It seems like forever since I last undertook a longer distance Bicycle ride which is indicative of the prolonged cold temperatures and bad weather this Winter. But today started dry and sunny despite the heavy overnight frost and so today was the day to start building some endurance back in to my legs by extending the distance.
The plan was to try and clock up around sixty miles which I thought would be plenty of an increase to start with. But what clothing to wear? The Morning was cold and frosty but predicted to warm up a bit milder than normal. I took a gamble on wearing one less layer than normal and hoped that I would not regret it.
Having not done a ride of that distance since way back in late December to finish the Rapha festive 500 challenge, I deliberately set off at a much easier pace than usual wary of not wishing to deplete the energy levels too early in the ride, I also started out on the flat up the Comber Greenway to ease the legs in to the spin.
Through Comber and up the main road to Ballygowan, a direct hit to Saintfield and onwards to Ballynahinch. It was enroute to Ballynahinch that I encountered temporary traffic lights on a steep little hittle, I had to work hard here to get up and over the hill and through the traffic light controlled road works area before the lights changed again, otherwise I would be stuck in the middle with traffic coming towards me. The legs and lungs were screaming after that little effort!
Out on to the main road and a nice flat but fast dash in to Ballynahinch, through the town and a right turn in to the Spa road.
The Spa road is a long, draggy gradual uphill with no big gradients so its tempting to push big power and dispense with it quicker but today I opted to hold back on the effort and take it a bit slower navigating on to Dunmore road and a quick stop at a lake and a chance to eat half an energy bar to keep the energy levels topped up. It was a lovely Sunny day but the biting chill of the Wind letting me know that Winters grasp was still with us and the edges of the lake were still frozen.
I was only stopped for a couple of minutes but already I was cooling down rapidly in that Wind so it was time to saddle up again and continue my journey in to the Edentarrif road and then the Demesne road round to Seaforde where I finally caught a tailwind which made for a bit more rapid progress.
Leaving Seaforde it was back on to a main road for the short spin up to Clough then on to the Blackstaff road and round to Ballykinler stopping at a local petrol station to top up the Water Bottle and hopefully grab a Sandwich but unfortunately there were no Sandwiches, a Mars Bar would have to suffice.
Through Tyrella and on to Minerstown enjoying the views across the Sea to the Mourne Mountains towering over Newcastle.
Now it was time to turn away from the Coast and climb a few lumpy roads inland through Bright and in to Downpatrick where I finally found a Sandwich to try and refuel myself with the energy levels rapidly depleting.
A nice descent down the Killough road in to Downpatrick, through the town over the Quoile and out the Killyleagh road I could feel the Sandwich had come too late in the spin to keep me energised and from here on home it was damage limitation, easing off the pedals and just limping home. I turned off the main Killyleagh road in to the Scaddy road making my way across to Derryboye then the Carrickmannon road towards Ballgowan then Comber and home via the Comber Greenway.
The lack of longer distance spins of late definitely told the tale today my endurance was lacking, not helped by the cold temperatures and wind. But it was good to battle through and complete the distance which should pay benefits back in later spins to come in the coming weeks. 64 miles completed, some stunning scenery, lovely dry roads and sunshine, a great day out.