Sunday, 27 December 2009

Ballinastoe Bruiser

With most folks out of town for the holidays, there was only one other eejit up for a post-Xmas spin to Ballinastoe in Co. Wicklow. It's the only MTB park in Leinster, and I hadn't been in months. Malcolm - Richenda's brother - is a roadie by trade, but not too shabby on the knobblies either. We knew it was going to be cold, so it was balaclavas, ski gloves and layers on at the car park, as a quick snow flurry came through. By coincidence, Richenda's father Roger and other brother, and their crew - the 'Green Monks' - came upon us as we were gearing up and headed off up the track. Hopefully we'd catch up and give them a scare later - the cheek of them, hiking in a mountain-bike park.

So off we went, and weren't 50m. in when I noticed Malcolm and bike on the ground. Not unusual, but was surprised how quickly he'd come off, even for him. Was in mid-chuckle when my bike spun 90 degrees and I was off quicker than I knew what was happening. Half stood up, but the feet went from under me and I was down again, this time flat on my front and cracking my cheekbone off the ground. By now I'd noticed the 1/2 inch layer of sheet ice across the track. Aaaaahhh. Treacherous and completely unridable. This was going to be the shortest spin in history. Back to the car?

We decided to have a go at the single-track instead, that is to try the route in reverse. It was OK to start, then more and more icy patches, not snow which would have been fine. The higher we went the more Malcolm was compelled to get to the top and in fairness we were getting the hang of it now and it seemed worse lower down for some reason. Lots of walkers around, not a single biker yet. Hmmm.

Got to the highest point of the day, having decided to pass on the topmost loop. But still about 600m elevation, and rode out to the viewing point at Pier Gates for great views of Luggala and Lough Tay (the Guinness family estate). Wind was howling and bitterly cold here, no hanging about now. The boardwalks up to Djouce were iced over - surely the Monks hadn't come up here? That looked like them up higher, but we couldn't be sure.

Down now for the next two trails, singletrack - in the trees was fine - no snow or ice. But out in the open, and away from the sun, it was just an ice rink. Climbing was always going to be easier in these conditions. 100% concentration needed, keep the wheels turning, easy on the brakes, no sharp turns or you lost the front wheel. Another silly spill, nice bump on the left shin. Back to the wider forest track and one last climb before the drop for the carpark. Edge to edge was glistening, but still easier to ride than walk having tried the latter.

Came across our first biker of the day, on his own - nutter. Now we were back on the original trails, in reverse so we knew what was ahead. It was straightforward enough and made it back in one piece. Bruised, battered bodies, and happy to be in one piece. 'Enjoyed' is probably too strong a word. We now watched a couple of groups heading off - most looking hopelessly ill-prepared, some even without helmets (jaysus) and watched the carnage at the same spot we'd spilled earlier, having ignored and laughed off our warnings.

Met Roger later that evening - he was the only old-timer in his crew to make it up Djouce, and having made it back down he spilled at the last hurdle literally yards from safety - where we'd creased ourselves hours before. He mentioned he'd be sleeping on one side for a week or two. A tough old boot, they don't make 'em like they used to...

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Women's world champ beats Men's world champ

The women's world snooker champion, Reanne Evans, beat the men's world snooker champion, John Higgins, 4-3, in the six ball world snooker championship in Killarney, Ireland.

John wasn't firing on all cylinders after the week he's just had but you have to take advantage. This is one of my best ever wins. John is world champion, provisional world number one and will always be remembered as one of snooker's greatest players. I was pleased with how I finished it off. There were a lot of people watching but that helped me to play well rather than put me under pressure.
Yahoo Sports

Sunday, 6 December 2009

6 Red Snooker World Championship

The first 6 Red Snooker World Championship, created by Ken Doherty, with seemingly 13 of the world's top 16 players arriving in Killarney for the four-day event, is running from December 15 to 18, right here in Ireland.

Competition details. Eurosport are covering it on the last 2 days, Thursday and Friday.

Jimmy might finally win a world professional title! This is too good a chance to miss - anyone want to join me in Killarney on Friday December 18th?

Irish Independent article

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