Milestones And Kilostones

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


Tuesday, January 24, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • flying
  • some buzz!
  • happy out

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


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


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


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

 Group Century

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

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

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

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

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

Full Dungarvan Cycling Club notes


Happy cycling, and stay safe out there,


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

Paraig also has a gardening blog at Petals by Paraig.

It’s Trump Friday

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

Friday, January 20, 2017

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy cycling, and stay safe out there,


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

Paraig also has a gardening blog at Petals by Paraig.

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)


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.

Guilty As Charged

Anyone thinking of joining the famous Group 3? Or perhaps, simply wanting to lurk by knowing what going on, without joining? Read on…

The weather Gods were certainly in top form on Sunday and blessed us with beautiful autumn sunshine. Another day for summer attire as 13 turned out in Group 3 to take advantage of such a beautiful morning. The climb up Colligan in near perfect cycling conditions helped to wake up the legs and it was onwards to Clonmel. No shopping on this occasion as the town was bypassed in favour of Kiksheelan. A different day in the premier county as a cold fog engulfed us. Crossing back across the border and back to sunnier climes. A long drag up Kearneys road followed by a swift descent to Rathgormack. A right turn in Carrick and the pace increased significantly (lady rider guilty as charged) to give a speedy spin back to base. Good craic throughout as all were in top form, poor Declan on receiving end of some of that banter! 13 in group covering  95 kilometres at  27.8kph (Carol B) 

  • No photo today
  • No Páraig today
  • No shopping
  • No holding back.

What’s the world coming to?

Safe cycling out there,


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,