Wild and Windy

Is there no end to these strong Winds? August was a washout, now Autumn is just one constant battle with the Wind… and the Wind is winning the battle every single time.

Today was a 42 mile Cycle door-to-door. Up the Comber Greenway then out the Ballydrain road and up in to Balloo briefly on to the main road and then back in to the narrow lanes to Shrigley and on to Killyleagh. A constant headwind was very tiring and slowed the forward progress. Sadly the return journey did not see me benefit from a tailwind bar one short stretch through Killyleagh the rest of it was another battle with the wind. Another tough day in the Saddle.

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Soggy Saturday Solo

After waiting all Morning and most of the Afternoon for the Wind and Rain to subside it was time to grab the Winter Bike and head out for a shorter spin than normal and so I decided to keep the intensity high instead.

I set off down the Comber Greenway at a steady pace to warm the legs up then a slower pace from C.S. Lewis Square past the Oval and in to Victoria Park then picking up the effort again leaving the Park and all along the Airport road round to Holywood.

From Holywood the speed dropped but the effort increased with the gradient as I climbed up Church road, Victoria road and Creightons green road, a long climb that just never gets any easier. A temporary respite from the climbing as I descended Whinney Hill, Holywood road and Bradshaws Brae down in to Newtownards before the climbing effort started again up the Scrabo road and then the descent down in to Comber and a nice flat spin home along the Greenway. A 25 mile Cycle door-to-door and a good little workout.

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Night Ride

Too warm indoors for a Hamster Wheel session, not enough daylight hours remaining when I get home from work in the Evening whats a fella to do?

Harden up and get outside on the Bicycle anyway, thats what! Good lights for being seen (and also for lighting up the road ahead) and riding in the dark is a great way to keep on getting some midweek mileage in to the Legs. Vehicles on the road do seem to give you more room than they afford you in daylight. A 25 mile spin tonight, shorter but more intense, the shorter distance is necessary to ensure there is enough battery life to power the lights for the duration of the cycle. I tend to stick to roads I know well so as to not be surprised by hazards like potholes or drain covers. The wildlife in the hedgerows is out of my control though.

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Sweatfest

Rain and very strong Wind outside made me change my plans to get out on the Tuesday evening Club spin round the Airport road and instead I tried a session on the Turbo trainer aka the Hamster Wheel.

Despite no heat on in the House and a cooling fan at my side I very rapidly realised that it is still too warm indoors for a proper workout session, I’ll either have to leave it another month or two or invest in a better cooling fan. Due to the lack of cooling I kept the session short and the harder efforts even shorter.

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Going Coastal

A damp start, with the roads still wet from overnight rain as I set off briefly along the Greenway then through Dundonald up the Old Belfast Road, up the Holywood road and down the Ballymoney road to Helens Bay. Onwards to Crawfordsburn and through to Bangor and a brief stop at the Harbour, the Sea was Calm.

Bangor to Groomsport and hugging the Coast to Donaghadee, it was a pleasant Morning but the poor Road surface was rattling my bone! On I continued seeing another Cyclist up ahead, reeling him in and passing him, he was happy to sit on my wheel and get a tow along in the slipstream having only recently returned to Cycling. At Ballywalter I bade him farewell as I pulled in to a local shop to top up the hydration and Sugar levels.

Leaving Ballywalter to cross the Peninsula towards Carrowdore then veering round to Mount Stewart and on to the main Coast road on the opposite side of the Peninsula for the quick blast back in to Newtownards. A loop up round Scrabo then down to Comber and home via the Greenway for a nice fifty miler.

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Gentle recovery spin

Mid-Morning and I set off on the Bicycle for a nice easy recovery spin just to flush the legs out after yesterdays tiring spin. I barely got half a mile before picking up a puncture, I had not had a puncture for many months previous and was due one. Being so close to home I just returned home to replace the tube, I decided to also replace the tyre to have some fresh rubber for the incoming Winter.

Repairs carried out I set off again down through Orangefield Park and the Greenway to the Beersbridge road then across to and through the Ormeau Park and up the embankment to the Lagan towpath, a less windy day than yesterday and quite pleasant cycling over the fallen Autumnal foliage.

Back down the embankment along the Lagan and out the Sydenham road to Victoria Park and then the greenway back up through the parks and home. A very low effort 17 miles to loosen the legs up.

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Wind 1 v 0 Derek

A Sunny Morning 🙂 with plentiful light Rain Showers and a relentless strong Wind 🙁 again I opted for the Winter Bike as its shallower rim depth Wheels are less of a handful in strong Wind.

I set off up the Comber Greenway to Comber for a nice easy start to get the Legs spinning. Emerging out of Railway Street on to the Ballygowan road my forward progress was slowed up by that Wind hitting me head on. I pushed on as best I could and soon was in Ballygowan and heading up the Saintfield road. At Saintfield I Cycled through the town and took the Ballynahinch road and then decided to leave the main road and take to the quieter Drumconnell road. It turned out to be a poor decision as not only does it have Grass growing up the centre of the road but the surface is poor and today it was covered in loose gravel and slippery mud, a cyclocross bike with wider tyres would have been better suited to this road.

Slippery conditions safely navigated without incident it was now a few short but steep hills to contend with and then I was in Ballynahinch and taking the Spa road. The Sun was out, the Autumnal foliage was on show and bar that Wind it was actually quite a nice day for riding a Bicycle.

From Spa the terrain continued to throw lots of short, steep hills at me, combine this with the strong Wind and the energy levels were being sapped. Through Drumaroad I was hoping the local shop (in a Portacabin) would be open to top up the Water Bottle and get something Sugary to revive the legs but alas there was little sign of life within, nothing else for it but to continue on.

Up over Drumkeeragh and down in to Dromara the County Down scenery was stunning in the Autumn sunshine… between the Rain showers… barely another vehicle or person was seen, I had the whole area to myself.

Reaching Dromara I decided not to stop instead planning to stop in Annahilt a further eight miles away. Yet more short steep hills came and went as I made my way along roads I had not ventured on before, I was completley lost yet at the same time roughly knew where I was.

Soon I emerged on to a familiar looking road which brought me in to Annahilt and a much needed stop at the local shop, a Mars Bar and a Bottle of Fanta provided enough of a Sugary hit to get the energy levels up again and I pushed on at pace back over to Ballynahinch for the second time today. This time I took the main roads all the way back to Saintfield through Ballygowan back to Comber and then the traffic free spin up the Greenway home for a very tough 64 miles clocked up. The strong Wind and the Hills made for a very tiring day but the Northern Ireland Countryside was a feast for the eyes.

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Back in the Saddle

Studying my Cycling metrics data it is obvious that since late June my Cycling fitness has been steadily declining due to various factors like a few head colds, a very wet and windy August and more recently a few days away from the Bicycle for a family Wedding.

Today despite the strong Winds it was time to get back in the Saddle and start redressing the decline. The very strong Winds would have been dangerous on the Summer Bike with its deep section Wheels so instead I rolled out on the Winter Bike. A spin down the Comber Greenway, along the Beersbridge road and up the Ormeau embankment and through Stranmillis saw me working hard to combat the Wind. It was also noticeably colder but I just about got my Cycle Clothing layering about right for the conditions.

From Stranmillis i took the Malone road and the long climb up through Drumbo then across to Temple and a faster spin across to Saintfield. Next was the Listooder road round the back of Rowallane and across to Crossgar, the views across County Down to the Mourne Mountains were worthy of a quick Phone Photo.

From Crossgar it was a steady spin over to Derryboye then along the Carrickmannon road towards Ballygowan down the old Ballygowan road to Comber and back to Dundonald via the Greenway. A tough spin in the Wind and Cold but nice dry roads and a decent burn in the legs by the time I was back home.

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Tuesday Clubbing

Tuesday and Thursday Evening’s throughout the Winter months sees my Cycling Club do fast paced group rides up and down the Airport road in a relatively safe environment. Street lighting, roads salted, down at sea level and light traffic means Cycling Clubs can still get some miles in in the dark in a fairly safe environment.

The downside is that there is always a headwind to do battle with somewhere along the route, made all the tougher by the fast pace and even worse if the group rotation has you on the front of the group when riding in to the headwind.

I missed it last Week but got home from Work in good time this Week to get out and enjoy the slaughter in the quarter. There was a great turnout of at least a dozen adrenaline fueled junkies eager to get four laps of hurt in. My plan was just a couple of laps as this was now my fourth day in a row on the bike. 17 miles in 48 minutes was a brisk spin.

"White Van Man" thinks this is a perfectly safe overtake #whitevanman #dangerous #belfast

A post shared by Derek (@v4honda) on

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When Darkness descends, the temperature plummets

A beaut dry, sunny evening added haste to my Car commute home from Work. A brisk turnaround and straight out on the Bicycle to enjoy a spin in the Countryside with the objective of getting in 30 miles or thereabouts.

I wore a long-sleeve Cycling Jersey for the first time this Autumn thinking it might be cooler now at the tail end of September. As I set off along the Greenway and up the Newline I was a little too warm and thought I had got my Clothing choice wrong. I continued on regardless up the Eden road and Lisleen road to Moneyreagh.

It was a beautiful evening but the foliage has now well and truly turned hinting at the incoming Winter Season.

From Moneyreagh I kept to the quieter Country lanes navigating across to Saintfield then out Station road passing through Darragh Cross and Raffrey to Derryboye. The Evening light was dropping fast and with it the temperature plummeted, even my long-sleeved Jersey was a little less than what I would have needed to truly feel comfortable in the chill air.

From Derryboye I pushed on to Balloo and along the Ballybunden and Moss road to Ballgowan, it was getting properly dark now and time to switch the lights on for the final push down to Comber and then the traffic free Greenway back home. A great 35 mile spin and probably one of the last bright, sunny evening rides for this year 🙁

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