Driving home from Work the Roads were dry and there was only a light Wind blowing, perfect conditions for getting out on the Bicycle. A quick change of Clothing and I was ready to throw my leg over the Saddle and get some Miles in. Opening the front Door to the outside World and what a transformation, everywhere was soaking wet and it was Raining steady.
Turning around and staying inside would have been the easy option, instead I set off anyway but changed my route to a shorter one to not get too waterlogged. Off down the Comber Greenway to Holywood Arches where I saw a lady off her Bicycle and looking at the rear of her Bike. I ventured over to see if she needed some assistance. Her chain had come off the smallest rear sprocket and wedged itself between the sprocket and the Bicycles frame. I removed her rear wheel and got her going again saving her a lengthy walk.
From Holywood Arches I went in through C.S. Lewis Square and along the Connswater River to Victoria Park, through the park and out on to the Airport road round to Kinnegar and on to Holywood then back home. A short, wet spin but still good to get out, and a pretty awesome Sunset over the Belfast Hills when I got round to Kinnegar.
After a short session on the Hamster Wheel and a quick shower it was time to dust off the trusty Nikon which has seen very little usage this year and drive over to Delamont Country Park for the fourth round of the 2017 Ulster Cyclocross Championship.
Very heavy Rain over the preceeding few days had left the ground very soft and muddy, tough conditions for the competitors. Below are two sample image galleries of my Photographs from the racing.
After last Night’s storm the Wind eased throughout today and by the time I left work I was itching to get out on the Bicycle with the intention of going on a solo spin. But then it suddenly dawned on me that it was Tuesday which meant I also had the option of a Club spin on the Phoenix CC Slaughter in the Quarter session doing pacey laps of the Airport road.
Having not been on a Club spin for many weeks I opted for some company, no point suffering alone right? Off down the Comber Greenway to C.S. Lewis Square then up over the Dee street bridge and along the Syndenham road to the assembly point outside the Premier Inn Hotel.
The nice dry evening saw a good number of Club members out looking to feel the burn. We had a good, tight, hard-working group keeping the pace up. A great evening on the bike from dusk to dark. Below is some video footage from the session, apologies for the sound I had to lower the levels as there was some interference picked up in the audio.
Is there no end to these strong Winds? August was a washout, now Autumn is just one constant battle with the Wind… and the Wind is winning the battle every single time.
Today was a 42 mile Cycle door-to-door. Up the Comber Greenway then out the Ballydrain road and up in to Balloo briefly on to the main road and then back in to the narrow lanes to Shrigley and on to Killyleagh. A constant headwind was very tiring and slowed the forward progress. Sadly the return journey did not see me benefit from a tailwind bar one short stretch through Killyleagh the rest of it was another battle with the wind. Another tough day in the Saddle.
After waiting all Morning and most of the Afternoon for the Wind and Rain to subside it was time to grab the Winter Bike and head out for a shorter spin than normal and so I decided to keep the intensity high instead.
I set off down the Comber Greenway at a steady pace to warm the legs up then a slower pace from C.S. Lewis Square past the Oval and in to Victoria Park then picking up the effort again leaving the Park and all along the Airport road round to Holywood.
From Holywood the speed dropped but the effort increased with the gradient as I climbed up Church road, Victoria road and Creightons green road, a long climb that just never gets any easier. A temporary respite from the climbing as I descended Whinney Hill, Holywood road and Bradshaws Brae down in to Newtownards before the climbing effort started again up the Scrabo road and then the descent down in to Comber and a nice flat spin home along the Greenway. A 25 mile Cycle door-to-door and a good little workout.
Too warm indoors for a Hamster Wheel session, not enough daylight hours remaining when I get home from work in the Evening whats a fella to do?
Harden up and get outside on the Bicycle anyway, thats what! Good lights for being seen (and also for lighting up the road ahead) and riding in the dark is a great way to keep on getting some midweek mileage in to the Legs. Vehicles on the road do seem to give you more room than they afford you in daylight. A 25 mile spin tonight, shorter but more intense, the shorter distance is necessary to ensure there is enough battery life to power the lights for the duration of the cycle. I tend to stick to roads I know well so as to not be surprised by hazards like potholes or drain covers. The wildlife in the hedgerows is out of my control though.
Rain and very strong Wind outside made me change my plans to get out on the Tuesday evening Club spin round the Airport road and instead I tried a session on the Turbo trainer aka the Hamster Wheel.
Despite no heat on in the House and a cooling fan at my side I very rapidly realised that it is still too warm indoors for a proper workout session, I’ll either have to leave it another month or two or invest in a better cooling fan. Due to the lack of cooling I kept the session short and the harder efforts even shorter.
A damp start, with the roads still wet from overnight rain as I set off briefly along the Greenway then through Dundonald up the Old Belfast Road, up the Holywood road and down the Ballymoney road to Helens Bay. Onwards to Crawfordsburn and through to Bangor and a brief stop at the Harbour, the Sea was Calm.
Bangor to Groomsport and hugging the Coast to Donaghadee, it was a pleasant Morning but the poor Road surface was rattling my bone! On I continued seeing another Cyclist up ahead, reeling him in and passing him, he was happy to sit on my wheel and get a tow along in the slipstream having only recently returned to Cycling. At Ballywalter I bade him farewell as I pulled in to a local shop to top up the hydration and Sugar levels.
Leaving Ballywalter to cross the Peninsula towards Carrowdore then veering round to Mount Stewart and on to the main Coast road on the opposite side of the Peninsula for the quick blast back in to Newtownards. A loop up round Scrabo then down to Comber and home via the Greenway for a nice fifty miler.
Mid-Morning and I set off on the Bicycle for a nice easy recovery spin just to flush the legs out after yesterdays tiring spin. I barely got half a mile before picking up a puncture, I had not had a puncture for many months previous and was due one. Being so close to home I just returned home to replace the tube, I decided to also replace the tyre to have some fresh rubber for the incoming Winter.
Repairs carried out I set off again down through Orangefield Park and the Greenway to the Beersbridge road then across to and through the Ormeau Park and up the embankment to the Lagan towpath, a less windy day than yesterday and quite pleasant cycling over the fallen Autumnal foliage.
I set off up the Comber Greenway to Comber for a nice easy start to get the Legs spinning. Emerging out of Railway Street on to the Ballygowan road my forward progress was slowed up by that Wind hitting me head on. I pushed on as best I could and soon was in Ballygowan and heading up the Saintfield road. At Saintfield I Cycled through the town and took the Ballynahinch road and then decided to leave the main road and take to the quieter Drumconnell road. It turned out to be a poor decision as not only does it have Grass growing up the centre of the road but the surface is poor and today it was covered in loose gravel and slippery mud, a cyclocross bike with wider tyres would have been better suited to this road.
Slippery conditions safely navigated without incident it was now a few short but steep hills to contend with and then I was in Ballynahinch and taking the Spa road. The Sun was out, the Autumnal foliage was on show and bar that Wind it was actually quite a nice day for riding a Bicycle.
From Spa the terrain continued to throw lots of short, steep hills at me, combine this with the strong Wind and the energy levels were being sapped. Through Drumaroad I was hoping the local shop (in a Portacabin) would be open to top up the Water Bottle and get something Sugary to revive the legs but alas there was little sign of life within, nothing else for it but to continue on.
Up over Drumkeeragh and down in to Dromara the County Down scenery was stunning in the Autumn sunshine… between the Rain showers… barely another vehicle or person was seen, I had the whole area to myself.
Reaching Dromara I decided not to stop instead planning to stop in Annahilt a further eight miles away. Yet more short steep hills came and went as I made my way along roads I had not ventured on before, I was completley lost yet at the same time roughly knew where I was.
Soon I emerged on to a familiar looking road which brought me in to Annahilt and a much needed stop at the local shop, a Mars Bar and a Bottle of Fanta provided enough of a Sugary hit to get the energy levels up again and I pushed on at pace back over to Ballynahinch for the second time today. This time I took the main roads all the way back to Saintfield through Ballygowan back to Comber and then the traffic free spin up the Greenway home for a very tough 64 miles clocked up. The strong Wind and the Hills made for a very tiring day but the Northern Ireland Countryside was a feast for the eyes.