A couple of inches of the White stuff on the ground accompanied by plenty of Ice and freezing temperatures ruled out any Cycling outdoors for me, just not worth the injury risk! So instead I grabbed the trusty Nikon, pulled on the walking Boots and went for a Walk around Stormont Estate.
X-Boxes and Playstations did not get much attention this Morning as all the local kids were enjoying the Snow on the steep slopes of Stomont’s grounds. Lots of Dogs too were having a Ball.
There was also the appearance of a few of these strange creatures.
Straight home afterwards and on to the Hamster Wheel for some indoor Cycling torture in the pain cave dreaming of warm, balmy Summer Evenings. The Hamster Wheel has seen a bit of duty lately, hopefully milder weather will put in an appearance over the Christmas holidays to allow me the opportunity to get out and clock up a few miles.
A bit milder than of late, the Mercury settling at around 7 degrees Celsius but alas the Roads were not only soaking wet but also filthy. Nothing else for it but to gear up and get out on the Bicycle and get a good long Bike ride in.
With the low Winter Sun reflecting off of wet roads visibility was challenging at times so I was thankful to have a good bright rear light and some fluoro on my hands and feet to increase my road presence.
My route took me up the traffic free Comber Greenway then I went Coastal around the Strangford Lough shoreline passing Castle Espie and Sketrick Island resisting the lure of a Caramel Square at Daft Eddies. Onwards to Whiterock and the steep climb up out of it towards Killinchy before swinging left in to more traffic free country lanes with more Coastal bays occasionally the Sun finding a gap in the Clouds to paint the County Down landscape.
Leaving the Ringdufferin road and emerging on to the main Killyleagh road all was good, the legs were good, the Bike was running sweet and I now had some flatter terrain and a bit of a tailwind. I was in Killyleagh in no time. A right turn took me up past Killyleagh Castle and out through Shrigley onwards to Raffrey and Saintfield and a brisk spin down to Ballygowan then out the Moss road to Balloo. From Balloo I took the main road to Lisbane before descending down to the Coastal roads again passing Castle Espie a second time, through Comber and back along the Greenway which I did a few laps of to add on some additional miles.
I gave the Bike a good wash and lube leaving it ready to go again the next time.
An absolutely freezing Night for a spin on the Bicycle, really cold air deep down in to the lungs to add to the pain. Two pairs of Gloves on each hand to keep the digits warm, four layers up top but even so I kept it short rather than risk getting a chest infection from the cold night air.
A short spin down the Greenway to Holywood Arches then along the Connswater river to Victoria Park out on to the Airport road picking up the pace round by Kinnegar and in to Holywood. A short intense effort on My Ladys road saw me achieve a personal best time for that road and then back home to Dundonald for a welcome hot shower and a warm meal. At least it stayed dry for once.
With heavy Legs from yesterdays Cycling I Saddled up for the short spin across town to Ormeau Park to watch and Photograph the penultimate round of the 2017 Ulster Cyclocross championship.
A rucksack on my back I kept it simple with Camera equipment, partly to reduce the weight of equipment to carry on my back, just one DSLR a prime 35mm lens and a longer lens for a bit more reach. It was a cold and dry day with not much light to work with. Below is a small selection of the Cyclocross Photographs I captured on the day.
A little treat this Morning with an extra two hours on the Pillow 🙂 when I did escape the clutch of the duvet and looked out the window in anticipation of a nice dry day to get a good long Bicycle ride in, I was immediately shrouded in apathy when I saw it had rained overnight and the roads were soaking.
The Weather forecast was actually quite decent for the time of year so I decided to wait a few hours before venturing out on the Winter Bike. It was just after mid-day when I finally got organised and out on the bike. A quick scoot across to Dave Kanes Cycles on the Newtownards road to stock up on CO2 cannisters a real timesaver when inflating a tyre after a puncture repair.
Leaving Kaners the traffic was very heavy so I took the Greenway up to Comber and the main road to Ballygowan and on to Saintfield. It was a balmy 7 degrees and having dressed in plenty of layers I was wondering if I had over-dressed but I knew the temperature would drop as the Afternoon wore on.
Leaving Saintfield on the Station road and through Darragh cross and Raffrey to Derryboye then onwards to Crossgar the miles were coming easy, an enjoyable spin so far. Out through Kilmore then exploring the lanes across to Killyleagh then through Shrigley and back around to Derryboye.
Onwards to Raffrey then a right turn towards Ballgowan before deciding to detour across the Vesty road to the Saintfield road and back in to Ballygowan. With 45 miles on the odometer by now this was the longest Bike ride I had done in many Weeks and the energy levels were fading as quickly as the temperature was plummeting, but I was determined to keep at it and chalk up 60 plus so continued on along the Moss road and down the Tullynagee road to the Ballydrain road and back in to Comber and home via the Greenway.
A bitterly cold night 😯 my Cycle Computer informed me it was just one degree celcius as I set off up the Comber Greenway to Comber, it never got any warmer. The plus side of riding a bike at this time of night is the Greenway is nearly always deserted.
From Comber I took the Ballydrain road keeping a decent effort up to keep generating body heat, out past Castle Espie, then the ascent of the Quarry road in to Lisbane stopping to capture a quick snap shot on my phone.
Through Lisbane and along the Lisbarnett road and Moss road to Ballygowan and then the Ravara and Lisdoonan road with only the stars in the night sky and the sound of silence for company.
Back out on to main roads at Carryduff and the bright City lights it was now mostly downhill from here to Forestside, then down the Ormeau road, along the Ormeau embankment, along the Beersbridge road and up the Newtownards road and a short stop for some warm food. It was at that point I noticed something small embedded in my rear tyre, I foolishly removed it 🙄 and was surprised to see it was a two inch long thorn and I now had to stand in the cold night air and fix a puncture before riding the final mile or so home for a nice hot shower.
A change from the norm today as I decided to give the roads a miss and instead get off-road and ride the Blue Trail beside Mary Peters track at Barnett Demesne. These type of trails are named singletrack as they are only wide enough for a single Bicycle.
With Trees left and right, rocks, bumps, mud etc you have to keep your wits about you to avoid a sudden impact. The trails are aimed at Mountainbikers but the Blue trail has none of the bigger jumps, rocks etc so is manageable on a drop bar Bicycle. Below is a video clip I recorded on my pass through the Blue trail, there are no big speeds involved unlike road riding but it is very technical made all the more challenging by a slow puncture on the front.
Having spent the entire Week packing my possessions in to boxes, driving over to my new House and then unpacking the same boxes one Car load at a time, today was the day I had ear-marked to get out for a good long Bicycle ride to pedal away the stress.
The plan was to make the short journey across town to McConveys Bicycle shop on the Ormeau road and then set off from there up the Lagan towpath to Shaw’s Bridge and back out on to the road to get a good 60 – 80 miles in. All was going to plan until I got to the Lockkeepers Cottage when I heard my Phone ringing. An early afternoon delivery of a Sofa soon had me hastily changing my plan.
The alternate plan I came up with was to just take a very slow, easy Bike ride round the Minnowburn / Giants Ring area and back home again the same way I had come. Although dry I had checked the Weather forecast before setting off this Morning and it was to be overcast all day so rather than carry a proper Camera with me I accepted that the light would be nondescript all day and my mobile phone would suffice to capture a few images.
Scroll through the image gallery below to get a taste of Autumn in Belfast.
A short little ride this afternoon, just shy of one and a half hours on the saddle on a grey, chilly day but beautiful dry roads. No Cafe stop this time, just a non-stop, steady effort spin. 24 Miles door-to-door, not as much wind as of late and not a single drop of rain.