I write this from a position from which I confess I may not be able to move from for quite some time. In a very supportive, yet comforting sitting room chair, sheltering from the biblical rains that continue to pummel down from an overwhelmingly pessimistic sky. To cut a long story short, I went for a long ride this morning and got soaked.
It rains a lot in Ireland.
This is not a new concept to me. I’m Irish, I get it. In fact, I’m quite sure my Irishness makes me part human, part rain. However, the last few weeks in Ireland have been nothing short of stunning with absolute clear blue skies and tear-inducing sunshine that occasionally shines on our fair green isle as a kind of tease, to remind us of the weather we could be having all the time, if it weren’t so prone to the wet stuff.
Take yesterday, for example. Hottest day of the year so far at a balmy 26 degrees celsius – beautiful. Today, not so much. This morning it was lightly raining, with the weather forecast lady promising “rains will clear”. No Lady, the rains did not clear. As I cycled my way up to Dunshaughlin, Ratoath and did a wee tour of Meath this morning, the rains in fact got significantly heavier and steadily worked their way up to being what I would class as an out-and-out solid downpour.
It’s almost as if the universe was having bit of craic with us today – See here now Irish people, a few days of sunshine and here ye were, getting all cocky and carried away with yourselves thinking ye be living the life of Reilly. Now, let’s be putting ye back in your place!
I was like Forrest Gump walking around Vietnam.
First, the rain came the front, like teeny darts to the face, despite the extra peaked cap I had added to my headwear this morning. Then the rain seemed to come from the side. And then, there were times when the rain seemed to jump up from the ground. Mushy socks and swimming pool shorts soon became the dress du jour.
Apologies, I don’t mean to moan.
Really, I don’t mind rain that much, as I said, I’m well used to it at this stage. And sure once you’re wet, you’re wet. What was a real kicker though, was when I picked up a puncture 50km from home and it was yes, still spilling down. It’s tricky enough to change a puncture by the side of the road, but when your hands are soaking and you’re trying to fiddle with little nuts and bolts, it’s not funny. And you just know the people driving by are thinking “Who is that crazy girl messing with her bike on a day like today?”
Irish summers are typically temperamental and utterly unpredictable. Once you reconcile yourself to this fact, you’ll never stress again over Irish weather. Me, I am at peace with this fact but I’m also an inherent optimist so despite my intimate acquaintance with the facts about Irish rain, I will always ALWAYS believe that maybe the weather forecast peeps have got it wrong and maybe the sun WILL come out tomorrow.
My country, I love you. But enough with the rain already.
In running, there are certain distances you become accustomed to. 5km, 10km, 10 mile, half marathon, marathon etc. These are milestones every runner grows to know intimately – you learn to recognise how you feel at certain distances and what to expect physically and mentally at different points, the result being that you develop a kind of mental store and psychological toughness that helps you be better the next time. But when you’ve ran enough races, you also learn to know how you can expect to feel at the end of certain distances. For example, even though I haven’t run for over a year, I can remember exactly how I would feel after a 5km parkrun Vs. how my body feels after a half-marathon race Vs. after a marathon.
With Cycling, I find it a lot less clear cut. I could cycle an 80km today and be in bits tomorrow. Or I might cycle 100km today and be up for cycling another 70km tomorrow, no bother. There have been some days recently when cycling 37km to work on back to back days has just knackered my legs. But where is the sense, I ask you?
Apart from being able to draw the obvious conclusion that the harder the ride and more effort you put in, the more it will take out of your body and the slower it will be to repair and refresh. And the hillier the cycle, the tougher it is – also going to tire you out more.
But generally for cycling Vs. running, there are no milestone distances to focus on – or maybe there are and I’m just out of the loop! Oh well…
Some cyclists seem to work with time, rather than distance. You cycle for an hour a few days during the week and then go for a three hour ride at the weekend, for example. I don’t work that way. I like to map out a ride beforehand and then see how long it takes me. Next time, I try do it faster. That’s what motivates me. I’m less good with a “three hour ride” because for me that’s just a licence to sit on my ass and flooter away three hours coasting along at my ease.
So I stick with distance. Up to this year, I’d never ridden over 100km, with the longest cycle I’d have competed being around 91km. So I cracked out mapmyride and mapped a few 100km -ish cycles and worked my way up to them. Then I did a race a few weeks ago which involved a 105km spin around Carlow and over Mount Leinster. I loved it.
Today I took a spin from Naas to Kilkenny, travelling through Athy, Carlow, lovely Leighlinbridge and Bagenalstown along the way. The weather was a bit crap to be honest with dark clouds, some rain and a headwind most of the way… but I was happy out just to find I could actually make it all the way to Kilkenny. Needless to say when I arrived in Kilkenny 3 hours 41 minutes later, I was delighted with life and Kilkenny was buzzing with people, despite the rain.
I had booked to get the train back from Kilkenny to Sallins and had a bit of time before my train was due. I knew exactly how to spend that time.
What is cycling, if not really good coffee and cake?
After all, it’s the worst kept secret in cycling that the only real reason cyclists actually cycle is for the coffee and cake. And it’s worth it every time 😀
After wandering around trying to find a coffee shop that I could safely leave my bike outside without fear of it being pinched, I came across the Pantry on Kieran St., which was exactly what I was looking for. Really good coffee and a good selection of homemade baked goods, as well as soup, sandwiches and hot lunch options too. I really just wanted somewhere to sit down and rest my weary bones for an hour, while indulging in a much looked-forward to pick me up.
The staff were lovely, the coffee was excellent and my cupcake was just grand. The bun could have been fresher and the icing was a bit over-sweet, but I was starvers so it tasted great anyway. Good spot and I’ll be back again.
Next Up. Now that I’ve gotten past the 100km mark, I’d like to build on that and be able for greater distances. There’s a clatter of 200km events in Ireland that look fab but I’m a long way from being able to remain upright for 200k. But it gives me something to aim for – oh, you know how it goes… citius, altius, fortius… better.
I’m an enthusiastic amateur cyclist and while I’ve a loooonnnggg way to go before I’m any kind of cycling expert, I’ve learned a few bits and pieces in my short career in the saddle. As things break down, become worn out or go wrong, situations arise where I need to fix or replace things on the bike.
Like it or not, I’ve had to learn a few things. Simply put, if you don’t fix it, you can’t ride it.
The most recent thing to go wrong with my bike was my chain snapping. I was out on a ride when suddenly my chain just vanished from my bike. Annoying and a wee bit tragic when I’d just finished all the hard parts of the ride and was just about to slip into the easy part of the ride home… but I lived to tell the tale so I cannot complain! 🙂
I brought my bike to a local bike shop and the nice chap there told me that the chain on my bike was not a very good one. He checked the tension in the chain with a special measuring tool and explained that while it’s okay for now, I’d probably need to replace the chain before the summer.
The bike fella explained to me that I should also replace the cassette on the bike at the same time because the chain and the cassette wear down at the same rate. All of this was new to me so I thought I’d do some research for any other novice cyclists out there and break it down for you all. Here’s what you need (or just might WANT to know – because who doesn’t love some useful trivia?!) :
The bike chain is the bit on the bike EVERYONE knows about. When you were a kid, your chain probably “came off” all the time so you probably regularly had to run Dad to ask him to put the chain back on. Or you learned to do it yourself. That was pretty much all I knew about bike mechanics until the last couple of years when I started into triathlon.
The bike chain is part of what’s called the “drivetrain” and is what links the whole thing together to make your bike go. The chain is how the rider transfers power to the wheels.When you pedal, you push the pedal down and cause the crank arm to rotate in a circular movement.
Most bicycle chains are made from alloy steel, but some are chrome plated or stainless steel to prevent rust, or simply for good looks.
The pedal your foot pushes is attached to the end of a “crank arm” and you push this around in a circle. This arm (at the other end) is fastened to a circular piece called the “chain ring” – this piece has metal teeth all around the outside and the chain sits on top of it. As you pedal, you push the arm around in the circle, this turns the chain ring, which then moves the chain.
Most bikes have two chain rings – one for higher gears and one for lower gears. When the going is tough, you switch down to the lower gears to make it easier on yourself. When your bombing down a hill, you up the gears to the higher level because it’s easier to pedal and you’re able to push a higher gear.
Still with me? Nearly done. Like I said, the chain sits on top of the chain ring which you’re pushing around with your foot – but to be able to rotate, the chain needs something else at the back to rotate around. Otherwise, how would it be able to move full circle? So at the rear of the bike, attached to the rear wheel, you have the “cassette” – a cluster of other metal toothed circles. Also known as “sprockets”. These metal toothed circles are all different sizes. The bigger ones feel easier for your legs to push, while those smaller ones are harder.
So the chain sits into the grooves of the cassette in the same way it sits into the grooves of the chain ring and when you push pedal around, you move the chain ring which moves the chain and the chain is able to spin around the cassette at the back in a circle.
The Rear Derailleur is just a part which the chain is fed through (see the diagram) and sits to the bottom of the cassette. This is the part responsible for changing gears. When you click your little lever to switch gear, the rear derailleur is the part that lifts the chain from one metal toothed circle at the back (or sprocket) to another.
Now you’re an expert! No actually you’re really not. But no one ever explains these things to you and I only recently learned these basics when I started to really look at my bike and how it all works. Most people don’t want to know or couldn’t care less but I’m a bit of nerd that way…
Wear and Tear:
As you ride and change gears, the chain, chainrings, cogs and derailleur wheels pull and rub on each other. You’re advised to apply lubricant to act as a barrier between these parts as they rub off each other but between washing and weather (rain washes it away and sun evaporates it away) metal-on-metal contact will happen (don’t blame yourself 🙂 ) When this happens, tiny shards of metal get stripped away and the parts get worn down and deformed out of their original shape. Grit flung up from the road also adds to wear. Think of the steps of an old building getting more and more worn with the pitter patter of footsteps over and over and over again.
How to Know When to Replace the Chain?
The chain is the most common part of the drivetrain to wear out and need replacing. You can buy a chain checker tool online or in most bike shops.
If the chain has stretched and is elongated past the recommended point, it is advised that you get a new chain and cassette (and potentially chain rings too) at the same time. If your drivetrain is noisy, hard to pedal, and, on derailleur systems, difficult to change between gears, then replacing these parts will invariably fix your problems.
Which to Buy?
The bike mechanic I spoke to recently recommended Sram chains and told me in no uncertain terms that he doesn’t even consider using any other chains as they’re just not good enough. Sram chains are compatible with Shimano cassettes so don’t fret, you don’t have to replace your entire drivetrain.
What you need to keep in mind when buying a new chain is that chains come in different “speeds” which have to match the cassette, ie an 11 speed cassette will need an 11 speed chain. Why? The distance in between the sprockets varies depending on whether there are 9, 10 or 11 of them. The gap will be wider on a 9 speed cassette than on an 11 speed one. Chains designed to fit a 9 speed bike are therefore wider in width and 11 speed chains are narrower.
Sram Red 22 – 45 euro – What Sram say…This chain features more heavily chamfered outer plates for improved shifting and quieter running. It boasts strength, incredible shifting efficiency, and light weight. It uses Sram’s PowerLock connector pin and weights in at 242g. Other features include a nickel silver finish on the inner and outer plates.
Sram Force 22 – 43.70 euro – Like, the Red 22 chain, this one also features nickel plated plates on inside as well as the outside. Weighs ever so slightly more at 256g.
Sram PC 1170 – 43 euro – Nickel silver outer and grey metal inner plates. Weighs 256g. Narrower chain.
Sram PC 1130 – 23 euro – This chain is recommended for use with Sram’s Rival groupset. It weighs 259g.
What’s the Difference Between them All?
Apart from the price… not a lot. The Red 22 and Force 22 chains have nickel plating on both sides of the plates which will help prevent corrosion and look prettier. The PC 1170 and 1130 chains do not have the inner nickel plating meaning they’re more susceptible to corrosion and likely to ware out quicker. There’s negligible difference in price between the Red 22 and Force 22 Vs. 1170 so I don’t know why you wouldn’t just go for the Red 22 or Force 22.
I researched these chains to death on the internet trying to find detailed information on any of them and what the differences are but I found hardly any information out there. Just people churning out the same blurb that Sram do about the “more heavily chamfered outer plates for improved shiftin….” blah blah blah. Not very helpful folks. What would be great would be if Sram could spell out the features and differences so buyers can understand. Or maybe that’s the idea – there are practically no differences but they don’t want you to know that and you being a twit buy the more expensive one because you assume it must be better. God damn it marketing. I am the worst offender here, for sure.
I think if you live in a wet area, like Ireland, you’re probably better off to go with the Red 22 or Force 22. It’s worth noting that you can usually buy these chains online at a significant discount on sites like wiggle or chain reaction cycles so why not go for them over the cheaper 1130 if you can get a bit longer out of them?
I hope you enjoyed that little lesson in bike basics and chains. Next up, I’ll be looking at cassettes – differences between them and which ones to buy.
All prices are intended as a guide and are approximate only -they will vary depending on where you buy them.
I like to cycle to and/or from work these days. Good because it wakes me up in the morning/ winds me down after work and it means I get to avoid traffic, buses and all that grossness. The downside of it is – well there is no downside, if you ask me.
That is, except for the incredibly rare occurrences of mechanical issues. And gross winds… but let’s shove those aside for now.
Punctures are a giant pain in the ass. I apologise for the vulgarity but there’s no real way to get around that point. Changing the tube of a bike tyre is challenging for me at the best of times but I have never got a puncture out on the road when it hasn’t been pouring rain or bloody freezing. Adding numb fingers or wet hands to the equation is just ridiculously unfair. But that’s life so you get on with it.
But actually, annoying as it may be at the time, a puncture is not the worst thing that can happen to you when you’re out on a long ride.
Your chain snapping on your way home from work is definitely worse. Particularly when you’re a solid 20km from home. In the countryside. With 10% phone battery.
The good news is that at least it wasn’t raining when it happened and it was also on the way home from work rather than on the way TO work. Now that would have been more crazy than my little head could take.
I’m not sure why the chain broke open in that moment. I’d just crested a long climb and was just starting into the descent, clicking up the gears when it went pop! It seems that the cotter pin (the pin that joins one end of the chain to the other to make it one complete loop) broke off. I initially thought the chain had just come off and thought no problem, I’ll just whizz down to the bottom of the hill and pop it back on. So I indeed whizzed all the way to the bottom of the hill and realised oh right, there’s actually no chain on my bike.
Dope that I am, I then walked all the way back up the hill to search for my lovely bike chain. Long story short, the bike dudes in the bike shop said that my bike chain actually isn’t very good and had a poor locking mechanism (pin) in place keeping it together. They put a new Sram Powerlock link onto my existing chain so it’s working fine again now. However, they said I’d probably need to get a new chain and cassette before the summer and recommended a Sram chain. Apparently, the chain and cassette wear down at the same rate. Who knew?
The bike shop dude was quite adamant that Sram were the only chains they sell/ install on bikes, although he said Shimano were okay too. Otherwise he said he didn’t rate any other bike chains.
I’m fairly new to all this cycling tech so I thought I’d see about doing some research and putting up here for discussion or to help anyone else out there wondering about the same wonderings.
Bicycle Chains – What You Need to Know and What Are the Differences?
I’m going to cover this as a standalone topic in in the next couple of weeks so check back shortly for a run down on everything you need to know on chains.
Bicycle Components – What You Need to Know and What Are the Differences?
You can spend a LOT of money on bike components but is there much difference between them?
The Basics – Sram and Shimano (and all other manufactuers!) have a tiered system when it comes to the different ranges of components available. I made you a chart just cuz I like you 😉
Essentially, as you move up the tiers, the quality increases, as does the price. Significantly.
At the bottom you have Shimano Tiagra which is an entry level groupset and retails for about 550 euro. Next up, you have Shimano 105 – more expensive than Tiagra at 660 euro (ish) but quite a difference in performance if you’re looking to improve on the Tiagra but are operating within a tight budget.
The next jump up is quite a jump in terms of price. Ultegra –This level is usually bought by cyclists who’ve gone past the stage of being a beginner and are looking for something significantly better but yet aren’t fully ready (or don’t have the funds) to go bananas and commit to buying the Dura Ace set. Ultegra brings a lighter weight and noticeably more refined system than the lower levels. This 11-speed group has the same design features as the range topping Dura-Ace and offers all the performance most riders will ever need, but is 258g heavier than Dura-Ace.
The Ultegra groupset retails at 1180 euro. The Ultegra Di2 groupset retails for 2361 euro.
At the tippy top of Shimano’s choices is the Dura Ace range. You have the Dura Act Di2, which incorporates electronic gear shifting or just Dura Ace, minus the Di2 electronic shifting. Many professional bike teams use Shimano’s Dura Ace Di2 system. But it comes at a very high price so you really need to be someone who can appreciate the subtleties of gear change and the finer points of bike mechanics to justify the splurge. Features superb design and lightweight materials such as high-grade alloys, carbon fibre, and titanium.
Shimano’s Dura Ace Groupset retails for 2200 euro (ish) and the Di2 Groupset retails at about 3658 euro.
Sram’s Entry level groupset is Apex, on a similar level to Shimano’s Tiagra. Next up and comparable to Shimano’s 105 range is Sram’s Rival 22 range. The Rival groupset will costs 303 euro (approx)
Going up in price to Ultegra-level, SRAM’s Force group uses lightweight materials such as high-grade alloys and carbon fibre to be a very competitive gear setup. The Force groupset retails for 1109 euro (approx)
Moving up again, SRAM’s Red range is on a level with Shimano’s Dura Ace and is also used by many pro bike teams. “E-tap” is as you might have guessed, electronic gear shifting – same idea as Shimano’s Di2.
Sram’s Red 22 groupset retails for 1300 euro (approx). The Red E-tap Groupset retails for 2500 euro (approx)
As you can see there’s quite a lot of difference in terms of price between the various different groupsets available. I have tried not to bamboozle you with too much detail in this post and just to keep it simple. I know myself that research and reading on this topic tends to lead to brain saturation and utter confusion.
It also carries the danger of the more your read, the greater the higher end gear sounds and the more convinced you become that you really do need Shimano’s Di2 set on your bike. But the truth is that I don’t and you probably don’t either.
Decide how much you want to spend or can afford to spend and then look at the options within that range. This gear is very, very expensive and unless you can really feel the differnce between a subtle gear change or are racing at the pinnacle of the peloton, then I really don’t think riding with Shimano’s Di2 range or Sram’s E-tap system is going to make any bit of difference to your ride. And given the jaw-dropping difference in price, my opinion is it’s that it’s far too much to spend and absolutely not worth it.
Now if I won the lotto tomorrow, the first thing I would to is install Sram’s Red E-tap system on my brand new bike. No doubt. But that’s all it is – a luxury when you have lots of extra money lying around looking for something to spend it on. Any in reality, who has that?
I’m going off to research and find out everything I need to know about Bike chains and cassettes and I’ll be posting on both components in the next couple of weeks.
When I first started this cycling in the winter malarky last November-ish, I was a little shell-shocked, I have no problem admitting. Before then, I’d only ever taken the bike out of the shed between the months of June-October on days in between running days to get in some light cross-training. Come the end of October, I’d typically have packed in the bike after running the Dublin Marathon until starting running training properly again in Spring.
Alas, times have changed. Having not been able to run since last April, I’ve been on the bike 3-4 times a week and have pedalled on through the winter months. It’s been cold, it’s been wet and yes, it’s been emotional.
Depending on how you just read that, it could sound bleak. It’s not. Heading out early on a winter Sunday morning into a winter fog, trees frozen white and the fields hugging a low white fog… it’s nothing short of religious. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to over-romanticise it either – those mornings also involve freezing fingers despite wearing two pairs of gloves and numb feet (particularly the left one for some reason…) And on particularly cold days, it has also meant a very cold head.
Cycling in the winter months undoubtedly makes you tougher and more resilient as a cyclist. You don’t look out the winter and think “Nah, it’s too wet/ cold/ windy”. You don’t decide to turn back home just because the wind is kicking your ass after the first hour and you still have 2 more hours to go. If you can be soaked to the skin (wearing 2 jackets…), the wind blowing you backwards and take ANOTHER wrong turn and STILL keep going forward, that’s progress.
It might not feel like it at the time – in fact, it really doesn’t feel like it at the time – but that’s how you grow as a cyclist. It’s a lot like running that way – it’s all in your head. Your mentality is everything both in running and in cycling. Mental toughness is at least half of what makes up the essential ingredients for success.
Cycling this winter has been a revelation for me and also a kind consolation for not being able to run. It’s given me something to do when I couldn’t pop on my running shoes like I normally would every day. It’s given me the head space and time out I need on a daily basis. And it’s given me something fun to play around with while I wait for my feet to heal.
Having said that… I’m looking forward to the days getting longer and warmer, when I can head up into the Wicklow mountains without any fear of wet roads and, dear God, for those days when I don’t have to wear 3 layers of clothes on the bike! I can’t believe I used to just wear a short-sleeve cycling jersey, shorts and one pair of light socks… shocking.
The professional cycling season is about to get underway in earnest in next few months with the roll out of the Spring classics and I’m genuinely excited to see how it’s going to unfold. I may not be as tough as those guys, but cycling through these recent winter months, I could at least pretend to be for a few hours 😉
I’m a cycling novice, having only really committed to regular training on the bike in the last 6 months. Prior to that, it was just heading out whenever I felt like it on irregular occasions and for irregular lengths of time. No plan. Nowadays, I’m on the bike 5 days a week with structured short and long sessions for specific days. However, I have to admit that I’m still not overly fussed about being too strict about how far I should go for a cycle in any session, preferring to leave it up to how I feel on the day. I’d rather not suck all the joy out of cycling.
As a novice, winter cycling is new to me. Of course I have cycled in winter before (it would be weird if at the age of 30 I had not…) but in previous years where running has always been my priority, deciding not to bother with a recovery cycle just because the weather was horrid was not a big deal.
Now that running had been put on hold for the foreseeable future (breaking my heart in the process but let’s not get morbid!) my cycling mentality has temporarily taken over my running mentality. This means if there is a session for today scheduled, then it’s get up and out, get it done. Doesn’t matter what the weather is doing, doesn’t matter if I’m “not in the mood”. Up, out, get it done.
This was tested today.
On a Sunday in Ireland, where a thick white frost covered the fields for as far as I could see, leaves on trees and bushes frozen in place like tiny statues, and a constant white fog hung in the air, there was no mistaking that winter had indeed arrived on our not-so-green-today island.
I deliberately waited to later in the morning to head out on the bike in the vain hope that temperatures might increase as the morning progressed, but in fact, they never got about 0 degrees. Cloud hung low in the sky, blocking out the sun and preventing it from shining through and creating a smidgen of heat.
I love a good, solid, unmistakably winter morning but today’s conditions were simply freezing. Armed with two pairs of gloves, two pairs of socks, overshoes and solid layering on top, I was all set to test my cycling resolve!
I headed out in the direction of Kilcock, feeling better than I expected to and happy that I had got the whole layering thing right. Not too cold and not cooked either. After passing through Clane, I continued on the Kilcock road before turning off for Donadea, where main roads gave way to country fields on either side and an accompanying deep white fog. I quickly realised I should have equipped my bike with lights today as although it was daytime, visibility would be seriously affected by the fog.
I then continued to Timahoe, from where I turned right for Cloughrinka, making way through bog country and farm areas, all appearing as though the White Witch had just past through turning everything she touched to winter. Bushes, trees, leaves on the ground, the grass verges… all encased in white. The fog ever-present as I pushed on, with me wherever I went. My fingers started to numb despite the two sets of gloves because even though it was dry, the moisture from the fog was such that it was starting to settle on my clothes and hands and soak in. You wouldn’t think it, but I could see the moisture drops forming on my bike and starting to roll off my helmet.
From Cloughrinka, I made a left toward Edenderry and from there, I motored on to Clonbulloge village, on to Rathangan and then straight home to Naas. I hardly drank or ate anything on the bike today, despite the 94km distance. Partly because I was too cold to notice where I was thirsty or hungry, but mostly because my hands were too cold to pick up my bottle. It just seemed like too much effort to route around my back pockets to dig out an energy bar or wrestle with the bottle from its cage. At one point, I dropped one of my bottles on the road after losing my grip on it due to my numb fingers… and having to turn back when you’re cold and tired is a killer. I tried to drink more towards the end though.
I was happy to get in a good long cycle today and it’s always good practice to cycle in challenging conditions. I have to admit that reading George Hincapie’s biography at the moment and his stories about training in freezing conditions for hours on end is inspiring me to be a tougher cyclist. OBVIOUSLY my cycling expeditions are on a whole other level to George’s but he has really made me aware of just how hard pro riders actually train and the extent of the effort and discipline involved in the unglamorous, unforgiving daily life of a cyclist.
George was in my mind today I spun through the chilly conditions and although it was a long spin, I felt brilliant when I got home. Well, more specifically, I felt brilliant after I had defrosted, had a hot shower and changed into warm, dry clothes… and clung to a radiator for a while.
Running or cycling. I always feel brilliant afterwards. It may be winter out there, dark, cold and forbidding and oh-so-tempting to stay in your warm bed, but it’s always worth it to get outside.
So go forth folks and embrace your inner winter demon!
Happy Sunday one and all! If you too are in full-throttle Sunday mode, chilling out, feet up and looking for further validation that it is in fact okay to do this once a week, then look no further.
I’ve had a good old fashioned chill weekend, full of long bike rides, rugby matches, a little bit of reading, a fair bit of baking (once you start…) and nice chunk of Netflix.
My Mom headed off to Oman on Friday for a week of meetings so I’m home alone with menfolk for the next 7 days. To kick things off, I headed to the Ireland v Canada rugby match in the Aviva stadium in Dublin last night, which despite the massive scoreline of 54-21 (or something like that!), it was actually quite an entertaining game, with the Canadians making the Irish lads work for their win.
Good weather and a fun crowd in the Aviva made for a very nice way to spend the evening with my Paps.
I headed out early this morning for a long ride from Naas to Clane, then on to Carbury, Edenderry and home via Rathangan, bringing the total distance up to nearly 97km. Although the roads were pretty wet, it stayed dry throughout the ride and there was little wind. Happy days. A bit miffed though when you cycle 97km… and it’s JUST shy of 100km. Last week I did that demented thing of riding up and down the road until my watch registered the 100km, but this week I couldn’t be arsed.
I’ve been trying out different energy bars and foodie bits on the bike for energy over the longer rides and I’m really liking the Powerbar energy bars at the moment. I nabbed about a dozen of them at the Dublin Marathon expo a few weeks ago for a bargain price and have been trying out lots of different flavours. When I first tried the mango flavour, I thought it was just weird but then I came around to it and now quite like it. The Salty Peanut flavour is really good too.
A good tip is to cut the bars in half before you head out, so you don’t have to be messing around with wrappers, trying to open them with your teeth as you also try to keep from crashing your bike. Then they’re ready to go when you are. I do this with bananas too.
I’m also trying out different recovery drinks at the moment. I like to make my own recovery smoothies and play around with different flavours but sometimes it’s just so handy to have something pre-made when you’re too exhausted to care about making your own flavours.
One that I’m really enjoying at the moment is Avonmore Protein Milk, a 500ml carton of low fat milk with extra protein and flavoured with vanilla. It tastes like a vanilla milkshake but with the consistency of milk. Delicious and nutritious with over 100% of your daily calcium needs in there, along with vitamin D and 27g of protein. It’s also considerably cheaper than any protein milkshake or drink you can buy off the shelf.
Upbeat strawberry protein drink was on sale for half-price in Tesco this week at 1.49 euro so I picked up a bottle to try. Tastes like a Yop or other yogurty drink of the same ilk and contains 20g of protein. I thought it was very nice and I’d happily have it again.
If you’re looking for a good novel to read at the moment, I’ve just finished Tony & Susan and wrote a review over on my other blog here, which I highly recommend. You may also know it by the title Nocturnal Animals, which has also recently been released in the cinema.
Netflix. I get a bit lazy sometimes when it comes to Netflix, easily giving it to browsing fatigue when I fail to find something I want to watch within the first 5 minutes of scrolling. But I’m eager to break this nasty cycle in the belief that there must be a cave of hidden gems in there that I’m flippantly skipping over in my haste. What I’m watching at the moment are:
The Crown. A dramatised series following the current British Queen Elizabeth in her early days, starting off from her wedding to Prince Philip. I’ve only watched one episode but so far, so captivating.
Narcos. Okay, so who isn’t watching Narcos at the moment? It’s really very good though, in a Colombian The Sopranos, funny but oh-so-horrible and violent kind of way.