Lasagna in Kilkenny

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

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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, 

Páraig 

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.

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

FASTER

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.

LONGER

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!

STEEPER

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,

Páraig

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! pic.twitter.com/WIu6SSup1i

 

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,

Páraig

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.

come-on-mister-hill
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,

Páraig

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.

Should Have Gone To Specsavers

On the climb out of Clashmore when cyclists dispersed into smaller two’s and three’s, there were some all out verbal attacks cloaked in mysterious tones! Proof that the biting cold wind does actually transfer to characteristic biting remarks.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Lost: a pair of female cycling glasses, somewhere near Rathgormack recently (last August during Sean Kelly Tour, to be precise). If anyone comes across these, please contact Dungarvan Cycling Club, so that glasses and rider can be reunited.

The good news is that the glasses were found by a retired male nurse, but being unaware of the circumstances, he was in the process of retaining said glasses for a year and a day. It is likely that he believes cycling glasses lose their protective UV properties if not subjected to regular daylight and for that reason, he wore them last Wednesday on the Easy Riders spin to Mahon Bridge. Great hilarity ensued as the owner of said glasses saw the light! The penny dropped and the cat was out of the bag.

Introducing Easy Riders

Easy Riders cycle on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from the front of the Tennis Club at 10am. The pace is determined by who is in the group. It is usually composed of regulars from Group 5 and Group 4. Over the past number of weeks, it is has attracted a number of newcomers, especially as the Wednesday pace is generally at about 21kph (or lower if needs be). Mondays and Fridays are a wee bit faster, and all these spins are fuelled by coffee and scones. Therefore, if you like the idea of sorting out the world on a bike, do join them. They will be glad to see you, and they promise to be nice!

Cat And Mouse

Yesterday, (Wednesday) we had a fine group of seven riders who chatted their way to Griffin’s Garage and Mahon Bridge. While most had tea/coffee and a sausage roll at Leamybrien, one wily operator loaded up with coke. Little did we know at the time, but he had a plan! On the return towards Durrow, as agreed, the Group 5 members gave us permission to push on faster. We felt Michael was part of this trap because he sprang up the hill at Halpin’s Cross and the only thing on his mind was the finish line at the Friary Roundabout in Abbeyside!

Tactics were discussed. Counter-measures were analysed and implemented without a fuss. We decided to let the escapee loose, and planned to catch him near Ballinroad, a distance of 10k. We would allow the sausage rolls to digest further before ramping up our effort. At O’Mahoney’s there was no sign of the coke-man, nor could he be seen on the descent to Dalligan Bridge. But once we met the coast road there he was in the distance. We upped the pace and narrowed the gap slowly. Cat and mouse. The mouse usually looks back a few times, but the advantage is with the cat(s).

We did not catch him as planned by Ballinroad Roundabout, but 100 metres before the finish line at the Friary. Job done. As cats do, we played with him rather than committing outright murder, before releasing him to play another day! Perhaps one day, I’ll be the mouse, and Michael will be the head-cat among others revelling in the thrill of the chase. Of course, I’d be a rather experienced mouse, and it’s likely that the frustrated cats would feel as if they’d just lost a life!

Having had a lovely easy pace to the coffee stop, riders were more than happy to note that the chasing average for the 10k was 30.9kph into a slight headwind.

The North Wind Doth Blow

The cobwebs were literally blown away last Sunday (New Year’s Day, 2017) as our intrepid band scaled Colligan into a gale. As arranged, we had been sensible the previous evening, as we saved our celebrations for another day. This was all the more surprising really, as this group is not known for being sensible! Correction: this group is sensible on hills, and this first Sunday of the month (first of 2017 too) is designated as the hilly spin. It was very easy to be sensible on Colligan because the wind would not allow us to go hard.

Later, on the second hill of the day at Clashmore, we surprised ourselves once again by continuing with this sensible resolution. The hill is a long one, and the group disbanded on the lower slopes, only to regroup once again beyond the summit.

Such was the severity of the cold North wind that regular chatting on the bike was down to a minimum, as concentration was required throughout. There were some little exceptions, of course. On the climb out of Clashmore when cyclists dispersed into smaller two’s and three’s, there were some all out verbal attacks cloaked in mysterious tones! Proof that the biting cold wind does actually transfer to characteristic biting remarks.* To an outsider, such remarks seem arrogant and divisive, yet this group does not have any outsiders. No in-laws, outlaws or silent partners. The group does have and is proud to have, cyclists of varying abilities. Some silent, some boisterous, faster, slower, but all handsome! (Pretty is such an overused word). The fact that the slightly faster, stronger members feel duty bound to be considerate of slower (prettier) cyclists is what gels this group together.

g4-in-aglish
Group 4 huddling for warmth in Aglish

 

On a bright brisk New Year’s morning fourteen Group 4 riders gathered at the Civic Offices with a little apprehension in the air as words hilly spin today and strong winds blowing down Colligan circulated. Nevertheless the group, including newcomers Elia and Cal, rolled out and headed for Master McGrath monument before heading up Colligan. Little talk of Christmas was heard apart from the word overindulgence as the strong breeze and hill quietened most of the group. Beary’s cross was a welcome sight as climbing was over for a while and they got a chance to enjoy the sun shining down on them. As the group headed back through Milstreet, Nora’s home country, the sun was dancing through the trees playing tricks with our eyes and was tough going at times. Crossing the Dungarvan road heading for Whitechurch / Kereen a good pace was set with the thought of coffee in Aglish very welcome before the climb up the mountain road out of Clashmore to N25. For a brief moment panic stations set in as no sign of life was noted at Hurley’s shop and word went out keep going but then word came “it’s open” and we gladly did a u-turn. Following recharging of batteries the group took on the mountain climb and banter was good and all the group made light work of the long climb. On reaching the N25 those with responsibilities at home headed down the Sweep for home while some of the people with no one to answer to cycled into Ring and returned home to Dungarvan. A good start to New Year with a pace of 22.3kph, reduced sensibly because of strong wind and two hills. May I take this occasion to say on behalf of Group 4 thanks to our Road Captain Padraig and all his assistants and happy cycling to all for 2017. (Tony S)

Present were: Majella Keogh, Nora Halley, Judit McNally, Karen Hickson-Walsh, John Coleman, Gearóid Fraher, John Roche, Conor Coleman, Keith McEvoy, Tony Sheehan and myself. Cal, Elia and Darren (Tutty) joined us for the harder first half of the spin.

*Biting remarks is an old pro trick. Basically, it works by getting into another rider’s head, and is used especially on hills, and more particularly if the other rider might be stronger.

By way of advice this week, please take a few moments to check out “Build Strength Before Speed”. With this in mind, we will have a strength test next Sunday. Watch this space!

Follow on Twitter & Instagram @burkesbiking

Until next week, stay safe out there,

Páraig

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

g5-lismore

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,

Páraig

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,

Paraig

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

*Irish Examiner. All rights reserved.