Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Mallorca to Colombia to Glasgow to now.....

The first world cup I got to do without any major hiccups before or during it. At this point it was a couple of weeks ago that I set off for Cali with the hopes of turning my season around. Let’s just say it wasn't the result that I was looking for. I’ve been in a bit of a mental funk since so excuse the radio silence. I’m on my home from the latest cycling Revolution in Glasgow where I got some good racing in and I’m feeling slightly better about myself. I love racing in front of the Scots, it must be a Celtic thing as they give me some great support.

Inside the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome.


I touched down in Cali with 3 days to go until race day, the initial problem was my pursuit bike didn't turn up!! Fairly expected as it’s a long way from home and it’s Colombia. I did pack my essentials like shoes and pedals but they're pretty useless when you've no bike to attach them to but I did have my bunch bike to get me going. The first few training sessions I used my bunch bike and borrowed some stuff from others to get training with the guys for the team pursuit. The boxes with all the essentials eventually arrived the day before the racing and we were all good to go.

First up was the team pursuit and it was a bit of a non-event but not a disaster. We had a few boxes that we wanted to tick and we missed out on a few of them. During the race itself I wasn’t on my best day which didn't help things but it was what it was, pretty average. 

After I chalked the team pursuit to the back of my mind I shifted my focus onto the Omnium and I was ready to go. I have numerous expletives that I’m really tempted to use when talking about this race but in a weird way I’m enjoying working hard on stuff that I’m brutal at. I’m just waiting for it to pay off.

Excuse me but this is going to be brief! I’m going to use a race by race format as I don't want to dwell on the bad side of things. My race was very average and generally below average across the board.

Scratch race: Crap result, I raced reasonably well though and found myself off the front inside 10 laps to go. That wasn't really my plan but I wasn't going to put the brakes on. As my legs folded under me and my vision clouded over it all came to nothing inside the last 100 metres, from 1st to 14th in a blink.

4k Individual pursuit: More averageness but not brutal. 8th place and a well paced effort so I couldn't complain about that result too much. Just more gas needed!

Elimination race: F#@*ing! B#@*#*D! Useless f#*king d#*khead! Were probably the first words to come out of my mouth, I’m sure it’s on video somewhere. 23rd place and more stuff to feed my nightmares.

The night in-between was grand. Pretty low morale and some serious contemplating was done but I had to shake it off and try again the next day.

Kilometre TT: A glitch with the gate at the start meant I started my effort, got pulled by the gate and had go back, get on the rollers, re-motivate myself and go again at the end. I ended up starting more cautious the second time so as not to be caught by the gate which cost me.    1min 04.9sec placed me 16th and a 1min 04.0secs would have place me 7th. Again, I was on the wrong side of the slimmest margins. 

Flying lap: It was what it was, average. 13.6 was middle of the road but again the fact that I was on the wrong side of a few hundredths just summed up my day.

Points Race: 160laps (40k) and the pain and misery would be over. My race was crap again and I was pretty much a passenger for most of the race. It wasn't a total disaster as I raced hard and did get points here and there but I barely moved on the GC and my Cali world cup came to a dismal end. 

With a passion, I hate going home with nothing. When the day comes where I’m happy going home with an average performance, I’m done, no more racing. I race for my country and I want to show off how good it is. When I make an impact - it’s generally a big one.

Next up is the World Championships in Paris, wish me luck! 


Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Trust NO ONE!

I'll spoil the ending right here, I'm on the plane to Palma as I type this. 

When leaving Cali I was pretty confident that I would make it to Palma with next to no stress. I was also pretty confident that some part of my luggage wouldn't arrive. Little did I know the drama that was about to happen. 

I've been on one or two planes in the last few years and I've learnt that stressing out or cracking up with someone doesn't really work but I was pushed close yesterday. It all started in Colombia when our flight was delayed by 2 hours, this started a chain reaction that we would not know about until the sweat was pissing out of me and I was told, "no possible." I'll get to that in a minute. 

Me being me and we being the guts of the women's team pursuit. 

The plane touched down in Madrid and it was only then that I realised how close we were cutting it, we had 30-40 minutes to get to the plane to Palma. In 9 to 10 years of travelling I have never been forced to do what I was about to! I hate it with a passion, at the ripe old age of 29 my body isn't up to it and I'm happy to listen it. When you roll off a 10 hour flight slightly crossed eyed and you just want to get to bed you'll do desperate things!

15 minutes later. After side stepping people, hopping things and taking the straightest line possible through duty free I arrived at the gate, I could see "last call" above the gate which gave me a glimmer of hope. Little did I know there was a stone cold witch who had made her mind up. The flight was closed and that was that. With a heart rate of 170bpm it takes a bit of self control not to crack on someone but I'm pretty happy with myself. What made things even worse was the other half of the Irish team were sitting on that plane! They were on a different flight from Cali. Apart from lying down on the gang way there was nothing they could do to stop the flight closing.

We were directed to a desk to organise the rest of the trip and at this point you just have to do what you're told. Problem now is that what we were told was a load of horse shit! We were told to pick up our bags and forget about your bicycles, they will be taken care of - fair enough, I didn't really want to do any manual labour. The plane we had to get was in 6 hours time so we just hung about and ate some crap food before finding our way to the correct terminal. 

Curve ball!! At the check in, 5 hours later the staff have this bewildered look. 5 - 10 minutes of quick fire Spanish is passed back and forward between the check in staff and we were still none the wiser. Then an Avianca representative turns up and says we can't travel on this flight because of some shit I still can't really understand. It was something to do with airlines not being partners and we can't travel without our luggage as it's a security risk. This tells me that our bikes never arrived and if we left before our bikes arrived there would be no one around to take responsibility of them when they did. 

Honestly I did pollute the air with a few curse words but at this point of the evening and jet lag kicking in I was happy to get to the hotel and sleep it off. The Avianca rep said, don't worry, everything will be taken care of. "Do this, do that, no problem. They will know all about your scenario in the morning." More horse shit by the way. 

5.18am wake up, which if you weren't in Spain would be a 5.15am wake up call but hey, that's the least of my worries this week. For being 6am I felt pretty chirpy but I still had a feeling that we weren't home and dry yet. Turns out your gut is always right! At the Iberia check in the staff were initially like, who the hell are you, they would soon know!! They didn't really know what was going on and the fact that we had 19 (yes, 19!) extra pieces of luggage had them dumb founded. With things as clear as mud I ran up to the nearest Avianca desk who kind of knew our scenario. The problem now was which airline is paying for what and Iberia were confident they weren't. Yet again with the quick fire Spanish and no real progress. There was about 30 minutes of back and forward chat, looking at bag tags and another guy turns up with a smug look on his face. He didn't really help that much and with all said and done we probably had about 2 minutes to spare before check in closed. After all those words were wasted they checked our bags and told us to go. No more running, just a bit of a power walk and I was at the gate, happy. 

My brain hurts right know so I'm gonna sign off! There is probably some major details missing in what I've just said but you get the gist. I'll update you folks on how my race in Cali went soon.

Next stop, Palma! 


Wednesday, 14 January 2015

2 days to go....

2 days to go….

Hola from Colombia!

As I sit here and type this I can hear the rain bouncing of the window but I promise, I’m not in Dublin. The rain I’m pretty sure will be brief and in a few hours time the sun with be blaring and the temperature will be back in the twenties.

The trip to Colombia was long but pretty painless, for me it involved a flight from Palma to Barcelona, Barcelona to Bogota then a short hop to Cali. It was fairly routine getting to Bogota but as we boarded the next plane to Cali I was sure that we’d have no bikes. The plane itself could be compared to Bus Eireann’s finest, basic, up to the job but very little storage room. If I was sitting I would have fell of my chair - standing in Cali waiting for are bikes and one by one they all appeared, amazing and awesome! The same couldn't be said for the other half of the team who travelled via a different airline, they're are still waiting on their bikes. The aussie team have been here 5 or so days and they are still looking for luggage!! With only really 2 training days left I’m hoping the bikes appear soon!


Hopefully I’ll say something later on in the week but I can’t promise anything. I’ll either to busy racing or just be busy being lazy!


Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Revolution 48

Revolution 48

Back on the boards and this time I went home with all my skin and bones intact!

I have to say I was delighted to get back into the Rev bubble. Initially I was a bit anxious because of my lack of racing but that wore off once I was in the Velodrome. The format of this Revolution was slightly different than what I've done before. There was 2 sessions this time instead of the one evening session that I’ve done before.
Once I was signed on and had my numbers I had a flick through the race manual. On the cards was a flying lap, 30k points race, 15k scratch race, Madison 1k TT and a team elimination. The last 2 races did cause some sweat to appear on my brow! Anyone who knows these races know that your Collarbones get a good work out! It means hand slinging your partner into the race and in all honesty the last thing I wanted to be doing.
While I digested the race program I got my bike built, pumped my tyres and pretty much got everything I needed to race ready. It's 12pm at this point and the track was open, I really needed a pedal especially with the flying lap being my first race. If it wasn't a must for me I probably should have avoided that session, there was a small bit of madness with everyone on the track. Future stars, sprinters, men and women endurance all wanting to warm up made it interesting. Thankfully I managed to avoid a girl sliding down the track in front of me mid warmup, I honestly thought, "here we go again!" Definitely got the heart rate up though.
So, first up. The flying lap and it couldn't have been any better for me as its a key part of the Omnium. I wasn't using any specific equipment so I wasn't expecting an awesome time, I was just looking forward to getting the effort in. When the dust settled I was 4th and on the same tenth as Vivani, happy enough.

At this point in the evening my lack of UCI points in any event was in the back of my mind.  If I wanted to race my beloved Scratch race at the World Championships this year I badly needed points in that event. While I raced the 30k Points race that thought kept creeping into my head and I avoided going too deep. I got stuck into the racing but I wasn't my usual aggressive self. I managed to get a lap up and be pretty involved but there was a race winning move that gained another lap and I wasn't in it, game over for me. That was the end of the first session, I got some food and found a quiet corner and flaked out for awhile.

Scratch race time, what a let down! The race started the fastest out of any scratch races I’ve done but I was still floating about trying not to let anything go. With the compilation of team mates and friends on track you couldn't really figure out what was going where and who was helping who or vice versa. To my absolute disgust a group of 10 got away and I was stuck without much help but I really only have myself to blame. I just wasn't sharp enough to be there, I’ve no idea where I finished. No World Championships for my unless I get some dispensation or luck from a third party.
The Madison Kilo was next up. My partner tonight was Mark Christian and thankfully he’s pretty laid back. I told him what the story was with my Collarbone and we figured out what the best order was to keep the left shoulder stress to a minimum. My plan was to make the exchange as smooth as possible although we’d sacrifice some time. In the end we did the kilo in 59 seconds which was dwarfed by the Clancy/Wood pairing, 54secs!!! 40mph average, scary!
There was only one race left for me and that was the team elimination. More shoulder stress!!! Once I’d cooled down from the kilo I noticed my shoulder was feeling great, I had a chat with Phil West (tech director) and he was happy enough for me to sit this one out. Thankfully I was out of trouble and I’d got through a race without any drama, really chuffed. 
I want to thank everyone involved in the Revolution series. I love being apart of them and I’m delighted they like having me.
Now I'm back in Mallorca again and the final tune up for the upcoming World cup in Cali, Colombia begins.
Wish me luck!


Monday, 22 December 2014

Steel is a very real option!

My marginal gain. 

As soon as I moved my focus back to Irish duty and to the track again my main aim was to look at everything that could make me a better bike rider. One of the first things I looked at was the very thing I train on, everyday! My track racing bike and the road training bike were very different animals so I thought why not have them set up exactly the same. Problem is that my Felt TK1 is pretty unique, it's setup for the optimal performance on track and there isn't a road bike out there with the same geometry.

This is where Brendan Whelan and the Bicycle design centre comes in. I know Brendan from racing on the Irish cycling scene and I've seen some of the work he has done on other custom bikes. Since I started cycling I've been on a limited budget, cheap or free! Things pretty much still run in that trend and I'm really grateful for Brendan's help. 

I approached him with an idea of getting a road frame with a similar geometry to my track bike. I wanted to be training in a similar position to my track bike, that makes perfect sense in my head. I honestly think Brendan fell off his chair when he looked at the dimensions that I showed him. The 60cm top tube and 14cm head tube was probably his main concern. Long and low! The other obstacle I had for him was the time frame, I was heading to Mallorca to prep for the European championships and I wanted to get training in that position ASAP.

Thankfully Brendan was up for the challenge and soon enough he was keeping me posted on the progress. I was really looking forward to getting my hands on it.

A Columbus steel frameset and a full carbon fork.

In the rig.

Soon enough I got my hands on the frame itself and got to work building it. I measured everything 10 times, changed the stem a few times and added a spacer here and there. Eventually I got it set exactly like my Felt TK1 track bike. It has the same saddle setback, same reach and saddle to bar drop.

Set up perfectly.

Within the week I was in Mallorca and soon racking up the miles. Straight away it felt great, I didn't even have an ache or a pain that I would usually get from changing equipment. 

A random road in Mallorca that you wouldn't take your car down!

At the velodrome in Mexico.

At this point I've had the bike running for a few months. Its been around Europe, to Guadeloupe, Mexico and back. There's roughly 200hrs on it now and it's still going strong. I just wish I could say the same about myself!!

Honestly I can recommend a bike from Brendan. If you have a unique position or a need for a certain bike setup he can help. I'm delighted to support a local Irish company and I'm delighted that they have supported me.


Tuesday, 9 December 2014

That was interesting.

That was interesting. 

First thing I will say is that I am an awful spectator. I’ve spent the last few days in London to find out whether or not I had to start the second World cup of the year and I spent a lot of time on the other side of the fence, I hated every minute of it. The whole week was crap, I was with the team and moving in their circle but when it came to doing any cycling I was just a person in the way, a bollard, an object screwing up the natural flow of the pit area where the teams were getting ready. As you can guess I didn't like it!

The view from where I was.

In the end I was told, in a round about way that starting the race was my best option. Even the the race doctor signed me off saying I was unfit to race. In the cut throat world we live in I had to start the race to make sure I ticked all the boxes of the criteria. The criteria that someone somewhere thought was the best one. I’m going to bite my lip now because if I elaborate anymore I'm almost guaranteed to stick my foot in my mouth and say something I shouldn't say.

As I finish up typing this I’m Mallorca bound. I’m heading there to finally start training again. This last month has been a pain in the back side and hopefully soon enough I’ll get a clear run at it, hopefully!

Also, I’ve set up a Facebook page recently with the aim of letting people know what I’m doing. I find that people forget what myself and the Irish track team are doing until we pop up and win a medal. I have to say, I’m hungry for some new silverware:)

Thanks for reading.


Friday, 28 November 2014

Back at it.....

I’m back on my travels and thought I’d check in with whoever is reading this. I warn ya though, what you are about to read could be slightly, maybe, possibly a little bit on the negative side!

Hopefully I’m over what has been a pretty crap few weeks. I can’t tell you the frustration I’ve had but that’s life. I’ve gone through loads of phases ranging from chilled out/that’s life mentally to angry and flapping about in a panic. Now that I’m able to get going again I just hope things go my way.

As I type this I’m 9 days post-op and I’m surprised how quick things have come on since the surgery.  The surgery itself left me in a heap for the first two days. Once the anesthetic and drugs involved with surgery cleared out of my systems I was back at it pretty quickly. There was major progress on Thursday when I was able to back squat in the Gym. Thanks to Chris and Lisa in SINI for the good direction on that one.

My view from the squat rack at the Sports Institute of Northern Ireland

Now I’m at the stage where I can stop watching my belly grow and left arm shrink so I’m looking forward to getting stuck in! Even more motivation comes from watching everybody racing on the track; the UK revolutions and 6 six days are in full swing and I so badly want to be a part of it.

I feel like Nemo and his gimpy fin:)

This week I’m back to Mallorca and hopefully I can get in the grove. In saying that though, I was at home at a good time. A special man, father in law and friend Joe McNally passed away a year ago on Monday and it was a really nice time to be there. Just being there, hearing the stories and helping out at what has to be a hard time for the McNally family.

At the rate I’ve been typing these blogs lately I’ve had a crash every other one so hopefully the next time you hear from me that ain’t so!!

Chat soon,