Thursday, 18 June 2009

Waterford city trails

Today was Irish Bike to work day but with the torrential this morning I wendied out. Rime to put the balance right with an evening ride.

After a 4.5 hour Yugma conference with San Francisco finished at 20.30, I wanted to clear the head and taking advantage of the great long evenings, 40 minutes later I was on the bike. Trying to follow McG's example and get a weekly evening ride in, I've been linking up trails I've been walking with Malie by the river and exploring more too. After 8 minutes on the road I'm tucking down into some gorgeous singletrack through Goffs Woods by the River Suir. This only lasts 2 or 3 minutes but leads onto a tasty paved track around the King's Channel peninsula. Past the spot where I recently had a picture taken with John Gormley.

I was promoting Waterford bringing the River Suir back to the people with local election green candidate, Maria Raftis-Kennedy, and she had an opportunity to show John Gormley one thing and decided to go with the river walk trail I was promoting.

However the proposed linear river walk is blocked in a number of places by private residences, including a jetty - e.g. at the west end of Goffs woods, where I started the singletrack tonight is a fence which has been erected for some time, completely blocking the trail.

Actually the Waterford City council have included in the last few city development plans, a riverside “corridor” from the Marina Hotel out to the far reaches of Waterford Castle island. Indeed looking at the current plan it lays out an objective in section 2.4.5 “ To provide for a riverside Walk and cycleway along the southern bank of the Suir from Canada Street to Blenheim”

But I digress. Onto some more nice track through the trees leads onto the approach road for the Waterford Castle Island ferry. I wave at the captain who waves back, for the first time I am the only one on board.

A short 100m off the ferry and I am onto a perfect trail through the trees, immediately on entering the birds are in full song and it reminds me of entering the rain forests in New Zealand, no birds there just an overriding sense of peace. A short section thought the trees on the south side of the island and then up on the west for a bit before it runs out at the golf course and I turn around. Back on the mainland I pass the road I went up last Wednesday night, and ended up with a bloody knee after going over the handlebars riding blind on a short steep bit of singletrack I came across.

I tried another road and this lead me into another section of the track I had walked with Malie. I was on dirt now and passed a short steep dirt drop coming out from some trees above. I kept going 'til the trail ran out in Bleinheim and checked the computer, 10K. Coming back I saw some kids disappear at the side of the fence and turned back to try that way. It lead me to the top of the drop off. I stopped for a look. It was too steep to walk down, bugger it, I'll drop it.....should have lowered my saddle, need to move the quick release off my hard tail. It was the weirdest endo ever. My back wheel was in the air, bike pointing vertically down and my shoe came out of the pedal and as the bike momentarily stopped my toes were in the spokes of the front wheel. Then I came forward and fell on my, now in ice, knee.

The kids must have heard something and appeared shouting down are you all right? I'm grand I said, I just hurt my goolies. Damn that crossbar. A couple of minutes later I was back on the bike and noticed the break lever was pointing straight up!

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Stretch in the Evenings

You've just got to love these long summer evenings, and I've been trying to get out for a midweek pedal every week. So last night, left home at 9 for a quick spin. I had in mind to check out a new (walking) trail I'd spotted last time out. It was about half way through my loop, at the highest point. A new 400 m. boardwalk through the trees to an unremarkable peak called Cruagh Mountain. The walkway was built with railway sleepers, two in parallel, climbing with a step more or less on each pair of sleepers. In other words, it wasn't possible to ride up.

So a 10 minute push & lift brought me to the top. Obviously the intention was to turn around and ride it straight down again. Obviously keeping an eye out for any poor walkers who might be about, but I hadn't seen a single person since leaving the house. A couple of tricky corners, maybe a bit too fast here and there, but managed to make it down without stepping off or catapulting into the bog below. I was also counting the steps as I went - I suppose it would have been easier to do so on the way up. 110, for the record. Great buzz, have to try that again. A prime spot for some youtube moments using the new helmet headcam we brought to Wales.

Downhill all the way home now, and noticing that the air was thick with what I first thought was drizzle. But I soon realised that rain doesn't itch and that the entire forest was literally swarming with tiny flies. It was a warm, humid evening, and it seemed that every midge in the Dublin mountains had decided to hatch all at once. Thankfully, I had my Sliders to hand - yellow lenses already in place - and popped them on. In general, handy for protecting the eyes from twigs and branches when in the trees.

It's not unusual to see deer around here, usually small sikas - especially at sunset. But nearly ran over a big stag, just standing in the middle of the track - big antlers on him. A brief staring match ensued, before he thought better of messing with me and scaled a fence, bounding away. No more than a minute later, a fox ran across straight in front of me.

An eventful night in the hills. Enough reason to post a blog? Why not....

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

The madness must end

In 1992, Sir Alex bought Keano for £3.75m from Brian Clough. Now Real Madrid have bought Ronaldo from United for £80m. Man City can buy anyone for cash and double their wages. The madness has to stop!

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Federer on his own

He did it!! Roger Federer won the French open. There is no doubt that Federer will win another grand slam and have the all-time record, which he now shares with Sampras (14), on his own.

Federer has collected his 14 major championships in 40 grand slam tournaments at the age of 27. Sampras beat Andre Agassi in the 2002 US Open final at 31 in his last match and 52nd grand slam.

Pete Sampras - "What he's done over the past five years has never, ever been done – and probably will never, ever happen again. Regardless if he won there or not, he goes down as the greatest ever. This just confirms it." (source : Guardian)

Federer still has records to chase. The ultimate I suspect will be the golden career slam, adding the Olympic singles title at Wimbledon in 2012. Federer will be 31 then. Agassi won his last Grand slam in Australia, when he was 32. Sampras and Connors won the US Open at 31. After that the only record remaining is to win all 4 grand slams in the same year, like Laver (63 and 69) and Budge.

With Nadal on the scene I wouldn't have thought these additional feathers in his cap possible, but with patellar tendonitis having reared it's head for Nadal, one of sports greatest rivalries might be denied it's expected ongoing culminating battles.

Nadal (seeing a specialist in Barcelona) did not watch the final. "I will send Roger my congratulations," he said. "He deserves to win it more than anybody else." (source : Guardian)

Friday, 5 June 2009

Laver, Perry, Emerson, Budge, Agassi....

Perhaps the writing was on the wall. A couple of weeks ago, Federer, who hadn't won a title all year and had lost five straight matches to Rafael Nadal, including the first major of the year, the Australian Open final in January, beat Nadal on clay to win in Spain.

Last Sunday, 31 May 2009, Nadal was beaten for the very first time at the French Open by 24 year old Swede Robin Söderling, in his 32nd game there. It was the first time he was beaten in a clay court five setter after winning the previous 48. Söderling is still on course to meet Federer in the final, provided both of them win their semi finals.

All of a sudden Federer, who in last year's final with Nadal won only four games, sees his chance to become the sixth player in history to win all four grand slam events. Joining Pete Sampras on 14th grand slams is entirely secondary at this point.

Allez Roger!

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