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.
The plan for today was to get out on the Bicycle, enjoy the Colours of Autumn and spend a couple of hours in the Saddle.
For once it was dry and Sunny but the ever present wind was still hanging around and accompanying it now were Winter temperatures, a very cold day but enjoyable all the same. I set off up the Comber Greenway to Comber then up the old Ballygowan road in to the Ballynichol road and up the Drumhirk road before taking the Moss road to Balloo and a pit stop even though I had not done enough Miles to earn it.
Fuelled up I set off again don the Craigarusky road and the Tullynakill road then out the Ringneill road to Nendrum. A tailwind assisting my momentum but I knew that when I would turn for home that assistance would turn to in my face resistance. Home via the Ballydrain road to Comber and then along the Greenway for a handy enough 36 mile spin.
It was already getting dark as I left the house, threw a leg over the Saddle and clipped in to the pedals for a short, handy spin on the Bicycle.
I set off up the Comber Greenway to Comber and had to do a bit of Cyclocross across some soft, muddy ground as the aftermath of Storm Ophelia had left a few fallen Trees across the shared use tarmac pathway. Through Comber and briefly up the dual Carriageway before a right turn to the shore of Strangford Lough at Islandhill just in time to capture a couple of quick pics on my phone of the afterglow of the Sunset.
A very Wet Evening and as the meeting time approached for the Weekly Tuesday Phoenix CC Slaughter in the Quarter fast group spin more and more people cried off opting for the warmth and dry off their homes. I on the other hand decided to not let a little Water put me off and set off down the Greenway in the direction of Belfast hoping there would be a few hardy / foolish members to accompany me in the sufferfest.
Waiting outside the Premier Inn Hotel and it was beginning to look like I was the only one foolish enough to accept a soaking. Soon though I was joined by another, then another and before long we had a very small group of five, this was going to be even harder than normal. A small group means less recovery time in the group before your turn on the front comes around again. With water-logged roads, lots of spray and darkness too making visibilty an issue we called it quits after three laps, one less than normal but a really good Workout. My right Calf was starting to cramp so I am not sure I could have managed the final lap if we had not cut the session short.