A very heavy overnight Frost was followed by a crisp bright Morning and a Weather forecast of dry, sunny spells until evening, it was too tempting to ignore so I booked a half day annual leave from the day job and wheeled out the Summer Bike for a decent afternoon spin around the County Down roads.
With around four hours of daylight to play with I was hoping for around sixty miles or so, but no sooner had I clipped in to the pedals and chalked off the first Mile along the Comber Greenway I knew today was not going to be the day as my legs were just not working.
OK no problem I just adjusted my route, instead of going up in to the hills decided to continue on the Greenway all the way to Comber to give my legs a nice gentle, flat start to see if they would wake up and start working as so often happens. By Comber there was no improvement but I laboured on up the old Ballgowan road which was punctuated with numerous potholes from the recent bad weather. Then across to the Drumhirk road and a myriad of other quiet roads even taking some new [to me] roads enjoying a rare sunny day on the saddle with dry roads.
Although sunny and milder than it has been it was still chilly and Carrickmannon lake was frozen solid for at least half of the lake.
Despite having a day where my body just was not able to perform it was great being outside on the Summer Bike on quiet roads and lanes enjoying the fresh air and sunshine. My legs were leaden and I just could not get the power down the way I wanted, even the flat roads were a struggle never mind the many rolling hills. But I managed to knock out 32 miles before returning home to wash the Salt of the Bike and get a hot shower myself.
Straight home from Work a rapid turnaround and out on the Bicycle… on dry roads 🙂 in daylight 🙂 with very little Wind 🙂 was I dreaming? For once, no.
It was a chilly evening as I set off and the temperature dropped further by the end of the spin but even so there was a definite sense that warmer days were just around the corner.
About a dozen lads turned up at the Premier Inn for the Tuesday Night Phoenix Cycling Club lash around the Airport road. A fast group ride at an intensity to make up for the shorter duration with each member of the group taking their turn at the front of the group, only one guy missing his turn every so often.
The longest Winter ever (that might be a little exaggeration on my part) threw another spanner in the works towards the middle of last Week dumping a load of Snow everywhere. But I was at Work doing the day job so it did not annoy me too much as I was still able to spin the Hamster Wheel in the Evenings.
Saturday Morning arrived and it was more with hope rather than expectation that I looked out the Window to see if it was possible to get out for a Bike ride. My hopes were shattered in seconds, it was a White-out, the heaviest Snow yet and to top it off very strong winds and cold temperatures. Back to the Hamster Wheel again for another session on Zwift 🙁 Just no point venturing out in that and risking a fall that could ruin my whole Summer.
My first Cycling event of the year is this coming Sunday, the Spring Sixty Sportive in Camlough. The Weather would need to sort itself out pretty quickly otherwise I will be giving it a miss this year.
Another very cold and even windier day and I was feeling a bit fatigued from yesterdays efforts on the Saddle so did not have a lot of enthusiasm for getting back out and smashing myself against the Wind again today.
Instead I opted for a nice slow, easy effort, Cycle down the Comber Greenway to Belfast a few laps round the gravel trails and concrete path of Victoria Park and home along the Connswater then through Orangefield Park and back to Dundonald.
A very cold, very windy day but I layered up and enjoyed the Sunshine and the fortune of having such great facilities practically on my doorstep.
With bitter cold temperatures and a strong Wind 🙁 it was tempting to stay indoors and spin the Hamster Wheel. But the roads were bone dry, free from frost and Ice and there was the slim chance of some Sunshine too, so I got geared up and set off on the Winter Bike to get a decent ride in. I have not done much distance work lately due to the Weather so was aiming for around 40 miles today to boost the endurance.
Having travelled a few hundred yards I realised I had a small issue with the Winter Bike and would need to return home and fix it before setting off again, but when I got home I had a change of mind and hurriedly unclamped the Summer steed from the Hamster Wheel, inflated its tyres and set off on that instead.
It felt great being back on the Summer Bike listening to the hum of the Carbon Wheels on the road 🙂 I set off a little too keenly putting in way more effort than normal and knew I would have to calm it down a little if I was to have enough energy to get in the kind of distance I was looking for today because it was going to be tough enough fighting the Wind and the Cold without also over-exerting myself.
Leaving Dundonald up the new line climb then Eden road and Gransha road then the Ballykeel road and a few other undulating, country roads before emerging out at Ballygowan on the Ravara road. A quick bite at half an energy bar and I was on my way again up the Saintfield road then in to the Carsontown road and then a little loop round the lanes on the outskirts of Crossgar. A bit of roadkill at the side of the road was not really appetising enough so I took another chunk of an energy bar before heading for home.
Out on to the main road and a good hard push to Saintfield and down through Ballygowan to Comber and back to Dundonald for just shy of 38 miles and a good pacey average speed which was surprising given how many times I had a headwind on the outward journey.
It was so good to get a great spin in on the Summer Bike and it won’t be that many more Weeks until it is called back in to service on a more regular basis.
A lovely dry roads kinda Evening tempted me out for a spin directly after Work. Having not ridden with my Cycling Club for many Months I decided to jump back in at the deep end for the Tuesday Evening smash fest doing laps of the Airport road.
The roads around Belfast were even more gridlocked than normal as the crew gathered outside the Premier Inn Hotel in the Titanic Quarter so we decided to do a loop of the Titanic quarter first before venturing over to the Airport road to give the traffic a few extra minutes to disperse a little.
As we left the Titanic Quarter and set off up the Sydenham road it was clear of traffic but halfway along the traffic had backed right up so we decided to veer in to the Cycle path instead of the road to slip up the inside of some of the traffic, alas one of the guys near the front of the group clipped the kerb and down he went.
A few minutes later with no serious injuries it was time to set off again on to the much quieter Airport road and time to up the pace. As usual the exposed Airport road is prone to some wind in places and if the timing of the group rotation has the misfortune to have you on the front of the group when pulling in to the wind you are guaranteed a tough little workout until the rotation kicks in again. We had a great, tight packed, hard working group going keeping the speed high and the pulls on the front quite short. A great club spin, cold but no rain and lovely dry roads for once.
With freezing fog reducing visibilty, a damp drizzle in the air and a weather forecast of an afternoon of constant rain I opted for a short but reasonably hard effort Cycle this Morning.
Through Dundonald and up the main road to Comber then in to the Hillsborough road up to Moneyreagh and back out on to the main road to Ballygowan keeping the effort high and returning back to Comber for a brisk 15 mile spin then an easy, slow five miles home along the Greenway. It was far from warm and my outer layers were wet from the damp foggy drizzle but a very enjoyable spin.
I awoke to see soaking wet roads and a light frost on the Car and all my big ideas of getting out on the Bicycle for an 80 mile spin evaporated. A leisurely Breakfast came and went, multiple cups of Tea came and went and finally as forecasted the Morning dried up and a hint of Sunshine broke through. I finally shook off my lethargy and got some Winter layers on.
Rolling away from the House on dry roads was a real novelty such has been the long cold, wet spell of Weather from Autumn right through. I took the Greenway along to East Link then on to the road through Dundonald and back on to the Greenway at Millmount and all the way in to Comber.
Leaving Comber on the Ballydrain road passing Castle Espie I decided to test the Legs on the long drag up in to Lisbane, the pull of gravity never makes this easy for me but I kept the effort up and set a new personal best time which was more than a little surprising given how few Miles I have managed to clock up this year so far.
Through Lisbane and a right turn in to the Lisbarnett road and keeping the pace up along Moss road I was soon in to Ballygowan. Briefly up the Saintfield road then in to the Ravara road navigating along the rolling Lisdoonan road to Carryduff.
Then the fast descent down the Saintfield road and Ormeau road back to Belfast and a sunny Lagan but I didn’t stop long as the Wind still had a Wintery chill. A short spin home via Victoria Park saw me clock up just over 30 miles in total, there will be many much longer Bike rides to come.
Whether it was the Morning Frost or the Wet, filthy Roads the motivation to gear up and get out on the Bicycle this Morning was strangely lacking. Breakfast came and went followed by numerous mugs of tea and still the roads were wet each time I looked out the Window, thoughts even turned to spinning the Hamster Wheel.
But the Hamster Wheel is a poor substitute for riding real roads in the fresh air so somehow I managed to shake off the procrastination, pull on the Winter layers and venture out on the Bicycle to explore a couple of new [to me] roads.
I set off briefly along the Greenway then the Comber road and up the new line, along Eden road, Ballymaglaff road and Gransha road then in to Ballykeel road where the first weak hint of Sunshine started to creep through the overcast Sky. Keeping up a good steady effort I pushed on along the Lisnasallagh, Lisdoonan, Ballyknockan and Ravara roads which brought me in to Ballgowan. Out the Moss road in lovely bright Sunshine in to Lisbarnett road then down the Tullynagee road and on to the main road to Comber and home via the Greenway.
Another short little spin but another good training session stressing the legs to boost the fitness. With the Weather forecast for the coming Week predicting Ice and Snow the Hamster Wheel will keep me occupied in the Evenings after Work.
Generally Cyclists will set off in to the Wind if doing a circular loop so they can benefit from a
blow home from a tailwind. This Morning I set off having paid no attention to the wind direction and as it turned out I was benefitting from a tail wind at the start of my Cycle so I decided to just go with the flow, push on hard out through Dundonald and Comber then the Ballydrain road past Castle Espie and up the hilly lanes to the Strangford Lough Coast at Ballydorn.
It was a fast spin aided and assisted by the wind at my back but even so the data metrics recorded on my Cycle computer were the best figures I have managed to-date in 2018. As I stopped to admire the scenery I decided to take it steadier on the ride home but to also tackle a few short but steep climbs up in to Killinchy.
The series of hills out of Whiterock heading to Killinchy never get easier and they get steeper the further up them you go. I struggle on hills anyway but at this time of year when the air is really cold the pain seems worse as each breath of air chills the lungs but eventually the road levels out and soon you can rest on the descent back down to the main road at Balloo.
From Balloo I took the Ballybunden road to Kilmood and over to the Tullynagee road. Someone had clearly been having a smashing time recently on the Tullynagee road with a couple of Car bumpers in the hedgerows at the side of the road.
Only a short spin today but a good workout for the Legs and the Winter Bike now was in dire need of a wash, the Country roads were Wet and muddy and that mud went all over the Bike and myself.
Posted in Cycling
Tagged Balloo, Ballybunden road, Ballydorn, Ballydrain road, Castle Espie, Comber, Cycling, Killinchy, Kilmood, Strangford Lough, Tullynagee Road