It’s NOT a Race said Kevin!

So, I got on the bike for the first time in February. ‘Sure you’ll be grand…it’s not a race’ said Kevin.

That statement held true, until last Sunday when it was unceremoniously consigned to the slag heap that is entitled ‘Cycling UnTruisms’! It is now in good company with other statements such as ‘It’s mostly flat from here’, ‘That’s the worst part over’, ‘We’re just going out for a gentle spin’ and ‘Sure the wind will be behind us when we’re on the way back!

So what changed on Sunday. Couple of things really. Firstly – Strava. I am now racing against a feckin’ app! For those of you who don’t know it, Strava maps your ride using GPS. And, if you have other gubbins strapped on such as speed, cadence and heartrate sensors, it layers all of that info on top to tell you how you are doing. Also built in to this is an ability to compare your speed over given stages. Stages with poetic names such as the ‘Enniskerry Sperm Loop’!

Anyway, on Sunday I decided to go for a Strava ‘PR’ or Personal Record on the Stage known as ‘LM Bray to Greystones Climb N to S’! So off I went, with nether regions pointing skywards with thoughts of the great Marco Pantani on my mind. Hey, he even looked a bit like me!

940-pantani-marcoPantanii

My legs were going like the clappers. Every sinew screamed, but I wouldn’t listen. This hill is mine, and nothing was going to take it away from me. Almost at the top, my lungs were bursting and I had even developed a stitch! Christ, I hadn’t had one of them since Jack O’Grady caught us robbing his orchard and gave us a monumental chase. But none of this mattered, the pain, the suffering, the sheer agony of pushing my body to the limit. There was smoke coming out of my heartrate strap FFS! But I was almost there – King of the Hillock!

Then, disaster struck:

No, I didn’t fall off. A certain Cathal Gormley, riding his totally silent ‘Stealth Stevens’ shot by me to grab my title! Oh the ignominy. But I’ll get over it.

So what I am really trying to say is, for me cycling is a race. A race between me and myself! This is totally new to me as I have never before pushed myself physically. The pain barrier was always just that – a barrier, through which I had never passed. But now that I have, the view on other side is marvellous. So what is the big payoff? The payoff is knowing that the next time I do it, it will be a bit easier. It is also arriving home after a long spin knowing, that I have achieved a number of personal goals and that I have just spent 3-4 massively productive hours.

To be honest, I have been surprised by my own progress. Many of the hills that used to terrify me are now welcome challenges. But for me, what is truly wonderful, is watching the P2N group as a whole develop and progress.

To be able to do so much for yourself, whilst also doing good for others – it’s no wonder Paris2Nice has grown in to the amazing institution it has. Thank you P2N, you have made one MAMIL very very happy.

 

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Going Commando

When I was a kid, my favourite comic was, without a doubt, Commando. Sixty eight pages of beautifully cartooned war action  where the ‘righteous’ always won the day! And the Commando Knife in the logo and on the back, I desperately wanted one of them!

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There was something special about the Commandos that got my imagination going and there was no doubt in my mind, when I grew up I was going to be one.

Well, life intervened and  I never did.

So why am I taking this misty-eyed trip back in time? What has that got to do with cycling? The term ‘Going Commando’ has suddenly made an entrance in to my life. Yes, of course I knew what it was (no underwear) but to be honest it was never a pastime that I actively indulged in to any great extent. And on the odd occasion when necessity warranted it, I felt that everybody around me had X-Ray Vision and knew exactly what was going on. Ingrained in to most of us by our Mammies was, always make sure your underwear is clean and if you are going any distance carry a spare pair in case you get run over! Well, cycling dictates the opposite! NEVER wear underwear under your Lycra. Apparently it is the number one crime committed by cycling newbies!

So, no undies!! What is going to protect you from the Commando Knife like saddle that most modern road bikes have. Well it is a strange thing called a ‘Chamois’! Now when I heard about it first and looked it up I was informed it was a goat-antelope species native to Europe! And let’s be honest, you’re hardly going to get much relief by stuffing an antelope down your shorts! On further searching I found out that it is also a cloth for making thinks shiny! Surely having a shiny bum can’t be that advantageous for cycling? Finally I found out that it is also a pad that is sewn in to cycling shorts to protect ones nether regions.

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So off I went to purchase a pair of cycling shorts with a ‘chamois’. I was told that should get ‘Bibbed’ ones as they go over your shoulders and stop them sliding down when you’re riding. Bloody hell, it took me a couple of goes to get them on, as straps were going in the wrong place etc. I even had them on backwards at one stage which was just plain weird. I mean, who the hell needs a pad coming that far up their front?? I wasn’t planning on lying on the saddle! Finally, I got them on correctly and proceeded to waddle around the house looking like John Wayne after a particularly long ride on a very twitchy horse! But, as time passed, I became one with my fancy new cycling shorts! I even managed to convince myself that they didn’t look too bad. But then, the family arrived home and all hell broke loose. Mixed emotions (all bad) flowed like a raging torrent. The general consensus was disownment and longterm ostracism! But hey, I was doing this for charity wasn’t !? Grudging acceptance followed, although it has now been agreed that I have to warn them in advance when I am coming through so they can avert their eyes and face the wall!

Given the severity of the reaction, I have decided not to tell them about the Chamois Cream, as I reckon that would put them over the edge. But for those of you who are less squeamish, Chamois Cream/Butter is used to lubricate the Chamois and your nether regions so that there is no chaffing on long rides.

ballocks

 

And does all this stuff work? The answer is a resounding yes. So, to jump back to Commando parlance, if you don’t want your ‘undercarriage shot to pieces’ then bib shorts with a chamois and chamois cream is definitely the way to go!

A Mountain to Climb

When I committed to doing the Paris2Nice Cycle, my main concern was whether I would be able to complete the 700 kilometres in six days. Well, I reckon that if I keep up my training I will be able to do it. Huge thanks has to go out to the riders from previous years, who organise weekly rides to show us newbies how it can be done!

But there is an option to climb Mont Ventoux on the 4th day. Known also as the “Beast of Provence”, the “Giant of Provence”, or quite aptly “The Bald Mountain”, this involves a 21km climb to the summit! This mountain has a real history for cyclists as it has been part of the Tour de France many times.

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Will I make it? Who knows but I sure as hell am going to give it a try!

Kilmacud – Howth – Kilmacud 50km

It was lashing all night and the text came through at 06:45 that the spin was off. Back to sleep 🙂 Then, another text at 07:15 to say it was on again. Checked the weather app and there was rain due and winds up to 50kmh in coastal areas. Well, it doesn’t get much more coastal than the coast road to Howth. But off we went, in to the hurricane. Tough going on the way to Howth, but hardly had to pedal on the way back!

Here is a little Timelapse I made on the way:

Strava Howth

Click Map for Strava Stats

 

The Green Revolution

Since I was a little lad, green has always been my favourite colour. However, that may have changed! Apparently, part of this whole ‘getting fit’ lark is eating properly. And that means having to ingest all sorts of appalling stuff like vegetables and suchlike. The arch demon in this whole cornucopia of foul tasting do-goodery is the Green Smoothie!

The Dreaded Green Smoothie

The Dreaded Green Smoothie

Sure, you can put it in to a fancy glass, and chuck a few non-green coloured distractions around it, but it is still fundamentally something not dissimilar to what colonises stagnant pools of water.

The most alarming aspect of this ‘Green Revolution’ is that I am starting to like this stuff. The key word is ‘starting’ as I still have a gag or two when it is on the way down. At least the full on retching has stopped! Is it that when your body needs something, it is able to switch off the ‘that tastes crap’ synapses? Maybe so, either way I have now become a victim of the green revolution!

Ingredients: Apple, Pear, Orange, Lemon, Cucumber, Celery, Kale, Pak Choi, Ginger