A Thursday is a random choice for a dip in to the annual leave allowance from Work, but the forecast was for a dry, overcast day with the odd blink of sunshine and that is how it panned out, but it was also very Windy especially up in the hills.
I hatched a plan to do a solo cycle of around 40 to 50 miles in a loop that would see me climb Knockagh from both directions. I have ridden up it a few times on the Bicycle from the Monkstown side but never from the Woodburn side which is fabled to be the tougher climb of the two.
I had barely gone half a mile along the Comber Greenway in the direction of Belfast when I had to dismount to negotiate a fallen Tree but that’s just one of the many unknowns you encounter on a bike ride, it really is a good way to get out and explore the countryside, I have travelled numerous roads and trails by Bicycle that I would never have ventured along in a Car.
A steady pedal down to Connswater then up over the Dee Street Bridge and along Sydenham road crossing the Lagan and out the Duncrue road to the Loughshore Cycle path then up the Doagh road skirting round Newtownabbey and across to the start of the Knockagh climb, a 1.5 mile climb averaging out at a six percent gradient. I unzipped my Jacket to let in some cooling air as I started to climb but even so by the top my ‘radiator‘ had burst and the Sweat was running down my forehead etc but the effort was worth it as I shaved another 11 seconds off my best time. I continued upwards up Slievetrue before a short descent then levelling off on Lisglass road before a nice fast descent down Councillors road and a longer fast descent down the new line.
Suitably recovered with the heart rate down to a sensible level again it was time to start tackling the Knockagh climb again from the other side. It is a longer climb at 2.3 miles but averages out a fraction lower at 5% gradient however there are lots of sections were it ramps up to 8 – 10% and there are a few hairpin bends to negotiate too but I got a low gear, got in to a good pedalling rythm and kept turning the pedals making steady progress eventually making it up to the top, then for good measure I climbed on up to the Knockagh Monument but the views across Belfast Lough were very hazy today and the Wind was real strong and cooling so I didn’t stop for long. A fast descent down the earlier climb of the Knockagh road down through Monkstown and back on to the Loughshore cycle path where the sun was now shining and lots of Dogs were enjoying a paddle in the Sea or chasing a ball on the Beach.
Scooting back up the Loughshore path, through Duncrue, then through town over the Dee Street bridge and back up the Comber Greenway saw me clock up a nice 45 miles for the Morning.