(By Tosh Kiernan)
On a cold blustery morning a larger group of ‘A’ cyclists gathered full of energy and all chomping at the bit for what lay ahead and it was especially nice to see nice to see Billy back this Sunday after his missing in action performance last weekend.
We decided to take the wind head on and made our way across the Joe Dolan Bridge, but it wasn’t long before the puncture fairy arrived which held us up for a while but it wasn’t long before we got motoring quickly thanks to all the good help. We then travelled to Clara via Dysart and Horseleap, where the pace took off and we all put in a good effort all the way to Tullamore.
Tullamore was a welcome sight as we eased off and pulled in for our tea stop. After we swallowed our tea/coffee and goodies it was time for the home leg via Kilbeggan Tyrellspass and Rochfortbridge.
With the wind now on our back the pace was lively but well controlled and the group all stayed together until we got to Tyrellspass, where unfortunately Scooby Doo escaped from his pen and ran straight into the group causing a collision which brought down a couple of riders. At this point we decided to cut the spin short and head home via Dalystown and Belvedere where we had over 90km in the legs. Get well wishes go out to Colin Pierce and Aidan Farrell who were involved in the collision.
With the weather cold and overcast a small group of ‘A’ riders gathered at the ORS on Sunday morning April 28th. We headed off across the by pass across Joe Dolan bridge and the rain started to come down heavy and with a very strong headwind the group had to work extra hard as they travelled for Ballinea Dysart Horseleap and on to Moate. On arrival to Moate, Ballymore was to be the next port of call where a well deserved cuppa was enjoyed.
With the wind now on their back for the return leg of the spin needless to the say the pace was a little bit livelier. A group of 5 broke away after the climb at Uisneach hill. It wasn’t long before Ken and Robbie took the initiative and powered home from Loughnavalley. Before long everybody was back in the ORS with 80km on clock and an average speed of 34kmph.
(By Mark Monaghan Sunday 7th April)
Mark Horohoe on standby for baby number two for the past couple of weeks it was yours truly who took up the mantle of A group leader and after the hilly route of the Flanders spin the week previously I decided the best option for this week’s spin would be to stick to the more flat roads of the county and neighbouring county Offaly.
With a the temperatures starting to rise slightly over the weekend the biggest decision apart from picking the route was whether to wear leg warmers or go bare legged for the first time this year! I chose the first option and rightly so! As I hit the ORS car park I could see that numbers were slightly down for the group but still we had a sixteen strong group heading out the gate. To say the lads were eager would be an understatement as we headed out towards Rochfortbridge at a rate of knots.
From there we headed across the bog to Rhode and on to Daingean and Tullamore via Ballinagar, where the race for the coffee began and wow what a race! With some the racing lads joining the spin the speed hit 60kmph at one stage on the road into Tullamore! Great to see the training is working lads ye are flying! After a quick coffee and the obligatory slagging after the sprint in, we hit the road for home via Kilbeggan and Tyrellspass into a strong headwind.
The hammer dropped outside of Tyrellspass and a fantastic tactical duel ensued, well that’s what I think happened as I missed the break and had a lonely ride home. Everybody made it home safely with another 95km in the bank in record time with an average of….. Wait for it… 34Kmph!
(By Mark Horohoe)
Sunday's spin of 94km was packed with 3 mock races, a sprints session and both single and now double pace-line Threshold efforts. The skill level demonstrated by the group was excellent with great improvement being made in the past weeks - concentration, steady bike handling and smooth movements are all essential for these efforts to be done safely. As the skill level has improved we have increased the intensity and duration of efforts. 94km over flat roads sounds like and average spin but with the pace of the efforts done yesterday the legs are probably a little tender today - well mine are anyway! While the pace is very hot at times, in between efforts the pace is wound back down so there is still plenty of time to chat (and recover) as "the chat" is an essential part of our club spins.
Since October 15th, when the A-Group Winter Training program began, we have progressed from the strong focus on endurance and then building strength gradually over a number of weeks. We worked hard on developing the skills of a good pedaling technique and of safe/close group formation riding. After we had a good foundation of strength and endurance from the base training phases [1,2 & 3] we moved on to the build [1 & 2] training phases and the focus is now on developing riders threshold level and the event specific skills of fast group formations and also an opportunity to try out tactics and test your ability in mock races. As the intensity of the Sunday spins has increased it's probably a good time to suggest that the Sunday's spins would ideally need to be complimented with at least two other weekly sessions/spins to ensure your body will benefit from the pace of Sunday spins.
Its been noticeable that so many riders have made real improvement in their abilities especially over the past two months and I think you should have the confidence that you are well on the way to being ready for the season ahead either racing or in the toughest Touring (Sportive) events. Well done to Ken, Roy and Mick who volunteered as group leaders on Sunday.
(By Roy Carey)
As I landed into ORS this morning, there were smiles evident around the car park. Was it the sunny, crisp, dry morning or was it that rest week feeling! Mark Monaghan called out the planned route that was taking us on more familiar roads. With recent compass upgrades, M&M led the two A groups out heading for Killucan via Curraghmore on a glorious crisp Spring morning. We were all starting to thaw out when the wicked puncture fairy paid us a visit. After some double quick repairs we were back rolling towards Killucan with one particular Wheeler sporting some shiny new equipment.
No threshold efforts planned for today, so the steady pace brought some almost relaxed conversations. Whoever discovered rest weeks are a vital part of a well-structured training plan is a genius and is now on my greeting card list. We rolled on through Raharney before turning right in Rathmolyon, heading onto Enfield for the planned tea stop. On mornings and roads like this you soon realise that cycling of all types is definitely on the up and up. Club spins and Audax riders were the majority of the traffic we met heading in the opposite direction. Indeed two members of the group that had intended doing that very Audax event today, recounted the dreaded Saturday night call from Evelyn Cusack, informing them of significant snow falls in the vicinity of the route start. For one of these hardy souls, there was some comfort in the freshly baked flapjacks, his nearest and dearest had prepared in expectation of his epic trip.
In Enfield, the good humour continued with the usual great chat, tea, coffee and fuel. As we prepared to roll out, my earlier concerns forced me to make a decision. The owner of the shiny new equipment I mentioned earlier was obviously taking the 'race for home' very seriously. So seriously in fact, to save on weight, he had decided to leave the shiny new bottle holders unloaded. Couple this to the fact that there was also a very lean ex-Pat with a strange accent in our group; I decided to feign a mechanical. With both groups on the road to Clonard and Kinnegad, I decided to sneak onto the back of the second group, to my prearranged pick up point, just outside Kinnegad. (I take rest weeks very seriously).
The groups headed on to Kinnegad and Milltownpass before heading for Gaybrook and back to base to complete the planned 91k. Looking forward to next Sunday already, to hear whether the shiny new steed was unleashed in the gallop for home.
(By Shay O’Toole)
Is Ballinalee the new Tullamore? Every week I appear in the ORS there seems to be a concerted effort to pick the lumpiest roads in...Wait for it...Longford! For those of you who still think the Midlands are flat you should ask Mark Horohoe for a sample route from his Garmin and bring plenty of food.
This week the A group were on week 3 Build 1 of their on-going training plan which is improving year on year in terms of organisation and structure so well done to all involved. We departed ORS as usual and headed for the Castlepollard road where we were due to commence our first Threshold effort after cresting the hill at Gartlandstown. With Mark Monaghan in leader mode we duly kicked into action and got a good workout along the straight to Pollard where we veered left for the back road around Tullynally estate to Coole. This is a very nice cycling road with lots of sweeping bends and ridges to ensure you don’t get bored.
Onwards across the bog for the peloton to Lisryan and eventually, after a few Garmin mishaps we were headed for Ballinalee and the main drag of the day. Unfortunately this heralded the start of a “puncture fest” which saw Shay O’Toole use two tubes and a canister of gas before finally getting sorted but fair play to Jack Nugent who selflessly declined the climb to ensure the mechanical was efficiently handled! In fairness to Jack he was suffering with knee problems so hopefully he is back to full fitness soon.
After the cuppa we faced into a horrible headwind all the way home which didn’t make the Col de Bun any easier but with a good pace line formed we all arrived back and although the legs were tired it was another good workout. Great to see Aidan Farrell back in the saddle which means the summer must be coming!
Both Marks, Horohoe and Monaghan have asked me to give a shout out to all the lads who volunteered to lead groups over the last few weeks when the numbers were high, your assistance is invaluable. Also, best of luck in the coming months.
A Group soaking up the sun in Ballinalee
(by Mark Monaghan)
Why is it that as cyclists we become fixated with the weather, none more so than me as all I seem to do is write about it every week. I woke this morning to see that for once Met Eireann finally got it right, yes it was raining, yes it was cold and yes it was windy but that didn’t deter the thirty or so hardy/mad Wheelers who turned up at the ORS for their weekly excursion across the roads of the midlands.
With low numbers we decided to split the groups as evenly as possible with yours truly taking the A group with the idea of keeping to our training plan as much as possible. For the second week running we were to use the N6 road for the spin. Pace lines and threshold efforts were the plan for the day. This week’s spin was slightly longer in distance but the intensity definitely didn’t drop with some huge efforts done by the group as a whole before we were forced to stop in Moate earlier than expected when yours truly got his first visit from the puncture fairy in a long time! After quick changing of the tube and an even quicker coffee we were ready for the off.
As we left Moate we took the first left which brought us to Castledaly where we went right to incorporate a little loop on to the N6 again, we were ready for the cyclist’s best friend - the tailwind home. As a group we rode extremely well putting in a few more pace line efforts before we knew it we were back on the carpet like N52 road to Mullingar. Homeward bound the group stayed together as a unit, well at least they were still together when I made my leave for home, covering approximately 100km. I would once again like to thank everybody in the group for all their efforts today & thanks for putting up with my amateur coaching!
(By Mark Monaghan)
Sunday last (Feb 3rd) saw the ‘A’ group spins increase in intensity and shorten in distance with the start of the Build 1 part of our training programme. Yet again I was astounded by the numbers of Wheelers who turned up to part take in the morning's training. Numbers were so high that we had to split the group into four separate mini groups of eight to nine riders in each.
After a quick group leader chat between Mark Horohoe, Billy Cunnane, Paul Crowley & yours truly we outlined to the awaiting masses of our plans for the upcoming spin. The route for today was to be a simple out and back spin to Moate via Tyrellspass & home through Rochfortbridge. The spin itself would be far from simple with a number of threshold efforts along the way. (Threshold is training at 80-90% of your maximum heart rate - nothing to do with carrying the missus into the house!). While doing these sessions we also got to practice our single pace lines with the front rider peeling off the front and dropping back to the end of the line thus in turn everybody did their work at the front and kept the pace steady.
Along with the threshold training we were also able to let loose a little with a race to tea stop and a race for home, where we practiced attacking the group chasing down and sudden changes of pace (realistically these were also threshold sessions). Well done to all and I can only speak for my group but we all rode extremely well and had a really enjoyable spin.
(by Mark Monaghan)
As I woke this morning (Sunday 27th Jan.) from the howling wind and rain I thought to myself there is no way I’m getting out on the bike this morning, but no to be deterred I rose from my slumber and headed for the kitchen to have a closer look and also to the debate the situation “will I” “won’t I” “you’d have to be mad to go out in that” I heard from my ‘Director Sportive’. “I supposed you would I replied but sure I’ll drive out to the ORS to see what the story is.”
On route to the ORS I met three different Wheelers making their way to the car park by bike! It can’t be too bad I thought. When I got the ors car park I was greeted by a number of members waiting around to see what we would do. Slowly but surely more and more people began to arrive and it became more obvious that my ‘Director Sportive@ was right we are mad!
After I eventually got my act together and sorted out my gear & bike we were ready for the off all be it a little late. Off we set for Tyrrellspass along the brilliant new section of the N52 into a very, very strong headwind. As a group we rode extremely well keeping the time at the front to a minimum to keep us all warm and not be spending too much time in the wind. From Tyrrellspass we decided to head for Tullamore via the more sheltered roads through Rahugh. As we hit Tullamore we pulled into Topaz for a well deserved cuppa and pastry which was just in the nick of time as heavy shower blew over as we were tucking into our goodies. When the shower had cleared it was time to hoist the sails and make use of the tailwind we now had and head for home via Kilbeggan and Tyrrellspass, and make use of it we did making it home in record time! Well done to all on what was a hard morning to be on the bike but in particular well done to new member Seamus Killian who was only on his second spin with the club!
With very low temperatures forecasted for Sunday morning the group leaders made the cautious decision to cancel the spin on Saturday night.
The decision to cancel a spin is not made likely but it is always made with rider safety in mind. When the forecast shows a very high probability of unsafe conditions, like it did on Saturday night - rather than wait until the morning in ORS to cancel a spin after members may have driven a distance to ORS or have been at risk by cycling to ORS on slippy roads - cancelling the spin on a Saturday night allows members make alternative plans for the Sunday morning - like resting, MTB , running or even road cycling if conditions improve later in the morning if they this its safe enough.
This week is the "Recovery Week" in the A-Group training plan. The suggestion would be to easy back on the intensity and duration of sessions this week to allow you body to recover from the previous three weeks of training. As you know to get the benefit of training your need to allow your body to recover - without proper recovery the body does not improve. Next Sunday will be a recovery spin where the pace and duration will be reduced. Following that the Build 1 phase of training will begin. In this phase the Sunday spins will reduce in duration and there will be the introduction of structured increased pace efforts.