The main Phoenix CC Weekend group spins have been departing from the House of Sport at 9am recently, for just the Summer Months, before reverting back to the traditional 9:30 start for Autumn and Winter. As I clipped in to the Pedals and set off along the Knock road I knew I had no chance of joining the 9am groups however I would easily make the 9:30 start for those who could not make or did not want the 9am start.
This Morning I opted to ride with a faster group than I normally venture out with, I recognised a few faces and thought I had joined the next group up but I had actually jumped up two levels and knew about it right from the start as we set off down the Malone road at pace past Lady Dixon Park through Drumbeg and in to Lambeg.
I was fully expecting to get dropped at some point in the ride but decided to just hang in there for as long as possible as it would be good training for me. By the time we reached Lisburn I was feeling comfortable with the pace. Through Lisburn we took the Hillsborough road, it has a short but steep hill to climb and I felt sure I’d get dropped on the climb and have to work hard to get back on to the back of the group, but to my surprise I was able to stay in the bunch. Leaving the Hillsborough road we took the Blaris road which is pretty flat, the pace was fast but I was finding it easy just sitting in cruising in the draft.
Across the Bog road passing Down Royal Racecourse across the Moira road and climbing up in to Maghaberry I was losing ground on the group being unable to sustain the same uphill speed as the rest of them 🙁 but once the terrain levelled out I was able to put in a hard effort and get back on. Our group leader then threw in an extra loop taking us back round to Maghaberry coming up a steep, short, climb. I can get myself up the hills ok but I have never been able to climb at a fast enough pace and so myself and another lad got spat out the back of the group as they disappeared in to the distance, but they stopped at the next road end to allow us to rejoin the group.
I was conscious of having expended a lot of energy so far so reached in to the Jersey pocket for an energy Bar to replace some of the expended energy as we left Magahbaerry and had a great, fast spin across the Ballinderry road to Ballinderry and then an even faster spin along the Station road round to Lower Ballinderry. The speed and size of the group made for a great slipstream effect making the miles easy if you were in the bunch and harder when it was your turn to pull at the front of the Peloton.
From Lower Ballinderry through Aghalee to Lurgan is rolling terrain, no big steep climbs but always up or down and again I was losing out on the small hills. I knew it was only a matter of time until I would lose touch with the group for good and it finally happened leaving Lurgan on the Gilford road. Sitting at my sustainable limit up Gibsons Hill and watching the group ease away in to the distance and being powerless to do anything about it was sobering, but I took comfort from the fact I had hung in for so long at a much higher level than I would normally ride at. My Cycle computer showed 238Watts NP and 1824 calories for the 42 miles travelled.
I was now on my own and a long way from home so it was time to refuel from the Jersey pocket again and ease the effort a little bit to ensure I got home without having to Phone for a lift.
I took a left turn in to Dunkirk road and with the Wind now at my back could keep up a good pace for a lower effort level as I made my way over to Waringstown, through Magheralin and the gridlocked Moira. Leaving Moira on the Hillsborough road and then the Halfpenny road passing through Mazetown I was back on the Bog road and Blaris road to Lisburn and returned to Belfast via Dunmurry for a hard but very enjoyable 73 miles with the Legs burning 🙂