cycling – Sport Crazy https://OFFLINEZIP.wpsho You’re never a loser until you quit trying. Wed, 12 Aug 2015 16:54:08 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Nearly there http://OFFLINEZIP.wpshonearly-there/ Sun, 10 May 2015 08:18:40 +0000 It’s the last of the 14 days of Cycle Against Suicide, and my 13th day on the bike after missing one day out for work. We’ve come from Belfast to Malin Head to Mizen Head and back up the midlands spreading the message “Everyone feels shit sometimes and that’s ok. It’s also ok to tell someone” (alright, alright, the official version is “It’s ok not to feel ok, and it’s absolutely ok to ask for help”) 🙂

This year on the cycle I’ve felt more of an undercurrent of negativity than last year. That’s partly because of pretty nasty weather conditions, and I think partly due to organisational issues – there’s a lot of familiar faces missing. But even with that bit of negativity going on, the message is way too big, too positive and that steamrollers over everything.

When the long orange Cycle Against Suicide train rolls into town the local population are invariably out in force clapping and cheering us on. The local schools have made a tremendous effort with kids standing out in the cold holding orange balloons and ribbons for 30, 40 minutes before we arrive.

Last year I had a couple of incidents where I spoke with some folks and I think they were helped by message this cycle is spreading. This year, finally, I had another incident like this. I spoke to a guy quietly in a pub corridor maybe only for 2 minutes. He shared with me that he had been very close to taking his own life. He never heard of the Cycle Against Suicide, but he’d be along in the morning with his whole family to cheer us on and he’d be volunteering next year. I could see tears forming as he thanked me for doing the cycle. That makes any negativity worth bearing.

 Here’s me, singing away to my heart’s content on the Caha Pass, secure in the knowledge that no one was anywhere nearby.

Except Joe Dixon, stealth photographer, and the 20 people just around the next corner.

Giro De Baile http://OFFLINEZIP.wpshogiro-de-baile/ Mon, 25 Aug 2014 09:05:55 +0000 North Mayo Sea Stack by Nick Brooker
The North Mayo Sea Stack – photo by Mayo photographer Nick Brooker, used with permission

I wrote about the Westportif in my last post, and got a reply in the comments from a guy called Mairtin who suggested I do a new sportive taking place in Ballycastle on the north Mayo coastline. I’ve been up there quite a bit and I know just how spectacular the area is.

The “Giro De Baile an Chaisil”, to give it its full name, is a cycle sportive hosted by the new Baile an Chaisil Cycling Club. It has three different route lengths, 130km, 60km and a 10km family route, bringing the cyclists to some of the most amazing scenery on the entire coastline of Ireland.

It sounded good to me, so I signed up figuring I’d do the 130km since I managed a 100km spin fairly handily the previous week. In fact I even rounded up a gang to do it, four of us in total, two doing the 130 and two doing the 60km route.

Giro de Baile - registration
We’re smiling because we’re not outside in the rain! Yet!

The morning of the sportive the weather started out bad and as we drove north it got even worse. Outside the registration hall it was just miserable, with lashing rain and an unkind wind coming in off the Atlantic. To his eternal shame, one of our group cried off, citing the fairly valid reasoning that “I’d rather be inside in front of the fire”. Our entreaties that he should man up fell on deaf ears, and then there were three.

After registering, picking up some free bars and fruit, and a very welcome cup of coffee, we could prevaricate no more, time to head out into the wind and rain.

Giro de Baile start - still from Thomas Boyle video on Facebook
Giro de Baile start – still capture from Thomas Boyle video on Facebook

It’s times like this I really wish I had gotten around to replacing my shoe rain covers after the last set fell apart back in May.

At the start the 200 cyclists brave enough to stick with their original plan were somewhat protected by a few trees making a shelter from the worst of the wind. Once we were on the way and off the crest of the hill in Ballycastle the wind died down quite a bit. The rain didn’t let up much but once you’re moving and warm it really doesn’t bother you so we were fine with it.

The first segment was on back roads bringing us the ~15km east to Palmerstown Bridge, where General Humbert and his French army had passed 216 years and one week before us.

Onto a well surfaced regional road, and with a tailwind, the 5km to Killala passed quickly. We paused at a very well provisioned food-stop for tea, coffee, sandwiches, fruit, cake, and Yorkie bars! Thank you for a super feed station!

Giro Alastair
I’m smiling because it’s raining!

Onward toward Crossmolina, we were midway down the 60km group, and suspicious that most of the 130k-ers hadn’t stopped at all. No worries – we’ll catch them, unless…

Mechanical! A bloody awkward puncture that needed a couple of goes to fix it. As more bikes streamed by it looked less and less likely that we’d be doing the longer route, at least within any reasonable time limit. By the time we were back on the road we were only just ahead of the broom wagon.

North Mayo Coast - photo by Mayo photographer Nick Brooker, used with permission
North Mayo Coast – photo by Mayo photographer Nick Brooker, used with permission

Passing some well marshalled junctions (intermission: thank you, all those who volunteered to brave the rain and wind to marshal us safely on our way), we arrived at the outskirts of Crossmolina, where we had a decision. Straight on to attempt the 130km route, or take the right hand turn towards showers, hot drinks and dry clothes. I asked the marshal how long gone the last of the 130 group were: “Quite a while.”

Discretion is the better part of valour. One can’t argue with Shakespeare, right?

Turning away from Crossmolina and certain pain, we took on the undulating R315 back north towards Ballycastle for the final third of our curtailed route. This last segment was surprisingly pleasant despite the hills – the higher banks and walls along much of the route protected us from the wind and even the rain eased up on us quite a bit.

The final right-hander onto the rising main street of Ballycastle and my companions and former friends abandoned me, sprinting for the finish line and maximum points. Two hundred metres and nearly seven minutes later I finished the Giro de Baile in the rain.

Giro Alastair - rub down
I’m smiling because we’re out of the rain! Also – awesome massage – thank you!

Back inside the registration hall we had enough tea and sandwiches to keep a hundred Mrs. Doyle’s happy. The showers were a kilometre away at the GAA grounds, so I skipped that in favour of a very welcome leg massage from the sports masseuse on duty. Very impressive, Ballycastle, very impressive.

In our dry clothes, looking out at the rain, we drank our tea. You 130km folks still out there, we’re thinking of you.

Giro de Baile - bikes loaded

All in all, an enjoyable day.

I am a tiny bit disappointed for the folks up in north Mayo who did such an incredible job running a very well organised event, because I think the weather literally did rain on their parade. They have amazing views up there and didn’t have the opportunity to show it off.

To show you some of what we missed seeing on the day I’ve included a couple of photos from Mayo photographer Nick Brooker – thanks Nick for letting me include these.

Nevertheless, the Giro de Baile folks kept up their end of the bargain, setting up and running a completely new cycling event – hosted by a new club – and doing an exceptional job of it first go! Thank you all, and see you next year!

Westportif 2014 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpshowestportif-2014/ Sun, 20 Jul 2014 20:34:25 +0000 Sorcha, Alastair and Paul at the finish of Westportif 2014
Sorcha, Alastair and Paul at the finish of Westportif 2014

I did the Westportif cycle on Saturday. Looking at the crowds at the start in Westport, my guess is there were around 1000 people taking part, approximately 400 each for the 160km and 80km, with 200 or so doing the 40km.

I did the 80. I would liked to have done something slightly longer – maybe 120 or so – but as someone who doesn’t get out on the bike half enough 160km is outside my range – at least within any time limit that they’d find reasonable (I’d be bringing lights!) 🙂

Happening to be near the front at the start, I took off with a mixed group of club riders from Westport out to Louisburgh. I had no real intention beforehand of riding with a group or pushing my pace but it just fell that way and I was happy to get towed along around 28-32km/h for a while. I did have a minor “mechanical” – my Brooks saddle ~2mm too high on my borrowed BH Prisma. Should have taken it out for a longer spin before borrowing it – c’est la vie.

Stopped in Louisburgh and sorted out the saddle at the small feed station – which seemed to be located just a bit early for most riders who just passed it. I got back on another group that was going by for a short while but the legs were not feeling good at all after being stretched a bit much so I decided to back it off and take it easy for a while, make sure I was ok for the whole day.

Spent some time on the way down into the Doolough Pass chatting with a few folks, stopped and took a picture for a couple in front of Doo Lough itself. After that I was riding solo for a bit and using my particular advantage on the downhills (being 115kg does provide *some* help on descents). About 7k out of Leenane I started chatting with Barry, one of the many Integrity Solutions folks there, he had a borrowed hybrid with what seemed like stuck gear cables and was riding it single speed. Better him than me – the climbs weren’t crazy but it was nice to have a full range of gears. Luckily he was in pretty good shape, had a climbers physique even if he didn’t cycle much.

We were a bit confused at no sign of a feed station at the Delphi Lodge, but we figured there would have been marshals directing us in if it had been there. Did spot a couple of bikes in there when we rolled past, but not enough to look like an official stop (I think it was changed shortly before the event). I stuck with Barry for a while having a chat, looking at the view of Killary Harbour, especially the 160k folks who were heading on to the west across the water from us. I left him when we hit the bigger downhill coming down the fjord and eventually came around the tip of it and rolled into Leenane for the food stop.

I had arrived too late and missed the sandwiches, but they more than made up for it in buns, brack and bananas. Just before I left we had a sandwich delivery! I could only manage one 🙂 Thank you to all the volunteers there who fed & watered us! I took a good long break in Leenane, maybe 45 mins or so, worried about my legs feeling sore earlier, so wanted to give them a chance. Good to chat with my fellow riders, and I met a few more bedecked in the orange Cycle Against Suicide jerseys, including Sorcha and Paul – who I later met for the photo above at the finish.

I left the feed station almost last, maybe 5-10 riders behind me. Back on the road I was feeling really good, figured the earlier soreness was mostly due to the saddle height issue, so I started to push on and passed a few folks. Came across a few newbies who seemed to be struggling a little, so tried to help out a wee bit with moral support. Gave one lady an energy gel and some towing practice and had a chat for 3 or 4k. Pushed on up, and had a chat with a few more folks (including another orange jersey – Veronica). About 12-14k out I decided to finish up with a bit more speed and even averaged 40km/h on the flat for a kilometre or two, which is way above my regular cruising speed so well happy with that.

Not sure what my clock was for the “80km” – which appeared to be more like ~85km – as afterwards I did the Greenway to Newport which was a nice warm down, finishing the day with 102km total in just under 6 hours (moving).
Some numbers from the trip
I thought Westportif was very well organised & marshalled. That route is awesome, even jealousy inspiring for other clubs I’d say. A slightly longer distance would have been nice, say 100-115, but if that’s the biggest complaint I’m sure they can live with it.

Later Saturday evening I came back into Westport for the crit & a had a pint on the street with one of the other Cycle Against Suicide folks who is a local (Ray!). Missed the junior crit, the seniors were warming up when I arrived. It was awesome to see the racers absolutely flying around town at near sprint speeds for ~45 minutes. Massive respect for those guys, it’s proper hardcore, full on riding around the streets and giving it everything. There were even a few doing it who had done the 80 earlier, how they managed I do not know 🙂

Thank you to all the organisers and volunteers of Westportif 2014 and the criterium, see you next year!

Howth spin on new Bowery http://OFFLINEZIP.wpshohowth-spin-on-new-bowery/ Tue, 17 Feb 2009 09:13:05 +0000 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpsho?p=248 I took my Giant Bowery, currently singlespeed, up Howth Head Sunday evening. I was a bit concerned with how the Bowery would go on the climb, but I want to get a couple of goes up Howth in before I turn it fixed gear (because I love high speed descents).

Here’s the route map thanks to Gmap Pedometer.


By the numbers:

  • Distance: 28.8km (17.9 miles)
  • Time: ~ 1 hour 20 mins
  • Average HR: 135
  • Maximum HR: 170 (took it easy!)
  • Calories: ~ 1149 (estimate from Polar)

Picture from Dad of a spin we had out last Friday.

Cycle Tour – Loire Valley, France http://OFFLINEZIP.wpshocycle-tour-loire-valley-france/ Wed, 17 Sep 2008 13:26:40 +0000 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpsho?p=191

Brief update with details from my cycling & camping tour to Loire Valley in August 08

940km total
15 days cycling
63km/day average
~40kg gear on bike

Tour photo set on Flickr

Dublin to Athlone cycle via Royal Canal http://OFFLINEZIP.wpshodublin-to-athlone-cycle-royal-canal/ Sun, 14 Sep 2008 14:41:24 +0000 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpsho?p=189 I intended to cycle to Galway last Thursday, the route was the canal towpaths out of town as far as Moyvalley bridge, then along the old N4 to Galway, hopefully getting as far as Ballinasloe, Oranmore or even Galway city. Instead of starting at 6am like I intended, I actually started at 8am, which really hurt on the far end. I made it as far as Athlone before I ran out of time (I was getting a lift at the far end). Realistically, I could have made it to Ballinasloe, but not Galway city itself. (Lesson: go to bed before 3am the night before.)

My Surly Crosscheck at the 12th Lock
The canal route was pleasant, and I don’t regret cycling it, but now that I’ve done it, I think I’ll stick to a road route in future – the canal section was just too slow and wasted a lot of time early in the day. If I was on my hardtail my average speed would have been a lot better on the canal section (but not on the road ) I did take quite a few photos, but had the camera in my bar bag so that didn’t slow me up much at all. Will post all 4 videos I took while moving onto YouTube, first here: Royal Canal

Flickr set with all pictures is here

Fuel strategy was good. I made an enormous pasta bake the evening before (enough for 6 people ), ate it for dinner that night, and for breakfast, lunch and dinner on the cycle. Had 1.5l of DIY sports drink (oj/water/salt/sugar), and a camelbak of plain water. Bought some sweets (see pics) towards the 100km mark when I thought it might prevent bonk, though I was still going strong – increasing speed in fact!

The route was along the towpaths from Croke Park as far as Kilcock, then after that I was on the old N4 for most of the way. I’ve thought a lot about the next route that I’ll do, Dublin-Mayo, I’ll write up a new post for that in a couple of weeks.

All videos will be here after YouTube processes them

By the numbers

Distance: 133km
Time: 7 hours 40 mins
Avg: 17.3 km/h (approximately 12-13 km/h on the canals, 21-22 on the road)
Mechanical: 1 (broken front fender after going over a branch)
KCals (according to HRM): 6557
Average HR: 126
Max HR: 163

Rockin at the Neuchatel Sevens http://OFFLINEZIP.wpshorockin-at-the-neuchatel-sevens/ Mon, 12 May 2008 08:31:19 +0000 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpsho?p=183 I had a fantastic weekend in Neuchatel for the annual Rugby Sevens tournament, just a quick note to say thanks to Le Sept Arverne, a bunch of really cool guys who I played with all weekend. Chicken Run!!

Get in shape fast – month of pain http://OFFLINEZIP.wpshoget-in-shape-fast-month-of-pain/ Sun, 26 Aug 2007 17:50:27 +0000 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpshocycling/get-in-shape-fast-month-of-pain/ I recently wrote about fitness and work life and running a business. I also made a promise over on my search engine marketing blog that during the month of September I’m going to post one blogging tip per day as a “penance” for my lack of posting over there recently.

I’ve noticed a dramatic increase in my body fat and weight over the last 12 months and it’s past time I rectified matters. I measured a fantastic 110.8kg today — 244lbs or 17.5 stone in old money. Wow. I’m normally around 92kg or 14.5 stone. Time for a change 🙂

So similar to my blogging pledge, during the month of September I’m hoping to put a serious dent into that figure. Not by crash dieting or anything stupid like that, but just by healthy eating and a significant amount of exercise every day. I’ll report back here at months end and post up for the record how I got on.

Cycling routes in Dublin city http://OFFLINEZIP.wpshocycling-routes-in-dublin-city/ Fri, 17 Aug 2007 13:09:15 +0000 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpshocycling/cycling-routes-in-dublin-city/ Interesting one for people looking for cycling routes in Dublin – a guy, obviously called Dick O’Brien, has listed about 30 cycling routes from Dublin city centre. They’re listed on and include route maps, distance and amount of climbing:

Fair play to you for the work in adding all those!

Suggest a WordPress theme? http://OFFLINEZIP.wpshosuggest-a-wordpress-theme/ Thu, 09 Aug 2007 02:24:31 +0000 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpshohealth-fitness/suggest-a-wordpress-theme/ I had to move Sport Crazy’s hosting recently due to some technical issues. I had seriously customised my previous WordPress theme for search engine optimisation and as it happens the backup I made of my customised theme is corrupt – d’oh!

So my options are to reinstall the original theme and make some changes, or look for a new theme to work off.

I think I’ll go with the latter – so I’m looking for your suggestions! I’m interested in finding a decent looking theme. SEO optimisation would be a nice bonus, but I can add it myself if that’s not there already.

Please, if you know of any cool looking themes that might suit a sports blog, or if you really like some sports site design, let me know and I’ll take a look!