With a lot of the regulars from my group of Cyclists in Phoenix CC off enjoying the warm Sunshine in Mallorca and penniless me at home in the cold, I decided this Week to step up and ride with the faster B1 group. I was expecting a tough day in the Saddle.
The ambient air temperature was hovering around 8 degrees celsius, that tricky region where clothing choice can leave you freezing or over-heating. I initially opted for a full Winter Jacket but decided at the last minute to go for a thinner, lighter option and just about got my choice correct.
Our route took us from the House of Sport through Belfast, up the Shore Road, the Doagh Road through Ballyrobert to Doagh and on to Parkgate.
At Parkgate we turned in to the Ballysavage Road. Savage by name and savage by nature, a long steep climb with some even steeper sections, the chatting stopped, the breathing got more and more laboured, one guy got off and walked only stubborness kept me going.
Finally summiting the climb we took a short pit stop to regroup and then were soon descending Donegore Hill which was just as steep and you could smell burning rubber as the Brakes were applied for the right hand turn in to Moat road. We made our way through the lanes to Dunadry, Muckamore and on to Aldergrove.
On through Crumlin, Lower Ballinderry and a stop in Aghalee to top up the Water Bottles. Through Aghagallon and on to Dollingstown my right calf was starting to cause me a lot of discomfort. I had hurt it out on the Bicycle one evening a couple of Weeks previous and thought I could pedal on through the pain but the further we went the worse it got 🙁 and I had to drop off the group and let them continue on without me. Now twenty or so miles from home all I could do was ease off the effort levels and nurse the leg the whole way home freewheeling where possible. Hopefully a few days rest will do the job.
Another 80 miles in the bag and I was well pleased how comfortable I felt in the faster group only losing out on the hills where I always struggle.
Another short Cycle in the Evening after Work, again keeping it short and keeping the effort level low to help the Legs recover but this time I also put in a few harder efforts on a couple of local hills to reawaken the Legs. I recorded personal best times on the Hills which was pleasing and shows that the legs are recovered to go again at the Weekend.
A short Cycle after Work, an easy spin just turning over the pedals to flush the legs out with no big efforts or speed. With Legs still heavily fatigued from my Mourne Century this easy effort short loop over to Holywood and back in the Airport road was just enough to loosen the legs up ready for harder efforts in the days ahead.
Cold temperatures and steady, light rain 🙁 greeted me as I clipped in to the Pedals and set off for a long day in the Saddle, the goal… to chalk off my first imperial Century Cycle of twenty seventeen. One of the keys to being able to complete a long bike ride is to get your pacing right, basically dial the effort levels back a notch and don’t push as hard on the Pedals as compared to how you would for a shorter distance. I took the first couple of miles easy up the Comber Greenway.
Leaving Dundonald I realised the roads were less busy than I expected due to the Easter Monday public holiday so rather than continue on up the Greenway to Comber I took the main road instead, with the inevitable increase in pace. Leaving Comber on the Ballygowan road I put the Rain Jacket on rather than get soaked so early in to a long Cycle. Continuing on through Ballygowan, up to Saintfield and staying on the main road to Crossgar the Rain had now stopped so time to pack stuff the rain jacket back in to a jersey pocket.
From Crossgar it was on through Kilmore to Loughinisland and the main road to Seaforde, the Sun was now breaking through the Clouds and time for the first Photo opportunity of the day when I came across a field of bright Yellow.
Leaving Seaforde I was soon through Clough and passing through Dundrum at a good pace all the way past Murlough and on in to Newcastle which was bumper-to-bumper with traffic. My pacing was higher than I intended so I stopped at the Harbour for a little pick me up to top up the Sugar levels before climbing up the Mournes.
No sooner was I on the road again and the sound of a siren came blasting past me as the Mountain Rescue responder came whizzing past, an ominous sign of what lay ahead? Out along the coastal road in the direction of Annalong and I could see the tops of the Mountains where shrouded in Clouds, would visibility be an issue for me Cycling up over Spelga?
By now the legs were tiring, the energy levels dropping and thoughts turned to Castlewellan for a fuel stop as I enjoyed the fast descent past Fofany back to the main road then across to Kilcoo and the main road in to Castlewellan passing Lough Island Reavy Reservoir. A great Burrito and four mugs of Tea revived me ready for the homeward spin safe in the knowledge that the worst of the climbing was now behind me.
Descending down the Hill from Castlewellan and left in to Lough road I plotted a route for Drumaroad then Spa, Ballynahinch, Saintfield, Ballygowan and Comber. By the time I was close to home I had 92 miles clocked up so I done a few short loops close to home to notch up the Century. 🙂
Saturday Morning and the start of a three day long weekend for Easter, 🙂 the weather forecast was reasonable (mostly dry with a few rain showers) so I opted for the Phoenix Cycling Club group spin.
Setting off along the Knock Carriageway for the House of Sport I was wondering if my Tyres were soft or if I just was having a bad day with no legs, neither were true I was just battling a strong headwind! 🙁 It was also immediately apparent that the real feel of the air temp was a lot lower than forecasted, thankfully I had opted for the Winter jacket, leg warmers etc. Other club members had looked outside, seen the Morning Sun and went with shorts and short sleeved jersey a decision they were regretting.
We set off along the Malone road to Drumbeg, up the Sandy lane, through Hilden in to Lisburn and out the Ballinderry road then in to the lanes towards Glenavy, skirting around Crumlin to Aldergrove we encountered our first short, but heavy Rain shower of the Morning. The group pace was slower than I would have liked, I was doing more freewheeling than pedalling so I broke free from the group and upped the pace hoping the group would respond but noone was in any form for a faster pace so I rejoined the group and just accepted I’d be having an easier, slower day. The group leader suggested I maybe move up to the faster group next week.
Looping around Muckamore, back round to Aldergrove and on towards Stoneyford the temperature finally started to rise but not before we had all cooled down when one guy got a rear puncture only to realise after fixing it that he had also punctured the front. The long drag up to Stoneyford was rewarded with the fast descent of the pond park road then through Derriaghy and Finaghy back to Belfast. Sixty Six miles was a decent spin to kickstart the Weekend.
The original plan was to head up in to the Dundrod hills and do a few laps but as I left Belfast the hills weren’t even visible due to low cloud so we hastily changed plans to venture up the Ballynahinch road to Legacurry, Annahilt in through Ballynahinch and over to Saintfield where Gavin made a quick stop to top up on food and Water.
From Saintfield we took the main road to Crossgar keeping up a brisk pace, then a quick loo stop in Crossgar.
Having kept up a really good tempo so far Gavin wanted to ramp up the power for the next fifty minutes. We left Crossgar and ventured over to Derryboye crossroads then took a left through Raffrey and Darragh Cross back to Saintfield, on through Temple and back to Lisburn. 40 miles for me and home before the Rain.
There was a distinct chill in the air and a cloudy mist over the Belfast Hills as I clipped in to the Pedals and set off along the Knock Carriageway for the House of Sport and the Saturday Morning, Phoenix Cycling Club group ride.
The Weather forecast was promising a dry day and lots of Sunshine with light winds, we got the dry sunny day (eventually) but it was a lot windier than we expected. There was a large turnout with good numbers in each group and our group in particular was very large so for safety reasons we split it in to two separate groups.
Taking the Malone road through Drumbeg then up the Sandy Lane and the Lagan towpath to Lisburn we then took the traditional Phoenix route up the Ballynahinch road through Legacurry and Annahilt to Ballykeel. Myself and three others turned off at this point and returned to Belfast via Ballynahinch, Boardmills, and Drumbo at a brisker pace than the main group had been sustaining. 47 miles clocked up and nursing a sore calf from Thursday Evenings spin it was time to put the leg up and rest ahead of a spin tomorrow with Gavin.
A quick solo, tempo Cycle after Work, a chance to get in a sustained harder effort. As it turned out it was my fastest Cycle this year, it would have been even faster only with 6 miles remaining my Calf Muscle tightened up and threatened to cramp with each pedal stroke so I had to ease off the power and nurse it all the way home.
With the lighter Evenings back a few of us in Phoenix Cycling Club try to meet up after Work on a Tuesday to get a Bicycle ride in before dark. This Week was blessed with a dry evening, a little cool and quite windy but all in a great evening for an easy paced social spin.
Setting off down past Lady Dixon Park to Drumbeg then the start of the long draggy climb up towards Drumbo before the even steeper climb up the Tullyard road, leading on to the Saintfield road. From there we went through Temple to Saintfield, back in to Carryduff and home for a decent 29 mile spin. My legs were feeling good and I set a personal best time on the Tullard road climb.
What a day for a Bike ride, ‘Wall-toWall’ Sunshine, dry roads and not too bad winds, mostly 🙂
I decided that County Down would be the destination and specifically an ascent of Slieve Croob from the Castlewellan side. I had ridden this road previously on a Phoenix Cycling Club group ride one Weekend but with the constraints of a Club spin I wasn’t able to stop to capture a pic or two 🙁 and today was the day to put that right. 🙂
My chosen route started off easy along the flat of the Comber Greenway before the long draggy climb up to Ballygowan then in to the Carrickmannon road to Raffrey and a right turn at the Derryboye crossroads to take me in to Crossgar. I resisted the temptation to find an open Coffee shop and pushed on to Kilmore and Loughinisland emerging out at Seaforde bypassing Clough to come out on to the Ardnabannon road where I stopped for a couple of Photographs and a little detour round Ballylough.
Descending down the Hill to Annsborough and a right turn in to Ballylough road I could see Slieve Croob in front of me and the climbing began. Turning left in to Clonvaraghan road the gradient began to kick up in places and I realised my gear indexing was out as I was unable to select my ‘Granny’ gear.
Without my easiest climbing gear I continued on but the scenic vistas were too good not to make frequent stops for a Photograph.
High speed, deep section Carbon Wheels and a strong crosswind is never a good combination and today the sidewind caught my Wheels and put me in to a high speed wobble. The wobble got worse and I started scanning the roadside verges to find a soft landing spot for an emergency ejection, but I gripped the top tube hard with my knees, relaxed my grip on the bars and was able to bring the speed wobble back under control, unscathed, much to my relief as cycling clothing is not very protective against rough tarmac!
The rest of the cycle home through Dromara, Ballynahinch, Saintfield, Ballygowan, Comber and along the Comber Greenway was without drama. Another great day on the Bicycle and is there a nicer wee Country when the Sun puts in an appearance?
68 miles clocked up today with a lot of climbing and 55 miles yesterday and the legs have felt pretty good both days, all the Winter training sessions on the Hamster Wheel are now being rewarded with a bit of form.