Empty Legs

Sometimes you are the Hammer, sometimes you are the Nail. Today I was the Nail, the legs were lacking, missing in action!

I met Andreea in the usual place and we set off down the Comber Greenway to the Beersbridge road, through the Short Strand and out through the Duncrue harbour estate to then take the Loughshore path up to Gideons Green.

Along the Doagh road through Monkstown and then the long, twisting climb up the Knockagh road. The legs were empty and the climbing speed was slow, even slower than normal. Reaching the top the climbing continued up the Slievetru road then winding our way across to Gleno. The B149 was next through Beltoy and then a nice fast downhill section back on to the Larne road at Eden and onwards to Carrickfergus and a short stop in the warm, sunshine to grab a quick pic with my Phone.

Keeping to the main road until Jordanstown where we decided to risk the Loughshore path which was extremely busy with Pedestrians and Dogs then back to Belfast through Duncrue again. Another enjoyable 46 miles despite the legs not being in top form.

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Gentle spin

This Morning I set off for the House of Sport to join the Weekend Saturday Morning, Phoenix CC, Club spin. The intention was to ride as easy as possible all Morning to save energy to get out again on Sunday Morning.

This was one of those very, very rare Mornings where the group did not set off along the Malone road in the direction of Lisburn instead it was along the outer ring to Belvoir then briefly on to the Hill Hall road before swinging left in to the long gradual climb of the Ballycoan road. Despite being boxed in and having to ride at the group pace I felt I could have climbed a little quicker had I been on my own, regardless a personal best time flashed up on my Cycle computer ๐Ÿ™‚

Crossing the Mealough road and in to the Leverogue road then on to the Comber road down in to Carryduff. The pace was slower than I personally wanted and thoughts of leaving the group and going solo entered my head but I remained with the group. We continued on along the quieter lanes and on to Ballgowan bringing the group to a halt to decide what people wanted to do. Some where down for riding the Tour of Tyrone tomorrow so they opted out early to find a Coffee Shop. The remainder continued on taking the Manse road and then the Killyleagh road to Derryboye where Barbara announced her legs were struggling and she was going to depart alone for Lisburn.

That was my excuse to leave the group and with it being a pleasant Morning I opted to accompany Barbara back to Lisburn via Crossgar and Ballynahinch.

A direct spin home from Lisburn down the Lagan Towpath to Hilden then Sandy Lane to Drumbeg and up past Lady Dixon Park through Stranmillis, along the Ormeau embankment and home for an easy 55 miles.

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Sunset pootle

A lovely Summers Evening and a chance to get out on the Bicycle for a very short, very low effort Cycle down the Comber Greenway to Holywood Arches over the Dee Street Bridge out the Airport road around to Holywood and watch the Sun set at the end of the day before returning back the same way.

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Handy Club spin

I had planned to go out on the Club spin with a faster group this Weekend but Andreea was keen to try a Club spin so I opted for a slower group to be able to accompany her home if she was unable to stick the pace and distance. As usual we met up on the Comber Greenway then I took her along the Knock Carriageway round the outer ring to the House of Sport and got her signed on to the Club’s insurance indemnity form to comply with Cycling Ireland’s regulations.

We were soon off and rolling along the Malone road passing Lady Dixon Park, through Drumbeg and in to Lambeg through Derriaghy and Ballymacash and on to the Glenavy Road where a Mini driver deliberately put a too close, fast, dangerous, overtake on us! It was all caught on video.

Now in Glenavy I reminded Andreea about the need to eat a little on the Bicycle to keep her energy topped up but she did not heed my advice. Leaving Glenavy we meandered around Aldergrove on quieter roads before taking the Dublin road to the Antrim forum and on to the Lough Shore for a Coffee stop.

Back up to the Antrim forum out to Dunadry then along the Seven Mile Straight to Loanends then across country towards Crumlin where by now both Andreea and another girl (Barbara) were starting to fade. By the time we got over to Stoneyford they were fading badly needing helping hands on their backs to help push them up the hills. Back on to the Glenavy road heading for Lisburn I told the group to go on and I would Nurse Andreea back home but the group opted to stick together.

Through Derriaghy and Dunmurry we were close enough to some members homes that the group numbers were reducing and I got Andreea to stop at a shop on the Malone road to get some food and water in to her and let her rest a little. A few minutes rest and we were on our way through Stranmillis along the Lagan, over the Ormeau Bridge down the embankment and back to the Greenway via the Beersbridge road for an easy [for me] 75 mile spin.

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Lap of the other Lough

Andreea’s Cycling fitness and endurance is currently not what it was a year ago and she has not managed to do any longer distance spins this year, so she asked me to help her get an 80 mile ride under her belt. I decided to take her around the Strangford Lough Coast as it is reasonably flat and that would hopefully assist her to go the distance.

I met her on the Comber Greenway and immediately noticed she had only one water bottle and no food with her. Her first mistake of the day! We set off up the Greenway then across to Moneyreagh in to Ballygowan and on to Saintfield where I got her to go in to the local Petrol station and buy some snacks for her pocket as there was no way she would do the distance without keeping her energy levels topped up.

Leaving Saintfield we made our way over to Ballynahinch and along the Downpatrick road to the Quoile river where we made a brief stop to enjoy the Morning Sun. All along I had been encouraging Andreea to sit in behind me as close to my rear wheel as possible to conserve energy but she was reluctant to do so, her second mistake of the day.

Soon we were off again taking the Strangford road past Castle Ward and in to Strangford for a proper pit stop in a local Cafe before boarding the Ferry for the short journey over to Portaferry.

The temperature had dropped as we set off again along the Lough Shore Road enjoying the scenery and the traffic free tarmac. At this point Andreea was tiring rapidly and I gave her the option of taking the main road home which would be more direct and reduce the distance by a few miles which she gladly opted for. I sat in front to shelter her from the wind to try and conserve her energy but even by the time we got to Newtownards she needed to stop and rest for a few minutes.

Returning home via Scrabo, Comber and the Comber Greenway for a distance of 71 miles.

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Escaping the Office

So a Cycling Work Colleague suggested that we take a day off and go for a long Bicycle ride and today, Thursday, was the day we settled on. Weather conditions were dry, overcast, light winds and very warm. I Cycled down the Comber Greenway in to Belfast to meet Gerard in the Work Car park and off we went.

Our route got off to an easy start on the flat roads setting off up through the Duncrue road to join the Loughshore Cycle path at Dargan, then leaving the path and back out on to the road at Gideons Green. We took the Doagh road up through Monkstown and then the first big climb of the day, the long ascent of the Knockagh road and Slievetrue roads before the reward of a nice fast descent through Straid to Ballynure.

Leaving Ballynure and up in to Ballyeaston and Tildarg then up over Big Collin on the Collin road, the view across to Slemish was a little obscured due to the overcast day. The scenery was good but my Phone Camera just did not do it justice.

A nice fast descent of the Collin road and then a short but steep climb up on to Church road saw us at the Misty Burn Cafe so a quick pit stop for a hot brew and a Bun to keep the Sugar levels up was called for, the Milk for my Tea was served in a miniature Milk Churn.

Time to get on our way again and the long gradual drag uphill on the Shane’s Hill road was worth the effort for a nice, fast, two mile descent down the other side in to Kilwaughter and on to Milbrook before swinging a right back in to the Country roads and over to Glyn on the Coast road. There was a bit of a headwind on the Coast road but nothing too annoying as we kept up a steady pace until the turn for Islandmagee.

Turning in to Islandmagee crossing the Lough road and travelling down one side of the Peninsula on the Low road taking in Mill bay passing Ballylumford around Ferris bay and a stop at Browns bay to use the public loos.

Leaving the scenic Browns Bay we travelled along the Middle road before a lunch stop at the famous Rhinka, a chance to take on some extra fuel and plenty of extra liquid to combat the sweat loss on such a humid day.

We were soon on our way again cycling through Whitehead, up the Blah hole and on to Carrickfergus and Jordanstown then back on to the Shore road cycle path to Dargan and back to Belfast through the Duncrue Estate. Gerard had to wait for his Wife to get out of Work before driving home so we had an hour to kill and with 80 odd miles in the legs we decided to throw in a loop to Holywood and back in to Belfast via the Comber Greenway and Victoria Park to clock up the imperial Century.

Door-to-door I had 105 miles chalked up, lost a lot of sweat in the heat but the Legs and energy levels were still good and I never once missed sitting in the Office pickling my head over bugs in Software, a cracking day out ๐Ÿ™‚

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Saturday Club spin

The main Phoenix CC Weekend group spins have been departing from the House of Sport at 9am recently, for just the Summer Months, before reverting back to the traditional 9:30 start for Autumn and Winter. As I clipped in to the Pedals and set off along the Knock road I knew I had no chance of joining the 9am groups however I would easily make the 9:30 start for those who could not make or did not want the 9am start.

This Morning I opted to ride with a faster group than I normally venture out with, I recognised a few faces and thought I had joined the next group up but I had actually jumped up two levels and knew about it right from the start as we set off down the Malone road at pace past Lady Dixon Park through Drumbeg and in to Lambeg.

I was fully expecting to get dropped at some point in the ride but decided to just hang in there for as long as possible as it would be good training for me. By the time we reached Lisburn I was feeling comfortable with the pace. Through Lisburn we took the Hillsborough road, it has a short but steep hill to climb and I felt sure I’d get dropped on the climb and have to work hard to get back on to the back of the group, but to my surprise I was able to stay in the bunch. Leaving the Hillsborough road we took the Blaris road which is pretty flat, the pace was fast but I was finding it easy just sitting in cruising in the draft.

Across the Bog road passing Down Royal Racecourse across the Moira road and climbing up in to Maghaberry I was losing ground on the group being unable to sustain the same uphill speed as the rest of them ๐Ÿ™ but once the terrain levelled out I was able to put in a hard effort and get back on. Our group leader then threw in an extra loop taking us back round to Maghaberry coming up a steep, short, climb. I can get myself up the hills ok but I have never been able to climb at a fast enough pace and so myself and another lad got spat out the back of the group as they disappeared in to the distance, but they stopped at the next road end to allow us to rejoin the group.

I was conscious of having expended a lot of energy so far so reached in to the Jersey pocket for an energy Bar to replace some of the expended energy as we left Magahbaerry and had a great, fast spin across the Ballinderry road to Ballinderry and then an even faster spin along the Station road round to Lower Ballinderry. The speed and size of the group made for a great slipstream effect making the miles easy if you were in the bunch and harder when it was your turn to pull at the front of the Peloton.

From Lower Ballinderry through Aghalee to Lurgan is rolling terrain, no big steep climbs but always up or down and again I was losing out on the small hills. I knew it was only a matter of time until I would lose touch with the group for good and it finally happened leaving Lurgan on the Gilford road. Sitting at my sustainable limit up Gibsons Hill and watching the group ease away in to the distance and being powerless to do anything about it was sobering, but I took comfort from the fact I had hung in for so long at a much higher level than I would normally ride at. My Cycle computer showed 238Watts NP and 1824 calories for the 42 miles travelled.

I was now on my own and a long way from home so it was time to refuel from the Jersey pocket again and ease the effort a little bit to ensure I got home without having to Phone for a lift.

I took a left turn in to Dunkirk road and with the Wind now at my back could keep up a good pace for a lower effort level as I made my way over to Waringstown, through Magheralin and the gridlocked Moira. Leaving Moira on the Hillsborough road and then the Halfpenny road passing through Mazetown I was back on the Bog road and Blaris road to Lisburn and returned to Belfast via Dunmurry for a hard but very enjoyable 73 miles with the Legs burning ๐Ÿ™‚

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The Sunday Club spin

This Weekends Club spin saw us depart from the norm and stick to main roads to start with, taking the Malone road through Ballyskeagh to Lisburn and staying on the main road up to Moira and past Magheralin before taking to the country lanes on the Springhill road. The Springhill road had recently been stone chipped and the chippings were still very loose a very real hazard to a large group of Cyclists so it was back on to the main Dromore road in to Lurgan.

Leaving Lurgan on the Gilford road navigating through Bleary and Drumnacanvy we were soon crossing the Gilford road and Cycling along the Mullahead road. The group then nipped on to the Newry Canal towpath to nip up to Scarva tea rooms for a pit stop. I on the otherhand bid them farewell to venture in to Portadown to visit the parental guidance but then it dawned on me they wouldn’t be at home so I implemented plan B and went through Ballylisk to Tandragee to visit a friend.

Leaving Tandragee on the Madden road I was soon in Gilford then passed through Lawrencetown and Blackskull to the edge of Dromore were I opted to go via Kilntown which turned out to be a lumpy wee road then emerging on to the Ballygowan road and on in to Hillsborough.

Back on familiar roads and finally with the wind at my back I made good progress across to Carryduff on to Moneyreagh and back home for a door-to-door total of 72 miles.

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I fought the Wind and the Wind won

After faffing about for most of the Morning I finally got organised and out on the Bicycle on a Sunny ๐Ÿ™‚ but very Windy Afternoon ๐Ÿ™ Due to the strong Wind and even stronger gusts I opted for the Winter Bike with its shallower rims.

I set off along the Comber Greenway to give the Legs an easy start on the flat then along the hilly old Ballygowan road in to Ballygowan and a left in to Moss road and along the Ballybunden road to Balloo. A Van had lodged itself firmly in to the hedge on the Ballybunden road ๐Ÿ˜ณ

From Balloo it was up in to Killinchy and across to Whiterock and along the Strangford Lough shoreline which although Windswept was looking great in the Sunshine ๐Ÿ˜Ž

Leaving Ballydorn I continued on my way along the Strangford Shoreline deviating inland up Quarry road then along Castle Espie road to get back on the Ballydrain road to Comber and home again by the Comber Greenway for a tough 31 miles the Legs feeling the strain of doing battle with that Wind ๐Ÿ˜ฏ

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Recovery Spin

Another very warm, sunny, day and a short, very easy effort, recovery spin up the Comber Greenway, through Comber and out the Ballydrain road to Daft Eddie’s for a Caramel Square then home again with equally as low an effort on the Pedals.

Solo, Sunny, Bun run recovery spin #cycling #roadcycling #mycyclingweekend #cyclesurgery #recovery

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Synapse, Sunning herself #cycling #roadcycling #summer #belfast #cannondale #synapse #sunshine

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