Tag Archives: monellan

#showusyourbrew

So today I did something very different. I’ve made and uploaded my very first YouTube video!

The idea behind it came from a video I watched by Mark from the Twin Peaks Wild Camping channel. The concept is to go out into the woods, make yourself a tea or coffee (a brew), film the process and upload it to YouTube. The purpose is to speak about mental health and especially mental health in men who are particularly poor at talking about mental health issues.

I feel that this is a very important topic and needs as much publicity as possible. This blog won’t get that out to a very big audience but I am tagging two other channels that I follow. They are Paul Messner and Simon A Bloke in The Woods. Between them they have just over 200K subscribers and if they accept the challenge then that is big publicity.

I don’t go into anything too personal in the video but I think it’s important to highlight that everyone struggles with their mental health at times. Sometimes people who seem the happiest on the outside are unhappy on the inside. Sometimes this is just a day here and there and sometimes it’s many, many days at a time. Keep an eye on those around you, especially your friends. Don’t be afraid to check if they are OK. If you are struggling with your mental health please know that you are not alone no matter how much you may feel you are.

Here in Ireland there are two main organisations for anyone looking for help or just someone to talk to.

Pieta House

Samaritans Ireland

This is also why I was out on the MTB yesterday. I wanted to do a bit of exploring to find a good spot, somewhere pleasant to sit and film and where I wouldn’t be disturbed. I found a cracking spot along the river in my local Monellan woods. This is also why I made the alcohol stove and billy can earlier in the week. You can watch the video below to see how I got on.

back on the fat tyres

My last spin on the MTB was in May when I managed to break my derailleur hanger! I did eventually get a replacement once lockdown was over but fitting it was fiddly and I couldn’t get the gearing dialled in. The bike needed a good service and cable change so I decided to leave it until I could get it to Halfords in Letterkenny. The 31 Days of Biking challenge took over and then the purchase of my new bike and the poor MTB remained hanging up in the garage in semi retirement.

I eventually got myself organised and left it in for a service a couple of weeks ago and got everything sorted and in good working order again ready for the inevitable change in weather that would put me off the road bike.

Today the weather wasn’t too bad but for some reason I couldn’t get motivated to ride the road bike. The weather was mild but grey and drizzly and the thought of 2-3 hours was dispiriting. Having decided to just go for an hour I decided to use the MTB instead to get a decent workout in the legs and make sure everything was good after the service.

As always leaving the house is the most challenging bit and while I was dropping down the hill from the house I quickly decided to extend the route to make my 25km spin into 30km. The novelty of the MTB though soon had me smiling and enjoying the ride so 30 quickly became 40 and then 45, eventually finishing up just over 46km.

Most of the spin was on roads, a mixture of back roads like above and slightly busier main roads but with it being a lockdown Sunday afternoon traffic was pretty light and no lorries which is the biggest bonus.

On the way out of Killygordon I decided to do a bit of exploring and dropped down off the road, under the bridge and along the weir access lane along the riverbank.

I’ve only ever been down this lane once or twice and not for a very long time. The river was full and fast after the recent spell of heavy rain and the weir was in full flow.

The lane ends at the weir but there were rough tracks going a bit further, likely created by local fishermen walking upriver and perfect for the MTB.

It’s the ability to randomly change route and head off track that I love about the MTB. Exploring off road brings out my inner 8 year old and reminds me of the fun I had as a kid with a bike growing up in a small village.

My mini riverside adventure gave me an interest in more. Going into Ballybofey I thought about Drumboe but figured it would be pretty busy on a mild Sunday afternoon so went on down the main road with a plan to visit Monellan instead.

Monellan was busy enough too but nothing too annoying for either me or the families out walking. I buzzed around the forest tracks and two of the rougher little paths. I decided to skip the section where I broke my hanger in May but did get to ride the path we discovered earlier this year for the first time.

the new path

Leaving Monellan I made my final route change and headed up the steep road climb to Gleneely School and round my normal walking/running route and back home. Having talked myself out of a 2-3hr road spin for an hour I ended up being out for 2hrs 15min and really enjoyed myself.

click the image to view on strava

a mechanical in lockdown

I’m not the handiest person when it comes to bicycle repair and maintenance and my main cycling fear during lockdown is that I would break something beyond my basic repair skills. That happened yesterday!

My cycling mileage has steadily decreased over the 8 weeks of restrictions but the MTB has been neglected the most. Apart from a short and uninspiring spin around the local roads my MTB hasn’t seen much use since since the end of March.

On Tuesday our exercise restriction was relaxed to allow us to go up to 5km from home for exercise. This covers two and most of a third forestry area that are perfect for a 60-90min blast on the MTB. On our last couple of visits to Monellan for walking we also discovered 2 new trails off the main tracks and perfect for a bit of “natural” MTBing.

On Friday I managed to shake off my resurgent cycling ennui and decided to dust off the MTB. Down the road, across a rough farm track, back on the road for 2km and into the woods. The first bit of trail runs down the side of the river and along the original estate wall before meeting up with another trail. Along the wall the trail passes through a number of narrow gaps between trees and on some of these someone has added piles of small branches to create small jumps for ponies. These also make perfect small jumps for a MTB. The third jump has been made too big to take with a bike so I detoured to the left to avoid it. As I passed I didn’t see the end of one of the branches sticking out that managed to catch my rear wheel and drivetrain. By the time I realised what had happened the damage was done!

Thankfully the hanger did its job and broke before the derailleur itself was damaged. A bit of online research and it looks like an easy repair but getting the part will be the tricky bit. There are a multitude of hangers available to buy and you need to buy the exact one to match your frame.

Normally a quick call to Halfords and I would have one within a couple of days. Unfortunately all the Halfords stores are currently closed in RoI and services in NI are highly limited plus my nearest NI stores are approx 45min away.

An online chat with the UK website resulted in a recommendation to contact a store and discuss with store staff as the online rep was working from home with limited access to information. I’ve decided to wait until tomorrow to try and make sure I get a more experienced member of staff on shift.

At least getting home was easier. Catriona and Conor were walking in Monellan so a short wait for them to appear on the trail and I was able to head to the car park, load the bike into the back of the car and wait for them to finish. A 4km walk home pushing a broken bike wouldn’t have been much fun!

Header image by Pixabay from Pexels

n2r w1r2

Week 1 Run 2

click the image to view on strava

After the excitement of R1 tonight was more of a reality check. R1 was a well rested Sunday morning while today was in the dark after 2 busy days at work averaging 10k steps each day and a row/cross trainer session in the gym yesterday evening.

I felt slow and awkward on the running intervals but in hindsight the trails in Monellan are too rough for comfort in the dark and wearing trainers. They’re great in hiking boots and walking the dog, even in the dark, but not for running. As my runs will be mostly in the evening and therefore in the dark I need to pick another location but I have one in mind.

I also felt very flat footed and heavy this evening which is why I previously gave up on C25K after the first couple of runs. I’m not sure if I’m being hyper sensitive to my gait, if it was the trail and the dark that was throwing me off or if my gait is that bad? Sitting on the sofa now there’s some tenderness in my shins but no pain. Running was the same.

After all that negativity I did enjoy it, especially the better sections of the trail and I did do three 40/45 second intervals. I was tempted to do an extra one or two but I managed to keep control of the enthusiasm to avoid injury and stuck with the plan.

Walked about 1km extra back to the start in about 10min but have decided to only record the actual N2R workouts so I can monitor progress properly.

none to run

I’ve been cycling for almost 7 years now and I’ve always enjoyed hiking and walking but I’ve never been a runner! Up to now this image has described me perfectly:

I’ve tried running a few times but it was always a case of too much, too soon due to lack of understanding how to start running. I’ve tried Couch25K a couple of times but gave up after a couple of runs due to lack of motivation. I also have a really bad running style that combined with a poor training strategy has resulted in a tendency towards shin splints.

I was researching C25K again last week and came across NoneToRun (N2R) which is for pure beginners. C25K is distance based with the ultimate aim of running 5km at the end of 9 weeks. N2R is time based with the aim of running 25min non-stop at the end of 12 weeks. It’s also walk/run based but incorporates some basic strength training to build endurance and avoid injury. It also has a very active and very supportive Facebook Group.

I had planned to cycle this morning but was suffering from a complete lack of motivation to get on the bike. Eventually I was that pissed off I decided to give N2R Week 1 a go 😱

To make things that bit easier I decided to go to Monellan Woods so I could run on the trails. I know Monellan well from walking the dog and MTBing and figured it would be less public and easier on the joints as well as a more enjoyable environment.

The first couple of run/walk intervals felt quite easy but I could feel the effects increasing towards the end. I did feel pretty comfortable throughout and could see the temptation to do more but stuck to the plan.

click the photo to see on strava

I ended up at 35min as my 25min finished and I was still 10min from the car but left the watch recording to the end.

I did have a few niggles with my shins but nothing bad so hopefully that doesn’t get any worse and with time my legs will get stronger and my gait and form will improve so that I avoid injury.

I had Rosie with me for company. She loves Monellan but her reaction to my running sections was so funny. Totally confused and over excited the first couple of times. Only issue was having to stop twice to put her on the lead when we met other walkers. If I go early or later in the evening then I won’t have that issue.

rosie doesn’t really get selfies 🤣

two for two

This week I’m feeling a renewed motivation to ride my bike again. I’m not sure what it is but I think it’s a combination of changing jobs, the warm glow of our week away, an increased feeling of fitness from walking so much each day we were away and an increased optimism for the future.

I was on the road bike yesterday and this morning I went out for 2 hours on the MTB.

Slightly over 32km taking in most of the trails I know around home. Off the forest tracks it was slippy and slidey following the thunderstorms last night testing my bike handling skills.

great to see kids still building these

there definitely is a trail beyond that gate

it wasn’t as grey as that sky suggests

I got soaked about 15min from home just as I went into Corradoey but it couldn’t wipe the smile off my face.

Further plans for this week too 😊

mountain bike

Determined not to waste the good weather I decided to head out on the mountain bike this afternoon. Almost put off by a flat rear tyre when I went to check on the bike but had it changed within 10mins and didn’t let it stop me.

Headed down the road and across into Monellan woods. It’s our local Coillte planted forest and although it doesn’t cover a big area it has a good mix of forest tracks and off trail paths* that give a feel of more difficult and challenging biking. There’s a decent amount of rough areas with humps and hollows, roots and rocks and some small piles of logs** for hopping over.

*the paths are a mixture of tracks created by locals walking and horse riding in through the trees over the years.

**I think these are small jumps for people training horses.

I spent about half an hour in here before heading back to the road and climbing up Gleneely. This hill hits 12% on one section and 10% on three others so it’s a sure way to get the heart rate up!

The point of the hill was to get up to Corradooey, a small wood I only discovered a couple of weeks ago. It’s only a 2km loop but more than worth it with one section pretty much completely overgrown. It’s dry now but will be a real challenge in the wet Winter. This wood seems quiet and mostly un-used by locals. I saw a rare red squirrel here last time and a deer today.

Final bit was a fast downhill most of the way home.

click on the image to view the activity