May 27th seems like a long way away, but if you’re taking part in the SKODA Tour de Conamara you are probably training away for the event already. If you are not, now is probably a good time to start! This can be a daunting task for some cyclists, never mind for people who are taking part in the event for the first time.
We caught up with Brian Nevin, a two time veteran of the SKODA Tour de Conamara and member of the Burren Racing Club. Brian also does cyclocross racing and has taken part in many other events here in Ireland and abroad. We found out more about his passion for the bike and tapped into his vast experience to get some ideas about approaching the Skoda Tour de Conamara.
You’ve recently returned from the Cyclocross World Championships, what was it like?
I was there as a spectator only! It was an amazing weekend. It was fantastic to see the pros going at it on a hard course and great to be able to support the Irish Junior rider, JB Murphy. I highly recommended this event!
What got you into cycling and for how long have you been a cyclist?
I finished playing Rugby six years ago and got straight into triathlon to keep fit. I spent three years competing in sprint, Olympic and half Ironman triathlons before eventually succumbing to a foot injury. I was really enjoying biking, both off-road and on-road, so I focused on that from then on.
What is it that you enjoy about riding your bike?
For me it’s a great way to switch off from the pressures and stresses of work etc. I find it to be a great outlet for that! All the worries and stress of life tend to dissipate once you get on your bike. I really enjoy keeping fit overall and looking after myself as best I can.
We know that you have a great riding pedigree. Aside from Tour of Flanders, Haut Alpes and L'Etape de Tour, could you give us some history?
2010-2014 Triathlon: I did several Olympic & sprint distance triathlons, Barcelona & Lost Sheep in Kenmare Half Iron Man.
August 2012 Haute Route - I completed this seven-day endurance challenge across the Alps from Geneva to Nice.
June 2016: 6 Stage Sudety Mountain Bike Stage Race in Poland.
Winter 2015/2016: I competed in the Munster Cyclocross League and Championship, and FIXX Cyclocross races.
Summer 2015/2016: Various Cycling Ireland Open Road races throughout the country
I was part of the winning Burren Racing Team at the Clare County Champs 2016 (Burren Racing Team placed 1st, 2nd, 5th, 6th). I also competed in the Ultimate Burren Mountain Bike Callenge in September and I race weekly in the Clare Cycle League during the summer months.
And of course, the Tour de Conamara in 2012 and 2016!
What road bike do you ride and where did you buy it?
I have two road bikes, a Planet X Pro Carbon, which I use for training and bought from Morgan Fox In Planet X, Athlone. My race bike is an Orbea Orca Gold, which I bought second-hand from a friend. My Cyclocross bike is a Unovelo CX Bike and I bought it from Evolution Bikes in Ennis.
How much training do you do a week and where do you ride mostly (when training)?
I train eight to 10 hours a week and when I’m not on the turbo, I train around Ennis as well as in North and East Clare.
You're a member of the Burren Racing Team. Can you please give us some background about them?
Burren Racing Team was set up in January 2015 as an offshoot of the main Burren Cycling Club. The objective was to support the needs of racing cyclists in County Clare. We currently have 28 riders on our ‘roster’ who are racing in open race categories from A1 to A4. 12 of the team race in cyclocross events throughout the winter and a small percentage of us race in mountain bike races. We are a committed bunch who train hard but also keep everyone grounded via healthy doses of slagging and banter!
How many times have you done the SKODA Tour de Conamara?
Twice, I did it in 2016 and in 2012 (the year Bernard Hinault participated!).
Having completed the event twice, what stands out most for you about the SKODA Tour de Conamara?
The SKODA Tour de Conamara is a great event primarily because the terrain is stunning, varied and challenging. The scenery along the route is unrivaled with some stunning vistas across Connemara National Park as well as some hard climbs to keep all riders focused along the way. Both times I've done SKODA Tour de Conamara, I have been impressed by the friendly nature of both fellow riders and staff working on the event.
For a seasoned rider, what advice would you offer ahead of SKODA Tour de Conamara?
What I would suggest is the following:
- Assess the event distance and plan your training around the SKODA Tour de Conamara. Build your mileage up over a 12 -15 week basis before the event.
- Make sure each session you do focuses on the various aspects of your cycling whether it is climbing or on the flat etc - try to eliminate ‘junk miles’.
- Practice your on the bike nutrition and hydration to avoid the dreaded bonk. Pay attention to your before and after nutrition as well.
- A recovery day is as important as a training day in many ways…rest, massage, foam rolling etc should all form part of your plan
For a cyclist who is new to sportives and mass participation events, could you also offer some advice?
- Really the above is as pertinent to an experienced cyclist as a newbie.
- For a newbie I would suggest making sure you don’t bite off more than you can chew!
- Make sure your bike is in good working order, clean and maintained.
- Ensure to bring spare tubes, lever, mini pump and a multi-tool with you for training and sportives.
Keep an eye out for the BikeExchange team at the event! We’ll be there in May in a Celtic Warrior capacity using the hashtag #beceltic whilst supporting our fellow warriors who are are taking part (yes, that’s you!). So, on that note, get training and let us know how you’re getting on in the comments below or on our Facebook page. Finally, don’t forget to sign up for the SKODA Ring of Clare which happens a little later in the summer on July 29th 2017. Why not do the double?! Here's some more information on the Skoda Series and BikeExchange's partnership.
We hope this article has been helpful. Check out Six Cycling Training Tips for the Busy Nine-Five Worker!