Friday, 20 March 2009

Slam Dunk

If they weren't motivated for tomorrow's game, they are now. Thanks for that Warren. But really, what were you thinking?

I'm expecting a tight (in score) and open (in style) game, and I think we will prevail. There will be nerves & pressure, but they've been here before - as has Kidney - and when it comes down to it, we have better players man for man, and more to play for.

Enjoy the game lads, where are ye watching it? I'll be at home, trying to explain the ELV's to Ruby and Aster (Richenda already knows them...).

P.S. I heard a clip of a BOD sketch from The Emergency which will be broadcast Sat. morning @ 11:30, worth checking out perhaps.

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Ballinastoe MTB trail

For the record: Tom 1hr 30min, McG 1 hr 16 min

Right so having been in training since mid January for the April Welsh mountain bike trip, today's spin with McG and Paul would be a measure of how buggered I really was!

Ballinastoe is Ireland's most technical Coillte MTB trail (all designed by Dafydd Davis), much more so than anything in Ballyhoura. Having being riding forest roads in Waterford, the last time I had been on anything this technical was my only other trip to Ballinastoe at the end of May 2008. I did feel the difference, one does just not need the same level of concentration on non technical ground. I'm not sure there had been any more felling since my last visit but all the chopped trees had certainly been gathered and chopped.

The trail is 13.7km long with about 9km of singletrack with one decent boardwalk - which was a lot more fun that riding slippy boardwalks in a storm.

At the western edge of the trail it's well worth the 2 minute ride over to an overview Lake Tay and a great view of Lugnaquilla. Perfect spot for a picnic too.

Right behind this stopping point I got my first view of the Djouce boardwalk. This kind of infrastructure is a great development in Irish hill walking and long may it continue.

My wrist and hands were aching at the end, McG's were grand - I'm not sure how one can compete on the hills with a man who has biked to work every day for the last 4 years or something! I'm not too unhappy with 90 minutes when 2 hours is recommended by Coillte...ok grabbing at straws here!

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

McG gets it off his chest

Two bronzes in Euro indoors last weekend, and many other great performances - Ireland can compete to some degree at this level - but Worlds & Olympics seem beyond us now. Of course Mary Cullen should have had at least silver, beaten by an Ethiopian running for Turkey. Deja vu here, having already lost out on bronze in the Euro Cross Country, that time by a Kenyan running in Dutch colours. Most other sports have strict guidelines on international representation - Mafi played a sevens game for NZ - once! - and can never play for Ireland now. It's a shambles, no better than Sonia cheated out of the medals in the World Champs all those years ago....

Speaking of shambles, Gerald McCarthy finally steps down - his statement is well worth a read. It is mostly dignified & honest, with a few swipes too and parting shots - fair play. The Cork hurlers are a disgrace - really, who do they think they are? They wanted to be involved in choosing the manager, which they were. But what they really wanted was to pick the manager themselves, with no involvement from any other parties. I'm sure we'd all like to pick our boss. So then they strike, and refuse to talk to any mediator or enter any negotiations until McCarthy is ousted. I can only hope they have set Cork hurling back many years. Kilkenny will be laughing all the way to their 4th All-Ireland.

Kidney makes 4 changes - certainly some were expected, but no-one would have called these (even Harty?). Great to see him mix it up - this team is just as strong, and those coming in will be hungry and motivated to keep their places for the potential Grand Slam game in Wales. Scotland will be tough- remember the single point win 2 years ago? Out of jail that day. But they should prevail.

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Sunday Spin

Sometimes the weekend schedule only allows for a quick spin from home, and with my folks up to visit, this was one of those weekends. A sudden drop in temperature Saturday night, we'd already had some hail & sleet over breakfast, and the hills around were white. Packed & dressed accordingly, leaving the house in cold sunshine. Up the same lane I'd carried my board a few weeks ago - this time the weather was going to be even more varied. The clouds raced in bringing sleet, then hail - horizontal of course. Need I mention the wind? And just to spice things up, a few good claps of thunder. So, climbing suddenly didn't seem like such a good idea. But the upside was that with a mere 35 minutes investment, I was on top of 3 Rock. Not much hanging about here - it might have qualified as a blizzard at this stage - but enough time to appreciate the views - snow to the horizon on one side, Howth and the coast on the other. A quick snack, on with another layer, and then down the other side.

The handy thing about biking in snow is that there are wheel tracks to follow, and I decided to follow some into a trail I'd not spotted before. Nothing better than finding new trails. This one was gentle, winding through the pines, on a soft bed of needles and powder. Complete silence now, like the gliding of a board off-piste - nothing like it. Magic. From this, more tracks led to another new trail, this one much rougher and a bit of a white-knuckle ride. At the bottom, I encountered a "bombhole" with more tracks in and out. This is the kind of thing I just can't resist, and after a brief staring match, decided to go for it. These are never as hard as they look, and so it proved. A strategically placed tree was avoided - man and bike live to ride another day.

Back on the road, past the Blue Light - resisting its temptations - and rolled home. Sun shining again of course. Door to door just over the hour. Perfect.
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