Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Game On

Tonight is game 1 of the World Series and already proving to be one of the most fascinating post seasons in recent years. San Francisco came from 2-0 down to beat the hot favourite Cincinnati Reds in 5, then found themselves 3-1 down in a best of 7 against the reigning champions Cardinals before taking the series 4-3. That's 6 elimination games in a row they have won.

Tigers on the other hand took the Yankees 4-0 after making hard work of overcoming the A's (they were 2-0 up before winning 3-2). So, they're well rested and are starting game 1 with their top pitcher and some of the best hitters in baseball in Cabera and Fielder.

Giants on the other hand, are taking a necessary gamble on an inconsistent Zito on the mound and very erratic scoring. Should be a fascinating matchup, everything points to a Tigers win, but Giants just don't know when they are beaten.

Monday, 22 October 2012


Essential Radio this evening - David Walsh and Paul Kimmage on Off the Ball

Started reading some of the reports on various websites and then stumbled across this and spent the last 2 hours reading testamonies......

Lot of extracts have been covered in the media - but Tyler Hamilton's affadavit is just incredible. It's fantastic that all the evidence is published and people can see what was going on.

Would never, ever usually do this - but ended up making a small contribution to the Paul Kimmage defense fund:

How the UCI have the nerve to be taking a case against him is beyond me.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Powerscourt WAR 2012 (Part 4)

The route to the finish brought us past Ballinastoe (MTB park) and opened out to gorgeous vistas of Djouce and the Wicklow mountains on the left. It was more like a time-trial now, although with long straight roads you could still see people stretched out far ahead. Reeling them in was slow going but I did pass a few before the final 2k climb into the estate and up to the finish line.I do like a good climb, so I managed to overtake a dozen more in the final haul, including the tri-guy who'd passed me earlier. Tri-bikes really aren't made for climbing.

Around the final corner and very chuffed to see Richenda, Ruby and Aster there cheering me on. Turns out they had just arrived, and I was literally the first person they'd seen cross the finishing line. Timing!

One final sting in the tail, as I was half-jokingly accused of cheating - my finishing printout showed that I'd missed the tag point at the start of the Sugar Loaf run. "Have you been a naughty boy then?" was how it was put. It was all fine in the end, I just had to describe the location, and they took me at my word - just one of those things, but my brain was a bit like scrambled egg at this stage, and it wasn't quite the finish I had in mind with Richenda and the girls standing there beside me.

It was a scorching afternoon, and as hunger kicked in we relaxed in the sun while I savaged the sandwiches, coffee and fruit on offer. From there we wandered over to Powerscourt Gardens for the rest of the afternoon, sharing it with hordes of tourists. It really is a stunning location though. And to cap it off, we had an early dinner al fresco in the café. Including dessert. I felt I earned it.

Next day I found out I'd finished 21st of the 228 who'd entered the Sport. My goal had been to finish in the top 10%, and this was the first time I'd ever come so high (in relative terms). Only one girl finished ahead of me, so maybe next year's goal is to go one better.

April 2013 for the Glendalough WAR - surely enough notice for ye, who's up for it?

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Powerscourt WAR 2012 (Part 3)

The chase was on. While the others had a leisurely (and safe) descent to start the race, I was going like the clappers from the off, but soon decided better to take it handy or the race would really be over before it began. Out of the estate and onto the main road, the route settled into a slow, steady climb towards the mountains. My kind of road. Soon I was passing backmarkers - these lads looked like they were going to be out for the day. Sunday drivers.

Not knowing exactly how many were in my wave, I still thought it would be good incentive to count those I passed. Knocking them off fairly quickly, 10, 20, 30... over 50 by the time I reached the foot of the Sugarloaf for the first transition. Off the bike, and a fairly flat road run to start. Grabbing some food on the hoof - energy bar, wine gums and a gel. Yum.

The lane became a boggy field, and the race was really starting now. Not passing others so frequently anymore, maybe another 10 - 15 or so before the very steep and rocky scramble to the summit. One guy passed me here, he seemed to be a descent hill-runner, so I tried to stay with him. I would end up catching him at the start of the kayak leg. Trying to run each step, but it was really hard in parts, everyone was walking the last part - must be 40-50 degrees, it's a fairly savage mountain for its modest height (501m). Clocked in on top, and then straight down, giving myself a few seconds to take in the views - it was a stunning day, and I was really hot now (wondering if I should have worn short sleeves).

Careful now coming down the rocky part - even using hands at times, and wondering if the bike helmet would have been useful here! Finally back to softer ground underfoot, and able to ramp up a bit. I was soon back on the bike, somewhere less than 45 minutes for the run, happy enough. The next leg to Roundwood was pretty uneventful - 9k, very flat and straight, and able to get into the high gears. One lad passed me here, he was on a tri-bike and fairly moving.

Arrived at Vartry lakes to find the hill-runner I'd seen earlier already sitting in a kayak, so I was able to just jump in the back and we were off with no fuss. Tom from Kilkenny was an Army man, training for a 4 week climbing trip to the Himalayas next month. Very sound fellow, a good chat all the way around, and enjoying the relative tranquility of this part of the race.

We were finished in about 15 minutes, even passed a few others, and then back on the bike for the 15k bike leg to the finish. I passed Tom and pulled away - he'd mentioned he only started bike training a few weeks before. It was head down now, but there was plenty of up and down in the remaining miles, and also traffic to watch out for. The hard work was done and it was a good feeling to know that the finishing line was now within reach.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Powerscourt WAR 2012 (Part 2)

With about 400 taking part - and over half of those in the (easy) Sport event which I'd entered - the entrants were split into four starting 'waves' at half-hour intervals. I was in the final 1pm wave. Having signed in the night before, and confirmed the time again on race day, I thought it'd be interesting to watch the 12:30 group going out, so I positioned myself at the start line for the final race briefing. The first couple of kms were on the bike, downhill and behind a jeep which would pace the riders and then pull away for the race to officially begin.

For some reason the start time went well beyond 12:30 so there was lots of waiting around before they finally headed off. As soon as they were gone, one of the race organisers wandered over to ask me was I not racing? The race number pinned to my top must have been a clue for him.

Turns out the 12:30 and 1pm waves had been merged into a single 12:45 start, and somehow no-one bothered to tell me. The guy who'd approached me obviously saw the panic in my reaction, and told me not to worry, to take my time getting ready and they'd give me 5 minutes extra on my time.

Problem was I hadn't warmed up, or stretched, and by now had a very full bladder. I ran back to the bike racks around the corner - mine was now the only one there! I had to empty my bladder there and then - the shame - and then final packing, helmet on, up on the bike, and off down the hill to chase.

The chase is on...

Not quite the start I'd planned, but the adrenaline was fairly pumping now. I was the last of 400 people out on the course, and f*cked if I was going to finish in that position.
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