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Aidan's Blog

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Introducing Aidan

Aidan Ryan (right above with Giro,TDF & World Road Race Championship winner Stephen Roche) has been involved in cycling for 39 years. He has experience in many aspects of the sport, road racing, track, mountain biking as well as leisure cycling.

Between 1977 and 1988 Aidan won 7 All Ireland Cycling Championships and represented Ireland on a number of occasions. He is a level 3 coach and and holds a degree in physical education so is well equipped to answer your questions.

Aidan also offers a training service which you can learn more about here

If you would like to ask him a question, please click here for the question form

Winter 2012

As we head into Christmas I was reflecting recently on how I'd been out on the bike with Sorrento CC every Saturday for the past 6 or 7 weeks and on none of these occasions did it rain. I dont think we got 3 Saturdays in a row with out rain during the summer.

Often people tell me they would consider cycling to work if the weather was better and we are all guilty of complaning about the Irish weather. However if you sit down and examine it, count the number of times you've got wet (because it is rain that we all really refer to as bad weather ).

They are not that many. Most days since the middle of October I have ridden my bike to and from work to here in Dublin. In that period I've only got a good soaking on two occasions. Maybe I've been lucky. Maybe the few days that I had to drive just happened to be the wet ones. But that is not my memory. As I sat in the traffic most times I drove, I recall enviously watching commuting cyclists pass along the cycle lane unmolested by rain.

Now I'm no expert on climate change but it seems to me that I got more wettings during the summer.If this is the case then I feel very fortunate in this job to spend a number of weeks guiding cyclists in France in the Summer. At least that way I get my ration of sunshine while riding my bike. When the its dull, cold and drizzling here I can let my head go back to one of the tours of the summer to brighten up my day.

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Spring 2012

We got away lightly this winter. No major freezes. It has been possible to stay on the bike all through the Winter. I am as guilty as most of complaining about the weather in Ireland but when you think about and really examine it, the conditions are not so bad for cycling after all.

Recently someone told me they would not cycle to work as they thought they would be cycling in rain most days. We are probably all guilty of exagerating the rainfall levels in Ireland but a semi scientific review of my almost daily commute to work in Dublin over the past two months (December and January) reveals only two soakings! Add to this the regular spin through Wicklow with the club on Saturdays and I have to go back to before October to remember getting wet on one of these rides.

In many places where they have much nicer summers for cycling, where a racing jersey and shorts are all you need from May to September, our cycling brethren are unable to ride their bikes or even venture out doors for weeks in the winter time. As I write large areas of central Europe are way below zero and roads are unusable. So a belated new years resolution is not to complain about the weather, at least not in the Winter!

Sorrento group dec12

A Sorrento Saturday morning group that remained dry yet again getting ready to depart fro Glen O'Downs  

 

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Autumn 2011

We are coming into winter again. The recent rain storms have reminded us of this even if the temperatures are still pretty good for this time of year. Riding in the rain is harder on you and your bike than riding in dry conditions.

From your point of view fitting a pair of mudguards and investing in good waterproofs will go a long way to improving your comfort.

Waterproof over shoes are also a good idea as it is almost impossible to avoid spray from the front wheel in this area.

Cycling in wet conditions is hard on your bike because the water thrown onto the bike will cause corrosion of the gear and brake cables. It can get into the bearings of the moving parts and take grit and dirt with it. This grit can clog up derailleurs, brakes, and cause excessive wear of the chain where it sticks to the oil.

bicycle brake cable

It is a good idea to wash down your bike regularly. Use a hose (but not a power hose as it will blast the grease out of bearings) and rinse off all the grit. Then get some warm water with car shampoo and wash everything using a soft brush or rags. When you have finished wipe the chain and gears with a cloth soaked with degreaser and oil the chain with a light oil. if you find your rear brakes are not opening after you pull them and are rubbing the rim of the wheel you may need a new brake cable and casing. The corrosion can cause the cable to stick to the casing that surrounds it. Sometimes slipping the casing out of the stops on the frame and lubing the cable in the area that is normally hidden by the casing can solve this problem.

2011-09-22 15.28.46

They said think big but you wont get this one on the Cycle to Work Scheme. A photo op in the Jura on Paris-Geneva

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Remembering the summer 2011

Did this happen, did we have a summer? From a biking point of view it seems like the autumn was the season. Warmer dryer weather than most of the year. We were guiding groups for most of September on two big tours; Paris to Geneva and Paris to Nice (through our sister company Cycling Safaris which organises these events). Happily France benefited even more from the the Indian Summer that graced most of Europe.

Bowling along the rolling back roads of Burgundy in the still air we needed our gillets in the mornings but were stripping off by lunch.

In the afternoons it was not just the temperatures that made us thirsty. When you ride through towns like Chablis and Beaune you cant but think of the products they are famous for.

We returned to Paris to guide a group riding Paris-Nice to raise funds for Special Olympics. The first two days of the route were almost the same but the temperatures on the second run were 6C-8C higher on the second run. The only time we put on a gillet or a jacket was to descend Mount Ventoux. This monumental climb is famed for its extreme weather conditions but this was my second time climbing it and on both occasions conditions were perfect for a heat seeker like me. As we continued south through Provence the weather got warmer and by the time we arrived in Nice we were dealing with 31C. God I love this job!

bonnette

 

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Col de Bonnette July 2011

We are just back from one of the greatest bike challenges run out of Ireland. The Irish Hospice Foudation's Dublin to Paris followed immediately by their Geneva to Nice challenge. It was a fortnight of mixed weather and contrasting routes. Summer had n't taken hold in Ireland before we left and the picture was only slightly better in Northern France as we rolled through lush country side on almost traffic free roads. We crossed vast flat plains surrounded by open wheat fields before dipping down into and climbing out of inviting river valleys in which were pretty villages of half timbered Tudor style houses.

Our second week saw us leave Geneva climbing gently towards the not too distant hills. Over the Col de Glandon, Alpe de Huez, Col de Lauteret, Col d'Izoard, Col de Vars and finally the "Europe's highest road", the Cime de Bonnette we hauled our carcasses. Slowly slogging to gain height through spectacular alpine scenery. Scree slopes here. Sheer drops there. Towering rock faces, marmots crossing, hot sun, freezing rain. This is cycling at its best. So many bench marks set; the hardest day on the bike; the coldest wettest day on the bike; the most spectacular and enjoyable day on the bike ever. To roll up the Promenade d'Anglaises in Nice on a warm sunny day and jump into the Mediterranean, bliss. Life does n't get much better than this.

2011-02-26 11 21 42 3

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March 2011

Winter is on the wane if not fully over. We've seen the elusive sun and temperatures have got into double figures. We can cycle to work in daylight. Time to get out on the roads or trails and enjoy the bike for the fun of it and to begin dreaming of the summer of cycling challenges ahead. I live in constant hope of little more global warming. A degree or two higher during the summer with a long dry spell would make this country one of the best cycling destinations in the world. Wicklow has such a variety of wonderful scenery and network of relatively traffic free back roads. For the off roader it has great trails. All these enhanced by a little heat would be a dream come true.

So what are your objectives for the Summer of cycling? The road racing season begins the first weekend in March. Sportives have already being attracting big numbers. The Paddy Martin memorial in Bray had over 180 participants in mid February. You have to wonder what the big events like the Wicklow 200 and the An Post series will be like.

Personally I'm looking forward to the Irish Hospice Foundation's Dublin - Paris and Geneva - Nice. The latter is going to be a real buzz. 5days through the alps. Just a week after the Tour de France finishes we will be tackling some its iconic climbs. Think Alp d'Huez, Col Iozard, Col de Bonnette. Got to go, have get in a few miles in preparation

 

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