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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The Struggle

Another Day and another Bicycle ride. Mid-Afternoon before I got out on the Bike and another scorcher, very warm, no need for the multiple layers of Clothing that were a constant throughout Winter

Straight up the Greenway to Comber for a nice easy start to spin the legs over and hopefully shakeout any fatigue from last evening’s hard push on the pedals. Leaving Comber on the old Ballygowan road and the start of a few hills, my legs were very stiff and heavy I clearly had not recovered properly from last nights efforts but decided to push on anyway and just do whatever I could do.

Turning off the old Ballygowan road down the Ballynichol road then the lumpy Drumhirk road in to Loughview road, the burn road and down the Moss road through Drumreagh. The Ballybunden road was next up and quite a bit down on speed compared to yesterday in to Thornyhill road and Holly Park road where I only just avoided a bad sunken hole hiding in the shadows which would have damaged a wheel had I gone down in to it.

Across the Derryboye road and Manse road straight through Raffrey and Darragh Cross then weaving my way back around to Drumreagh for a second time to take the Tullynagee road back to Comber and home via the Greenway for another 33 miles. One of those rides where the legs were definitely not a fresh as I had hoped but a good spin none-the-less.

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Short n sharp

A full one and a half days rest and recovery since my solo century and after waiting until the slightly cooler evening after the raw heat of the day it was back on the Saddle and out for a short and sharp one hour ride on my summer bike.

I set off slow along the Greenway then picked up the pace through the Dundonald traffic surprisingly the legs felt ok so I decided to keep the pace up as I turned in to the short climb up New line which yielded a new personal best time then along Hillhead road and another personal best time up the Ballystockart road.

Two more personal best times achieved along the Hillsborough and Ballycreely roads and I was soon in Ballygowan and rolling along Moss road at a nice pace through Drumreagh and down the Ballybunden road to Balloo.

Turning left and a long draggy stretch of road to Lisbane then the nice fast descent of Quarry road to the Ballydrain road to Comber and home via the Greenway. Lots of personal best segment times recorded and the legs feeling good after the Century ride on Monday.

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Solo Century

A gorgeous warm Sunny Morning and it was forecasted to be a scorcher all day long, no rain 🙂 just some wind to contend with 🙁

I do a lot of my Cycling on the roads of County Down so today I decided to go North and explore County Antrim, in particular I wanted to ride the long draggy climb up Glenariff through Cargan. It is a road I have ridden twice before, good scenery, beautiful smooth tarmac and not too steep. I was hoping to also set a personal best time on the climb up to Glenariff but was thinking that that might be ambitious given the hilly route I had chosen to ride to get over there in the first place.

My route took me down the Comber Greenway in to Belfast then through the City, up through the New Lodge and the long drag up the Antrim road through Mallusk and a nice fast descent down in to Doagh and a chance to recover on the descent before the proper climbing began.

Leaving Doagh up through Burnside and Tildarg the roads were quiet, bathed in sunshine and shadow, a beaut Morning.

Leaving Tildarg and more climbing up the Colin Road, a long but manageable climb rewarded with great views across Antrim to Slemish Mountain, I stopped for a few quick Photographs before enjoying the long high speed descent down the other side of the Colin road.

This next image I captured looking back down from where I had just Cycled really depicts the up and down nature of the roads in the Antrim hills, a fitness test for sure.

Another nice long descent saw me arrive in Broughshane and an opportunity to take a quick stop and refill the Water bottles, hydration being crucial on such a warm day, a long mileage day and such hilly terrain.

Leaving Broughshane I now had six miles of new to me roads, rolling terrain, scenic views, empty roads, just me and the Bicycle and soon I was in Cargan climbing up to Glenariff. I kept a steady effort, a delicate balance of trying to go hard to achieve a new personal best time but conscious of not going too deep to conserve energy to get me the remaining 60 miles home on top of the 40 hilly miles I had already Cycled. Keeping a steady effort through the pedals I was enjoying the buttery smooth tarmac wishing all roads were made like this and before I knew it I had reached the peak and yes a new personal best time.

The last time I descended down off Glenariff to Waterfoot the visibility was poor due to a foggy, misty rain and the road was very busy so caution had to be exercised. Today had no such issues and I could really crack on at pace and enjoy the fast descent. 5.7 glorius miles of fast gradual downhill interspersed with a couple of tighter switchbacks passed by in 13 minutes at an average speed of 26 miles per hour 🙂

Reaching Waterfoot I was almost halfway in to my imperial Century Cycle and was now on the flat roads of the scenic Antrim Coast road, unfortunately I was frequently catching a cross-headwind from my left hand side but it was not quite strong enough to really slow down my progress. Through Waterfoot along the coast to Carnlough and another Photo opportunity.

Through Ballygalley, Larne, Glynne, Magheramourne I briefly thought about swinging left for a lap of Islandmagee too but quickly decided that would be a bridge too far so continued on Carrickfergus, Greenisland, Whiteabbey, Belfast and back to Dundonald with 101 miles clocked up. An epic day in the saddle.

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Going long

Two and a half days off the Bike to rest the body followed by an easy spin last Night, today was the day to give the Legs a solid workout. A long endurance spin at a sensible, sustainable effort, the Weather was again playing ball with dry roads bathed in Sunshine and warm temperatures chilled by a strong Easterly.

Straight up the Greenway to Comber, weaving round the lanes to Ballygowan and in to the Manse road with its views across the greenery of County Down.

Leaving the Manse road and on to the Killyleagh road through Darragh Cross and Raffrey then on to the Derryboye road across to Comber, through the village and through Kilmore winding my way across to Annacloy and Loughinisland.

Seaforde and Clough were soon despatched with and now I was riding onwards directly in to the strong wind to Ballykinler and a quick stop in the Sunshine to refuel and rehydrate with supplies from the local Petrol station shop.

The Wind was strong and energy-sapping, I had planned to Cycle to Strangford, get the Ferry across the Lough and ride up the Peninsula but Cycling along past Tyrella, Killough and Ardglass I decided riding up the exposed Peninsula would only be more of a battle with the wind so I decided that once I got to Strangford I would turn inland to hopefully find shelter between the hedges.

Cycling along by a deserted Ballyhornan Beach and Kilclief Castle the new route plan became more desirable such was the strength of the wind on the exposed Coastal roads. I made it around to Strangford and turned inland and the long draggy climb uphill before a beautiful fast stretch of road to the Quoile where I benefitted from just about the only section of road where I had a direct tailwind all day. I made the most of the tailwind in the bing ring keeping the forward momentum high.

Over the Quoile along the Killyleagh road, Scaddy road then in to Crossgar again then the main road to Saintfield on towards Ballygowan and home by the Greenway for an 85 mile spin still feeling like I could ride on for more Miles bust deciding aganst doing so… this time.

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Sunset spin

After two and a half days off the Bicycle it was time to get back out there, but only for a short and fairly low intensity ride. A steady spin up the Comber Greenway to Comber and out the Killyleagh road lifting the intensity to remind the legs and body what is expected when in the Saddle. A good hard but sustainable push up the Tullynagee road to really wake the legs from the rest and recovery days and a new personal best time was the reward.

After Tullynagee it was time to dial the intensity back down again as I was planning a much longer spin for tomorrow and did not want to use up precious energy reserves. Along the Lisbarnet road to Lisbane and a brisk descent of Quarry road then out the Strangford Coastline to Nendrum at a touring pace, looking over the hedges, enjoying the Sunshine. I stopped to grab a few Photographs and a video of the Terns doing some fishing.

An enjoyable evening but the temperature was not great and the light was fading so back on the Bicycle in the Ringneill road and Ballydrain road back towards Comber.

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The Saturday Club spin

A bright Sunny Morning and a Weather forecast for more of the same saw me tempt fate and set off from home for the Saturday Morning Phoenix CC Club spin without the Rain Jacket, in preference for freeing up a Jersey pocket to carry a few extra energy bars. I arrived at the House of Sport meeting point with a few minutes to spare, sitting in the Sun absorbing the vitamin D 🙂

With the B1 group away an hour earlier than normal I was hoping a few B1s wanting an extra hour in bed would turn up, but it was not to be so I could either have a group ride with the B2s or ride solo, I opted for company. There were that many B2s out that as we went to set off the call was made to split in to two groups for safety reasons. There were not many takers for our group with only six of us heading up the outer ring in to Hospital road, Ballycoan road, Mill road, Mealough road and skirting around Temple on some very small badly surfaced roads causing one of the Guys to pick up a puncture.

More lumpy minor roads with numerous short sharp little climbs, twists and turns dodging gravel and pot holes taking us around Boardmills and Lisbane and in to Saintfield.

Leaving Saintfield on the Ballynahinch road then in to the Ballynoe road across country to Annacloy and onwards to Delamont, round to Shrigley and Toye then in to the leafy Ringdufferin road.

The Sun blazed down as we Cycled the Coastal Bays of Quarterland road on the shores of Strangford Lough then another testing little climb.

A nice descent down to Whiterock and round the Coast for a Toilet stop at Sketrick island.

We all lifted the pace on the spin from Castle Espie back to Comber before a more leisurely spin back to Dundonald along the Comber Greenway. Just shy of 60 miles for the Morning, home earlier than usual and feeling a lot fresher than normal too, not bad for a 214 mile week 🙂

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