Month: January 2007

Journalist breaks tradition, uses logic in criticism of cyclists

Adrian Fitch highlights a refreshingly intelligent article which criticises the urban cyclist for actual wrongs, unlike the steaming pile of manure from Erin Baker last year. It’s great to see a journalist putting even a modicum of thought into an anti-cycling rant.

Brian Hennigan had a wonderful rant against what he described as antisocial cyclist s in Tuesday’s Edinburgh Evening News.

He targeted:

  • Pavement cycling: “If you don’t have stabilisers on, the road is the only place we should find you whizzing along”.
  • Running red lights: “Apart from anything else, your invisibility to other road-users might just be proven in a way you did not envisage”.
  • Those who cycle where it is prohibited: “one day someone is going to get fed-up with your selfish behaviour and you will be amazed how far you can travel without a bicycle when someone jams a stick in your rear-wheel”.
  • Stealth ninja cyclists: “Cycling without lights at night is not some environmentally courageous way of showing how you and the owls are as one; it’s a way of being on a bicycle that says: “I don’t care about anyone else other than myself”.
  • And of course, helmets: “Anyone who thinks pedalling au naturale is fine deserves whatever non-indicating delivery van might lie in their future”.

It is a decently written rant. I’d agree with Brian on almost every point excepting the helmets issue. I think it’s not a simple argument, and I so believe it’s up to people to decide for themselves whether wearing £25 worth of potentially life-saving plastic is really that much bother. For me, there’s no question 🙂

Another poor Leinster performance, another 40 point victory

Even the die-hard Munster fan must admit that the Leinster back-line is something special to behold.

Last Friday I was in Donnybrook for the Celtic Magners League game against the Ospreys . Leinster put in a poor performance, never getting out of second gear.

After conceding a really early try you might wonder about their resolution… then Kearney , try. O’Driscoll , try. Half-time respite for the Ospreys, then… Hickey , try. Kearney, try (magic). O’Driscoll, try. All within 9 minutes. Back off the gas, make a few substitutions.

Up in the stand we wave goodbye to the nice fellows from Swansea who were sitting in front of us. Subs caused lack of concentration, concede 2 tries – panic? Hell no, let’s score a few more. Only got the one more for Gleeson and beaten by the final whistle in the search for their seventh try. Final score: 45-22. Awesome , in the true “shock and awe” sense of the word.

Fast forward to today’s bitter cold and windswept Donnybrook and a Heineken Cup visit from Edinburgh . A guaranteed place in the next round at stake. A strong Edinburgh team visiting. A capacity 6,400 stadium (!).

4th minute: Kearney, try. Period of good Edinburgh pressure but not converted to points. 21st minute: Phillipe “Dr. Phil” Contepomi , try. Lovely play from the Edinburgh back-line to put Southwell in, try! Couple of penalties from ” The Doctor “.

After the break, an inattentive pass from Leinster disappointingly gives Cairns a score in the corner after some good pressure from the Cappuccino Cowboys. Not to worry – Horgan try. From their 10m line, Keogh , try. Horgan, try. Horgan, try (the hat-trick). Contepomi man of the match with a try, 5 conversions and 3 penalties (, but D’Arcy was up there with some scintillating breaks. Final score: 49-10

A poor Leinster performance , nothing convincing on display.

Treacherous roads, trails and beaches of Mayo

Disclaimer: this post may contain excuses, whining and blatant advertising, along with some of the most beautiful scenery in western Europe.
Nephin mountains in the west of Ireland

So I took quite a few pictures down in Mayo over the Christmas but I’ve been slow to update and tidy up my flickr account to a point where I’m not ashamed to link to it! Here are three photo sets you might find interesting.

Around the mountain, through the forest and down the rocky road

The 23rd of December was looking like a decent day in the midst of a stormy late December, so it seemed like a good idea for Dad and I to take out the mountain bike s for a spin. I bought him a Giant Boulder back in August, like every good son should, and he’s become an addict, beating me in mileage since August quite easily, like every good dad should.

A 12 mile trail around the bottom of Nephin Beg. A tough trail on hardpack forest roads with some serious climbs and a couple of crazy descents. I was hanging on for dear life on the second last, hitting upward of 32mph and realised that the trail surface was completely washed away by storms. Great fun, and as much work as a 30 mile road trip, easy.

My dad beats me

Earie morning along the ShannonFiguratively speaking of course. Never should have bought him that bike.

Our next trip was the day after Boxing DSt. Stephen’s Day – we had a long road trip planned, from the River Shannon on the borders of Leinster back into Mayo. Our planned route was around 47 miles with a potential bonus 20 miles if we were still up for it at that point.

Dad was again on his Giant Boulder MTB, but this time he swapped out his knobbly tyre’d wheels with a second set of spare wheels which have faster gearing and Deore hubs incidentally… courtesy of his favourite (and only) son. I was on my lovely Surly Cross Check .

He beat me, because as you’ll notice in the 2nd picture of the set, he’s cleverly wearing the under-helmet head warmer that I bought him, but I decided I’d be stylish and omit mine. It was a fairly mild day and if it did get colder I’d notice and put mine on too.

Five hours and one excruciating headache later I was reaching into my pannier for my new Thermos flask (thanks Dad!) of tea, and hoping that would help with the brain freeze.

In the end we got to Claremorris just fine, despite going half-way around a large hill, turning back because it looked to be getting steeper, and having our detour take us up over the hilltop – D’OH!

Following in the Footsteps of the Four Famous Flannerys

The interesting thing about the route we followed in the road trip to Charlestown is that it’s almost identical to the route that John Mulligan took on foot. John who?

John Mulligan , a close friend of my family’s, has released a new book called ” Following in the Footsteps of the Four Famous Flannerys ” (Amazon UK 8.69) This book details the journey of the four more than 150 years ago, and John’s retracing of their route in modern day.

John and my father have walked the same route as the famous Flannerys. Dad and I were cycling the final stretch of the journey that he had yet to complete.

All of the royalties and profits from the sale of this book are being donated to the Aurelia Trust a non-profit Irish NGO that works to improve the lives of abandoned and at-risk children in Eastern Europe.

West Mayo, next stop New York

Celtic cross in Belmullet, Co. MayoWhen I said “some of the most beautiful scenery in western Europe” I meant it – west Mayo is a fantastically beautiful place. Of course I’m not claiming to have captured that scenery in these pictures, but I’ve tried. These are pictures from walk on the beach in Belmullet on the west coast of Ireland on Stephen’s Day.

Blatant advertising

Yes, as if that wasn’t enough already – here’s the book information again!

Books on Amazon UK

Four Flannerys website

Bicycle blogs – my B-list

A current meme amongst cycling bloggers is to post a “B-list” of the bicycle related blogs they regularly read. I’m subscribed to quite a few RSS feeds using Flock (you guys might see my reader on your feed log). Here’s the list, with deep-links if possible.

You gotta respect Tom:

And a couple of bike related forums I read regularly:

There’s a few I read that I haven’t subscribed to, I’ll add them up as I remember them.

Update: and there are some I’ve subscribed to and didn’t list – how careless of me!

Rugby video roundup 2006

Here’s my summary of the rugby year in video, albeit with an ever so slightly Irish bias. Running total: 20 clips and counting.

Six Nations 2006

Brian O'Driscoll - from eoghanmcn on flickr France won the competition on points difference over Ireland , who again win the Triple Crown by beating Wales , Scotland and England . Ita-who?

  • Ireland 26 v 16 Italy
  • France 43 v 31 Ireland – almost the greatest comebacks in history, if only the game had been 15 minutes longer
  • France 31 v 6 England Youtube video highlights
  • Ireland 31 v 5 Wales
  • Ireland 15 v Scotland 9
  • England 24 v Ireland 28 YouTube video highlights (which also includes Wales – France)

Yes, unfortunately in 2006, there were only 6 games played.

2006 Six Nations Championship on wikipedia and on BBC Sport.

Celtic League 2006 :

The league went down to the last round with Ulster and Leinster both in contention. With Leinster’s victory over Edinburgh and with Ulster losing against the Ospreys, it looked like the title would go to the Dubs but David Humphreys had other ideas. He kicked a last minute 40 metre drop goal to take the game and the title for Ulster.

This years competition, now with the title sponsorship from Magners, started with Ulster the team to beat. They’re still leading the table with only 3 losses, including losing to Leinster the famous “Last Stand” – the actual last game in the old Lansdowne Road. That victory put Leinster second. Here’s a moment of genius from Brian O’Driscoll in that game:

Heineken Cup 2006

HC Final - from alexcjones on flickrEven if you’re dead, you probably still know that Munster won the 2006 Heineken Cup, their 28th attempt in recent history.

They beat Biarritz (who went on to become French champions) 23 points to 19 in the fantastic Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, which seems to be turning out to be just as good a hunting ground for Irish teams as it’s predecessor was.


Ireland tour New Zealand

Another “nearly” game – two stupid mistakes cost us dearly. We have still to record our first victory over them. Let it be October 20th 2007, may it please you, oh rugby Gods!

The AB’s didn’t make the mistake of underestimating us in the 2nd game.

Autumn International Series

I couldn’t leave out this fantastic television ad for the series! I wouldn’t have left out that fantastic television ad but for the fact that the buggers had it removed. What kind of idiot broadcaster demands removal of an advertisement for itself?

A master class of a first half from Ireland, utterly destroying the Australia ns while playing into the weather in the first half. Sweet, sweet victory to lord over the Masters of Gloat from Down Under.

Try of the Year?

And just to shift gears for a minute, I’ll have to agree with the South Africa commentators who suggest that this is probably the try of 2006. Well, it’s definitely the individual try of the year… a 20 phase try from you know who might also be in the running!

Bonus videos

I was so disappointed that the cool ad for the Autumns was pulled, maybe this will make up somewhat… comparison of rugby and soccer WC finals:

Ok, that’s it for the moment. Not a bad year for Irish rugby – here’s hoping 2007 is a step (or two) better, eh Tom?

Leave a comment with video links for other games you think I should add, or in the highly unlikely chance that I’ve made a mistake with match details.