Ulkc visit Wicklow

I managed to get shift coverage with work thanks to Eric. As I needed to be back in Limericks for work on the Sunday evening, I drove myself up. As it turned out, this was a good idea as it allowed a few more people to go.
We arrive to the hostel to find there was a miscommunication with the numbers staying, so the hostel owners spent a little while putting a few more beds together for us. And the evenings entertainment started… Luke found out why it’s a bad idea to fall asleep in the room where everyone is drinking! The black marker will eventually wear off,  we hope!
Next morning the sore heads fixed the tiredness with tea and weetabix, and off to the Avonmore river in Rathdrum for the first river of the day, paddling to the Meeting of the Waters. A nice trip, a few swims here and there but it was a lovely introduction to Wicklow. There are some decent eddylines on the river, and I managed to get the tail down in the Burn on one of them. A long day on the water, or it felt like it was anyway! After we got off the water there we went to Laragh to the carpark behind Lynagh’s hotel. Unfortunately though the Glenmacnass was empty of water so we went to take a look at Jackson’s, and we took a few of the willing newbies down as well with mostly fun consequences, but Luke tried to use his head as a brake with bloody results. Only a few steristrips needed, and with the assistance of a paramedic from the swift-water training also using Jackson’s he was patched up just fine.
Saturday evening involved crashing the party of the European Business group from DCU who were in the other half of the hostel. Very cute girls and the craic was mighty, with my lifting people (plural and simultaneously) up again…
Sunday was the Avonmore from Annamoe to Trooperstown Wood where myself and a few others had to get off to be back in Limerick,  while the group went on to Jackson’s.
Work was long and not the easiest that night with the fatigue from the weekend catching up.
A great fun-filled trip overall! :)
Any videos will be here (link to be updated) and pics will be here (link to be updated)

Lahinch freshers weekend, huge fun!

A fantastic weekend had by all.
Newbies got wet, and got a good taste of why surfing is fun when moving down a wave without having to paddle. Watching the smiles and sheer joy was great!
The nights out were typical of Lahinch kayak trips. Huge craic, lots of jumping around in the nightclubs with some great getting to know each other better, with a little bit of international meetings ;) Everyone helping out, looking out for each other, with no problems of people getting narked living in each other’s pockets for the weekend.
Saturday afternoon after everyone was satisfied with their time on the water, we brought people to the Cliffs, but to Aileen’s instead of the ripoff of the Cliff visitor centre. I got some very pretty pictures with the Canon up on the cliffs,
here . It was brilliant to get to know so many people, some better than others ;)
For my own surfing, the wind blew the tops off the waves enough to make it hard work to get out past the break, and the waves weren’t steep or fast enough to make that effort worthwhile. Add to that the fact that the foam under the seat of the Orbitfish is missing and I’m no longer fitting comfortably as a result, I found it hard to get good surfing. Easy fix once I get a block of foam to carve up. Still worth getting wet for!
Hats off to the hostel staff, they put up with a lot of party animals in full flight, and the complete lack of hassle was brilliant.
A truly great weekend, loads of fun, little hassle, and some fantastic memories. ULKC, we did it again!

Castleconnell beginner trip

A huge number of paddlers on the water today, near 40 paddlers! 10 cumecs volume coming down the river so the flow was the standard low flow.
Lots of swimmers, lots of time taken getting people back in boats. Loads of characters really enjoying their first taster of whitewater, including a American girl that can’t swim but could float well enough. She was stoked, properly stoked, when she got off the river. Definitely a few characters that appear to have prospects for club officers in the future. A few more that I’m looking forwards to causing havoc with on the Lahinch trip, as it’s going to be so much craic!

Castleconnell, non-beginner trip

Last Wed, a small club trip went to the Castleconnell run on the Shannon. Seven of us on the water, with a shortage of Y-chromosomes! Good trip, low levels, hard work trying some surfing on teeny-tiny waves and trying to get stuck in little stoppers. A great recce for the upcoming first beginner trip on the water for the wednesday upcoming. No swims, but an epic capsize by Katie by the castle wall, trapping a paddle in the undercut for a while!
I often forget how short that river can be with a smaller group. Let’s see what it’s like this Wed!

BallyH with beginners

Lots of fun doing the green loop twice today, though trying this with a borderline chest infection was not the smartest thing in the world. One dumb puncture after running straight over a trail anchor… Still a good trip out, and 12kms of good practice on the Reign.

Another cycle around Castletroy of ~42km

The bike now has Ultegra 6700 brakes on it, and a new Fizik Antares saddle. Much nicer to ride for a while, and much more confidence inspiring – there is decent grip when cornering and it’s got really good stopping power especially when coming from ~55kph down to stopped. I took it on a shakedown cycle with the new brakes installed to start the bed-in process. I’ve read that the 6700 should not be mixed with the 5600 105 shifters, but I disagree – they feel great to me. There’s a slightly longer level travel for sure, but with toe-in set correctly at between 0,5 and 1.0 mm this means a nice progressive grab on the rim. Full on emergency stops with the GP4000s tyres are good enough that stoppies will be possible if I try hard enough, and that’s a good sign from the braking effectiveness point of view.

With the new saddle onboard and the updated brakes starting to bed in I went on a looping cycle around Castletroy, in the search for a nice loop that is pleasant to cycle with as little problems as possible. I’ve found that the cycle lanes on the south side of Castletroy (Groody link road, Monaleen Road, SchoolHouse Lane) are not suitable for cycling a road bike at normal speeds (20-35kph) as the surface is rough and rattley with broken surfaces and really poor path-road interfaces. Some places on the paths are rough even at walking pace! I’ve found it is better for my safety to be on the road and able to maintain speed and visibility for roundabouts instead of possibly surprising some poor motorist. Some of the cycle paths are good for kids and people ambling along, but not really for commuters or sport cyclists. It’s a pity that there is little desire to fix the problem and less cash available to implement the fixes. Then again, with a County Council that in all their [lack of] smartness put a pedestrian crossing within the average modern car braking distance from the exit of a roundabout across two lanes – there’s little hope of getting sane and coherent cycle paths that go from A to B.

It was a pleasant enough road cycle, and one of the best bits was accelerating away from cars at the Golf Links Road traffic lights by the Spar, and overtaking cars on the way down to the roundabout! Just under the road speed limit in the are so all legally too.. 56.7 kph according to Node2, 56.09 kph according to Cyctastic.

I like the new bike..

Some miles up on it now, and it’s quite comfy – I’ve replaced the saddle with a Fizic Antares and it’s a lot better on my bits.. Ultegra brakes are en route, GP4000s tyres are on it, I’ve got better road-specific gloves that fit and it’s rolling really nicely now. More miles needed!

Update, after a busy busy time.

So, it’s November. Wow the time is flying! So much has happened. So little time to play with.

Masters: Week 10 has just ended. Loads of assignments to complete for the next fortnight, then study for the exams that will complete the 5 modules that will constitute the first semester of the Masters of Engineering in “Information and Network Security” that I am currently pursuing in UL. It’s been good so far to get back to UL as a student but this time with an appetite for success that wasn’t really there in the past (for whatever reasons..). There’s a desire now to get through this with good results. I like the subjects, I’ve got a good crew of classmates and the craic is good enough. It’s tough for sure with time management being the hardest part so far. I have no spare time to relax this year. At all. It’s fun learning how to use Maple, MSProject and things like that. Weird having to buy textbooks again, but good to have them to refer to anyway.

Work: I’ve completed probation, and am now a fully fledged employee. The shift is not the easiest to manage but it’s not that bad – I still get to sleep at a somewhat sane time and it’s consistent at least. Some shifts of course I’m up the walls and I mightn’t get back to the house till gone half 2 or 3 o’clock with lectures at 9 or 10 in the morning and another night’s work the following night. Learning a lot, still got so much to learn. Trying not to forget what I learned at the start – that’s kinda hard.

Car: The Audi is paid off. Finally. It’s now just a car, with no intention from me of making it any better. It’s got too much mileage to consider tarting it up any bit, and it’s a useful tool to use instead of a pursuit in its own right. I don’t have the time to do anything really useful to it other than put diesel in every month or so. At least my driving mileage has severely decreased now that I’m back in Limerick full time. Due another tyre change soon, may but top-tier all-season tyres on it to safeguard me through the winter.

Sport: Very little time to get out on the Reign for a cycle. :( No time in a boat in quite a while – no free weekend gets in the way of that, but that is what I’ve signed up for! Put a deposit down for a good road bike for the Bike-to-Work scheme – a 2011 Trek Madone 4.5, secondhand, with uprated lighter Mavic wheels with the blade spokes. I’ll upgrade a few bits and pieces on that bike, including as good tyres as I can get. I will cycle to work on it at least once ;) and I’ll have to cycle home for lunch to get the car to drive home when the shift is over. It’s not good to be physically pumped at 2am trying to get to sleep. It’ll be useful to have that bike for the cycle around northwest France next summer just before Dave’s french wedding.

Other stuff: 5 years since fun and games, so that’s an interesting milestone passed. Nothing else of note there that I’ll put down here ;)

Astro: been out maybe 3 times since the start of the summer. Been pretty crap for astronomers in Ireland recently – and pretty crap for someone that works evenings and has college during the day! Starting to see the utility of a good quality grab and go setup that will give good views without needing to cooldown – maybe a 100mm short refractor on an alt-az mount?

Sarah: She passed her Viva with flying colours, a very positive impression from the examiners and a trivially small number of corrections before final submission of the thesis document. Her hard work and perseverance (and slight craziness) paid off big time. She’ll get the hood in January.


BallyH mountainbike goodness

Saturday last (the 25th) was a day that was beautiful cycling weather, so it was arranged to meet up with Dave T in  BallyH and do the brown loop. As I was a bit late getting to the carpark, Dave had headed onwards to meet up with the rest of the group to take it handy while I caught up. I unpacked the bike and changed really quickly, hopped on the bike, clipped in and started cycling. I next took a break at the log with the banana graveyard behind it, at the brown/white division. 8.5km without getting off the bike, and at a fairly hard (for me) pace at about 45 minutes from the carpark to there. Fairly wrecked at this point. Dave was under time pressure to move onwards so himself and a few of the group headed for the rest of the Brown. I decided to do a portion of the white with the rest of the lads that were left. Lovely sections of the white, to test out the new rear spring that I fitted to the Reign to support my 15 stone weight ;) so it was a lot of fun keeping the tires on the trail and *hammering* along. Slow enough on the climbs, but I’m getting to the stage where I’m getting my balance and weight right for going around bends and humps and hollows.Youtube videos to follow soon.

All-important: keeping the bike on the trail….