A North Wind today which would ordinarily mean cycling up Antrim direction to benefit from a tailwind home, but being a Weekday I didn’t fancy going through the City and the commuter traffic chaos and the alternative of the Loughshore Cycle path has never really appealed especially not on the Summer Bike.
So instead I decided to lap the other lough, a lap of Strangford Lough down one side of the Peninsula, get the Ferry over to Strangford and back up the other side.
I started out on the Netownards road through Dundonald and up the Belfast road and in to the Ballybarnes road, the legs were protesting but despite a chill in the air it was a pleasant enough sunny Morning with dry roads.
It was an almost perfect day for a long spin, the Peninsula was mostly free of traffic and bathed in Sunshine. With scenic views all around only a tailwind would have made it more enjoyable in places I was picking up a bit of a tailwind other times it came from the side but I was able to maintain a good pace dispensing with Millisle, Ballywalter and onwards to Ballyhalbert where I turned and cut inland to cross over to the other shore of the Peninsula taking me in to Portaferry and a short wait to catch the Ferry over to Strangford.
Up the hills to Castle Ward and then a nice brisk spin down to the Quoile, over the Bridge and along the main road to Killyleagh where I could and should have stopped for some food but I opted to continue on to Killinchy and Whiterock before stopping at Daft Eddies to refuel for the final few miles back home. Another 73 miles clocked up and very happy with my performance, the summer bike running like a dream but I have my doubts about global warming, global chilling might be a more appropriate term brrrrr!
It was a very chilly Morning as I clipped in to the Pedals to Cycle over to the House of Sport for the Saturday Club spin with Phoenix Cycling Club. I was glad that I opted for the Winter Jacket after some deliberation on what to wear.
Along the Knock road the traffic lights were favourable to me which was just as well because I was running it very tight on time to get over for the 9am departure time. No sooner had I arrived at the House of Sport when all the various groups started leaving for a Morning in the Saddle. My group set off on the Malone road through Drumbeg in to the Sandy lane and Hilden to Lisburn.
It was a large group and getting through Lisburn out on to the Ballinderry road saw the group fractured a couple of times due to traffic or traffic lights but we regrouped on the Ballinderry road and Cycled along together enjoying a bright Morning with dry roads before peeling off on to Temple road to bypass Ballinderry, Glenavy and Aldergrove to get in to Antrim then briefly out towards Randalstown before turning right in the direction of Kells and Connor. Until now I had been finding the going very easy whereas others were outside the comfort zone.
But now the tables were turning as we started to do some sustained climbing, the longer climbs in particular saw a few of us falling back from the main group two in particular were well spat out the back. For a change I was able to remain in touching distance of the main group at a distance I knew I could easily close when the terrain levelled out.
Safely back in the group and taking my pull at the front a few guys and one girl decided to lift the pace quite a lot. Had they seen or have knowledge of a 30 mph speed limit sign I was not aware of? I kicked and went with the breakaway group confident that if it came to a sprint for the speed limit sign I would have the power to be in the thick of the action.
The guy that instigated the breakaway must have realised Doagh was just a bit further away than he first thought and the pace settled back down to normal again as we rolled along for another mile or so and then he kicked again. With the squad rotation I was now three bikes further back but decided to jump on the Pedals anyway and give chase. I rapidly came around the Bicycles in front of me but was still a sizeable gap behind the leader as the crest of a hill came in to sight, I dug deep and kept the power on and was now right on his wheel as we crested the hill and the 30 limit signs came in to view. Momentum was with me as we descended to the speed limit signs and I took his scalp.
From Doagh home the pace was a lot more sensible as we climbed more hills across to Glengormley and then descended through very busy traffic on to the Shore road and back to Belfast for another 70 mile day in the Saddle.
Stood at the Kitchen Sink washing the dishes from my evening Meal I couldn’t help notice the clouds of Flies in the back garden, the Sun was shining, the earlier Rain showers had passed through and the strong winds had eased a little. Should I get the Fishing rod out for the first time this year?
Although not particularly warm the Wind was at least coming from a South Westerly direction which is usually good for fishing so I decided to give it a go but opted to stay local and try a new venue for me in Donaldsons Trout Fishery in the Holywood hills.
A short drive and soon I was tackled up and ready to pit my wits at a new to me venue not really knowing what to expect.
The chill in the air and the swirling wind was not ideal conditions for consistently feeding fish at surface level none-the-less there were sporadic Trout rising to take the hatching Buzzers in the surface film giving me hope of a fish or two.
The fishing was not easy but after about an hour I plucked a couple of fish with neither hooking up but shortly after I made proper contact with what felt like a good Trout and after a good hard fight I slipped the net under a fin perfect, nicely coloured, over-wintered fish before unhooking it and releasing it back in to the lake unharmed.
A dryish Morning with the constant threat of Rain and an unforgiving strong Wind so just a short little spin on the Bicycle today keeping the effort down a little bar one or two short, harder efforts.
A nice easy start rolling along the Greenway to Comber then out on to the dual Carriageway to Ards briefly before swinging left up to Scrabo and descending back down to Ards, through the town streets and over to Kiltonga for the long climb up Bradshaws Brae. A one mile long climb at a nice consistent gradient, steep enough to have you working hard yet no brutal gradients to really hurt.
A left turn took me up the Ballrogan road then directly across the dual carriageway cycling around another side of Scrabo and down the Ballyrainey road then back home via the Greenway again. A few minutes later the heavy Rain showers arrived, timed to perfection and a steady 20 miles done.
A reasonable day for a Bike ride, dry roads, overcast, a little on the chilly side and a character building strong wind making a solo spin tougher than what the equivalent route on a group ride would be.
I planned a lumpy start for the first dozen or so miles to this ride directly in to the strong Westerly. Up the hills to Monegreagh, Carryduff and onwards to Ravernet a place I had cycled around the outskirts of numerous times but never ventured in to. I had to stop for a few quick phone pics.
Ravernet despatched with it was over the A1 and through Culcavy and winding my way round the rolling roads to Magheralin, Moira, Aghaghallon and Gawley’s Gate to the edge of Lough Neagh where it was vital to keep the head down and the Mouth closed to avoid the swarms of Lough Neagh flies.
Up the Station road to Upper Ballinderry and a quick stop at the Petrol station then onwards at a brisk pace down the Ballinderry road to Lisburn and back to Belfast via Dunmurry and Finaghy. A sixty mile spin and time to wash the Bicycle again.
Finally a Blue Sky, dry roads, sunny Morning and the weather forecast was for more of the same all day long before the Rain returns overnight. It was a chilly start as I clipped in to the Pedals and cycled along past Stormont then up the Knock road to the House of Sport for the Saturday Morning Phoenix Cycling Club group spin.
Despite many of the Club currently out Cycling in Mallorca there was still a great turnout with numerous groups pairing up for a day in the Saddle. I was deliberating between going out with the faster B1 group or staying with my normal B2 group when I heard the B1s mention they were going for a very hilly route today, gravity does not like me all that much so I decided there and then to stick with the B2 group.
We set off along the outer ring then Hospital road and the start of the climbing by taking the Ballycoan road and Leverogue road round to Carryduff then more hills up in to Saintfield and yet more hills up the Listooder road and across to Annacloy.
Leaving Ardglass our group rolled onwards to Bishopscourt, up a few more short sharp hills to Saul and across the Quoile picking up a nice tailwind for the remainder of the spin home. Out the Killyleagh road for a short spell then in to Scaddy road with more rolling roads to Derryboye, Raffrey, Darragh Cross and round towards Ballygowan. At this point it made sense for me to say goodbye to the group and set course for Dundonald whilst they made their way to Belfast.
An excellent day on the Bicycle in amazing Weather with 75 miles clocked up, my second 70+ mile ride in 3 days so time now to have an easy day on the Sofa to rest and let the body recover.
I set out this Morning with ambitions of Cycling my first imperial Century ride this Year with a route that would take me up to Newcastle, through Bryansford up over Spelga, back down to Kilkeel and home.
As I set off through Dundonald towards Comber I knew the whole way to Newcastle would be riding against the Wind so that I should hopefully have the benefit of a tailwind home. As it turns out the headwind was much stronger than forecast, forward progress was much much slower than anticipated even allowing for pacing myself for such a distance. From Dundonald to Comber, Sainfield and Crossgar I was having to Work much harder than I wanted to just to maintain some decent progress, the temperature was also much chillier than forecasted and these two factors combined really started to deplete the energy levels.
From Crosggar to Kilmore, Loughinisland and onwards to Clough I knew todays route would not be possible. When I cycled over to Dundrum I could not even seen the Mournes such was the low Cloud.
Finally in to Castlewellan and I decided to make a quick pit-stop to take on some food for energy, alas the Chippy I stopped at had no interest in Customer service and a full 8 minutes later without my order having been taken I turned and headed for home without having got any food.
Just as I was leaving Castlewellan I saw a few familiar faces from my Cycling Club who suggested I ride back with them but I declined as I knew the pace would be a little to slow for my liking. So off I descended at speed down Castlewellan hill and turned left in Annsborough through Drumaroad and Drumaness to Ballynahinch where I stopped to grab a quick, cheap Sandwich.
My traditional route back to Saintfield was closed for roadworks so I stuck to the main road back to Temple then Saintfield, Ballygowan and back to Dundonald for a 72 mile spin. I could have continued on and added on the extra miles to make up the century now that I had recovered a bit with the wind at my back on the homeward leg but I opted to call it quits.
I was planning to get up and get out for a ride with my Phoenix Cycling Club this Morning but Andrea a local Romanian Girl whom I have ridden with a few times contacted me and asked me to take her for a spin. Not knowing the roads too well and not having done many miles this year she wanted me to take her over towards Ardglass for about 50 – 50 miles.
It was still quite cold and foggy when we set off so lights and some high-viz accents were the order of the day. Out through Dundonald and the main roads to Comber, Ballygowan and Saintfield and onwards to Ballynahinch, Spa and on to Seaforde all in to a headwind and with me riding in front of Andrea to shelter her from the wind I was feeling quite tired already. Leaving Seaforde through Clough and off in the direction of Ballykinler we were now travelling across the Wind. A quick stop at a local petrol station in Ballykinler to take on more drinks and off we went through Minerstown and Rossglass and then a left turn back towards Downpatrick where we finally had the Wind on our backs and our pace automatically increased.
A quick stop on the outskirts of Downpatrick for a snack and we were soon speeding down the Kilough road in to Downpatrick, through the town and out on to the Killyleagh road crossing the Quoile Bridge and staying on the main road for a mile or two before turning left in to the Scaddy road.
My legs which were earlier feeling empty were now reenergised from the earlier food no doubt helped by the strong tailwind, Andrea on the other hand was understandably tiring quite rapidly with not enough miles in her legs yet this year. Over to Derryboye and Raffrey and then the rolling hills of the Carrickmannon road back to Ballygowan my legs were now pulling like a train and I kept a strong pace down to Comber and back to Dundonald for a tough but enjoyable 64 miles.
After yesterdays longer Bike ride, the longest for a long time, I needed a short, very slow spin to spin the legs over and flush out some fatigue. Up the Greenway to Comber, out the Ballydrain road dodging the bomb-crater sized pot-holes on the Castle Espie road to Quarry road and back home. Just 17 miles and a very leisurely pace but it done the job.
So far this year I have not got out and managed to fit in a decent longer distance Bicycle ride, today was all about addressing that.
I phoned my mate Gavin and arranged to meet him in Moira and then go for a loop together before going our separate ways again. I set off from Dundonald through Belfast out the Malone road up the Sandy lane through Hilden in to Lisburn and then a hard paced push up the main road in to Moira thinking I was cutting it fine on time only to have to wait a few minutes for Gavin to Cycle across from Tandragee.
Gavin suggested a Coffee to get his Legs firing and I needed a Sugary fix to replace the energy expended up the main road to Moira so it was in to the Fat Gherkin for a quick pit-stop before we set off together.
We set off up the Clarehill road skirting round Edenmore Golf Course then through Gamblestown and down the Lurgan road in to Dromore and another quick stop for a bit of Window shopping in Magill Cycles Shop.
Leaving Dromore we Cycled underneath the A1 and made our way through Ashfield, Blackskull and Lawrencetown and on to Gillberry Fayre for another cuppa then off again picking up the pace to Waringstown where we went our separate ways again.
I made my way to Magheralin through Moira out the Lany road to Down Royal race course across Bog road and Blaris road to Lisburn and home via Dunmurry and Finaghy for 77 miles my longest Bicycle ride of this year. Job done.