Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Bray - repeat

Went for a quick cycle out to Bray after work, figuring it might be the last trip out after work with the dark evenings drawing in.
Did exactly the same route as last week. There was a strava segmant I felt I could get a better time on compared to last week (Mount Merrion Ave), I was quicker and picked up the QOM by seconds.
Floored it along Woodbrook Sprint too and placed 3rd out of 80.
Picked up a couple of unplanned QOM's going down hills too.
I know it's all relative, the whole Strava thing, but there is a satisfaction when you see yourself in the top 10.

Monday, 23 September 2013

Leinster Marshalling Champs 2013.

Would you like to compete in the Leinster Marshalling 2013 championships?
I would.
Is this your first time?
It is.
Right so, there's only 2 of you competing for the women's title this year..
Oh, who's the other woman?
Monica Marconi? The Monica Marconi, winner of the Vet jersey at last week's Ras na mBan?


Don't worry, go get yourself a hi viz vest from that box and practice raising your Stop sign..
Can I have a vest that says 'Race Marshal'?
No, we ran out. Monica took the last one.
You know she eats boiled potatoes from her jersey pocket during races?
I'd heard.
And only ever eats tinned mackerel for dinner?
And leaves a path of destruction behind her wherever she goes?
I'd heard that too.
Can I have a CB radio?

You stand here, and if you raise your Stop sign higher and quicker than Monica, you might score a few extra points.

The Monica Marconi. 'Hi, are you Monica'? She glanced at me and in a slow, heavy, Italian drawl replied 'the one and only' then she turned away from me and lifted up her sign despite there being no cars. She was hell bent on scoring points. She removed her shoes revealing odd socks in an attempt to confuse and ditract me. It worked. I was in awe.
See how she kept her beady eye on Joe out on the main road? She was so focussed on raising her Stop sign quicker than me. Also, that bottle on the floor, that was full of Red Bull - she downed it in one go before tossing it aside.
Every now and then the organisers would send a car round so people could keep an eye on us. Monica's team mates Mags and Lucy drove by 3 times. I spotted them giving Monica 'call me' type signals, she said it was so we could tell them who the breakaway was (Orla Hendron first lap, Melanie Spath 2nd and 3rd lap) but I kind of worked out that they were exchanging Marshalling tactics over the phone. I'm no fool.

Back at the event hall, the discussions on who should win went on for hours. Orla Hendron there (another of Monica's team mates) trying her best to influence decisions. Finally after much deliberation, it went to a vote and I can happily announce that they all chose ME as the Leinster Marshalling 2013 winner!! It was a close call (what with all yer one's tactics), but eventually they decided I should win based on my initiative to point out a big pothole to the riders as they cycled by.

News of my win made it's way back, and as I jumped up and down shouting 'In your face' Monica looked at the pothole in disbelief. Ha ha - you can't win everything Marconi. Stick to your racing.

Well done to all the organisers and racers of the Leinster Road Championships.
It seemed like a very well organised, difficult route.
Huge respect for the women riders who, not even a week after racing in the 6 day Ras na mBan, gave this race a go.
Women's results: Melanie Spath (gold), Niamh Stephens (silver), Michelle O'Halloren (bronze).

For the record:
1. Monica is chatty and very funny, the time thankfully flew by in her company.
2. She does eat boiled potatoes from her jersey pocket, I saw it happen.
3. There was no such thing as the Leinster Marshalling championships 2013.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Waking up early

7.47am Saturday morning and I was wide awake.

If I got up now, instead of going off on my own, I could maybe make it to Joe Dalys to join one of Orwell's many groups.
So that's what I did.

Again it was a group of cyclists I didn't know, except for one of the other beginners who turned up - great to see her.
Two options - slower and shorter or faster and further.
I went slower and shorter, I had a night out planned which I didn't want to be tired for, so a nice 50k would be perfect.

93km later, I was home.
My own fault for choosing to call in on a friend near Roundwood instead of heading back with the others over Djouce, but even that route I think would have been as long.
The route with the group was good.
The coffee stop in Roundwood was good.
Except they didn't have any teacakes and I didn't get to finish my earl grey.

I did make it up the dreaded Calary hill/ Long Hill without stopping - my first time, a great feeling.
My third time up the hill, I knew how it rose and this helped hugely, I knew to keep taking it easy for longer and it worked.
Go me.


Perversely great cycle out to Bray after work tonight.
Heavy rainfall from start to finish, but the mood and energy was there for a long cycle.
Great when you do exactly what you want to do.

Within 5 minutes from work I hit the coast road, I say I hit, it hit me over and over, it's in such an awful state.
But the misty coastline was something else, and I was distracted from being angry at all the potholes to being mildly irritated.
Down along Seapoint Ave entering Dun Laoghaire and the grey, misty sea over at Sandycove looked like something from an old black and white film about murder and smuggling.

Cycled up the road to the cliffs at the 40ft then freewheeled down the hill by the Martello tower.
The rocky coast line here is stunning, the smell of the sea was so strong - the smell of the fish guts along Bulloch Harbour however was potent, it was a relief to get past.

Along Coliemore Road I passed where I used to set up my scope to look out at Dalkey island at the Roseate Terns, up around Vico Road and then completely stunning views across the bay from Killiney.
Killiney hill itself rose out of a cloud of mist and it felt like I was in China.

I cycled up Kiliney hill for the first time, it wasn't too bad going up, but coming down it in torrential rain was pretty awful.
Mindful that I was one skid away from a nasty fall, I burnt quite a bit of rubber braking as I descended.
Happy to get out of the hills, I got a bit of flat towards Shankhill and was able to peg it for a while.

Cycling into Shankhill there were long lines of traffic, all queing up with their wipers wiping and red lights glowing.
My cycle path was clear but I was being that sensible girl who cycles slowly next to traffic.
10 metres ahead of me someone didn't check behind before they got out of their car. and opened their car door  right in front of me.
At 17kph I had enough time to just make it through the tiny gap between the kerb and the door edge.
I was lucky, they were thoughtless and sorry, I was happy I wasn't wearing clipped in shoes, I certainly would have taken a tumble.
Safely into Bray I saw some people swimming out in the sea, I thought they were crazy, but then I was also the one out cycling in the pouring rain and as soaked as they were.

By Bray I was tired, I had yet to get myself back from Bray to Drimnagh so I started to think about what I could have for dinner.
That distraction worked and I was soon back in Dalkey, going up Merrion Ave, the canal and home.
54km on a rainy September night after work and it was a delight.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Rás na mBan September 2013 Ennis, Co. Clare

For the next 5 days (Wed 11th - Sunday 15th Sept) it's all about Rás na mBan, which I don't know how to say properly - but I know means Women's Race.

105 female national and local club cyclists (and support crews/ volunteers) from several countries, making up 21 teams - have made their way over to Ennis, Co Clare for 410km of cycling over 6 stages over 5 days.
The training that goes into being able to cycle such a distance - as a race, must be heart breaking and soul destroying.

They have a 64km stage tonight starting at 5pm (strange time?), 104km tomorrow, Team time trial Friday and Circuit race Friday, 90k round the Cliffs of Moher Saturday finishing in Ennis with the final 88km stage on Sunday.
Sounds like a lovely jaunt doesn't it.
Except for the 16 x Category 1,2 and 3 climbs the route organisers have thrown in, it might be.

Plus in typical fashion it is pouring rain and windy in Dublin - presumed worse over the West of Ireland (usually is) and some of the route has them next to the Atlantic ocean for added wind gusts.
Brave, brave women.

To follow:

Rás na mBan official website
Rás na mBan twitter feed
Caroline Martinez via Women's cycling News and

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Boston Spa/ Tadcaster

When my parents moved to Yorkshire 37 years ago, they moved to Boston Spa.
I went to playschool and infants there until we moved to Harrogate. I hadn't been to Boston Spa for years and years until today. 
It was strange rolling into the village, as always with childhood memories it was a lot smaller than I remembered - but exactly the same.
The main street was a lot busier, there were a lot more shops, I think there was only a newsagents when we were there.
But maybe that was the only place of importance - it sold sweets.

I saw our old house, playschool, I cycled round to see my old primary school - which seemed tiny! then cycled out towards Tadcaster, which I didn't realise was so close.
Had a little explore around there, then back to Boston Spa for cuppa and teacake, a lovely cycle done and back home for midday.

Harewood Hill - hello sheeps

Left for Boston Spa, right for Harewood House estate. On the way back I took a little trip up the road leading to Harewood estate.

Straight on for Boston Spa

The main street in Boston Spa, West Yorkshire. Used to walk from Church St (pictured) to the left of the photo to the shop for sweets.

Our old house, where I learnt to ride a bike without stabilisers.

My old playschool
I forgot all about this house until I saw it again - as a 5 year old I could never look at this house when passing, it scared me too much. It was haunted, bad/ evil people lived there (they didn't but in my head they did) and they'd be peering out of bottom corners of windows at night time. It was full of darkness and tormented spirits. 37 years on - it doesn't look much better, and it's opposite a church.

North Yorkshire is the biggest county in England I'll have you know.

Tadcaster tourist information

Tadcaster stone ('scuse the feet)

John Smiths Brewery Tadcaster. This building was beautiful, had a good ol cycle round.

John Smith originally started brewing for the mill workers around Tadcaster.

River Wharfe going through Tadcaster before it meets the Ouse near York.

Scarborough Fair? You want the 843 for that.
Can't remember the name of the place - good place to stop though with outdoor seating, Boston Spa. It was Irish butter fyi.

Little drinkipoos for the bike

Almscliffe Crag in the distance, where I was last week.

Thursday, 5 September 2013


I have just spent the last 6 days in London with Mum visiting the siblings who now all work and live down there.
It was great to be in London for more than a weekend, but god did we cover some mileage!
We walked and tubed it from daybreak to nightfall x 6.

Except for 57 minutes when I took a whirl on a Boris bike.

We had just finished dinner in Shoreditch (Pizza East- v tasty), Mum was hipster spotting.
'Is that one' she'd ask, looking over the top of her glasses, discreetly darting her eyes in the direction of an 18 yr old.
'Yes Mum, that's one', and she'd nod knowingly.
The family decided they were going for a drink, I spotted the line of Boris bikes and said I'd meet them in an hour.

Me and C tried these bikes in San Sebastian a good few years ago.
I remember it was quite scary, but we didn't know the Spanish city roads, so I reckoned it was time to give the rental bikes another go, they've become so popular around Dublin for commuting - I wanted to get to make friends with them.

I swiped my credit card, got the password print out, yanked my bike from its block and cycled from Shoreditch up Kingsland Rd, past Dalston, Stoke Newington and went up as far as a big Jewish area in South Tottenham, then headed back.

I'll be honest, it wasn't much fun.
The road, a straight road the whole way should have been a joy, but there were so many, many potholes and lumps and bumps I was being jarred constantly, not even the tractor thick tyres of the London bike could provide any defence.
Plus there was no cycle lane at all, surprising given the popularity of cycling in the areas I was passing through.

The Borris bike's saddle/ handlbars couldnt be pushed forward/ back for comfort unless you had an Allen key handy.
Which I didn't.
I realise these bikes are for light use, but it was uncomfortable from the get go.
Slipping forward on the saddle all the time gave me pain in my shoulders from having to push myself back on the seat to cycle, potholes and no cycle lane did not a happy cyclist make.

Despite the state of the roads I'd still definitely cycle everywhere if I lived in London.
The tube was great - but stifling, pretty claustrophobic, time consuming and I imagine costs a fortune each month.
Good for every now and then, but I know I'd get depressed having to tube it everyday.
Plus, if I cycled, I'd get to call into the 'Look Mum, No Hands!' bike cafe - which could only be a good thing.

My London Boris Bike

look mum no hands! - 49 Old St, London (near Barbican)

The workshop/ Coffee shop of look mum no hands

Coffee shop - look mum no hands

Great idea - look mum no hands

Rapha Shop, Brewer St London (near Piccadilly)

Rapha shop - London

Rapha Coffee shop - London

Lots of fixies around Dalston/ Stoke Newington

Museum of London

Exhibition at Museum of London, Aug 2013