Creak, creak, creak

So on Tuesday’s longer Bicycle ride over towards the Mourne Mountains I was aware of an annoying creaking sound coming from the drivetrain area somewhere. This Morning I pulled the non-driveside crank arm off, cleaned it and the bearings and regreased it all then refitted and torqued it all down to the correct torque setting. One of the two bolts on the crank arm had two washers and the other had none so I assumed that was the source of the creaking.

A short spin outside very quickly revealed that the annoying creak was still there and if anything was getting worse! Back to the work-stand again. Two of the chain ring bolts were not torqued up as tightly as the others so hopefully torquing these up tight will finally eradicate the creak, creak, creak.

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Nice n steady

An early spin before the forecasted Rain swept in. Just an eighteen mile spin at a steady but not too hard effort, just enough to not build any extra fatigue.

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Short Afternoon spin

A short spin in the Afternoon to spin the legs over, out through Dundonald on the Newtownards road, it was intended to be an easy spin to loosen the legs up but due to lane restrictions for roadworks I had to ride harder than intended rather than hold up traffic. Surprisingly the legs were responding well showing little signs of fatigue from yesterdays longer spin so I kept a decent yet sustainable effort up for the total duration of the ride.

In to the old Belfast road and then the nice fast descent down Bradshaws Brae to Newtownards which required more caution than normal due to the strong, cross winds catching my deep section carbon wheels and trying to blow me off my chosen line.

Next up the Scrabo road at a steady effort and descending down Moate road to jump on the carriageway round to Comber and home via the Greenway.

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Terrific Tuesday, Steady, sunny spring solo

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.

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Another short Windy Spin

A leisurely Morning followed by an early lunch then straight out on the Bicycle for another short spin battling the very strong wind. The prolonged dry spell continued and for once the Sun was also out. Dry roads and sunshine, what is not to like?

I set off through Dundonald then climbing up the new line and Ballystockart roads to the Hillsborough road then in to the beautiful smooth tarmac of Ballycreely road. Straight across the Tullyhubbert road then the draggy climb of the Monlough road. Leaving the Monlough road I passed a few of the ladies from my Cycling Club coming the opposite way as I kept the power on down the Ravara road to Ballygowan.

In to the more exposed Moss road and the Wind was slowing my progress so I turned off in to the Burn road… big mistake, the wind was now head on and really slowing my progress. The lower half of this road is quite a steep downhill and normally quite a fast descent but the Wind again robbed me of a lot of speed. Crossing over the Killyleagh road I was soon on the Ballydrain road which afforded me a bit more shelter to Comber.

Joining the Comber Greenway I noticed an ederly Gentleman stopped trying to inflate his rear tyre, I stopped to assist as it was clear he was struggling a little with his pump and then cycled back to Dundonald with him at a nice leisurely pace. With the Wind due to be much lighter tomorrow and the sunny dry spell continuing, the chances of getting a longer spin in look good.

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Windy, windy, windy and freezing

An extremely Windy day and below freezing temperatures feeling even colder due to the Wind chill factor. But the plus side of all that Wind was that the roads were lovely and dry so mid-afternoon I put on some layers and then extra layers on top of that again to combat the cold and out I went on the Winter Bicycle for a short spin.

A gentle start up the Comber Greenway through Comber, up the Ballygowan road up the Hillsborough road and in to Ballycreely road where I found some of the best, smoothest tarmac in County Down. Rolling along at a nice pace I was soon crossing the Ballygowan road and turning in to the Tullyhubert road making my way across to Moneyreagh.

Leaving the Tullyhubert road the full force of the Wind was now hitting me head-on slowing my forward progress, I descended back down the Hillsborough road and cycled a second loop of the Ballycreely and Tullyhubert roads round to Moneyreagh again before descending through Ballystockart back to Dundonald and a hot shower.

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Nocturnal spin

Straight home from Work and straight out on the stress reliever aka the summer bike for a short spin in the fading light. As I started out the Legs were sluggish, heavy, still fatigued from my efforts in the Weekends Spring Sixty Sportive so I immediately abandoned my idea of heading up in to the Castlereagh hills and instead chose a flat start by jumping on to the Comber Greenway.

Somewhere along the Greenway the Legs started to loosen up and I was able to increase the effort and pace so I decided to try and sustain the effort fully expecting to have to ease off again a short while later. But no, the legs were working great as I battled a strong headwind navigating through Comber along the Ballydrain road up in to Lisbane.

A quick stop at a little lake for a quick snap on my Phone before it got too dark for the Phone Camera to focus.

Back on the Saddle again and off in to the darkness for a hard push straight in to Ballygowan, round the roundabout and another sustained hard push back to Dundonald via Comber again.

A little over an hour in duration but a good sustained hard effort then home to analyse the ride data which made good reading, the form is building, a surprise given how little miles I have clocked up this year which is well down on previous years.

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First Sportive of the Year

After all day Rain yesterday I awoke this Morning to a Blanket of Fog, the Roads still saturated from yesterdays Rain. I had an entry in for the Spring Sixty Sportive up in Camlough, South Armagh, and thought the visibility or rather the lack of would put the event at risk on a safety issue. Regardless I cooked myself some breakfast, packed the kit bag and loaded the Bicycle in to the back of the Car in the hope that the Fog would lift as the day went on.

Rather than Cycle in constant Rain yesterday I took the time to fit a new Chain and on todays Sportive it was noticeable just how much slicker and quieter the gear shifting was.

Arriving at Camlough in good time I quickly got myself signed on the event insurance, got myself geared up and went out on to the road for a short Cycle to get the leg muscles woken up and prepped for what lay ahead. The South Armagh Hills were still cloaked in a shroud of Clouds, the surrounding farmland saturated.

Camlough Cycling Club put on two Sportives each year and they are always well run events, good water stops, food at the end of the event and great road Marshals keeping Cyclists as safe as possible.

With 500 Cyclists on the road in a mass start the further back you are is more hazardous so I got myself to the front of the pack well before the start of the event to avoid any possible carnage further back down the peloton. I was told by a friend that there was one crash near the start when someone slid off on gravel, no such issues for me though as I started at the front and started at a brisk pace to get away from most of the Cycle traffic.

Analysing my ride data post-sportive I set my best five minute power for the event right at the start which ordinarily would not be the wisest thing to do when trying to conserve energy to complete the route.

No such trouble today though, I recovered well from the hard start and paced myself well throughout the remainder of the event, so much so that I did not stop at the halfway stop for the provided Soup and Sandwiches as the legs were feeling good and the energy levels were also still good. I opted to just grab an energy bar from my Jersey pocket and continue on.

Up through the lumpy, pot-holed roads around Ravensdale Forest I was starting to waver a little and the thought of Soup and Sandwiches a few miles back down the road entered my head! I had to make do with an emergency Torq energy gel, the fast acting sugary Carbohydrate mix soon revived the legs and I was pulling hard again all the way through until the finish. I completed the 36 mile route in under two hours at an average speed of 18.8mph which was a noticeable improvement on last years event held in kinder weather conditions. It is good to be able to look back and see progress.

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A struggle in the Sunshine

A very heavy overnight Frost was followed by a crisp bright Morning and a Weather forecast of dry, sunny spells until evening, it was too tempting to ignore so I booked a half day annual leave from the day job and wheeled out the Summer Bike for a decent afternoon spin around the County Down roads.

With around four hours of daylight to play with I was hoping for around sixty miles or so, but no sooner had I clipped in to the pedals and chalked off the first Mile along the Comber Greenway I knew today was not going to be the day as my legs were just not working.

OK no problem I just adjusted my route, instead of going up in to the hills decided to continue on the Greenway all the way to Comber to give my legs a nice gentle, flat start to see if they would wake up and start working as so often happens. By Comber there was no improvement but I laboured on up the old Ballgowan road which was punctuated with numerous potholes from the recent bad weather. Then across to the Drumhirk road and a myriad of other quiet roads even taking some new [to me] roads enjoying a rare sunny day on the saddle with dry roads.

Although sunny and milder than it has been it was still chilly and Carrickmannon lake was frozen solid for at least half of the lake.

Despite having a day where my body just was not able to perform it was great being outside on the Summer Bike on quiet roads and lanes enjoying the fresh air and sunshine. My legs were leaden and I just could not get the power down the way I wanted, even the flat roads were a struggle never mind the many rolling hills. But I managed to knock out 32 miles before returning home to wash the Salt of the Bike and get a hot shower myself.

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Ahhhhhh the great Outdoors

Straight home from Work a rapid turnaround and out on the Bicycle… on dry roads 🙂 in daylight 🙂 with very little Wind 🙂 was I dreaming? For once, no.

It was a chilly evening as I set off and the temperature dropped further by the end of the spin but even so there was a definite sense that warmer days were just around the corner.

About a dozen lads turned up at the Premier Inn for the Tuesday Night Phoenix Cycling Club lash around the Airport road. A fast group ride at an intensity to make up for the shorter duration with each member of the group taking their turn at the front of the group, only one guy missing his turn every so often.

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