A very heavy frost overnight had me umming and aaaing about whether to venture out early for the Saturday Phoenix Cycling club spin or delay my start by an hour to allow for a thaw and do a solo spin instead. Venturing out for a short Walk to assess the road conditions I deemed it a risk worth taking as the Roads were mostly dry and should therefore be frost free.
I hurriedly got myself and my Winter Bike organised, clipped in to the Pedals and set off along the Knock Carriageway for the House of Sport, the Knock Carriageway was in shade but the Sun was breaking through across the Belfast Hills. It was very cold but a beautiful Morning. Despite the cold and the frost there was still a good turnout of members at the House of Sport eagerly anticipating getting in some good miles.
Having pushed myself very hard on the Hamster Wheel on both Tuesday and Wednesday Evening I new the Legs were fatigued and the energy levels low so my plan was to sit in the group and conserve as much energy as possible except for when it was my turn to pull at the front of the group.
Ordinarily we would avoid the main roads in the interests of safety but due to the cold temperatures and frost today we were all about keeping to the main roads to avoid silly crashes, so it was disappointing when just outside Lisburn heading for Annahilt one very young, inexperienced lad bit the Tarmac at the rear of the group. We phoned his parents and arranged for them to come and collect him rather than have him continue on.
Setting off again we were all enjoying the rare sunshine and the even rarer dry roads as we made our way through Annahilt and over to Ballynahinch taking in the scenic County Down views across to the Mourne Mountains and soon we were crossing over the Quoile. Having not eaten anything since Breakfast I was now running low on energy and the climb up through Saul was starting to test the energy reserves so I reached in to the Jersey pocket for something to eat but already knew I had left it too late, so all I could do was conserve what little energy I had left as our group made our way over to the welcome Coffee stop at the National Trust’s Castle Ward property.
Fuelled and hydrated we were soon clipping back in to the Pedals and climbing up out of Castle Ward and then descending down to Strangford, the Strangford Lough coastline looked spectacular in the Winter Sunshine. My Legs were still hollow and we were a very long way from home all I could do was hope they would come good again later as often happens. Climbing out of Strangford and hugging the shoreline in to a headwind through Ballyhornan and down the Lismore road past Bishopscourt race circuit myself and a few others were in a very dark place struggling to keep the legs turning at the pace of the group.
Approaching Downpatrick something just clicked again and my Legs came back to life, weirdly they were now the strongest they had been all day and they stayed strong all the way home. I was fit to come to the front of the group and do the bulk of the work giving shelter to my clubmates sitting on my Wheel many of whom were completely empty.
Keeping on the main roads we came through Downpatrick to Crossgar and through Saintfield. More and more bodies within the group were now energy depleted and unable to even stay in the draft, weirdly I was still strong so I went off solo and done a few hard sprint intervals before dropping back my effort levels and letting the group come back on to my wheel. Soon we were in Carryduff and the gradient started to turn in our favour and we enjoyed a fast drop down on to the Knock carriageway and home for some feet up time.
75 miles was a great spin given the bitter cold day, all the more so on the back of some hard interval sessions earlier in the week on the turbo trainer.