Thursday Evening, home from Work and out on the Bicycle to make the most of the remaining daylight on a chilly but lovely sunny evening.
A gentle start up the Comber Greenway to Comber just to warm the legs up then lift the effort levels along the old Ballygowan road in to the Ballynichol road and climbing up the Drumhirk road. The legs were feeling good so I kept a decent effort up taking the Burn road and out on to the Moss road. The roads were quiet and the Evening light was getting better by the minute 🙂 the only Camera with me was a Phone Camera… never the best for anything more than a snapshot.
Descending down from Scrabo and in to Newtownards then the long climb up past Kiltonga over Bradshaw’s Brae and a descent down in to Dundonald in the dusk. A lovely evening for a Cycle but a chill in the air hinting at the approaching Winter and the long dark nights 🙁
The Weather forecast gave more prolonged Rain for mid-morning Saturday and to last most of the day so I opted to get out early and get a Bike ride in before the Weather closed in.
Daylight had only just broken through when I Saddled up and clipped in to the Pedals and set off along the Newtownards road and through Dundonald. The Sky was full of broken dark clouds with an Orange glow, it looked angry and minutes later it was raining.
I must have just been on the edge of the Rain as the Newtownards road was very wet but I turned left in to the Belfast road and by the time I had ascended to the top I was back on dry tarmac for a nice descent down Bradshaws Brae passing Kiltonga and in to Newtownards. I ascended up the Scrabo road and then descended back down to the dual carriageway going straight across and onwards to Island Hill for a quick Photo stop.
Leaving Islandhill I bypassed Comber town and turned in to the Ballydrain road and out to Castle Espie before turning inland and ascending up to Lisbane and on to Ballygowan before taking the minor roads again back to Carryduff. Halfway to Carryduff in the still of the Morning on deserted country roads I saw a Mink scurry out of the hedge and run across the road in front of me.
Now back in Carryduff I had the nice fast descent down to Forestside to enjoy. I could have turned for home at this point but I had seen on social media that there was a Photography Exhibition outside Belfast City Hall on World War One so I continued down the Ormeau road in to town for a nosey at that before heading home.
After a Week of Wind and Rain the Sky finally cleared and I got out after Work for a leisurely ride down in to Town, round Victoria Park and the Titanic Quarter on a pleasant evening. The air had the chill of Autumn warning of colder weather to come.
Carlingford and the Cooley Peninsula is an area in the Republic of Ireland that has been on my Radar to Cycle for quite some time. So when I saw on the Phoenix Cycling Club message board that the B1 group were planning a 100 mile Cycle up through County Down to catch the new Ferry service across Carlingford Lough in to County Louth, stop for lunch in Carlingford and Cycle back to Belfast, I decided to join them. The B1 group is a faster paced group than what I normally ride with so I hoped they would choose a flat route to give me a fighting chance.
Saturday Morning started off cold, very chilly indeed and I started to question my Clothing choice but I knew the day would warm up as the Morning progressed so I opted to push on along the Knock road to the House of Sport gathering point, rather than turn back and grab another layer. As I arrived at the HoS there was a small gathering from VC Glendale Cycling Club just about to set off. I was the first Phoenix member there but soon enough I was joined by the others and we rolled out along the Malone road through Drumbeg and in to Lisburn.
From Lisburn it was the traditional route up the Ballynahinch road to Annahilt. There was more climbing as we made our way up through Kinallen then across the Gall Bog road and on to Katesbridge in beaut Sunshine.
Leaving Katesbridge we made our way across to Rathfriland and the short but steep, painful climb up in to the town. As per usual I was last to the top, my climbing speed is woeful. Everyone was in agreement that it never gets any easier! Descending down the other side of the Hill and turning right in to the Hilltown road for a quick nature stop at the public loos before the long uphill drag known as the Reed Hall Climb.
The scenery was stunning in the Autumn sunshine but I could not take time to enjoy it as I was again losing time to the group as they all were climbing a lot faster than myself. Eventually I reached the summit and had a nice fast, solo, descent all the way down to Rostrevor where we all regrouped for the final push to catch the Ferry.
We wanted to catch the 11am Sailing and had only 20 minutes to achieve that goal so the pace was ramped up considerably pushing out the Shore road and Killowen road then finally along the Greencastle road arriving at the Ferry with just one minute to spare, phew!
Carlingford Lough was lovely and calm, the Sun was shining, the Sky was Blue, the Mourne Mountains on one side and the Cooley Mountains on the other side, a picture perfect moment. If only this wee Country had this kind of Weather more frequently. A relatively expensive fee of three pounds and fifty pence got us across to the other side at Greenore and then just a short four mile spin round to Carlingford and a leisurely lunch and rehydration. We abandoned all our Bicycles outside the local Garda station.
Rested and suitably refreshed it was time to get going again. We set off from Carlingford along the R173 through Omeath with scenic views across Carlingford Lough and made very rapid progress to Newry. A short spin up to the Five Ways roundabout and then on to the Poyntzpass road where we picked up a tailwind and made the most of it keeping up a strong pace through Poyntzpass to Scarva then Gilford. Having not eaten and drank enough all Morning I was struggling to stay with the group and along the long uphill drag to Lurgan I got spat out the back riding solo to Lurgan where the group waited for me.
From Lurgan it was a easier spin down through Dollingstown and Magheralin to Moira and a quick stop at a Petrol station to gulp down a Sugar drink to reenergise the Legs but the lack of fuelling all ride could not be undone that easily and again I got spat out the back on the spin from Moira to Lisburn. I was now on my own so opted to take a quick rest in Wallace Park before continuing on through Dunmurry to Finaghy then up the Malone road through Stranmillis and home for a Leg cramp filled rest.
A fantastic day on the Bike with County Down revelling in her finest. A long ride at a fast pace, equally rewarding as it was tiring. Below is a short video I made of our day in the Saddle.
Having just sold my Car to a mate, I drove straight after Work to deliver it to him and took my Bicycle out of the back of it to Cycle back to Belfast on a nice Summer Evening. Despite a lot of showers around the Country I managed to stay mostly dry only encountering Rain by the time I got back to Balmoral a few miles from home.
I had planned a long lazy Morning in Bed as my employer had decided to give us all the day off for the bank holiday, the first time they have ever let us have it as a holiday. But I awoke much earlier than planned and with Rain due later in the Morning I decided to get out on the Bicycle for a short, fast spin before Breakfast.
Due to the early start time, combined with it being a bank holiday the roads were quieter from traffic than normal so I opted to not utilise the Comber Greenway to get out of town, instead I set off along the Knock road and then down past Stormont, through Dundonald and then join the Greenway up to Comber and out the Ballydrain road passing Castle Espie and on up in to Lisbane.
From Lisbane along the Lisbarnet road and then the Moss road all the way in to Ballygowan. The legs were feeling good and I now had the wind at my back so pushed hard from Ballygowan back down to Comber setting a new personal best time for that stretch of road at just under eight minutes.
My Morning’s workout completed I then chilled out and Cycled home along the Comber Greenway at a much easier pace and back for Breakfast.
Back on the Bicycle and the legs were feeling strong so time to put the hammer down and push hard for a few miles. I set off easy along the Comber Greenway to warm the legs up then upped the pace down East link and out the Comber road then right in to New line and a bit of a climb. Then on to the Eden road and back out on to the Gransha road for a couple of miles before emerging on to the Ballygowan road.
A hard push in to Ballygowan and a sustained effort all along the rolling terrain of the Carrickmannon road and along the Thornyhill road to Balloo. Along the Thornyhill road is a short, sharp, climb touching almost 15% gradient at its worst, I held decent power on the climb and the legs were screaming by the top of it. A relaxed lunch at the Muffler Cafe in Balloo and some Sugary Fanta to restore the energy for the spin home.
Leaving Balloo on the Ballybunden road I kept the effort down riding nice n easy. Another Cyclist on the same Bike as myself came up from behind and we cycled along Moss road having a quick conversation before I turned off to the right in to the Burn road, Lough road, Drumhirk road, Old Ballygowan road and back to Dundonald via the Comber Greenway.
Up and out on the Bike and ready to ride to the House of Sport for the Weekend Club spin but I got barely half a mile when my Cycle Computer switched itself off. I turned it on again only for it to switch itself off again almost immediately and then it dawned on me that the battery was flat so I decided to return home, charge it up and then head out for a spin later.
All charged up I set off along the Comber Greenway with the intention of taking it nice n steady. In to Comber and out along the Old Ballygowan Road then the Ballynichol road up the Drumhirk road and out on to the Moss road at Ballygowan. A brisk pace along the Moss road and Ballybunden road saw me in to Balloo before I knew it then up in to Killinchy and the descent down to Whiterock and a stop to take in the County Down scenery.
Round to Sketrick Island for a quick lunch at Daft Eddies then a steady spin along the Strangford Lough Coastline back to Comber where a parade prevented me getting back on to the Greenway so I climbed up the Glen Road then down the Ballystockart road and back to Dundonald via Head road. 32 miles chalked up on a pleasant day.
Home, showered and a quick bite to eat I decided to get the Fishing road out for a spot of Fly fishing at Movilla near Newtownards. I only had a few hours but managed to catch a few on the dry fly.
A bit later than planned I got out on the Bicycle for a short, sharp, lash up and down the Airport road. It is pan flat bar plentiful speed ramps so is conducive to sustained high speed but you are almost always guaranteed a strong headwind coming back up the Airport road towards the City.
I got a couple of loops done in the fading light for a handy 16 miles at a brisk pace.
Up early, kit on, Bicycle sorted and out the door earlier than normal to benefit from traffic free roads. The plan was to head out against the Wind, tackle a lot of hills and then turn for home on flatter roads hopefully with a tailwind.
I set off briefly along the Knock road then the climbing started by turning in to the Glen road and continuing on up the Ballygowan road, and Lisnabreeny road. Quiet roads, the still of the Morning and good views across County Down to the distant Mourne Mountains and that was where I was heading.
The Clontonacally road was dispensed with then I crossed the Comber road and continued on quiet country road after quiet country road skirting past Temple, past the Temple Golf Club through Boardmills, Bailliesmills and on to Annahilt and Ballykeel. From there I navigated around to Dromara and the long, hilly climb up the Rathfriland road through Finnis and up and up and up before finally a nice fast descent down this beautiful stretch of tarmac perfection.
Whilst still descending I decided to change my route taking a left turn across to Leitrim and the lumpy roads up over Dolly’s Brae to emerge out on to the Bann road and another descent down in to Castlewellan for a quick pit stop at Urban to refuel and hopefully reenergise the Legs after all that climbing.
Back on the Saddle and an easy start to get the Legs going again along the Newcastle road before swinging left across to Maghera and on to Dundrum then in to the country roads again towards Ballykinler.
By this stage the pit stop at Castlewellan had not reached the Legs yet and energy levels were low, forcing an emergency stop at a roadside Petrol station for some fast acting Sugar to perk me up until the slower acting food consumed at Castlewellan came good.
The scenery was great despite the now overcast day as I passed Tyrella and on to Minerstown.
Leaving the Coastal road at Minerstown and heading inland in the direction of Downpatrick the energy levels were restored and I was pulling strong again and finally caught a tailwind. Before long Downpatrick had came and went and I was continuing at pace along the Killyleagh road to Dellamont before navigating inland across the country lanes again needing to exercise caution as they had recently been stone chipped and the chippings had not fully bedded in yet.
Derryboye, Raffrey and Ballygowan came and went and soon I was in Comber with just the Comber Greenway left. A tough route but it was easy on the eye.