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.

THE AMAZING ALKMAAR 2016

December 2016.

Guest post by Elia Tutty (Dungarvan Cycling Club)

A JUNIOR CYCLIST’S PERSPECTIVE FROM GOING ON THE TRACK

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!

windmills2
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, 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.

crossing
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!

track-1b
Concentration

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.

podium-2
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!

track-2b
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.

History Happens: Pain Brings Glory For Colin Lynch And Ireland

Back in June when Marion and I cycled the Tour de Burren, we noticed a large number of the Paracycling Ireland team participating. Colin mentioned to me that about that time he spent seven weeks in Mallorca getting used to riding in hot weather in preparation for Rio, and look how that worked out for him!

I tweeted my congratulations to world champion Colin Lynch during the week, and later he very kindly answered some email queries for me.

The general public do not really know much about Colin Lynch, and many within the Irish cycling community may not be up to speed either. So, while I tackle some of the majestic roads of Mallorca (and write it up later, of course), it is fitting that I acknowledge Colin’s exploits. Colin represented Ireland very successfully at the recent Rio Paralympic Games, taking home a silver medal and followed this up by taking the Hour Record last week. He will go down in history as the very first UCI officially-recognised winner.
While my cycling is at a predominantly leisure and endurance level, I am mindful of super-achievers too.

Historic victory for Colin Lynch, former graphic designer, now full-time paracyclist with Irish National Team

The details here are predominantly copied from Sticky Bottle:
A silver medal winner at the Paralympic Games in Rio, Colin Lynch has added another special piece of history to his palmares in breaking the hour record. His 43.133km marker is the first paracycling hour record ever officially recognised by the UCI.

But the former world champion also bettered by 2km the unofficial record set by France’s Laurent Thirionet in 1999 in the C2 category.

He has also collected a range of other top achievements since making his international debut including taking the road TT title in Denmark in 2011 and the individual pursuit at the track Worlds in LA four years ago. He went into the London Paralympics on the back of those results and was bitterly disappointed to be pipped for a medal in the bronze medal ride-off by a mere 1/10th of a second.

However, having run a successful crowd funding campaign for a new carbon fibre lower leg, (Colin broke a leg at the age of 16 playing rugby, and an amputation was necessary)  he has now secured a Paralympic silver and now the hour record, which he took on the Manchester velodrome. (October 1st)

“That was the hardest thing I’ve ever done,” he said after what looked like a savage effort. When I contacted him with some queries, I was not surprised to learn that his mantra is “pain today means glory tomorrow.”  The glory arrived after an hour of pain, achieved after months and years of hard graft.

It was near-perfect for the first 40 minutes but the last 20 minutes is where it really starts to hurt. With about five minutes to go I knew I was going to beat the record and was hanging on to make sure I set a strong new mark.

In a nod to other aspiring paracyclists Colin says:

 I hope the record will stand for a while now, but also hope this will start other paracycling riders in all categories to test the record books.

UCI president Brian Cookson extended his congratulations, saying Lynch’s achievement would “stand in history as the first ever paracycling UCI hour record”.

Here it is from the man himself:

Back in June when Marion and I cycled the Tour de Burren, we noticed a large number of the Paracycling Ireland team participating. Colin mentioned to me that about that time he spent seven weeks in Mallorca getting used to riding in hot weather in preparation for Rio, and look how that worked out for him!

Silver medal ride in Rio 2016

Many athletes are driven to overcome major obstacles. Even at local level, I am aware of some cyclists who enjoy their sport (not only cycling, of course) despite some physical difficulties. Recently, on the Waterford Greenway, I have seen some who are able to continue cycling using adapted bikes. The human spirit is strong enough to continue despite these difficulties.

I’ll finish with a recent video take from YouTube which I think is awesome:

And a final thought for the week:

..a disability is something within you. A prejudice is something within (others). Don’t look at yourself through their eyes. Look at yourself through your own eyes.”

Richard N. Bolles, What Color Is Your Parachute? 2012: A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career-Changers

Safe cycling out there,

Páraig

The Sean Kelly 2016

Mahon Falls was called out-of-bounds because of adverse weather conditions. The elder lemons amongst us rejoiced whereas the newbies felt cheated.

There is no better way to start this post than by grabbing the report from the group PRO:

“There was a sense of nervous excitement amongst G3 on Sunday last. For some it was another chapter in the Sean Kelly role of honour, for others a totally new experience. Jitters out of the way it was a peppy 30kmh spin to Carrick aided by a tailwind. Then to the first major climb of the day as Tickonor lay in wait, but it was nothing to be feared and was ably dealt with. In heavy misty rain it was on to Powers the Pot and a difficult climb due to visability. 100k in the legs and a welcome stop in Rathgormack where we heard the devastating news that Mahon Falls was closed due to adverse weather. The elder lemons amongst us rejoiced whereas the newbies felt cheated. However it is hard to keep G3 down and they made the best of the situation. Up the Mahon Bridge and safely across the Mauma, it was a jubilant group who sailed home safely. A special mention must go to group captain Anthony who coordinated the training plan that ensured we all completed the course comfortably on Sunday. From all of us thank you and roll on the class of 2017!”

They Say it’s All About The Bike. No, It’s Not

On an event such as this, it’s all about the group. One for all and all for one. In running circles it parallels the Dublin Marathon, demanding stamina and perseverance. The group dynamic is critical in getting everyone to the finish line. There were times last Sunday where the elder lemons did their duty in minding and nursing first-timers. In turn, these newbies displayed true grit and acceptance of this one-for-all ethos so critical on this epic event. Our Group 3 had a mixed bag. There were young and not so young, experienced been-there-wore-the-tshirt bikers together with some who have come to this life-changing sport within the past twelve months. Everyone had trained consistently in the run-up and everybody subscribed fully to the group structure.

The First Time Is The Sweetest

Huge congratulations are in order to DCC members Carol, Benny, Tomás, PJ, Ray and Brendan as part of our Group 3, and to Paul, Ed, Chris, Johnny, Áine and Judit who completed the event with style in other groups. Ian also gets an honourable mention, as he was unable to finish because of a mechanical… cycling can be a bitch!   You are all now enrolled in the SKT 160 band of warriors along with the dozens, if not hundreds, of cyclists who conquered the Comeragh Challenge for the first time. I know that the first is the sweetest, and it’s very likely that you will be responsible from here on for encouraging others to follow you. You may even have to cajole and tell a few white lies to impart a firm self-belief in your chosen would-be comrade! You will be the ones who will assist in looking and minding future first-timers.

I completed my first Sean Kelly 160 in 2007. Unfortunately, it was back in my pre-blogging past and the details are lost, but what stood out for me was the support and you can-do-it attitude I received from others who rode with me back then.

This is now our wish for you: go on to better things if you choose. Give the gift to others. Be sure to mention that it’s not all about the bike.

With this in mind, I contacted some of our 160k first-timers, and asked for their feedback. I leave it to the reader to take in the following, in the sure hope that these quotes will encourage others to take on major challenges in years to come:

My memory is the butterflies in my stomach coming in the road. It was almost an energy or anticipation like before playing a county final or starting a new school, can’t describe it. On the spin round it was unbelievable: the camaraderie between the group, the more experienced cyclists seemed to have a sixth sense as to when we were struggling and there were words of both encouragement but also techniques provided at just the right time. What I also noticed was that that it wasn’t always from the same person passing on the advice but actually came from a combination of every cyclist in the group at varying times. The feeling as we worked as a team was unbelievable. Coming down from Colligan was unbelievable, and coming in from the “Nissan Garage” as the streets got busier and hearing the sound of the announcer giving a big shout out to the DCC contingent was surreal. Only then did the achievement hit home. SKT 50K in 2014, 100K in 2015 and 160K in 2016. Progression due to DCC.

 

My goal for the last 12 months was finally going to be realized. Prior to the event I was racked with self doubt. Despite having trained hard and consistently over the summer I could not imagine putting it all together on the day. But there was no need to worry. As soon as I clipped in the nerves disappeared, the miles flew by and the support and genuine bond from my cycling family contributed to one of the best days of the year so far. A remarkable experience that I will never forget.

Don’t you just love “one of the best days of the year SO FAR”? I think there are further challenges ahead!

I am very happy to have achieved something that not too long ago was way beyond my wildest dreams. It is something I would never achieved without the encouragement and support of my comrades-in-arms and friends in Group 3. On the day everyone looked out for one another and it was some thrill to arrive back into town as a group.

More feedback from first-timers here

I Felt Good All Day

My legs were good last Sunday. I was properly prepared, rested and fresh. I can safely record this as the most satisfying of my six Sean Kelly 160 tours. A recent regret of mine is that I’ve not done the Dublin Marathon, but I’ve realised that I have completed its cycling equivalent. As marathon runners tell me, apart from the elation of a first finish, the feeling of a best marathon also lasts a lifetime.

What Did We Learn Today?

Here’s my take on items of note. Perhaps we were aware of some of these, but nonetheless they are worthy of a mention.

  1. Group cycling is the bees knees
  2. Ticincor is not to be feared
  3. It would have been good to have a spoke fix-it-me-bob
  4. Weather is irrelevant
  5. Uphills are part of life
  6. You can complete this even with a wobbly wheel
  7. We can do Mahon Falls whenever we want (but not on Monday)
  8. A light on the bike is sometimes useful, even in summer
  9. A story shortens the road
  10. An after-burger shortens the road
  11. Insert your own comment here
Happy 10th Birthday Sean Kelly Tour

I was surprised and delighted to receive an invitation in the post last week to a very pleasant function on the evening before the spin. I had been on the Sean Kelly Tour committee for the first two years, and my contribution was acknowledged, along with several others. My very special thanks to all involved, and especially to Rosarie, Karen and Johnny in Waterford Sports Partnership, to Sinead who is currently heading up the organisation of this massive event, and of course to Sean himself. The little sip of champagne worked its magic for me, as I had good legs all day.

Thanks And Appreciations
  • Finally, I want to place on record my grateful thanks to the many many individuals who gave their time to assist with marshalling and catering. This event is not only about cycling. It is truly a community event.
  • Secondly, to the guys and gals from Naas who joined with us for the day. I always like cycling with ye because ye have an attitude very similar to our club. Thanks for coming along.
  • Finally, to Dungarvan Cycling Club. Without this fine club, our cycling would be very different. Thank you to all who help to make it better.
Last word to Mr. Tutu:

Give a man a fish and feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and feed him for a lifetime. Teach a man to cycle and he will realize fishing is stupid and boring” – Desmond Tutu

Links

There’s a new service called “Relive”. It plots the spin from the air. Relive our spin here.

Strava 2016 SKT 160K

Look back to 2010

Mahon Falls 4.8k @ 7%

Take an opportunity to look around at the rugged beauty of the place. Picture it in your mind’s eye for good recall later. It’s true to say that however much your legs are hurting, they will quickly recover, but the picture will remain with you, along with the sense of achievement.

Mahon Falls is located near the eastern edge of the Comeragh Mountains in County Waterford. The road to the summit (from the Carrick road side)  is 4.8 kilometres rising sharply from 99 to 417 metres in that short but tortuous distance. The overall steepness is measured at 7%, but given that several sections ramp up to 15 – 17%, the climb is considered to be very tough.

Straight from the start at the shop, it climbs upwards and continues to climb. Before the first kilometre is done, a wicked ramp must be negotiated, and it’s here that a cyclist’s true form is tested. Fresh legs can be helpful, yet it may be true to say that one’s head needs to be right. Frantic messages from the head tell the legs to ease up. It’s still very early, and the wooded section can be a nightmare. Best advice would be to remain very much within your comfort level. Comfort may be the wrong word! I’ll rephrase that: do not push too hard.

There is a welcome flatter section at the 2k mark. Alas, it is all too short, and once you turn right at the junction more hurt awaits. This time the hurt is harder, and cyclists should wait in hope for the very short downhill section before the final assault. I mention final, but in fact the final assault goes on quite a distance, and is unrelenting. Here, you are out on the open heather landscape, with only some sheep and wind for company.

At this point, legs are hurting and focus must me maintained. Sensible gear selection is essential in order to maintain any reasonable rhythm, and as the two S-bends approach one after the other, facial contortions are perfectly acceptable. Is there a reason why the road meanders around in such a fashion? Yes indeed, because were it to go as the crow flies, the horrible gradient would be even steeper!

The car-park marks the 4k spot, and there’s just 800 metres distance to the top. However, do not be fooled. There is still 50 metres of elevation to climb. Most cyclists are not fooled, and the reason is that the road takes a sharp left turn and the route can be seen rising ahead. It strikes panic in some. Once upon it, just hope that there will not be a car coming against you!

The wind will now be a big factor, as the end is in sight. A gentle breeze at the bottom usually translates to a very strong wind on top. The hard work is done, and the short flat bit to the cattle grid can be enjoyed. Take an opportunity to look around at the rugged beauty of the place. Picture it in your mind’s eye for good recall later. It’s true to say that however much your legs are hurting, they will quickly recover, but the picture will remain with you, along with the sense of achievement.

Take a few minutes to rest on the leeward side of the stone wall, eat, drink and give yourself a big pat on the back. You have made it to the top!

 

Have you climbed it? How would you rate it? A comment that springs to my mind is that it is mid-way between OMG and WTF !