I feel good…

“Whoa-oa-oa! I feel good, I knew that I would, now

I feel good, I knew that I would, now

So good, so good, I got you.”

‘I Feel Good’
James Brown

This is week 6 of the programme, and is billed as a recovery week. As I am still not 100% sure how to decipher the print out, I am simply toning down what I have been doing to date. Funnily enough, it says ‘even if you are feeling really fit DO NOT be tempted to go hard this week.’

Yeah right. Like that’s goin’ ta happen!

A reasonable but somewhat laboured swim (had to swap the pool for the gym a few times in the last few weeks due to crew levels and holidays) was followed by a fartlek run in the Park. Not on the same day, I hasten to add, lest anyone out there thinks I’ve lost all reason. Fartlek is one of those words that you will never get used to regardless of how many times you say it. It’s one of the few truly ‘runners-only’ words, and no doubt the runners out there know it means ‘speed play’ in Swedish. Or, to the uninitiated person sitting on a park bench, watching some mad, crazy jogger blow past, it looks like the guy running is having some form of breakdown.

Anyway, suffice to say it felt tough. The weather was warm, and I lost about 3 gallons of sweat. Okay, that may be an exaggeration. Call it 2.

Today we took Old Bessie out for a spin. The weather was glorious; blue skies and not too much wind. In fact, earlier that day I had been trying to work out the wind direction. Watching a cloud spread across the sky, I couldn’t fathom the way the wind was blowing at all. I made a rough guess it was coming up from the south-west and headed along the Celbridge Road towards Young’s Cross and out by the Lord’s Road towards Ardclough.

I was pleasantly surprised to find my legs were happily whizzing around, and the speedo confirmed an average 32 to 33 km/h. I turned left towards the Village at Lyons, and right onto the Grand Canal towpath.

The view towards Ardclough from Omer's Lough at the Village at Lyons.
The view towards Ardclough from Omer’s Lough at the Village at Lyons.

Halfway along there is a wonderful lock called Omer’s Lock, and there is some history here dating back to the construction of the canal, and it all boils down to finances, the Bog of Allen, and the locks for the barges. I gather the company funding the canal were running out of cash, and in order to finish it, they had to reduce the size and width of the locks. Read more about that here, if you wish.

We had a brief stopover here, Dear Old Bessie and I, though it’s only fair to give her her full rock ‘n’ roll title, which is Dearg Doom (or Didi, for short). Dearg Doom is, as any Irish person of my vintage will know, is a classic Irish trad rock song by The Horslips. When you hear this riff, you are magically transported back to a time of triclour-festooned streets, Jackie Charlton grinning into the camera, and the boys in green puttin’ ’em under pressure. Well, if you’re Irish, and know even the tiniest thing about football. If not, you may find the video and it’s glorious fashion statements slightly disturbing. Click the link if you dare. Either way, this is the best evidence yet that time travel will one day exist. Dearg is the Irish for red. hence Dearg Doom. That, and I like the Horslips.

Dearg Doom leaning against Omer's Lock. Two bits of engineering history, side by side!
Dearg Doom leaning against Omer’s Lock. Two bits of engineering history, side by side!

I continued on past Ardclough and stopped briefly to take a picture of the old school house that was once the home of famous Irish painter, Philippa Bayliss. You can check out some here work on her site, and I know she painted many fine works in the garden attached to the side of the house, some of which are probably on the website.
Out to the next bridge, and left towards the Blue Door, and left again, up the side of Boston Hill. It’s hard to know which way is worse really; if you tackle it head on from Ardclough, it’s a little shorter but steeper. From the side, it’s quite a drag. Either way, it’s worth it, as you are rewarded with cracking views over the plains of Kildare. And what goes up must come down… nothing beats a good blow-out downhill at over 50 km/h.

The Old School House along the canal.
The Old School House along the canal.

As I turned for home, I realised I had miscalculated the breeze, and mild enough as it was, it was now in my face for much of the return leg. No wonder I was clocking such good speeds on the way out. Still, the legs felt surprisingly good, and we managed to get back in good time. All told, about 90 minutes.

The training plan did say ‘easy ride’ so I guess that counts.

Bridge at Ardclough, and signs for Arthur's Way heritage walk.
Bridge at Ardclough, and signs for Arthur’s Way heritage walk.

postscript: I may one day do some statistical analysis on the friendliness of passing cyclists in relation to the cost of their bike. There is an inverse proportionality to this, though I admit I have insufficient empirical data in order to graph this accurately.

The view from Boston Hill. Always worth it, especially on a fine day.
The view from Boston Hill. Always worth it, especially on a fine day.

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