Castleward bun run

Despite “the best laid plans of Mice and Men” a couple of unforseen minor issues with batteries saw me leaving the house ten minutes later than planned and now well and truly up against time to get across the outer ring to the House of Sport in time for the Phoenix Cycling Club group spin.

This would have to be a painful start if I was to stand any chance of Cycling the seven Miles fast enough to get there in time. Bad luck, I got every single Red traffic light along the way, a glance at the Clock on my Wahoo Cycle Computer showed I was losing the fight but I was having a good day, the Legs were pulling strong and I was maintaining a high average speed setting a new personal best time over to the House of Sport. Alas the B1 group whom I wanted to ride with today had already left and the slower B2 group was just leaving so I had no choice other than to join them or ride solo so a more leisurely B2 spin it was.

Rolling along the Malone road through Drumbeg it was clear that the group was too large to keep everyone safe and so we pulled in to Sandy Lane and split the group in to two, my group departed on a spin for Castleward and the larger, slower group for Downpatrick.

Up Sandy Lane, through Lisburn and up through Legacurry and around to Ballynahinch then Annacloy, over the Quoile where one of our number peeled off for home then out the Strangford road to Castleward where another lad dropped off the back and turned for home. Two lads already away home struggling to go the distance and pace, we have all been there at some point! Today though I was finding the pace very very comfortable such has been the boost in my Cycling fitness recently.

Approaching Castleward we took a little detour through grass and gravel to get to the Coffee shop.

Refuelled we were soon off on our travels again, taking the lanes through Ballycutler and around to Saul where another lads Legs started to go as the constant short, sharp, hills wore away at his energy levels however we did our best to keep him with us but still it was a long sufferfest home for him.

Over the Quoile Bridge, out the Killyleagh road and in to the Scaddy road the banter was good, through Darragh Cross and up the Carsontown road I said farewell to the group and picked up the pace on a brisk solo spin down to Ballygowan and Comber then home via the Greenway. 71 miles clocked up, a very fast solo start, an enjoyable leisurely Club spin and a fast solo finish. Below is a few video clips of the ride.

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Up the Knockagh

Up good and early and keen to get out on the Bicycle for a good session to make up for yesterday, but even so it took me an age to get sorted out and out the door. Heat wave? Woah who turned the heat off? A chilly start for sure.

With it being Sunday Morning and the Shops not open until after lunch the roads were quiet so I took the Newtownards road down in to Town at a brisk pace and told myself to reign it in a bit and save the energy levels as todays plan was to hit the Knockagh road climb hard and try to set a new personal best time.

A nice steady spin through town and up the Duncrue industrial estate then on to the Loughshore phsyco path to Gideon’s Green, up the Doagh road and the Monkstown road and finally in to the Knockagh road.

The Knockagh road climb is a one and a half mile climb on mostly well surfaced tarmac with a consistent 6% gradient. Off I set but before long the burn was setting in and soon I was shifting up the cassette in to an easier gear. On up I went and I started to find a good climbing rythm and noticed another cyclist up ahead. I had not seen him when I started so realised I must be climbing a bit faster than him. As I closed in on him I could see he was struggling to turn the gear, regularly getting out of the Saddle but getting straight back in to it again after a single pedal stroke and soon I had caught and passed him. It turned out he had a mate just up ahead of him on the climb and I was now in a good strong moment so I pushed on, caught and passed him too and gapped him by the top of the climb knocking 14 seconds of my personal best, a rare strong climbing day for me 🙂

No point climbing to the top of the Knockagh road and not taking in the short climb up the Monument road so off I went and took a few minutes at the Monument to take in the views and refuel a little.

Down the other side of the Knockagh road at a more leisurely pace than I normally descend it at and then a climb up the new line, a longer drag at a shallower average graident and another good leg burner. Enough hard efforts for one day time to enjoy the descent back down the new line and ride back home at an easier effort level.

But first a little detour over to Carrickfergus where the Sun was breaking through and temperatures were a lot higher than when I set off this Morning.

Leaving Carrickfergus, through Jordanstown and on to the heavily pedestrian congested Lough shore path to Gideons Green then back to Duncrue and Belfast. I decided to clock up a few more miles by scooting out the Airport road to Holywood and home for a good 52 mile spin.

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“None of this is free. But that’s what makes the payoff so sweet.”

FREE // A film by Machines For Freedom from Machines For Freedom on Vimeo.

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Easy spinning

A day of not being able to decide on a route to Cycle and as the day wore on then I decided (finally!!) to just go out a very short, very easy spin over to Holywood and back in the Airport road to keep the Legs fresh for another day. The motivation to get out was not lacking, just lacking some route motivation, a desire to ride new (to me) roads. Again I opted for my new Winter/Wet weather Bike even though it was dry, the new Bike is great to ride and I can not stop using it 🙂

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Only for the crazies

The Transcontinental Race is a self-supported Bicycle race for solo or paired riders starting in Belgium, covering approx., 4000KM across Europe (depending on the route chosen) passing through a couple of compulsory checkpoints and finishing in Greece.

254 crazies started the race this year, at time of writing this, seventeen have had to scratch (abandon) either through injury, exhaustion or mechanical issues. At a time when Europe is experiencing a heatwave with daytime temperatures predicted to set new records, these crazy Cyclists are pushing the limits of human endurance Cycling hundreds or Kilometres per day. Every day. Back-to-back. Usually on only a couple of hours sleep per night. Others who are not aiming to be competitive will ensure a full nights sleep and might even pay for a Hotel room. Many crawl inside their bivvy bags and grab a couple of hours sleep where they can.

Not surprisingly food and water becomes extremely important in a race of this nature where each competitor expends so much energy on the Bicycle that they need to consume 8 – 12000 calories every single day (yes thats 4 – 6 days worth of food in a day).

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Breakfast. #cycling #bikepacking #tcrno6 #hunger

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Fully loaded Bicycles add extra weight so many competitors opt to go minimal on kit as they do battle with gravity over numerous European Mountain passes.

Only one amazing human (robot?) can win the race, but all will suffer.

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Personal besting the Brae

Another short Bike ride today, just under an hour in duration. With the roads starting to dry up after overnight rain and more rain showers forecasted I rummaged around the Shed to find my clip on mudguards (fenders) and fitted them to the new Winter Bike and clipped in to the Pedals.

Through Dundonald and on to the Comber Greenway at a nice steady pace to get the Legs turning. Through Comber town and an ascent of the Darragh road the Legs were feeling good. An ascent of the Ballyhenry and Scrabo roads and a quick Photo stop on the descent back down in to Newtownards.

In to the Belfast road and the Legs were still feeling good as I passed Kiltonga Wildlife Reserve and so I decided to test the Legs properly with a hard but sustainable effort up the Brae. The Bradshaws Brae climb is only one mile long and has an average 5% gradient. Not much to trouble proper climbers but exactly the sort of climb us more gravitationally challenged people find tough.

My previous best time to climb this road was set back in April 2017 and today I bettered that time by nine seconds 🙂

A nice steady descent down the other side and home making good use of the new twelve hour Bus lane passing a stream of Cars sitting bumper to bumper not really moving anywhere quickly.

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No Legs and reborn Legs

On Wednesday I set off on the Bicycle to get a long ride done, I had a loose plan of Cycling over to the Mourne Mountains, up Bryansford and drop down in to Kilkeel. I only got a few miles in and my Legs were struggling to ride at their normal power and speed output. There was a strong headwind so speed would naturally be down but I should still have been able to put the same power out. I continued on to see if the Legs would wake up

Almost twenty miles in and no improvement, time to turn around and head for home, take a few easy days to rest.

Fast forward to Sunday Evening and time to Saddle up and test the Legs, but only a short spin. Out through Dundonald and up the Greengraves road. Another Cyclist came past me, I knew I could not climb at his pace but I upped my effort anyway. Out on to the Newtownards road carriageway and he turned right for Scrabo, traffic was light so I opted to stay on the carriageway and enjoy the fast descent down in to Ards. Round the roundabout and in to the Scrabo road. The climb up around Scrabo is well surfaced and a nice gradual gradient with only a couple of steeper ramps.

Down the Moate road on to the Carriageway again and a brisk spin in through Comber and home via the Greenway. A brisk spin overall and the Legs working very well, a few days rest had worked a treat.

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The early Bird spin

I wakened earlier than normal this Morning and thought about going out on the Bike for a spin, then my brain woke up and registered that it was still dark so I rolled over and tried to get some more sleep. An hour later still awake and now daylight outside I grabbed some kit, filled the Water Bottles and prepared to get out for an early spin on the Bicycle on quiet roads.

After losing time to a bit of faffing around replacing batteries I finally got out the Door, a pleasant Morning, not too cold but I opted to pull the arm warmers on anyway. Out through Dundonald and along the main road to Comber, barely another person to be seen, just me, the Bicycle and the hum of my tyres on tarmac. Pure clean class as the saying goes.

Through Comber on to the Ballgowan road then a right on to Hillsborough road and a left in to the Ballycreely road and over on to the Tullyhubbert road.

It was still early enough that even the Sheep were still having a rest.

Along the Monlough road carefully selecting a path between the bumps and the Potholes the Sun was now breaking through the Clouds.

Skirting around Saintfield on the Station road and then the Killyleagh road to Darragh Cross and along the Darragh road where someones well maintained Garden caught my eye.

Next up was the Drumreagh road through to Drumreagh and onwards to Lisbane and a nice brisk descent of Quarry road to the Ballydrain road back to Comber and home via the Greenway for a nice 32 miles to start the new week.

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Shut up Legs!

For a few Weekends now I have not partaken in the Weekend Club spin, mostly because it takes an early start and bit of organisation to be fed, watered, kitted up and cycle over to the House of Sport for the 9am departure time. I decided this Morning I would attempt to get across town for the Club spin. Even so as I clipped in to the pedals to set off from home I was already cutting it fine on time. Best get a move on then.

Out along the Knock carriageway passing Forestside and Knockbreda then down past Shaws Bridge and up to the House of Sport with a couple of minutes to spare. Despite various Sportives, TTs and road races on there was still a good turnout for the various groups and today I opted for a faster group than I normally would ride with. A good fast, hard kicking would do my fitness no harm at all.

Soon our group was rolling out along the Malone road through Finaghy and Dunmurry and up Boomers road, a long, draggy uphill section I normally struggle on. Focussing on the rear wheel in front and repeating “hold the wheel, hold the wheel, hold the wheel” I got to the top still in the group 🙂 and we rolled on through Ballymacash and up the Glenavy road.

The Glenavy road is also draggy and I again done my best to hold on to the Wheel in front, I did allow a bike length or two of a gap to open up a couple of times but nothing so big that I could not close again on the flatter sections. Then Brian the ride leader called a right turn to take in the Ballyclough road climb, a new road to me. With the steep gradient causing people to struggle and weave around in front of me I decided it would be safer to dig deep and come around them to get some clear road, luckily the road levelled out just afterwards to afford me a little recovery before it pitched up again. Before long the hurt was over and we were on Sheepwalk road then a nice fast descent to the Ballinderry road where I dropped my Mars bar and almost shed a tear, vital energy lying on the road that my Legs needed later in the ride 🙁

Flatter terrain, a beautiful road surface, a tight group of strong riders and the pace inevitably lifted. The synergy within the group saw us make swift progress along the Ballinderry road then out station road around Portmore lake to Gawleys gate and Aghaghallon with Oxford Island as the designated Coffee stop. I said my goodbyes to the group at this point wanting to push on and make it home to watch todays stage of the Tour de France on the Television.

I turned in to the Old Kilmore road and made my way across to Moira which as usual was bumper-to-bumper with traffic. Round the roundabout and out the Lisburn road then a right turn in to the Lany road dropping down the Aghnatrisk road to Culcavy and across Blaris road to Lisburn. The Legs were fading badly shut up Legs so I took on an emergency Torq gel and half an energy bar and hoped it wouldn’t take too long for my body to process it and feed my muscles with a nice boost.

Through Lisburn town and Dunmurry the Legs came good again as the energy boost kicked in then Finaghy, Ballmoral and Stranmillis for a rapid 56 mile spin.

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Evening pootle

After a dull day some sunny intervals started to appear in the evening, perfect for a slow and easy spin around the Parks and Greenways around Belfast.

On to the Comber Greenway and in to Orangefield Park then down along the Connswater Community Greenway.

Onwards to Victoria Park and a lap of the interior gravel trails between the trees.

Out of Victoria Park on to the Airport road and Sydenham road round to the Titanic Quarter and out as far as the Titanic pumphouse and HMS Caroline to get a look at the most recent Cruise Ship to Dock in Belfast Port.

Back up the Sydenham road, Airport road through Victoria Park again and home via the Comber Greenway.

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