Category Archives: Race Reports

Staggs Lucan GP [2011-03-26]

A little late on the report but better late than never.

Since the previous week in Carlow ended with a puncture, my goal for this race was simply to finish. Nothing more than to cross that line. It was this goal that stopped me abandoning after the first lap when things were going so slow and boring. No one was willing to work and anytime anyone tried anything, it was left hang with not enough people pushing off to get the breakaway. More annoying was the constant moving to the front and unpredictable side to side movements of some people. But that is what happens in the lower groups I guess.

The second lap was when the pace started to up a little. 3 or 4 lads were off the front when crossing the line to begin the second lap and I took this as a chance to try get a work out. A sprint up and a shout to try get them to work and I was on the front. Powering on for 30 seconds did nothing however and only one person did anything, but even that was short lived. I sat up and fed back into the main group.

Things did up a little at times but as soon as it bunched, everything slowed right the way down, and this continued all through the lap.

I can’t remember when I saw the first puncture, but I do remember getting worried about finishing. Another one happened about 10km from the finish which again spooked me. It was then that I started moving up to the front as much as possible. Better to be up there when the final corner happened too, stay out of trouble and all that.

Round the roundabout we went and a short sprint back onto the wheel. But with a couple of km of a drag left, it did start bunching up a little.

So much for not doing anything, I started staying up with people as they moved off the front.

Just as the second last move went, behind me I heard a shout and people were down. A crash. Luckly I was a bike or two ahead of it, and for those in it, no one was badly hurt.

As I kept up the front, the pace quicken and I was still managing to stay with it, but the sprint hadn’t happened, yet.

Then it went and 2, 3, 4 lads are off and those in front start too. Doing what I had practised, I was in the drops and began spinning up to speed, but it wasn’t enough. Crossing the line 7th with positions 4,5,6 all within an inch or two ahead of me, and I passed them within a foot or two of the line. It wasn’t the first time this had happened either. At least I know where I have to work on, and my sprint was much better than previous races.

The Stats:

Distance: 39.7km
Time: 1:01:35
Avg Speed: 38.7km/h
Calories: 807
Avg Power: 218watts
Normalised Power: 280watts


Race Report – Mondello Open Race [2010-09-02]

Quite possibly the last race I’d get to this year, it was a must. More so after missing two races a few weeks ago due to not having recovered from a hospital visit.

The course was to follow a number of laptops around the Mondello circuit which meant closed roads for the race. But since Mondello is a race course, it is pretty flat. So flat that SportTracks thinks I lost and gained 0m over the course, however I think it just can’t handle the drift in the elevation from the Garmin. Either way, a flat fast course would probably not suit me and I knew it. The goal became to sit in the group, stay with the front group if and when it broke, to do as little as possible on the front, and then not go at the end either at all or until at least 2-3 other people had started their sprint. May sound like a strange goal but they are things I need to learn to get better at racing.

The Warmup

Due to a crash on the N7, I like many others arrived a bit later than I would have wanted. After the sign on and a quick change, I managed a whole 10 minute warmup. But since the evening was warm it would be enough. Or at least it would have to be. Within 5 minutes from stopping, the usual talk about the race was done and we were off.

The Race

While signing on I asked how many laps it would be. The answer was that racing would go for about 50 minutes and then they’d call 3 laps remaining. I should have taken this as a warning sign. Thinking back, I remember looking at the GPS after 10 minutes and being bored. Such a flat course and with a huge number of riders behind us, well there wasn’t going to be a break away.

By 20 minutes I was doing what I could to convince myself not to abandon. To take the race as a training spin and suck it up. The problem however was that it wasn’t overly stressful. Power was about 230-240watts with most of that being the little sprints out of corners when people ahead braked.

And a few people did brake in corners, but not in the way to stop them going into people ahead. At least one person is sticking in my head as everytime I saw him he was accelerating by to a corner and then braking hard. No racing line, no speed through the corner. The first few laps this meant very hard accelerating out of the corner to jump by and grab the wheel ahead. By mid way through the race, I had learnt what he was doing (as had others it seemed), and he started to get left on his line each time as we all took a wider line around and past.

The turn out for the event was high too. 85 I think was the number. Which made for large groups in the corners as people didn’t want to be left behind. Made worse by the fact that the pace was so leisurely. With only short straights and long corners, no pace line really formed. The main straight was usually the slowest part of the course as people slowed right down to try get others to go through.

On the second to last lap I think we were caught. But it was on the last lap going onto the back straight that the pace started picking up. If only we had had this pace from the off, I’d have enjoyed it more.

Blue was speed

In the end, I didn’t finish. I punctured during the 4th last corner. Luckily I held it up and moved to the side and everyone got past. If it had been the next corner, well things could have been different. It was taken faster and usually with more than one or two riders across. But it meant limping home at a slow pace and ironically down the pit lane.

The Summary

Everyone I spoke to after enjoyed it. Things like the big rocks on the corners were all but forgotten at this stage. The closed roads are a plus too. But for me the course was too short and boring. Probably a side affect of all the long 100km+ training rides earlier in the year. Can’t say I’d be jumping to do it again.

The Stats

Distance: 44.47km
Time: 1:05:43
Avg Speed: 40.6km/h
Calories: 956
Avg Power: 243watts
Normalised Power: 267watts

Race Report – Corduff Hill Climb TT [2010-08-25]

The last event of the club season would be an event I was due to do well in. I like hills strangely enough but I suppose all the training on them does that. But being a TT is would just be me against the clock to determine what could be done to get up the hill.

At 3.5km, the hill isn’t exactly the worlds longest. And will a flattish section and a small descent at the beginning, the overall time would be quickish, probably comparable to the Boards TT up Howth last week.

Warming up

Reading anything about warmups tells you that the shorter the event, the more of a warmup you need to do. When I started cycling, it was mainly sportives that I did. Long sportives that we would cycle to a from. Averaging 200km plus would be normal for the day. Nothing says warm up like a 2 hour cycle to an event.

But this left me slightly out of wack this year with different events. La Marmotte for instance had a 1km cycle to the start, if even, but then is was a 175km cycle so a warm up wasn’t too necessary. With the races, it was always a case of try to do as much as possible and then hold on let what happens happen.

For a sub 10 minute all out effort, I would need to be warm. 15 minutes riding around didn’t do enough so it was on with the gillet and a quick run up the hill to get properly warm. In hind sight, perhaps doing a near TT effort for a warm up was probably not the best of ideas.

The Moment of Truth

My stomach decided it wasn’t going to co-operate as usual coming up to the event with the last 10 minutes of the warm spent in quite a bit of pain. Someday I’ll get it sorted, honest, the doctors just need to identify what is causing it. Luckily, the standing around just before the off seemed to let it settle.

I lined up and experienced being held for the first time. Honestly it is a strange experience and I really thought I was going to fall off.

5, 4, 3, 2 ,1, go...

And off I went. Immediately there was a problem as the low sun meant I couldn’t read my Garmin. So much for trying to limit my power at the start so I would fall apart as usual midway. It was near 2 minutes in before the screen became visible but with a flatish start before the slight descent, it was all out.

Once the hill started up, I settled in and kept just below threshold. Enough to feel the burn in the background, but not enough to actually burn. It is times like these that I really should be watching my power, and someday I will learn to.

At the 2km mark, the inevitable happened. As usual I dropped off a little before recovering. Luckily it was helped by someone as the side cheering us on. Honestly, the best part of the league has been constant support for everyone. Getting cheered on really feels great. One of my greatest memories in cycling still remains finishing the 2009 Wicklow 200, arriving back into UCD to the claps and cheers just before the line. What a way to complete a day.

The last km of the climb before the turn went on longer than I thought. Watching the time clock up on the Garmin really made me feel like I was going much too slow. But seeing that Marshall at the turn made me push harder and again the cheers and shouts. Up out of the saddle and pushing hard as possible on the steep uphill to the finish. All the time, trying not to lose much speed as I clicked through the gears.

And across the line.

The Result

I stopped the clock at 7:44 something on my Garmin. Close enough that the second screen said 7:45. David who had gone before me had timed himself and said he got 7:45 which meant I was in contention. And he pointed out the line was the first cone, not the one I had stopped at, so a few seconds off my time. But seeing some of the others come across the finish makes you wonder just how fast you have been.

Javan Nulty was in a TT helmet and warmed up on a turbo. He looked very fast coming across the line. And with a time of 6:59, he was fast. Full results available on the Swords CC website. But when all was said and done, I ended 3rd with a official time of 7:40. Only beaten by Javan, the visitor champion, and Henry who came second overall in the league. Not a bad result.

But I’m not happy with it. I should have been faster. I could have been. I guess it can be put down to inexperience. Yes I’m getting better. I’m not as strong as I was for the Marmotte, but that is the cost of periodisation. The goal is the manage the efforts full on without the drop in the middle.

The Stats

Distance: 3.58km
Time: 7:45 (Garmin – Official Time 7:40)
Avg Speed: 27.7km/h
Calories: 171
Avg Power: 382watts
Normalised Power: 370watts (first time I’ve seen this lower than the average)

Race Report – Bog of the Ring [2010-08-11]

Little late on the report but mainly as my Garmin decided to do a hard reset on the way back from the race, almost loosing all my stats. I have been able to rebuild them using the laps folder but come on Garmin, get your act together.

Anyway for this race I slightly worried being in group 3 and it being quite flat. I even offered to Marshall but was told there was enough people already. This left me choosing a goal of just to hang on and finishing in the group.

So the race began and it began fast. It was hard work just to stay with the wheels on the up and overs. Even the slight incline on the back half required some pressure to say up there. But we got there and kept pushing along until lap 2 when we caught group 2. Pace eased up a tiny bit and we were caught on lap 3.  I can’t remember when group 1 was caught, I think it was just before the second last corner on the last lap, but were were all bunched up for the finish.

It got hairy along the end. Spread across the whole road with the usual pushing and shoving. More than one person wasn’t happy in the group and I got shouted at for pushing back when he tried to force me on to the grass. Honestly. Grow up.

For the final, I did as I have done in the last few races. That is, go too fast too quick. Something I really do have to work on.

The Stats

Distance: 40.56km
Time: 1:01:34
Avg Speed: 39.52km/h
Calories: 1075
Avg Power: 291watts
Normalised Power: 329watts

Race Report – Swords GP [2010-08-08]

My first open race. My first introduction to real speed. Real racing. And it got off to a great start. Almost missing the A4 group going off while getting stuck behind some A3 guys waiting. Luckily the race was neutralised out of the village allowing us to catch back on the group before the speed went up. Not a good way to begin.

Pace did stay easy enough through the first lap although it did take some time before the pace line properly started and go settled. First time up the hill, another rider from another club moved to the front and looked like he was trying to pull out a gap. Being near the front I sat on his wheel and let the group behind pull up. We did loose a few during this ascent too, and I learnt after that quite a few burnt off on this lap.

Going on my experience last Wednesday, as soon as we were over the last hill I moved right the way to the front and took a wide line to go around at speed. This placed me second back from the front at the beginning meaning I was hanging on right the way down through the fast section. 1 Down, 2 and a half to go.

Lap 2

For this lap the pace went up quite a bit, at least subjectively. We pulled time out on the A3 group too during the lap so I guess things were really faster. The pace line worked quite well with most people taking turns although it did accordion a bit during the fast sections. For the second time up the hill I stayed near the back and sat in a much a possible. I knew it wouldn’t break apart this time so better to conserve energy. With a repeat of the last lap at the top, I rounded the corner at speed and held on down to the village.

Copyright Beasty

Lap 3

During the third lap, things slowed down quite a bit. I’m not totally sure why but  at some point people stopped working and the line strung out, but not at a slow enough speed that you could safely move from the middle of the line to the front to take a turn.

On the hill I sat near the middle but close enough to the front to see where people were. Same again over the top and around the corner where the pace went up a bit. Took some effort to stay on wheels although I was about 5th back. The gap did grow a lot more than I wanted during the descent and once again confirms I need a standard chainset for next season.
Once again things slowed after leaving the village on our last lap, but this time they really slowed, enough to let the A3 catch us.

Attacks started quickly now. People going quick and fast but without any real presence. When nearing the end of the road, three guys got away. Then a forth went. It looked like they were going to hold it and stay away until the corner so I went and sprinted up. Mistake number one. Gap was only maybe 5 seconds off at this point however we were chased down by the corner and the group bunched during the first little hill around the corner.

After coming around the little descent, I moved near the front and ended up right on the front. Even with slowing down, people weren’t coming around. It took about 30/40 seconds before someone pulled up beside me on my right but not past. Mistake number two. Leading the group up the hill isn’t the smartest thing I’ve ever done and I was about to pay for it.

It stayed this way until just after the crossroads when the first real attack started. Try as I might, I didn’t have the pace to stay with them however they soon started burning out. Another one went and again I was near the back of it. As it started slowing again, I got boxed in near the left hand side of the road. Mistake number three. Somehow I managed to slow and go all the way across the road to the right and sprint up clear of those who had just burnt out. However I still maybe 20 odd back at this point. And having to sprint across the road to get space didn’t help. Too little to late, or too much to late.

When the last attack when, I’d used too much to really sprint to stay on them. I did hold a decent pace and passed a few riders in the last two hundred metres, but not as many as I should have. Each person ahead that burnt out was enough to let me go by without upping my pace.

The Overall

Finished maybe top 15 although I should have done better had I raced smarter. Lessons learnt. It now marks two races were I blew apart on the hills. All my training for the Marmotte has paid some dividends in making me strong on the hills, but I really don’t have it when the sprints go. Something to work on for the winter.

The Stats

Distance: 72.54km
Time: 1:57:13
Avg Speed: 37.1km/h
Calories: 1726
Avg Power: 246watts
Normalised Power: 288watts

Race Report – Corduff [2010-08-04]

Rolling up to this race, I was in two minds as to whether I wanted to start in group 3 or not. My warm up didn’t go well and my legs felt weak. Overall not helped by another return of the stomach cramps. The decision was made for me when I signed on and was told it’d be group 3. Oh well, it’d make good practice for the Open Race at the weekend. I’ll sit in and try to hold on as long as I could.

The race did prove to be fast. Most people took turns and the place line really did move along. Up the hill was organised too and at a handy enough pace. What did kill me was the descent. I’ve known I’m not fast on flats but the extra speed on the descent really caused some problems.

During the first drop down, I hung on. It took quite a bit of effort but I stayed with everyone. The next time around was different. For some reason one of the guys upped the pace. *Clunk*, *Clunk*, “Ok lets get back on”. *Click*. “Oh crap, I’m out of gears!”. And as much as I tried, for the next 1.5km I was 5-10m behind the group working as hard as I could to stay as close as I could.

Speed vs. Cadence

I had always thought it’d be a flat course that convinced me to switch my compact for a standard chainset, but there above was the moment. The values are double normalised remember, both by Garmin and Sporttracks. Speed was above 60km/h on the display and I spinning like roadrunner. It was only when it flattened out that I regained contact.

We rolled though the village and regrouped properly. As we rolled along out the road, I started taking a drink and decided I just need to hold on past the main road and I’ll be fine. Suddenly the same guy from the main road sprinted again. I’d be dropped!

I tried to get back on and started speeding up. As I started making up the distance everyone started stopping. The mistake of all mistakes. I’d gotten the finish line wrong. Oh well, lesson learnt.

The Stats:

Distance: 43.73km
Time: 1:10:31
Avg Speed: 37.2km/h
Calories: 1186
Avg Power: 288watts
Normalised Power: 302watts

Race Report – Garristown/Ardcath [2010-07-28]

Another week, another Swords CC race. And with all my SRAM failures of late, I was lucky to be able to start. But start I did and I was looking forward to it given that the profile looked hill and all the descriptions talked about the nice hills, and I like hills.

It was a group 2 start again this week, however right from the start the group started stringing out. As it turned out, this was due to the descent and we all bunched up after the first corner. Things generally stayed together too with most people taking turns. A few however only took turns on the descents which did start to get some of the guys shouting to work properly.

And we needed to work as the time gaps were not coming down quick enough. By the second lap, we got a time gap of 2:40. The next time gap being 3 minutes, it was clear that we weren’t doing enough. It was on this lap when I had gone to the front to take my turn, held the pace steady then looked behind to see why no one was coming through, only to see a 30+metre gap back to the bunch. Only one other rider has stuck onto my wheel. But we talked it over and since there was a long straight around the corner, it’d be best to wait for the bunch, so we sat up.

Best laid plans and what not

Well I was bound to make a mistake at some point and this may have been it. I was still near the front when we were getting to the pub to turn left and I didn’t brake. I took the racing line, stayed tucked in, and sprinted out of the corner. Once I hit the straight I kept the hammer down to see how much of a gap I’d pull out, test myself. After 45 or so seconds, I looked back and only the one guy from earlier was there, the bunch were gone. We’d broken away, on the mostly flat, straight section of the course. Honestly, what had I done!

We did up and overs along the road, keeping the pace high. But it became quickly apparent that the other guy was stronger than I. I was suffering. Really suffering. And just to hang onto this wheel. But we held it together and got around the next corner. I don’t remember the time gap but it didn’t seem to be coming down fast enough causing us to slow up. And since there was someone bridging up to us, we let him catch our wheel.

After passing the next corner, the marshall said 2 minutes when we shouted for a time gap. It didn’t seem right as she just looked like she made it up, but then we saw part of group 1 ahead. As you might expect, this egged us on and we kept going to catch them. But before we caught them, we knew that it must have split and this was confirmed when we got them. 2 guys up ahead in a break.

We powered through and around the corner leaving 4 of us ahead of that group. After a few minutes I instructed the guy from the original group 2 break to slow and let the other two take some turns. Guy who bridged up came through for a turn but the 4th guy (who must have jumped from group 1) was gone.

The next part is a bit of a blur. I remember asking where we were meant to go. For all three of us, it was a first time on the circuit and best we could figure was that at the turn we weren’t turning, but going straight towards Garristown. Marshalls confirmed this and a motorbike rider shouted that we were 30 seconds. Down or up, I don’t know. But another group of 4 or so riders caught up around this stage and the pace went up. With the flats and descents on this part, well I was dying. My heart rate was high 180s, pushing over 190 at times – well beyond my threshold. It was bound to happen. It did happen.

On what I think was the last hill, one of the guys jumped. He jumped at a speed that made me look like I was standing still. Trying to hold his wheel was futile. First guy from group 2 that broke away confirmed my original assumption that he was stronger and he held the wheel and went with him. But when the next guy went I had nothing left. I cracked. In a feeling that I haven’t had in a long time, my legs struggled to turn the cranks and felt like jelly. I clicked to an easier gear and tried to recover.

But when the next guy went I had nothing left. I cracked.

Somehow, and I really don’t know how, but I managed to recover somewhat and my speed went back up. Enough to let me catch the wheel ahead and the last 3 of us from this group sort of bunched up. Me straight behind someone and another maybe 5m ahead. But my problem lay in the fact that I had no idea where the line was or how long I could go. Given the mistake I made last week, I decided to wait until the guy ahead started sprinting so I could jump him and beat him to the line. It didn’t happen. Yes I beat him to the line, no he didn’t jump. When I went, I went too late. I missed the rider ahead by a few inches at the line, passing him as we crossed the line. It was close enough that I was asked after if I knew who was ahead, the marshal’s weren’t sure.

In the end I place sixth. And with scratch catching us it was a good result. But I’m not all too happy with it. I should of had 5th, I was able to get it too. But since the race started with my stomach threatening to cramp, finishing is a result to be happy with. Next week I’ll start in group 3 and see if I really can hold the pace. We have long straight slightly downhill, so who is to know.

The Stats:

Distance: 44.05km
Time: 1:14:38
Avg Speed: 35.4km/h
Calories: 1183
Avg Power: 266watts
Normalised Power: 312watts

Race Report – Bog of the Ring [2010-07-21]

Race 2, starting in group two from the result from last week. And not being a fan of the flats I thoroughly expected to get shot out the back on the first lap. Luckily for me the corners were taken slow due to the rain allowing everyone to bunch up again. And the is two slightly uphill sections which I could recover on. Yes I recover on uphills!

Right from the off the group worked well with almost everyone taking their turn. The few occasions where I looked back to see if the last guy was going through, the person a head of me went through. The guys not taking turns started burning off too. Overall though it held together nicely and we kept a steady pace of near 40km/h on the flats. I did think I was in trouble during the second lap when my heart rate spike up above 180bpm but looking at the garmin, it was at the top of the fly-over that I went too far over.

By the last lap guys were shouting at we were 2 minutes down on group 1. By the last corner however it has somehow grown to 2:40? That was enough to slow things down a bit, at least in perceived effort, the speed was higher for that lap, although possibly due to the sprint at the end.

The final sprint wasn’t as fast or well what I expected. Along the straight to the sports clubs, about 5 guys moved to the front to take positions. I moved my way up and ended on the front as we passed the first corner. Things slowly starting winding up around this and I kept it calm waiting for the jump, a jump that didn’t come? About 100-150m from the line, I clicked up and just went for it. No point in dragging everyone to the line. The speed went up and people beside and behind me starting falling off, all the time I was looking out for someone else to start sprinting and come around. It wasn’t until the last 20m that someone did and he came by much to far to my right for me to grab his wheel, ending the group sprint with him crossing first followed by myself.

The Stats:

Distance: 40.89km
Time: 1:06:50
Avg Speed: 36.7km/h
Calories: 1010
Avg Power: 253watts
Normalised Power: 303watts

The final sprint

Race Report – Springhill – 3 Sisters [2010-07-14]

Today marked my first start in a race. I’d planned to start last week after finishing La Marmotte. But alas, some licencing issues meant I didn’t start and got to enjoy marshalling.

For today, being new, I started in group1 and was first off. As much as people tried, only half the group were willing to take any turns. It made for a very organised pace line with people mostly spread out. It was interesting to watch people suffer on the small up-hills and it became quickly apartent that I won’t be in group 1 next week.

On the second lap near the finish line, a young guy in red (Paul I think) took off. The group mainly held together after letting him hang out in front. He did start making a little group as the pace stayed relaxed. However on the next lap, something happened near finish line causing people to speed up. I’m not sure what but the group spaced out quickly. One of the Swords CC guys ended up out front with two others ahead. Remembering back to some advise about not going hard enough, I through caution to the wind and jumped onto the wheel of the two ahead. If I went too fast it’d be a good learning experience.

After passing the finish line, I confirmed that we only one lap remaining and it was finishing here. (We started half way around the course). With that sorted, I went to the front to take a turn and up the pace slightly to try catch the Swords CC rider ahead. Strangely the two behind didn’t follow and dropped off. Instead of waiting, I clicked and upped to force myself to catch the wheel ahead. It took about 2km, 2km on flats and I hate flats, but I got there. As I rolled up beside him, he looked like someone out on a leisure ride, just taking in the scenery while I’m sure I looking more worse for wear.

He suggested we do some up and overs until we are caught which I agreed to.  Just before the turn at Baldwinstown, I looked back and am nearly sure I saw the scratch group rolling up. We both sat up and slowed up waiting for the group to power through so we could do our best to catch the wheels. But 30 seconds passed and nothing. Then 60 seconds and still nothing. Looking back on the straight, still nothing. Yes the scratch car was ahead of us, but the group weren’t visible behind. It became now or never so we went for it upping the pace to catch the last man out front. And we did just before the hill a Mallahow.

From here, we kept the pace up but low enough to recover properly, just in case we were actually caught. It took some effort to force the guy in red to the front for some turns. And with it looking like things were going to break down, the Swords guy agreed not to sprint if we pulled him to the line ahead of the other group. This somehow got us all working together again for another while, each taking our turns.

On the hill at Forde De Foyne, I decide to do a little sprinting up the first part to see if I could break away. Low and behold, the red guy stuck to my wheel like glue, so I sat up and recovered and again tried to force him through to take some turns. Obviously he wasn’t as tired as he was making out.

For the last hill, straight to the finish, I moved to the front. It was slightly up hill and we could see the end. Soon my first race would be over and it was looking like I’d actually get a good result, little did I know what was about to happen.

The red guy came to left side and started accelerating, all I could do was try hard to stay with him, and strangely I did. It was pretty much neck and neck until about 25m before the line. A gear shift didn’t go properly for him causing his chain to jump or catch, thus letting me pull ahead and get a decent gap before the finish line to cross in first. I had won my first race.

A few more from group 1 stayed away but most were caught by scratch earlier. I also found out that scratch had, for some unknown reason, slowed down before the long straight. But either way, luck or not, I had crossed line first. A win is a win is a win. Lets see if we can repeat this because it was fun.

The Stats:

Distance: 42.45km
Time: 1:18:54
Avg Speed: 32.3km/h
Calories: 1076
Avg Power: 231.7watts
Normalised Power: 287watts