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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.


M

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,


M

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Negative to a Positive.

Negative to Positive

Ok, so. Not the blog I was planning to be writing at this time of the year. My “clear goals” and “box ticking” from my previous blog definitely did not happen! As seems to be the trend this year, I’m on this learning curve and it’s getting steeper by the day. I went into the Team Pursuit really confident and I actually thought we could do a solid ride. Turns out it took me right back to 2009 – actually, not even, we missed out on our previous Irish record by a tenth or two (David McCann, Paul Healion RIP, David O’Loughlin and me). The thing that erks me the most is that the bunch of guys I’m riding with are so young and so fast that we could easily chop 10 seconds off that time with a few more races under our belts to calm the nerves. I can honestly say I sat on the rollers for around 20 minutes pondering what the hell happened. I really didn’t think it was possible to go that slow but the wheels well and truly fell off the wagon. Here’s a comparison for you, Bobby Lea (USA) did an individual pursuit of 4m16s in the middle of an Omnium and we had 4 whole big dudes and did a 4m11s. The only good thing I can see coming from this is that is gives everyone on the team a kick in the ass and when we get it right it will have been worth waiting for! 

So, day 2, the Omnium. This is where I planned to turn my weekend around. I slept really well overnight, rested well the previous day and I was mentally tuned in to do the best scratch race I could. I had a really good feeling – I almost skipped to the track. However, as I have come to know, life has a way of kicking you in the balls and bringing you right back down to earth. As per usual, the Omnium now starts with the scratch race and I’d be lying if I said I was comfortable throughout the race. I geared up expecting it to be fast and I wasn’t wrong. There were times when I really had my teeth out. With roughly 7 or 8 laps to go, the bunch regrouped and stalled in anticipation for the sprint. As soon as I thought about the finish; splat, I found myself in the middle of a pile of bikes. The first thing I did was reach for my shoulder where I could feel a bone sticking out of it – what made it that bit more real was that I could see it sticking out of my skin suit. 

Excuse the shady pic but ya get the idea! Nowhere to go.


From this point on every third word was a swear word and turns out a helmet doesn’t bounce – sorry Giro! I was so pissed as I knew I was genuinely on for a solid race result. First man on the scene was Brian who I reckon tried his best to not show his frustration but like I said, that’s life. If there’s one man I know who is quick to see the bright side, it’s Brian which is exactly what I needed. Once I was in the pit area, there was gaggle of friendly faces around me – Brian, Andy Sparks (USA) and also Richard Freeman (British Cycling Doctor) whom I got to know well in Guadeloupe……see my previous Blogs for another stupid crash. I don’t make a habit of this I swear.  

From this point on, there’s not a lot to say that is glamourous. I was stuffed in the back of a tiny Ambulance with three Mexicans and two Russians and not a word of English between them – throw in me with my nearly English….loads of chat! After what seemed like an eternity bouncing around in the back of the Ambulance, we got to the Hospital. Once at the hospital things happened pretty quick – I was looked at, poked, prodded, x-rayed and told the worst within the hour. This was where the ball was in my court. Operate here and stay here for an extra day or go home and get the work done with local surgeons and familiar hospitals. Once I made the decision to go home, the local doctor seemed happy enough. He fitted me with a brace, gave me some painkillers and sent me on my way. Weirdest thing happened though; in the middle of putting the brace on, I started to feel sick, went all hot and sweaty, went a bit deaf and heaped over for the second time that day. Turns out thats what happens when you’ve a bone sticking out and people playing around with it - It hurt, a lot. This is where I need to give a big thanks to Neill Delahaye for the help. He organized everything from the lifting and laying and even gave me his clothes to wear home. Between him and Alex Castanon, who was there to help with the language barrier, my life was made so much easier. 
Next thing to do was get home as soon as possible. With the help of strong painkillers and a little alcohol my ten hour flight was gone in a blink. I‘ve travelled business class three times in my life – twice I was broken. I hope someday to actually be conscious and enjoy the bloody thing! This is where my morale took a severe dent. I was ushered on and off planes in a wheelchair racing Grannies to be the first in the queue. If I was left on my own  though I would have been fairly useless so I was grateful for the help. 


I remember when I was younger, I loved X-rays. I really really wanted to see what I looked like. Now, I’m sick of seeing what I look like and I really really never want to see one again! 

When I got back to Ireland, I went to Belfast to see a super duper guru surgeon and I got a bit of a kick in the kidneys. I was hoping for a swift “I can fix you, lie down” but instead I got a “oh that’s a nasty looking cut, here’s some antibiotics, see you in a week”. It did knock the wind out of me but after speaking with some people, I’m happy that this is the best course of action. A week here could have been a few months the other side if it wasn’t done properly and I'm just happy to have the surgeon do exactly what he thinks is best.

As I’m finishing up tying this, I’m not long in from the Cycling Ireland Awards Dinner. It was really nice to get an invite because honestly, I feel like a “has been” at this point in time. It was a good show and I got plenty of encouragement from the people who’ve been there and done it. On another positive note, as this week went on the news filtered out that I’ve signed with Madison Genesis for next year. Yet again, there were more words of encouragement from the cycling bubble. The team DS is Roger Hammond, I have a long lasting memory of Roger, mainly that in my first year of cycling, he finished on the podium of Paris Roubaix, not too shabby.

Words of wisdom from Sean Kelly.

Right, I'm off. I'm sitting here with everything crossed and hoping I get my surgery on Tuesday. If all goes well the next time you here from me I'll have a new wing.

Thanks for reading.

M

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Heading west..again!

10 days ago I walked right passed where I am sitting now. I was walking like someone fresh out of a car crash and most of the clothes I was wearing were firmly stuck to me.  I’m sure I had a nice aroma too but nobody really seemed to notice.

Next stop for me is Madrid which is just a stepping stone on my way to Mexico City then another short hop to Guadalajara. The whole team is somewhere in the airport too but I took off and found a quiet corner to do this. The novelty of floating about airports sneaking a free squoosh of the latest cologne and munching on some free chocolate has well and truly wore off me….although, maybe I do hum a bit!!

The last week has be different. I haven't been fully resting or fully training, kinda in limbo. The European championships falls at a weird time and it’s hard to do the right thing. With half the mens TP hanging in tatters Chris McNichol from SINI came out to put us back together again. Considering the smack we took we got off lightly. Cuts, grazes, bumps and knocks was all we got. 

For me next week is a little up in the air, I’ve put in some good work with the lads and did some solid Omnium work. The main thing is a niggling knee problem and a random twinge in my achilles but I’m pretty sure thats just the side effects of jumping off my bike at 60kph a few weeks ago.  I’ve set some clear goals for my next Omnium and I’ve pretty confident that I can tick each box. This Friday I have the Team Pursuit qualifying and on Saturday and Sunday I have the Omnium.

Traveling for the TP is Ryan Mullen(wonder boy), Cormac Clarke (the skinny red one), Thomas Fallon(Mr happy) and Javan Nulty(TBC)…..I’ll work on that one!

Wish us luck,


M

Thursday, 23 October 2014

My last 8 days

Here we go, not quiet the blog I was expecting when I set off to the Caribbean just over a week ago.  I’m typing this while sipping on a coffee in Paris. I’ve just started to feel human again after the 8 hour flight I’ve just dragged myself off.

I left Mallorca at the start of last week and my final destination was Guadeloupe in the Caribbean. Believe it or not the race was the European championship, I think we have Napoleon to thank for that one. I left Mallorca with the biggest Irish team I have ever been on and it was actually a lot easier than I thought it was going to be. 11 cyclists traveling with 2 bikes, rollers, helmets, racing wheels etc. THAT adds up to a shed load of stuff but CI had the right people and the right plan in place.

With the usual lifting and laying done we were soon in the Caribbean, yes the Caribbean! A place I’ve grown up picturing as nothing but blue seas and white sandy beaches; that however is now a distant memory! I’m not saying it isn't like that at all but don’t believe everything you see on TV. Our first day on the Island it pissed rain, hard. I wouldn't normally mention the rain but when you have a kilometer to walk to breakfast it leaves a lasting memory; I really think I would have been dryer swimming there.  Somehow we got on track later that day thanks to the blazing hot sun drying everything out at a rapid rate.

Our first track session was around 6pm and it was very different to what we were expecting.  The track itself was an outdoor 333m track that was painted bright yellow. Although it was a bit bumpy it could have been a lot worse.  Our track session itself went grand and it was backlit with an awesome night sky.



Duck!



Without much time to think the race was upon us. For me it was to be new and retread territory.  The first event was the team pursuit which I haven't lined up for in 4 years and I was really looking forward to it. I spent the last month training with the guys in Mallorca and I knew we had a good ride in our legs. The guys being; Ryan Mullen, Cormac Clarke, Thomas Fallon and Javan Nulty. I’m going to glaze over what exactly happened for 2 reasons.  Firstly because I don't remember and secondly I’m trying to forget what I do remember!! The day was going great, I was enjoying having a group of lads around doing the same thing I was doing and we all had the same focus. The main goal of the event for the team was to execute our best ride. We ‘fell’ short of our goal by 50 metres. Everyone did what they were asked and we were so close to nailing the ride. The pace was steady and on target and technically we weren’t too shabby. It all came tumbling down and the shit hit the fan in a pretty spectacular style and as I sit here now it still hurts. I’m sure someone out there is looking for something or someone to blame but really there isn’t. The only thing you could say caused it was 110% commitment that caused a momentary blip at 60kph resulting in a splat! Splat though is definitely the wrong word, more like a crunchy, grinding, cracking sort of scuffing sound; unpleasant!



That's me on the right practicing my 'happy baby' yoga move, Ryan trying "the crawl"and Cormac seeing what the track tastes like.



The morning after the night before! I woke up resembling a half dressed ghost. Not only was I moaning like one but i had most of the bed sheets stuck to my back which looked like a half ass halloween costume.  I’m pretty light hearted about it now but man, it hurt like hell for awhile.

The Team pursuit crash happened on Wednesday and I had a Scratch race final on Thursday evening, I was actually looking forward to it. Although shook up I still had high enough hopes but they all came crashing down pretty fast. (No pun intended) The nature of the track made it hard for me. The concrete made it feel slow and heavy. It was easy for people to just follow but hard for someone like me to break the bunch. I think I finished 28th in the end.  After a fairly uneventful race I cooled down and reassessed my injuries, still in one piece!

What I came here for, the Omnium.  It was a full 12 months since I picked up the bronze medal at the previous Europeans but after a turbulent enough year I wasn't really expecting the same result, a top 6 would have kept me content. The first day consisted of a Scratch race, a 4k pursuit and an Elimination race. Please excuse me for vagueness for the next paragraph as I try my hardest to ignore the smelly big mess that it is.  The scratch race was brutal, painfully slow and it had a similar overcome to the previous night’s race.  A temperature of over 40 degrees celsius didn't help my riding style either, I felt like a steak cooked medium to well!  The pursuit followed a similar vein, seriously high temperature and a flat performance from myself. The funny thing is that my pacing was good, I just rode a little conservative. It’s never good when your last kilo is your fastest. If you think the last few sentences are brief - my elimination was shite.


Contemplating what's happening. My view from the pits.


Day 2 of the Omnium, half way through the race.  On the cards this day was a Kilo TT, a flying lap and the all conquering points race.  With a lot of mental coaching and my really good ability to sugar coat a turd I was ready to go. The kilo TT is something I like, its brutal but short and sweet. There’s very little science involved in this race, a good start and a good line; the rest is pure physiology.  Somehow I had my best result here, this gave me some encouragement heading into the flying lap BUT I was soon realigned.  Being a 333 metre track, there was less lead in and being outdoor there was what seemed like a lot more wind around the fence.  Running on the same theme as yesterday, my lap was brutal.  I never got on the gear and I was in trouble before the timed lap even started. The last race of the evening was the points race and after a rain delay I was soon in the hurt locker.  Honestly at this point of the weekend I felt no pressure, my form was below average and the outcome of the race couldn't change a lot. After actually torturing myself at numerous parts of the race I climbed 2 places on the overall leader board. I missed the crucial move of 6 riders that gained a lap but I was up there in points tally.

My Omnium results:

Scratch - 11th
Pursuit - 11th
Elimination - 17th

Kilometre TT - 4th
Flying lap - 11th
Points race - 7th

Brutal reading I know but at this point of the week I’ve had plenty of time to reassess things. I honestly think my form is pretty decent but skidding down the track on my back set the tone for the week.  10% of the skin of my body is still in Guadeloupe and with my body in healing mode I just wasn't able to handle the stuff I was throwing at it for the rest of the week.

Holiday to the Caribbean - CANCELLED.

M


Thursday, 9 October 2014

I needed some motivation..........


World Championship Scratch race 2014


I felt a bit useless this morning and couldn't be bother doing anything! This made me pull my finger out and do something.

I'd recommend something similar to anybody. Have a flick through some old photos or even a film that get you motivated, works for me.

M