Zone 2

A short spin up the Greenway to Comber then out the Ballydrain road and Ringneill road all against the Wind then turn around and repeat this time with a tailwind. A grey old afternoon with a strong breeze and temperatures down a little requiring arm warmers.

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Chasing goals

For this Evening’s Bicycle ride I set out with one target in mind, the hill climb in Holywood known as Creighton’s Green road from Browns brae road.

I haved climbed this road numerous times, it never gets easier. Sometimes it feels harder than other times, my fastest ever ascent of it was back in March 2017 when i set a time of 4 minutes 56 seconds and I equalled that time again in June 2017. This evening I was on a mission to empty the tanks on this climb and try to set a new personal best time.

I had studied my data and come to the conclusion that if I could possibly average 300 watts on the climb I could get a new personal best of about 4 minutes 30 seconds. Could I hold that power for that duration? Was I rested enough to allow me to put that kind of effort in? Even if I could not do that effort could I still shave a few seconds of my best time? Time to find out.

The Legs were a little stiff as I turned my first pedal strokes on leaving the House so I decided I needed a good few minutes of a warmup to ease the legs in to it so I took a very leisurely spin down the Greenway to Holywood Arches along the Connswater Community Greenway, through Victoria Park and out on to the Airport Road.

Now it was time to lift the effort level for a few minutes to determine if the Legs were willing to work or not. A good strong but steady effort along the Airport road for 7 minutes told me the Leg muscles were firing well so I dropped the effort level to a very easy pace again to Cycle round by Kinnegar to Holywood and up to the start of the climb. A very brief pause to discard the eye protection as I did not want the sweat running in to the glasses distracting me from the effort and off I went.

I started hard, probably too hard I thought at the time, so I eased back the effort just a little and continued to push on. The smooth tarmac at the start of the climb was gone as I got on to the rougher surface at the first switchback turn, the gradient is pretty consistent for the duration of the climb despite the change in road surface. I continued pressing on and now the heart rate was catching up to the effort, the legs were firing well but the pain of the effort was starting to tell so I got up out of the Saddle to utilise different muscles to temporarily give a rest to the others then back in to the saddle and push on. I looked up and could see the final turn of the climb, it felt like I had got there quite quickly, my power output was now dropping off so out of the saddle again for one last push to the line and pull in to the side to suck in great big lungfulls of oxygen.

Whilst at the side of the road recovering from the effort letting the heart rate come back down I looked at my cycle computer, 4 minutes 30 seconds and 317 watts average power and I knew I had not only set a new personal best time but I had also shaved a good chunk of time off my previous best. 26 seconds of an improvement, very happy with that πŸ™‚

Analysing the stress data for the climb post-ride, that dat did not lie, I had gone deep and emptied the tank.

Just like the earlier long warm-up before the climb I now set off for a nice leisurely spin to flush out the fatigue from the climb. I continued on to the end of Creightons road and on to Whinney Hill stopping to grab a pic of Belfast Lough from my elevated position. There were great views across the Lough to Whiteabbey and beyond.

Back round to Browns Brae road for the descent to CRoft road and around to Holywood but first another quick Photo stop.

From Holywood past Knocknagoney to Belmont Park and down the Newtownards road to Connswater through Bloomfield and back home via the Greenway.

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Abort, abort, abort!

The Weather was definitely more Autumnal this Morning yet the forecast for the lunchtime temperatures were quite a few degrees higher so Cycling kit choice today was going to be tricky. Finding the balance between being chilly versus overheating later on is not easy, some days you get the kit choice correct and on other days it is additional suffering to go with the suffering your legs and lungs go through.

Todays Cycle could maybe even should have been a Club spin but instead I opted to go for a scenic solo spin out the Antrim Coast road then turn up in to the Glens and home. I even slung a Nikon DSLR on my back. I intended to keep the pace very leisurely and just enjoy the scenic route and ignore all the data metrics on the Cycle Computer.

I set off down the Newtownards road then round by Victoria Park and along the Sydenham road and out the Duncrue harbour estate to the Loughshore Cycle path to Gideons Green all in nice Sunshine.

Out on to the Shore road at Whiteabbey through Greenisland and onwards to Carrickfergus along Marine Highway and out the Larne road for the long uphill drag up the Blah Hole towards Whitehead. At this point it was still warm and Sunny but there was an ominous Black Cloud overhead.

After a short Photo stop the first spits of Rain started to fall, but either side of the Black Coud was bright and Sunny so rather than turn for home I decided to stick to the original route plan and Cycled off in the direction of Larne. Passing the turn off for Islandmagee the temperature dropped considerably and I really felt the chill but continued on regardless. By the time I got to Magheramourne the Rain came on very heavy, I pulled in to sit it out under the shelter of a Tree as first one group and then a second group of Cyclists from my Club came rolling through on their return journey to Belfast from this Mornings Club spin.

There was no let up in the heavy Rain so I donned my Waterproof Jacket, switched on my lights and turned around to Cycle back home, the Glens would have to wait until another day. With streams of Water running down the road it was not long until my Shoes, Socks and Feet were absolutely waterlogged. Up over the Blah Hole again and down in to Eden on to Carrickfergus and Whiteabbey but this time I gave the Loughshore Cycle path a miss and continued down the Shore road and York road to Belfast where there was no sign of Rain and lots of nice Sunshine.

Out the Sydenham road over Dee Street Bridge and home just as the Rain started to hit Belfast, a shortened 53 mile spin, not ideal but things happen.

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Physical and Mental test of endurance

Ever bitten off more than you can chew? That is exactly how I was feeling at times on this Bicycle ride from Belfast up to the Kingdom of Mourne and back home. It is not that the ride was too long for me, I have completed longer rides quite often, but Mother nature [a strong headwind for 55.6% of this ride according to] and gravity [hills, hills and more hills] ganged up on me to test my strength and resolve to the limit.

I set off through Dundonald up the Castlereagh hills and lanes to bypass Moneyreagh, in to Saintfield and out the Middle road retracing my wheelsteps from a few days previous to Cycle over to Dromara. Progress thanks to that Wind was much slower than normal and the voices in my head were already telling me to cut the Cycle short and turn for home. Today was not going to be one of those days were I gave in to the voices as I continued on climbing up the Moybrick road in to the Ardtanagh road passing some weird creatures grazing in the fields πŸ™‚

On to the long climb up the Rathfriland road ascending it stronger than on previous occassions πŸ™‚ but obviously this was not reflected on time due to the strong headwind πŸ™ but my power was good and I climbed it in a harder gear than normal whilst still holding enough back for the miles and climbing that still had to come. A short pause at the top for a quick phone pic before enjoying the descent which was also slower than normal due to the strong wind blowing head on.

Through Lowtown and across to Moneyslane where I had planned to stop at the local shop for Water and a bar of Chocolate but the Shop is now demolished. I actually knew that from Cycling through here previously but for some reason had forgotten about it today. Doh! So I was left disappointed and would have to wait a while longer to top up the Bottle, and therefore had to ration out the remainder of my Water until I next came across a Shop, which on my pre-determined route would not be until the Post Office at Bryansford another 14 miles up the road.

Keeping to the quieter country roads and lanes the Mourne Mountains were coming ever closer in to view as I cycled onwards and the view from Lackan road as I neared Lough Island Reavy Reservoir let me see that the tops were covered with Cloud but the Sun was breaking through for the first time today, the temperature was rising and it was time to roll down the arm warmers.

Across the Dublin road at Kilcoo and in to the Fofanny School road, a narrow, winding little road with many short but steep climbs. Over the Bryansford road still on the Fofanny School road but now it was wider with smoother tarmac but no less steep, however the scenery more than made up for the pain.

Finally at the end of the road I could turn out of the headwind and start descending but first a leisurely descent of the Trassey road taking in the Mountain views.

Out of the Trassey road descending the Bryansford road with stunning views of the Mournes and Tollymore I slowed to a stop at Bryansford Post Office but sadly it was closed πŸ™ so I would have to Cycle a few more miles to Newcastle before getting some food, water and a Honeycomb Ice Cream to refuel the energy levels for the homeward leg.

I took the main Dundrum road out of Newcastle as far as Murlough nature reserve and then turned in to the old road, the tail wind assistance helping me along, free speed! πŸ™‚

The tail wind assistance would not last much longer as the wind strength reduced as often happens in the evenings. But I continued turning the Pedals along the Drumcaw road then through Drumaroad to Drumaness and Ballynahinch.

With a little over 20 miles remaining, thoughts of hot food entered my head but a flapjack would have to do for now. I set off along the Ballylone road to Saintfield out station road, across to Drumreagh, down the Tullynagee road to the Ballydrain road in to Comber and home via the Greenway for an 88 mile Cycle with over 5,000 feet of elevation gain.

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Holywood shakes

The plan for today’s Bicycle ride was a good, steady but hard, two hours in zone 2, a susutainable effort providing you keep yourself fuelled and hydrated.

I set off up through Dundonald and along the main road to Comber. It was a pleasant afternoon and the traffic was unusually courteous passing at a respectful distance except for one idiot driver, who came wayyyy too close at speed which really annoyed me given that he was soon on the bumper of the last vehicle in a long line of traffic in front of him. He clearly was not going to progress any further. It took me a mile or so to forget about that incident.

Bypassing Comber town and up the main road to Ballygowan. With no set route in mind I was running various routing options through my head and settled on the Ravara road and Lisdoonan roads round to Carryduff then down the Saintfield road to Forestside and onwards to the Ravenhill road.

Belfast City traffic and various red traffic lights to contend with this turned out to be numerous short, very hard efforts between traffic lights, good interval training! Around by the SSE Arena and out the Airport road where a strong headwind really forced me to work hard for any decent forward speed and by the time I Cycled round through Kinnegar to Holywood the shakes set in. I had neglected to nibble throughout the ride and my Sugar levels were low but I had a Sugary energy gel with me and necked that immediately and soon the energy levels were improved allowing me to finish my ride strongly through Knockagoney across to Stormont and home for a 31 mile start to the Week.

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Gentle little spin at dusk

After a chilled out day resting up from yesterdays wind battering I decided to venture out this evening for a nice easy spin just to stop the legs stiffening up as often happens when I take a complete day off the Bike. Riding gently enough to not accrue any significant extra stress requires discipline and choosing a suitable route, I opted for a mostly flat route out to Islandhill.

Below is a few short video clips from the Cycle.

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Wind battered Cycle to Slieve Croob

Saturday Morning so time for the Phoenix CC Saturday group spin. Looking at the Weather forecast and a glance out the Window confirmed it was a very Windy day. I was hoping to ride with the faster B1 group but that is a tough enough pace for me without having to also do battle with a strong wind so mentally I decided to go with the B2 group.

Just as I was getting geared up to leave the House I checked the message board of the Club website and saw that the B2 group were having an away day spin around Carlingford, great πŸ™‚ Except it was not great because they were leaving earlier than normal and I was already too late to go πŸ™ a solo spin it would have to be.

An easy start through Dundonald and up the Greenway to Comber, a nice flat start to ease the legs in to it. Lots of quieter lanes and rolling hills then a drop down in to Saintfield and across the Middle road and Creevytennant road crossing the main Ballynahinch road and in to a new road for me, Laurel road.

Being a new road to me and not having pre-plotted out a route I was now in unchartered territory heading loosely in the direction of Dromara but not really sure where to go but I could see another Cyclist ahead and rapidly reeled him in. A member of Maryland Wheelers who was heading towards Dromara himself so I Cycled alongside him chatting away as he took me across the Burn road and on to the Burren road in to Dromara where we parted ways.

Still being battered by a strong headwind I started climbing up the Rathfriland road and then across the Wind for the long climb up Finnis road with its numerous steeper inclines which forced me to shift in to “the granny gear”. I could see a Dog up ahead, would it be friendly or would it attack? It looked more and more like an attacker as it snuck off to the left behind a hedge on my approach, but it was a Labrador a breed not known for attacking surely it would not do me any harm? I drew alongside and just as I passed it came out behind me and started running towards me, oh oh! It seemed friendly enough so I dropped my hand down to let it have a sniff and said a quick hello to it, thankfully it did not bite my hand and continued to run alongside me happy to have some company.

Despite the dull day the views from the top were worth the pain of the climb up, I took a moment to grab a Photograph and some video clips whilst chomping down some food for the return ride home.

At this point I decided to descend the notorious Dree Hill, a very narrow road with a rough, bumpy surface and the chance of a stray Sheep. Normally I hammer it downhill but decided on a more cautious descent of this one, good job too as a local farmer released a flock of Sheep on to the road not looking first to see if there was any traffic.

Down the remainder of Dree Hill to the Rathfriland road and now with the wind at my back a brisk spin down to Dromara and across to Ballynahinch, Saintfield and Comber and a leisurely spin back in the Greenway for a 56 mile spin. Below is a little video from the Dromara area, just listen to that wind!

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Sunshine, Showers and lots of Wind resistance training

A sunny day with plentiful rain showers and an ever present strong wind which made for tough going on the Bicycle but good training all the same.

Out through Dundonald in to Millmount and a climb up the Greengraves road to the Newtownards road and a nice fast descent down the hill in to Newtownards topping out at 42mph before navigating the roundabout and a steady climb up around Scrabo to Killynether Wood and a Photo stop.

The wind made the descent down the Ballyhenry road slower than normal, through Comber and out the Ballydrain road along the Ballylighorn road and up the Quarry road to Lisbane where the first short rain shower hit me.

Across to Ballygowan and along Ravara road and a climb up the Lisdoonan road to Carryduff then the descent back down the Saintfield road to Forestside down the Ormeau along the embankment and home for another 32 miles bringing my distance up to 127 miles for the Week so far. Maybe I will treat myself to a rest day tomorrow to freshen the legs up for the Weekend.

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CX fun day

Being a “Roadie” I do most of my Cycling on the tarmac roads but every now and then I like to get my Cyclocross Bike out and ride some loose gravel, today was one of those days.

Across the Greenway to Orangefield Park and a quick stop to capture a pic of a Wildflower bed, then through Greenville Park to Ormeau Park for the first excursion through the gravel and mud, thankfully it was not too wet under the trees so not all that much mud around. Just enough mud to make it slippy in places to keep it interesting and demand some good bike handling skills.

Out of the trees and out of Ormeau Park and up the embankment to the Lagan towpath before taking to the Gravel and Woodland trails and a steep, loose gravel climb up in to Belvoir Forest Park. I really could have used a lower gear to assist on the climb but I managed to grind my way up whilst maintaining enough traction from the rear tyre which kept threatening to spin out at any moment but I got up the climb to the car park and a chance to go for a lap around the gravel paths.

Back round to the Car park and I now had the fast descent of the steep, loose gravel that I had climbed up earlier. The mechanical disc brakes only just providing enough stopping slowing power to allow me to make the turn down in to the Woodland trail across to the Lagan then across the Bridge and back down the towpath in to the City.

A detour around by the Titanic Quarter then along Sydenham road to Victoria Park along the Connswater Greenway to Orangefield and back home for a fun 22 miles only to discover my rear tyre deflated. The tyre was well word down before I started so its not surprising all the gravel and tree roots managed to penetrate it and get at the inner tube.

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The start of a new Week and another chance to get out on the Bicycle and “get some miles in” to keep building up the Cycling fitness. A day off the Bicycle yesterday provided some rest and recovery for the body, I would have liked to have got out yesterday for a really easy hour to spin the legs over with no big efforts but the weather decided otherwise an so it was no surprise that the legs today were initially quite stiff and heavy and not liking having to do any work.

I set off through Dundonald, then opted for the main road up to Comber then briefly out the main road to Killyleagh before swinging off to the right and a climb up the long draggy Tullynagee road watched by a family of Horses.

Across the Drumreagh road to Darragh Cross through Raffrey and Derryboye and onwards to Killyleagh resisting the delicious temptations within Picnic.

Down on to the Shore road and around some bays of Strangford Lough I had not Cycled around in a long time, a scenic little road with some short sharp little climbs to burn the legs.

Crossing the main road and taking to the quieter lanes weaving around to Scaddy road back around to Derryboye, Lisbane and Comber then home via the Greenway for a pleasant 43 miles to kickstart the week.

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