When disaster strikes

A beautiful, sunny Afternoon and I decided to take the Winter Bike out for an easy spin to turn the legs over. I only got 2.5 miles in on the Comber Greenway before my rear tyre exploded taking out the tube with it.

A better view of the self destruction. A perfectly good tyre ruined by a defect.

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A perfectly good tyre destroyed by a manufacturing defect in the sidewall, a relatively common problem with that particular brand of tyre. An emergency repair would have got me home but it was a nice afternoon so I opted to walk back instead given I was not that far from home.

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Islandhill easy spin

After a Night and Morning where storm Hector battered us the Wind dropped a little in the Afternoon. I was intending to not ride today and take it as a rest day but the Afternoon Sunshine lured me out. To make sure I accrued no more training fatigue I opted to ride my third bike the fatter tyred Cyclocross Bike and ride really easy and only go for a very short spin.

A simple spin up the Comber Greenway which was littered with leaves, twigs and fallen branches from the overnight storm. Through Comber town, out the Carriageway a short distance and along the lanes to Islandhill then back home the same route for a 15 mile ride.

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Morning tempo spin

Up early and out on the Bicycle before the madness of rush hour clogged up Belfasts roads network. An early spin so no time for a decnt breakfast and time to digest it so instead I opted for a small snack and to only do a hard hour or thereabouts.

Out on to the Newtownards road past Stormont up to the Knock crossroads down the Greenway to the Beersbridge road through the Short Strand, over to the SSE Arena along Sydenham road and out the Airport road. The legs were good and I kept up a brisk pace riding at a good tempo, a lovely fresh Morning with not too much traffic to contend with.

In through Kinnegar to Holywood and back round to Dundonald for a fiesty 15 miles.

It was a beautiful Morning and I wanted more miles so I stayed out but at a much reduced effort level knowing I had no fuel onboard to sustain the earlier harder effort. So out along the Comber Greenway through Comber out the Ballydrain road along the Ballyglighorn road down Quarry road and back home for another 18 miles.

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Gentle Evening ride

A late evening, easy spin on the Cyclocross Bike at a very gentle effort to keep the legs turning without building up any extra fatigue.

Across to Holywood along the esplanade then back in through Kinnegar and the Airport road to Victoria Park then along the Connswater Community Greenway through Dixon Park and Orangefield Park and back home for an easy 17 miles and of course a stop for a quick Photograph or two.

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Good day, good route, poor performance

Another decent day to get out on the Bicycle and a good brisk pace up through Dundonald to Comber on the main road, it felt easy, maybe I had a tailwind?

From Comber I kept to the main road up to Ballygowan, a glance at my Wahoo Cycle computer and I could see my pace had dropped and from here through to the end of my ride it continued to drop, just one of those days where the head was willing but the legs were weak. I left Ballygowan and continued on up to Saintfield then along the Listooder road and round to Ballynahinch taking a few new exploratory lanes back to Saintfield over to Moneyreagh and back to Dundonald for a forty mile spin.

Some days you are the hammer, some days you are the nail, today I was the nail or maybe I had under-estimated the strength and direction of the wind.

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Long pootles and short efforts

A short spin this Afternoon on a very dull, cloudy day but still very warm and humid. I decided to just ride nice and easy and only put in a big effort on a couple of short sections of road that I wanted to improve my segment time on.

I set off along the main Newtownards road and then in to the grounds of Stormont Estate for the tough climb up to Carsons statue… made even tougher by a strong headwind. It was very early in to the bike ride but I decided to have a bit of a dig at the climb anyway to see if I could set a new personal best time. I held what I felt was a good strong effort up the climb but no new personal best time, not a great start.

Leaving Stormont via Massey avenue and across to Holywood the headwind still making it tougher going than I would have like but soon I was cruising in along the Airport road and catching tailwind assistance pausing briefly for a quick phone photograph of the wildflowers then along Sydenham road and decided to have another dig on the up and over flyover. I hit it hard and held great power but alas the traffic lights on the downslope were Red, traffic was backed up and so I had to abort my attempt at that segment.

A leisurely pootle up the side of the Lagan along Beersbridge road and through Orangefield Park and on to the Greenway all at a nice easy pace then out the Comber road in to Hillhead road up Peartree road and another segment I wanted to hit hard on Eden road. But this road has been recently stone chipped with lots of loose chippings still on the road so caution was better than valour and I again aborted my effort.

Out on to Gransha road and keeping it easy to conserve energy to attack one last segment climbing up the Gilnahirk road. Just under one mile at 3% average gradient topping out at 11% on the lower slopes of the climb. Nothing got in the way of this effort and I improved my time by 35 seconds for a new personal best time and a nice downhill descent down the other side.

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Club Championship road race

Another beautiful toasty warm Evening and another Phoenix CC club championship race near Saintfield. I took a steady spin up the Greenway to Comber and out the Ballydrain road then around the Ballyglighorn road and Quarry road up in to Lisbane, through Drumreagh around Ballygowan and up to the Killynure road.

After chilling out in the warm sunshine for a bit I got back on the Saddle to scout out a couple of possible Photo locations. The Phoenix club race would get underway and then 5 minutes later Maryland Wheelers would start their race on the same Circuit.

Lap two and two riders made the break from the main group and were strong enough to make the break stick until the chequered flag. It looked like being a straight sprint between the two for the win but a jammed chain mere yards from the end of the race decided the race outcome.

Racing over for the Evening and I enjoyed a nice spin home in the cooler evening temperatures taking to the Castlereagh hills to watch the Sun set.

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Phoenix CC Vets and Ladies Club Championships

This Evening was the Phoenix CC Vets and Ladies Club Championships road race around the Jacobs ladder Circuit at Saintfield better known to Motorcycle racing enthusiasts as the old Temple 100 Course, with the exception that the Cycle race runs anti-clockwise around the Circuit.

I wanted to Photograph the racing with the trusty Nikon but it was also such a beautiful evening that I wanted to get a Bike ride in too, so why not combine the two. I knew I would have to limit what photographic equipment I brought with me to save on weight so I kept my kit simple, one small light Camera body and a 50mm prime lens. It was a compromise giving me neither a wide or a zoom, but I would have to make the best use of it that I could.

I set off up the Comber Greenway to avoid the rush hour traffic jams and obnoxious fumes, a peaceful, green escape from the hustle and bustle of City life.

Leaving Comber on the Ballydrain road for more quiet roads out past Castle Espie and a new to me road the Killnakin road; a narrow single-lane road with poor road surface and a few small but testing climbs with views across to Sketrick island and Whiterock.

Onwards on the Ballymorran road and another of the little scenic bays around Strangford Lough.

The Quarterlands road and Ringdufferin road were next up, plenty of loose gravel on the road to keep me alert and a few more photo opportunities along the way too as well as an encounter with a big Labrador who was very protective of his territory… but his bark was much worse than his bite thankfully.

Out on to the main road to Killyleagh for a short distance then in to Clea Lough road.

From there I realised I was cutting it fine for time so decided to take a direct route through Darragh Cross to Saintfield, grab a quick snack and out on to the Circuit for a quick recce to find a few photo locations to shoot the cycle race from.

Racing over for the evening and it was time to cycle back home, in to Saintfield then down to Ballygowan and home again via the Greenway. 44 sunny miles and a few decent images captured by the trusty Nikon.

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Uphill struggles and downhill delights

I gave yesterday Morning’s Club spin a miss to listen to the Isle of Man TT race commentary online and I have not ridden a Sunday club spin for quite some time so today I decided to sample the Sunday spin. As usual I took the direct route out the Knock road past Forestside and Newtownbreda over to the House of Sport on another gorgeous, warm, sunny Morning.

With no specific B1 group ride this Morning I opted to ride out with the slower B2 group. Our route took us up the Malone road through Finaghy, skirting around Dunmurry and Lisburn and straight along the Glenavy road to Glenavy.

From Glenavy we weaved around Crumlin and Aldergrove and onwards to Antrim and a leisurely Coffee stop at the Lough shore Cafe at Lough Neagh.

Other than the Glenavy road hills (I just can not find any uphill speed at all no matter how many hills I ride) I had been finding the pace very leisurely (too slow for my liking to be fair) but the homeward leg would be a lumpy affair which I knew would be a struggle… all good training as the skinny lightweight whippets say!

We rolled out from the Lough, up the Belmont road and the start of the uphill drags and climbs along the Seven Mile straight through Loanends and ever upwards along the Budore road to Wheelers and finally a fast descent down the Glenside road where I was back in my element keeping the pedals working and the speed high. Unfortunately my chain dropped off at the next road end, a short stop to put it back on again and I was now playing catchup as the group had not stopped to wait for me. But we were still going downhill and I easily reeled them in and passed the whole group, they might be fast uphill but not too many can descend quick.

The group headed off for Finaghy at this point and I took a solo tour of the Stewartsown road, Andersonstown road and Falls road back to the City.

On such a nice day I was in no hurry home so I cycled out the Sydenham road over to Victoria Park and in to C.S. Lewis square at Holywood Arches and sat in the sun enjoying the Vitamin D before riding home via the Comber Greenway.

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Bedding in a new Chain

I gave this Mornings Club Cycle a miss and In prep for Tomorrow Mornings Club spin I washed the Bike and fitted a new Chain to it. With a new chain fitted I needed to get out a little spin to check all was well with it.

So off I went for a short little spin to serve the dual purpose of checking the Bike over and also to waken the legs up without doing too much to risk destroying them ahead of the Club spin in the Morning.

I set off up the Newtownards road and Castlehill the legs were initially stiff and reluctant to push on but they quickly came good and I decided to keep a good hard effort over to Holywood against the Wind, round by Kinnegar and in the Airport road tailwind assisted to Victoria Park.

From Victoria Park I did a loop of the Park then along Sydenham road past the SSE Arena, up the Newtownards road to Sandown road and home via the Greenway.

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