, I saw this on the table, among the sugar sachets.

Hope is the thing with feathers
Emily Dickinson’s  advice: Don’t quit. Keep going. You can do it. Persevere. 

There was mention of hills last week, and this week there will be no such mention of them (hills), save to congratulate everyone who passed the test with flying colours.
My ears picked up some Gaeilge behind me just as the group approached high ground between Clashmore and Aglish. Ba álainn liom an ghaeilge a chloisteáil. I am aware that there are four within the group who can converse and curse in Irish (mostly approaching top of a hill), so perhaps we will build on this!

The bike tip this week has nothing to do with hills or Irish, or indeed cursing.

Bike Tip Of The Week: The Small Ring

Try to stay cycling using your SMALL front ring for most of the spin. This will become more important from March onwards or whenever the spins exceed 100k.

  • Aim for small ring MOST of the time. The late great Bobby Power once said: “Spinning is winning”
  • Use your big ring when cycling downhill, or if we have a fast pace with a tailwind
  • If in big ring approaching a stop, change to small ring in good time before you stop
  • If you are not used to small ring most of the time, it may take 4-6 weeks to do so. In that case, cycle the first hour in the small ring, and extend the time from spin to spin
  • We see cyclists who ARE able to use the big ring. However, sometimes they “cycle with their shoulders”. Cycling like that uses up valuable energy, and it would be better to save that wasted energy until the last 20-30k of a LONG spin.

There is one specific exception to this:

From about March onwards, select a small short hill (for example Ballyvoile if you are in the Dungarvan area)*, and practice using the big ring just to develop leg strength. Maybe start for the first few weeks with just the second half of the hill in the big ring, if you prefer. This might be best done during the week or on your own, once a week. Pick any hill you like that’s not too hard or too long (about 5 – 10 minutes).  You do NOT need to do a hill in the big ring more than once a week. 

Others may offer you conflicting advice. For what it’s worth, this is my take on it. If others suggest otherwise, see what works best for you.

Group 3: Mice At A CrossRoads
Mice at unknown crossroads

Relief manager John had a tough task on Sunday with 24 cyclists in his care. In his own words “it was akin to minding mice at a crossroads” as the large group headed off out the coast road. The cold wintry snap of late was replaced by a dreary enough morning with a very blustery headwind hampering the group’s progress along the coast road to Bunmahon. The wind relented as the Kill hill loomed large, a bit of huffing n puffing could be heard as the lack of training takes it’s toll on those not able to get out on midweek spins. All up and over it was on to Carroll’s cross and over to Curraghmore. Time here for a quick photoshoot and headcount and then back in the saddle towards Clonea Power. Once on the Carrick road the wind swung in our favour and while over in G4 they are giving it socks, from this point on G3 gave it welly! A very fast pace up the Carrick road with the Captain calling for fast rollovers. Happy to oblige we rolled in unison over to Durrow and up the coast road at a rate of knots. A brief nod at G5 who were also heading home. The boss sighed with relief to have all his charges safely delivered home in what was most definitely a spin of two halves. 24 in group, 700m climbing, 26kph. (Carol B)

Off-the-bike Tip This Week

While enjoying the upcoming Christmas party night, please remember that several will want to cycle the following morning. So,  just ask politely before buying someone a drink, as it is not a good idea to lead serious winter athletes astray. I was led astray once, so I know how to react when someone tells me they intend cycling next Saturday. Be cyclist aware.

A Link Worth Following

Barry Meehan in Clonmel Writes an entertaining and informative cycling blog for all levels of cycling enthusiasts. It’s got an interesting name, too: The Cycling Blog. In a similar manner this blog is simply called Burkes Biking. It isn’t that we think cyclists need it nice and simple, just that the obvious name is best. (There’s a guy in California who writes a bike blog called “Life Behind Bars”. It’s a catchy title, but I’ll just say this… You won’t ever find me behind a bar!)

Anyway, back to Barry and The Cycling Blog. Barry has written a very motivational piece about improving your cycling, whether you be a newcomer or indeed another Sam Bennett. It’s called Rockys Rules for Cycling. If you only read one more blog today, read this.

To be able to race in the rain, ride a sportive in the rain or even train in a group in the rain you must ride your bike in the rain. A little hardship is a good thing. The place where all the magic in life happens is just beyond your comfort zone so go out there when it’s uncomfortable. (Barry Meehan)


* if you live near Sligo or even Cork, there’s a hill very similar; in fact, no matter where you live, there is likely to be something similar.

Stay safe out there, whether on the small ring or big,


This article is dedicated to the families of those who died and were injured near Dungarvan last Sunday, 4th December, 2016.