Wednesday, 20 March 2013

HOLY MOLY!!

What a whirlwind! A LOT has happened since my last blog! I won two silver medals in the Glasgow world cup, signed for United Healthcare pro team in the US and I became World Champion!!

The last time I posted up, I was going through a pretty miserable stage. I didn’t have a great experience in London and only for a few key people I wouldn’t be where I am now! I hit my lowest point after I got back from the games and I didn’t cycle for a couple of weeks, I just ate and lay about really. To be honest, the Glasgow World Cup was my decider. It was going to tell me whether I was wasting my time at the track or if I was actually decent. Turns out I’m decent enough! My silver medals in the pursuit and scratch race really spurred me on. That and the fact that I now had a road team slot to train for. The United Healthcare contract came about with thanks to Andy. During the summer, Mike Tamayo, the Director of UHC was in Mallorca where his wife Lauren was training with the US women’s team pursuit. I met him and Hendrik Redant a couple of times through Andy and he saw me doing some nasty training sessions. To be honest he took a real gamble on taking me onto his road team and I hope I don’t disappoint.
Just after the Glasgow World Cup, I had my first training camp with the team in Arizona in November. It was really cool to be handed equipment and gear etc. It’s such a great set up and I walked around for the ten days with my jaw on the floor! The guys on the team were all great and they really made me feel at home. Even though I’m sure they were thinking “who’s this new fred with no results”!!

I was back home for a few days and then Grace and I decided to go to Mallorca to keep me away from the usual festive treats. The weather was great compared to ireland and I got much more cycling in than I would have at home. It was a lot of long steady miles for me, bootcamp for Grace! We spent a lot of time relaxing in Andy Sparks and David Muntaner’s new bar/coffee/bike shop. A really cool place and worth a look if you’re over that neck of the woods. www.cyclingplanet.es




After Christmas, I had my second training camp with UHC in Arizona again. This one was a little different. The team spend a lot of time looking after their sponsors so we had a few cool sponsor days where each sponsor came in and gave us a talk on their products.

Next up for me was Etoile De Besseges. I was expecting the Tour of Taiwan to be my first race with the team but when I was on the camp in Arizona I was told my first race would be in France in a couple of weeks. I literal dropped the muffin I was eating and stepped away from the dessert cart! It turns out it was the best thing for me in the grand scheme of things as I know I wouldn’t have a world champ jersey now if I didn’t hadn't grovelled my way around Besseges.

With Besseges done and dusted I was back home in my own bed with Grace beside me for a whole 2 nights! Then I was back off to Mallorca for some track training. It hurt really bad for the first few sessions but I got back into it soon enough. The taste and feeling of lactate pumping through your body is hard to forget. The time flew by though and before long I was in Minsk. It was -4 but I didn’t see much of it because it was hotel-bus-track-bus-hotel. Pretty much groundhog day until race day. Turns out it was worth the wait!

First up was the individual pursuit. Something that I was super motivated for in training and I knocked out a PB of 4.20 in the qualifiers so I knew I was in good form. I was up against Hepburn, the Aussie, in the final. He had done a 4.18 so for the finals I went all or nothing! I put on a bigger gear and figure I had nothing to lose. I lost! I went 4 seconds slower and he went 2 seconds faster. A lot of people thought I was saving myself for the scratch but to be honest I wasn’t thinking about the scratch. I never go into a race not fully committed and this was no different. So, I did the whole medal ceremony thing and was back on the bike in 30 minutes. I spent the first half of the scratch race trying to cool down! I guess it was a good thing that couldn’t go hard for the first half of the race. After 20 laps i started to feel strong and wanted to get out of the group. I knew I only had one hard hit in me so with 10 to go I said screw it and looked for a lull in the racing. Once i had a gap the field started tp split so I spent my time picking off 1 or 2 riders at a time. With 4 to go I saw Andreas Mueller on my hip. I thought there was a group of guys licking their lips and waiting to rush me on the line. I kicked hard and made life hard for Mueller making sure he had to go the long way around. He cracked before i did, I couldn’t believe it – world champion! I’m still pinching myself a month later!

After I got back, my world went crazy for a couple of weeks, I’ve never heard myself speak so much! It was really great to see how genuinely excited people were for me. Thank you everyone for your support.












I’m in Taiwan now and it’s a smack of reality…….I feel strong but I know I could be in better shape if I spent more time training and less time posing for pictures with my jersey! But, it’s not often you have a purple patch and I’ll take it while I can. I've spent a long time in the shadows. Hopefully I can help the guys out over the next few days and we can deliver a UHC win!
Maybe, just maybe I'll do my best to keep this thing up to date!

Cheers,

M

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

It's over!


What can I say?! ….. the Olympics are over!  I honestly feel like a lost puppy at the moment. I never thought too far beyond London because I was so focused on those six rides. It was a whirlwind and an awesome experience but was so different to what I imagined! London did an incredible job. Everything ran so smoothly.

I went straight from Mallorca to the athletes village with Andy and we got ourselves sorted, accredited and sussed out the food hall…priorities!! 24 hour McDonalds = danger!  I had to focus on staying as light as possible so that was the hardest part.

The opening ceremony was so cool and to be a part of and it really is something I’ll remember forever.  I was sharing an apartment with Dan Martin, Nicholas Roche, David McCann, a swimmer Barry Murphy and a badminton player Scott evans. They’re all really nice guys and it was nice to meet people outside of my cycling bubble.

So, race day came and I was pretty relaxed.  I was 9th in the flying lap. Usually I would be content with this but as soon as I was finished I knew something was up. My legs hurt in a different way and I was just not feeling right. I had clocked up some good times in training but I was off the mark on the day. I went back to the village and chilled out for a while, trying to put the weird feeling to the back of my mind. Next up was the points race and it hurt like hell.  That’s usually the norm but it was 40 plus minutes of pain, some self inflicted. I gained 2 laps on the field and finished up 6th. Again, usually I’d be happy with this but I was hurting too much too soon.  Needless to say, Kluge (the German guy) rode awesome – lapping the field three times! I was just off the track and felt like I was back on within mintues…..well 40 minutes. I dug a big hole in the points race and just had no legs in the elimination! It probably didn’t look like it but I was trying so hard to get up and over the bunch but I was screwed and the only direction I was going was backwards! I was 14th overall….which even by with my record in the elimination was pretty bad!



At this stage I was a blubbering mess which I think RTE got on camera … I couldn’t hide my disappointment. It all hit me like a sack of shit and I realized that my perfect race that I’ve dreamed about wasn’t going to happen. Some people don’t like the Omnium and consider it an event of averages. But, there is a huge mental element to Omnium. If you’re lying first overnight, you gotta keep your cool. If you performed badly you gotta pick yourself up. For me, it was the latter. I had to put the bad elimination behind me and focus on my stronger events on day 2.  Luckily, I’m used to this because my pattern during the qualification was going into day 2 down the GC and making may way up in the pursuit, scratch and kilo. A respectable result wasn’t to far away.

But, to quote a friend quoting Tyson ‘everyone steps into the ring with a plan….then they get a punch in the face!' My pursuit was way off my usual, I was 4 seconds off my PB.  I was struggling the whole way through and no matter how much I suffered I just couldn't get on it.  Next up was the scratch race.  The game plan; attack and if that didn’t work attack again. A body bag was ordered and I wanted to be ready for it. The race was another average result but I gave it everything. Last up was the kilo, I did a 1.04 which I was happy enough with until I saw Clancy do a 1.00, hats off!



I think my biggest disappointment is that for the 11 previous qualifiers, racing against the same guys, I was finishing every race between 5th and 9th and then when the country tunes in for its first taste of track racing I’m that Irish guy that was 13th.  I always said I wouldn’t go to make up the numbers – I was hungry for a podium or at the very worst a top 6 but it wasn’t meant to be. Someday I will look back and say ‘wow, what an achievement’ to be one of 8 Europeans to qualify for the games but for the moment I’m looking back saying, did I taper wrong?, was I getting sick?…..did that broken mirror in my room bring me bad luck?!  One thing I can say is I could not possibly have trained any harder – Andy pushed me to the max in every single training ride and I raised my standards to the highest level possible. It wasn’t there on the day and there’s no point looking for it now.

Grace was in town and I needed her, she helped me pick my chin up and after the racing was over, we had fun in London and saw some cool places.  We saw a boxing match, got to catch up with some cool people and had a nap during the festivities in Hyde Park….real party animals we are!! We went to the Oakley safehouse which was in a cool spot along the Thames where Scott and Brian built me up some cool custom radar lock glasses and gave me some nice casuals too, thanks guys, that definitely cheered me up.  We also went out to the Irish sponsored house too to watch Katie Taylor's fight – awesome, a real inspiration! Congrats to all the Irish team who did a fantastic job in all their sports. 



As I said in my last blog, I was so proud to represent Ireland and be part of team Ireland and if I inspired  a small few kids to take up cycling that makes me even happier. This journey was about putting Irish track cycling on the map. It was about getting the next generation to get into the sport earlier and go places quicker and with more support and facilities than I did. Hopefully I partially achieved that goal. So, the plan for the moment is to take a rest, get a holiday in somewhere nice and then refocus on the next goal……. There’s always another goal!

Finally, there are so so many people who sent kind messages, cards and said kind words to and about me. Thank you to everyone for your help in getting me to London. A big thank you also to everyone at SINI, Cycling Ireland, the Irish Sports Council, Sport NI, the Irish Olympic Council and the sponsors of team Ireland and the sponsors who helped me. To Andy Sparks, the man with the plan…..thanks for kicking my ass all the way to London!  

Cheers,

M


Thursday, 26 July 2012

Nearly current blog:)


Hey guys and gals! 

Sorry I've been quiet for the last while. I really wish I'd kept this up to date as some really cool things have happened in the last few weeks. I talked to school kids about cycling, talked to the up and coming generation of riders about training and gave my penny's worth of advice. I also got some slippy stuff from U.S.E which I can't wait to get using. Oh yeah, did a bit of cycling too. I did the nationals TT and road race and a six day in Italy……and of course, lots of torture sessions with Andy!

I'll go in reverse order of the things that stand out in my mind, memory is a disaster! 

I was home for a block before the nationals and got to hang out with Grace which was cool. One of the evenings we headed over to Sundrive track for a fundraiser for Down Syndrome Ireland. Roisin Kennedy organized an ice cream party to coincide with the league prize giving. It's something we both were more than happy to do. Money raised on the night went towards Down Syndrome Ireland and it was awesome to see kids on track bikes, the future's bright.  

The Irish TT and road race championships were next up. I was delighted to be home for them. It baffles me why more people aren't at them but that's something I can't change. When I started out racing, I wanted to race with the good guys. I love fighting above my weight and I'm convinced when the cramp subsides and the feeling comes back into my arms and legs I'll be better for it! 

Anyway, the nationals! I was looking forward to them for ages, I knew the TT was flat and I knew the roads that the road race was on. I love racing around Clonmel and I know the guys down there run an awesome race. First up was the TT which was on Thursday night. Grace really dug me out at the TT, the best plans always go out the window when you start talking to people you haven't seen in weeks, months or even a year! 

The last time I'd done a 40k TT was at the nationals last year which I am choosing to forget! Going into it I knew there were 5 or 6 people that could finish in front of me so top 6 was my realistic result but a medal was the objective. I had no excuses really, I had good training and a good bike thanks to these guys: http://kinetixproducts.com/. I can't say enough good things about the bike, a Scott Plasma 3 with Di2, I could have stayed at home and did well:) Anything less though and I would have been losing before I started! There was a serious amount of equipment floating about! I went out with a plan to do 400watts for the race - I came home with 404 average watts, happy days. I was happy with my numbers and set about cooling down and packing up, ready for the trip home. As I was cooling down I heard some times and knew I was quicker than that. People were saying Roche is flying; he's 2 minutes quicker than this guy and that guy. Turns out I was flying too! When the real, actual, proper, official times came in and were added up correctly I was second. Second to Michael Hutchinson, more than happy now! I was beaten by a man who lives on his TT bike and does them every weekend and here was me who'd borrowed a bike, didn't change much on it and ridden it for an hour at most! Delighted! 

So, on Thursday night, we went back home with a bonus medal and I started thinking about the road race! Weather wise, I think we got the best day of the year for it! It was a nice circuit, lots of wee drags and one main hill to split up the race. It turns out I was in really good form and before I knew it, there were only four of us left! Matt Brammeier, Nicolas Roche, Philip Lavery and myself. I gave a nice dig going into the second last lap because I was still feeling strong. My plan was to get over the hill before the other guys but they got me just before it and I just went backwards! Afterwards, I kinda felt like the biggest loser of the race because I was the only one of the four that didn’t get a medal. But in the grand scheme of things, the nationals are not my goal this year and when it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be! I was really happy with my racing form and I used the race as a solid block of training for the big event in London.  

After the nationals, I went back to Mallorca for another block of training in the middle of which was a six day track race in Italy. It was called Sei Giorni Della Rosa and it was a really well run race. Our whole daily schedule was turned upside down – breakfast was at lunchtime, lunch was at dinnertime and dinner was after midnight!!! Every night there were a few different team races including a Madison most nights ….. it was hard racing! I was lucky to have David Muntaner as my team mate. David is riding team pursuit for Spain in the Olympics so we have a lot in common plus he’s a really nice guy! We also had Marti Cerda there to look after us and keep us fed, watered and ready to ride hard! Needless to say, the most feared event of the week was the 100k Madison. I think it came at a good time in the week. The Madison was new to me and I spent the first few nights observing and messing up changes. By the time the 100k one came around on the 4th night, we were both able to give it full gas and had mastered the technique. We won it in the end so we were really chuffed! It was a really hard week of training and I was luck to come out all in one piece.  

I got back from Italy, happy with my performance and happy to get back to the smooth indoor velodrome! Since then I’ve had lots of nasty sessions behind the motor bike and hill intervals and plenty of long road rides! There was one nice thing to split up the hard training sessions though - Gracie came to Mallorca and brought me over my Asics Olympic gear and some other bike things that I forgot!! It was nice to have a rest day to just cycle out for coffees and bocadillas:) I have to say, the gear looks and feels great. I will be so proud to wear it in London! 

So, this is it. I’m going to the basement to do the usual magic trick of packing up my 2 bikes into a pretty small box! I’ve pretty much had my life here for the last year so I’ve accumulated a LOT of stuff! I fly to London tomorrow and then have the opening ceremony on Friday. I’m looking forward to enjoying the experience. I can honestly say I’ve done all the preparations right. I’m happy with the last solid block of training and I’m ready for action in London. Keep the positive vibes coming my way and I’ll check in again after all the fuss:)

Cheers,


Wednesday, 18 July 2012

6 day pics!

Hey guys!  Sorry I've been a disaster with this thing!  Here's some pics from the 6 day I did in Fiorenzuola last week.  So much fun and crammed packed with racing.  David a myself managed to win the 100k madison!  254 laps of that track!! 









M


Monday, 25 June 2012

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Electric Ireland ad


This happened over the last few weeks too which is pretty cool!

Hola!


Hey, I  thought it was about time to break radio silence and say hello.

The last time I was chatting to ya’s I had just qualified a spot for London 2012! I promised to do a blog on the worlds but now that’s a distant memory and that ain’t gonna happen….oops!  Since then, I’ve done the Tour of Korea which was a shock to the system.  I really got my eyes opened at how unfit I was past the three hour mark.  Any hill I hit, my legs were empty – absolutely no power. That’s what you get for being a fat trackieJ  The only good thing was that I came out of it injury and accident free and got around the race in one piece.  Can’t say the same for David who took a pretty serious spill and made mince of his thumb.  Hope you’re on the mend dude.

DMC's podium in Korea.

Just back in Ireland from Korea and after an 8 hour turn around, I left for Mallorca. I’ve have been here for the last two weeks trying to find my road legs and pull my finger out of my ass. Honestly, I found motivation really hard and for the first week I wasn’t fit to walk up stairs! I’m thinking being in Melbourne, Korea and Spain in 4 weeks is not so good for the body.

When I eventually felt the need to train I kept it simple for the first few days just getting 4 hours plus in the saddle. Thankfully, the sunshine made it that wee bit easier.  The bonus this time was that I had Grace (my little book worm) to come home to after training….. who had lovely hot dinners on the table….. isn’t that right Grace…..wink wink!  Seriously though, it was good to have a buddy to keep me sane over here.  When I did pry her away from her studying we could do normal stuff like cycle for coffees and bocadillas.  We went for dinner with Jennie, Brandon and the Turkish guys which I wouldn’t normally do on my own so that was nice.

Coffee spin!


Next stop is Ireland and the Ras!! I’m pretty sure the weather ain’t gonna be as good as it is here in Mallorca, I'm smart me:)  I got some funny looks when I went into the local bike and asked for waterproof gloves and overshoes!!  
Hopefully I am in decent form next week and can help the team perform well on Irish roads.

Now to pack up two bikes, two suitcases and 20kgs of books that Grace dragged along with her!! Fun!

Adios!