When your best is still not good enough

Up early leaving myself plenty of time to get kitted up, fuelled up etc for the Saturday Phoenix CC Club spin. Out the Door, go to zip up my Club Gillet and solid resistance the zip just would not budge. I faffed around for a few minutes trying to zip it up but no go. Unlock the Door to the House, back inside, get my older Gillet and it zipped up first time. Alas the faffing around had now set me back quite a bit of time and I was up against it to get across to the House of Sport in time. Thanks very much Santini and your quality control πŸ™„

Another personal beasting session around the outer ring to the House of Sport in the Wet roads with light rain falling trying to claw back time to ensure I did not miss the group departing on the Club spin. I made it with seconds to spare but I had cycled very hard and used a lot of energy and no recovery time before setting off with the Club.

Due to various other Sportives etc on today, the numbers in our group were down compared to normal therefore the time between pulls on the front would be shorter than normal, so less of a chance to sit on wheels and recover some energy, this could be a hard day in the Saddle πŸ˜•

We rolled out from the House of Sport then down Balmoral Avenue at a very leisurely pace, maybe this would not be as hard a day in the Saddle as anticipated. πŸ˜€

But then we went under the M1 Motorway and turned in to Kennedy Way, I knew right away that meant we were going to start out hilly with me still trying to recover from a hard charge across town I knew I was in trouble. Up Kennedy way to the Monagh bypass I was a couple of Wheels further back from the group than I would have wanted but still in touch with the group so clinging on to the hope that I could keep in touch with them until it levelled out. But as we climbed up the bypass the elastic got more and more stretched with the gap between me and the back of the group increasing steadily.

The group turned in to the Upper Springfield Road and I was now well back. Would they ease off and let me get back on? Nope they pressed on up the long uphill drag to Divis and the Dundrod road race circuit. Despite climbing up the Springfield road faster than I have ever managed before the group were completely out of my sight. Did they go straight on towards Dundrod or did they turn right to climb on up Divis? I had no idea but I had reasonably good legs today so opted to venture up a Cloud enshrined Divis. Again I climbed Divis faster than I have ever managed before (though still painfully slowly compared to most) but no sign of the Club group they had obviously gone straight on.

The top of the Mountain was Cloudy and the Wind was unreal, it almost blew the Bike out of my hands as I leant it against the Cairn for a couple of quick Phone Camera Photographs.

Straight back on the Saddle for the descent, no point hanging around at the top in that Wind. The descent was Wet, and sketchy so I took it very cautious.

Back on to the Upper Springfield Road and after all that slow climbing it was now time to have some fun, lay down some power and take full advantage of the downslopes and gravity. Weaving between wet slippy manhole covers and trying to pick a safe line between the bumps, potholes and broken glass bottle I pushed on at speed and made it back down to the Monagh bypass quicker than I have managed before. Disappointing to have been dropped by the Club group but plenty of positives too with lots of personal best times uphill and downhill and riding better than ever.

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Easy recovery spin

Friday, my twelfth day in a row on the Saddle and the Weekend Club spin looming tomorrow so today was all about riding very slow, looking over the hedges at the scenic views and just enjoying the warm sunshine. It was very chilly on last nights ride and I over-dressed for todays spin such is the changeability of the weather with the change of the season.

A nice gentle spin up the Greenway to Comber, through the town and out the Ballydrain road then in to the lanes, the Ballyglighorn road.

Across the Lisbane road and along Tullynakill road then in to the Ringneill road along the shore of Strangford Lough.

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Back through Comber and home via the Greenway, a very leisurely 22 miles and no big strain on the legs.

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From Dawn to Dusk

A pre-dawn spin yesterday and a spin at dusk today. A nice short but sharp spin at Sunset across to Holywood then a couple of laps of the Airport road followed by a few short but very hard efforts around the City and home via the Newtownards road with the muscles burning.

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Dawn raid

Wide awake before daylight I decided to get up and get out on the bike to catch the Sunrise. Cycling early in the Morning is always enjoyable, traffic is very light and just like this Morning there is a chill in the air to ensure you are wide awake.

I opted for the Cyclocross Bike intending to hit the Singletrack trails at Barnett Desmense but shortly after setting off I realised I had forgot to put the Wheelie Bin out for collection so had to come up with a Plan B that would allow me to get a spin in and get home in time to get the bin out in time. So a shorter spin around Orangefield and Ormeau Parks would have to suffice.

It was now quite light and it looked like I might not get a good Sunrise but I continued out of Ormeau Park and on towards Central Station and then the magic started to happen.

A quick blast across the Short Strand and round to the Lagan Bridge at the SSE Arena and the Titanic Quarter to grab a few Photographs of the Morning glow before it fizzled out.

Along Sydenham road, out the Airport road and through Victoria Park then along the Connswater back to Orangefield Park and home to put the Bin out and make some Breakfast.

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Afternoon tempo session

A two hour bike ride today, two hours of hard but sustainable effort.

Out through Dundonald up the new line then the Ballystockart road through the lanes crossing the Ballygowan road then more back lanes round to Saintfield.

Leaving Saintfield on the Station road enjoying the smooth tarmac to Darragh Cross and across to Drumreagh.

The Legs were feeling good so I continued on to Lisbane then put in a big effort down Quarry road to try and set a new personal best time, the headwind robbed me of a little spin and I missed out on a new personal best.

Along the Ballydrain road to Comber then home via the Greenway with 32 miles done.

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Late Evening spin

I left it until late evening before getting out on the Bicycle today, a lovely bright sunny evening but a real chill in the air indicating that Summer is well and truly over.

Out through Dundonald and in to Millmount.

Climbing up the Greengraves road to the Newtownards road it was just myself and the Bike with only my shadow for company.

Across the Holywood road to Craigantlet and down Whinney Hill then in through Knocknagoney to Belmont Park and home for a short but sharp 15 miles.

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Orangefield Park Cyclocross

The first of this years Cyclocross races took place today in Orangefield Park, I went for a short Cycle down the Greenway and across to Orangefield Park to capture some video clips from the racing and edited them together to make this little video.

Apologies in advance for some of the competitors language.

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The Saturday Club spin

Saturday Morning and time for another Phoenix Cycling Club group ride, I opted for the B1 group this Week as its quite a bit faster than the normal group I ride with, a bit of suffering would do me no harm. The Weatherman decided to add to my suffering by bringing Rain overnight and in to the Morning.

I set off down the Greenway across Kings road and out on to the Knock road passing through the Ballygowan crossroads I saw two club members pulled in just up ahead. When I rolled up to them one of them had a puncture but declined my offer of assistance and so I continued on to Forestside but the Rain was constant so I pulled in and put the Rain jacket on before cycling on to Knockbreda, down past Shaws Bridge and on to the House of Sport to meet the crew.

Rolling out from the H.O.S., we were off back along the same route to meet up with the same two cyclists from earlier picking them up at Stormont then out the main road to Comber through the town and up the Darragh road to Scrabo with the group dropping me on the climb [this would be repeated a lot on this ride] such is my feeble climbing abilities. Regrouped at the top we descended the Scrabo road then across to Londonderry Park and out the Portaferry road.

A road closure due to a road traffic accident sent us up Finlays road through Loughries to Carrowdore and round to Greyabbey. I was more than comfortable with the brisk pace on the flat but every uphill drag and climb saw me dropping back through the group and sometimes out the back all together, but I knew this would be the case when I chose this particular group ride. Something to work on!

From Greyabbey we crossed the Peninsula on the Cardy road to get over to Ballywalter.

Leaving Ballywalter we were now catching a cross tailwind for a little assistance and inevitably the pace lifted but again I was comfortable enough with the speed but knew I had not eaten anything yet and might regret it. I also wasn’t drinking much as the wet, muddy road spray [and dear only knows what bugs] was all over my bottle. We continued up the coast heading for Millisle, up ahead we could see another Club member riding solo and we all put in a big effort to catch and pass him before the town speed limit. Time to pull in and refuel before the homeward spin.

After that short stop in Millisle we rolled on again, initially at an easier pace towards Donaghadee before picking up the pace again only for it to slow as we came in to the traffic at Donaghadee. Through the town then back inland across the peninsula through Cotton to the six road ends roundabout and back in to Newtownards for the second time that Morning. Myself and another guy left the group at this point to make our own way home, I went back up over Scrabo and down the Newtownards road for a 61 mile spin and some good hard training burn in the legs πŸ™‚

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Phoenix CC Rubble group

At least a year must have past since I last went out for a group ride with the “Rubble” group of Phoenix Cycling Club, a group consisting mostly of the more elderly Club members but open to all.

I fancied a longer spin today but I did not want to hammer myself either so the easier pace of the rubble group suited the requirements however the rubble meet on the Lagan towpath near Hilden departing at 9:30am and I really did not give myself enough time to get across to Lisburn through the busy traffic. As a result I would have to dig deep and push on hard, very hard. I have never ridden as hard ever for such a low forward pace given all the stoppages for red traffic lights and traffic gridlock.

Through the City and out to Drumbeg I knew I had a few minutes to spare so eased the effort level significantly ascending Sandy lane and meeting the group. An easy paced group spin saw me finding the going very easy which was perfect, just sit in an rest and ride easy when it came to my turn on the front. A good loop on quiet roads and back home. 77 miles door-to-door and home feeling like I could have stayed out and done a lot more miles rather than coming home drained, perfect.

Relive ‘Phoenix CC rubble spin’

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Cross is boss

A short, fun spin today on the Cyclocross Bike messing around on the Gravel trails and Woodland in the various Belfast Parks.

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