Foggy, Drizzly Coastal

I was planning to get up and get out for a ride with my Phoenix Cycling Club this Morning but Andrea a local Romanian Girl whom I have ridden with a few times contacted me and asked me to take her for a spin. Not knowing the roads too well and not having done many miles this year she wanted me to take her over towards Ardglass for about 50 – 50 miles.

It was still quite cold and foggy when we set off so lights and some high-viz accents were the order of the day. Out through Dundonald and the main roads to Comber, Ballygowan and Saintfield and onwards to Ballynahinch, Spa and on to Seaforde all in to a headwind and with me riding in front of Andrea to shelter her from the wind I was feeling quite tired already. Leaving Seaforde through Clough and off in the direction of Ballykinler we were now travelling across the Wind. A quick stop at a local petrol station in Ballykinler to take on more drinks and off we went through Minerstown and Rossglass and then a left turn back towards Downpatrick where we finally had the Wind on our backs and our pace automatically increased.

A quick stop on the outskirts of Downpatrick for a snack and we were soon speeding down the Kilough road in to Downpatrick, through the town and out on to the Killyleagh road crossing the Quoile Bridge and staying on the main road for a mile or two before turning left in to the Scaddy road.

My legs which were earlier feeling empty were now reenergised from the earlier food no doubt helped by the strong tailwind, Andrea on the other hand was understandably tiring quite rapidly with not enough miles in her legs yet this year. Over to Derryboye and Raffrey and then the rolling hills of the Carrickmannon road back to Ballygowan my legs were now pulling like a train and I kept a strong pace down to Comber and back to Dundonald for a tough but enjoyable 64 miles.

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Spinning the Legs over

After yesterdays longer Bike ride, the longest for a long time, I needed a short, very slow spin to spin the legs over and flush out some fatigue. Up the Greenway to Comber, out the Ballydrain road dodging the bomb-crater sized pot-holes on the Castle Espie road to Quarry road and back home. Just 17 miles and a very leisurely pace but it done the job.

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Spin with Vin

So far this year I have not got out and managed to fit in a decent longer distance Bicycle ride, today was all about addressing that.

I phoned my mate Gavin and arranged to meet him in Moira and then go for a loop together before going our separate ways again. I set off from Dundonald through Belfast out the Malone road up the Sandy lane through Hilden in to Lisburn and then a hard paced push up the main road in to Moira thinking I was cutting it fine on time only to have to wait a few minutes for Gavin to Cycle across from Tandragee.

Gavin suggested a Coffee to get his Legs firing and I needed a Sugary fix to replace the energy expended up the main road to Moira so it was in to the Fat Gherkin for a quick pit-stop before we set off together.

We set off up the Clarehill road skirting round Edenmore Golf Course then through Gamblestown and down the Lurgan road in to Dromore and another quick stop for a bit of Window shopping in Magill Cycles Shop.

Leaving Dromore we Cycled underneath the A1 and made our way through Ashfield, Blackskull and Lawrencetown and on to Gillberry Fayre for another cuppa then off again picking up the pace to Waringstown where we went our separate ways again.

I made my way to Magheralin through Moira out the Lany road to Down Royal race course across Bog road and Blaris road to Lisburn and home via Dunmurry and Finaghy for 77 miles my longest Bicycle ride of this year. Job done.

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The C group

This Morning’s ride choices were a Sportive in Armagh, a different Sportive in Lisburn, a solo cycle or out for a group spin with my Cycling Club. I eventually settled for the latter option but by the time I had made my choice I had left myself very tight on time to make it across time for the 9.30am start… only to remember on the way over that the Club spins were now back to the early start time of 9am for the duration of British Summer Time.

Cycling along the Knock Carriageway I knew I would miss the Club spin and was figuring out a solo route in my head when at Shaw’s Bridge I met a small group coming the opposite direction so I quickly done a u-turn and jumped on the back of the group. It turned out to be the C group a much, much slower group than I normally ride with but I thought why not just go with them anyway and enjoy the more relaxed pace.

From Shaw’s Bridge we went up the Ballylesson road then briefly on to the Hill hall road and in to the Ballycoan road for a long climb up to the Leverouge road and then the descent down to Carryduff. In to the Killynure road through Saintfield to Derryboye across to Balloo, Killinchy, Whiterock and round for a Coffee stop at Daft Eddies.

Leaving Ballydorn we navigated around to the Tullynakill road, ascended the Quarry road to Lisbane onwards to Ballygowan along the Ravara road round to Carryduff and then the main road back to the Knock carriageway and home for a very easy paced 53 mile spin.

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To exercise the Legs or exercise the Nikon?

To exercise the Legs or exercise the Nikon? That was the dilemma this Morning as I contemplated between riding my Bicycle or scooting over to Photograph the Killinchy GP Cycle race.

In the end I decided to load up a backpack with the trusty Nikon and Cycle over to Photograph the racing. It was a good job I did not decide to go for a proper bike ride as my legs were strangely empty and not wanting to push the wattage required to sustain a decent speed and so I took a leaisurely spin up the Greenway in to Comber then the main road to Ballygowan and out the Carrickmannon road with only a couple of minutes to wait for the opening lap of the Killinchy GP.

Dig in and hold the wheel in front #cycling #cyclingni #killinchygp

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As soon as the race traffic had passed me it was back on the Saddle again to Cycle on to my next shooting location.

Checking the gap #killinchygp #cyclingni #cycling @phoenixcc_belfast @newrywheelers

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Then off again for another location.

Aero tuck #killinchygp #cyclingni #cycling #roadcycling

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Keeping hydrated #killinchygp #cyclingni #cycling #roadcycling

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The Peloton #killinchygp #cyclingni #cycling #roadcycling

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Another change of location and this time also a change of lens to get a wider viewpoint.

@phoenixcc_belfast 's Donal Shearer #killinchygp #cyclingni #cycling #roadcycling

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Skimming the Wall #killinchygp #cyclingni #cycling #roadcycling

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Then off for another short spin in to Ballygowan to capture the last lap.

@phoenixcc_belfast lads on the front #killinchygp #cyclingni #cycling #roadcycling

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@dromaracc on the final lap #killinchygp #cyclingni #cycling #roadcycling

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Up, up, up

After three full rest days off the Bike it was time to get back in the Saddle and Cycle over to Ballynure to collect my Car which was in for a service and prep for its annual MOT test.

With the Greenway closed due to widening and resurfacing I opted for the main Newtownards road in to town, a tough start with hard sprints between traffic lights to not hold up traffic too much… as it turns out the Bicycle was quicker than the vehicle traffic.

From Belfast I took a spin up through the Duncrue estate before jumping on to the Loughshore Cyclepath to Gideons green then up the Doagh road through Monkstown and the long climb up the Knockagh road and Slievetrue road passing Cairnshill windfarm. The Knockagh climb never gets easier!

Navigating around numerous other mostly traffic-free roads my ride was soon over and I packed the Bike in to my Car for the drive home. 22 miles over testing terrain.

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Hard push

If yesterday was all about conserving energy, todays Cycle set fire to all the Matches and the Matchbox too. The overall average speed does not reflect that however as I battled a strong wind, I have definitely gone quicker in the past for much less effort.

A short spin but pushing hard against the wind and up quite a few short, sharp little hills. The Weather forecast for the coming few days is not good so a perfect opportunity to take a few days off the Bicycle and rest to let the body recover from all the hard training lately. But first a chance to sting the legs and empty the tank.

I set off through Dundonald and up the new line and in to Eden road having to slow to a crawl to avoid spooking a Horse much to the appreciation of the rider mounted on it. Then along the Gransha road, Ballykeel road, Monlough road and a real hard push down the Ravara road in to Ballygowan. From there I took the Moss road to Lisbane still battling a headwind and then a brisk descent of Quarry road to the Ballydrain road and Comber.

Finally time to cool the effort and just ride home nice and easy along the Greenway on another cold, but dry and sunny day.

Studying the data analytics post-ride a few rest days are definitely in order due to accruing a good build up of training stress in recent weeks.

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Keeping all the Matches in the Matchbox

Pushing hard efforts on a Bicycle is often referred to as burning a Match, and you only have a finite amount of Matches to burn before you run out of energy. Todays Bike ride was a nice steady spin keeping all of the Matches firmly in the Matchbox.

I set off through Dundonald along the main road to Comber and the main road to Ballygowan keeping the pace nice and steady. On to the Carrickmannon road and soon a small group of Cyclists from Dromore Cycling Club slipped past me, I was briefly tempted to burn a Match and give chase but thought better off it, a single Cyclist will rarely hold off a group of riders.

Turning off the Carrickmannon road at Raffrey and taking the Killyleagh road back towards Saintfield then in to Carsonstown road and the Saintfield road back to Ballygowan. A left took me in to the Ravara road then rolling along Monlough road to Moneyreagh then back to Dundonald via the Ballystockart and New Line roads for a thirty mile spin on dry roads with a strong wind and still very cold.

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Tell me why, I don’t like Mondays

As Monday Mornings go, I have definitely had many, many, worse ones than this. Two and a half hours on the Bicycle, pushing relatively hard for the first 40 minutes or so then just spinning easily in sight-seeing mode for the remainder.

It was a nice calm Morning, dry roads but not much Sunshine. A decent push through Dundonald, a steady effort up the Greengraves road, then lift the pace again on the Newtownards dual-carriageway, in to Milecross road and a big effort on the descent for a new personal best time, down past Kiltonga skirting around Ards shopping centre and the long draggy climb up past Scrabo then another nice descent down to the Comber carriageway and in to the Ballydrain road and time to start dropping the effort level and just cruise around.

Past Castle Espie and out to Nendrum on the Ringneill road, rarely have I seen Strangford Lough so calm in many, many months.

After chilling out for a few minutes it was back on the saddle back in the Ringneill road then up Quarry road to Lisbane, along the Moss road to Ballygowan in to the Ballycreely and Hillsborough roads back to Comber and home via the Greenway for 34 very pleasant miles.

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Sunny Sunday

Another lovely dry, sunny day, with a strong Northerly wind blowing. I clipped in to the pedals and set off through Dundonald, up the greengraves road across to Bradshaws Brae through Netownards and out the Portaferry coast road.

I was just cruising along nicely when another cyclist came around me at pace so I decided to jump on his wheel and match his pace. With the North wind behind me and a wheel in front of me punching a hole in the air I was motoring along at a very fast pace for not much more effort than earlier when cruising along solo and soon we were at Mount Stewart where I peeled off to sit in the Sun for a few minutes.

Not wanting to sit too long incase I either got a chill or the legs seized up I was soon on my way again back in the same road to Newtownards, enjoying the views across Strangford Lough to Scrabo and I decided to go home via Scrabo, Comber and the Greenway.

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