Thursday, 16 April 2015
Posted on 16:25 by mikem
After a week in Mallorca with Nitemare and friends, the sleet and rain this morning was not the welcome home I wanted. If it wasn't for the prospect of a few new riders I probably would've just stayed in bed. As it was, when I rolled up at Forster Green there was only one brave soul - Martin, waiting to try out the Castlereagh experience.
The weather was truly miserable, so I suggested we just make it a short one with no stop. And so we did a wiggle through Saintfield, Darragh Cross, Raffrey and Ballygowan. As we rolled back towards Belfast the blues skies appeared (not quite as deep as Mallorca), so anyone who held off til later will get a decent ride. For me it's Paris Roubaix listening to my breakfast buddy of the last week commentating.
Well done Martin for a solid first ride - stretch them, don't break them....
Sunday, 5 April 2015
Posted on 14:41 by mikem
Well I'm sat here post ride watching the Tour of Flanders watching the Sky boys in pain after 200+km but that's nothing to the pain I'm feeling after my first full fat ride of the season. It looked like a promising day for a ride with weather being kind, very little wind and just some mist to contend with. Retro was appointed route master and off we went (forgive me I'm not up on all the latest nick names but the group consisted of Retro, Jeff, Mark, Darragh and myself) up to Carryduff and then Ballynahinch. Part way up the Saintfield road the lights played havoc and held us back. A single rider out for a spin managed to pass us while we re grouped. Retro didn't say a thing but put the pedal down and laid chase. It was a hectic pace but it did the job and man caught as we hit the last lights before Carryduff. It turned out he was going to Ballynahinch so he jumped in and just a short way up the road we picked up Sean, a NDCC rider looking for a group to him to Dundrum. So fully assembled the 5 was now 7 and off we went. Retro found us a cracking climb out Ballnahinch (I can say that now I'm sat on the sofa!) which was our first real test. We took the back road into Spa and after that my awareness of the route gets hazy. A welcome break at the excellent Blue Bay Cafe went down well where some healthy (?!!!!) carbs were loaded.
Now this is where it all gets a bit blurry for me, left right left right - I had no idea where I was!
All I know is that we hit around 92km of very lumpy leg cramping superb roads.
Well done to Jeff and Retro for setting a brisk pace closely followed by Darragh with Mark and myself hanging in there!
Hopefully that's one in the bank and it gets easier from here on in!
Posted on 14:37 by mikem
After all these new experiences and a morning of exploration Bullet was in shock and need of some refuelling at Crazy Daves.
Suitably replenished we were off again, into Ardmillan, past Castle Espie popping out just outside Comber. With brave talk mentioning hill repeats over Craigantlet I decided to take the hilly route home, just so that no one was missing out. The hilly route home consisted of a wiggle through Comber and out the Glen Road, turning right onto the Ballyrussell Road, Peartree Hill and Gilnahirk Road. We went our separate ways at this point, as mentions of an angry girlfriend had some scampering for home. Nothing to do with a route call of up and over the Upper Braniel road, which just left the brave Digger and myself.
Not a bad day out weather wise with a pretty quick pace since no innocents were out. Well done to TG Jezza for hanging tough and mixing it up with the kidults.
Monday, 30 March 2015
Posted on 16:50 by mikem
Sam is pulling together a kit order, which we want to submit as soon as possible.
If you have received an email from him and want to order kit please complete the form and email it back. If you haven't got the email, check your junk email and if it's not there, email email@example.com - Men's, women's and children's kit available. To get printed arm warmers we need at least 10 orders, so it just depends on interest.
Sunday, 29 March 2015
Posted on 09:52 by mikem
Hannibal / El Bandito came up with today's best line - "Everybody needs a hug, sometimes". Quite a few were given out by the time we reached home. I suspect Nitemare will be raging he missed out today (he loves a cuddle).
The forecast was terrible with non-stop rain and standing at Forster Green you wouldn't have bet on it being wrong. The plan was to do 2-2.5hours with no stop, but as if to illustrate why we don't set routes ahead of time, having re-jigged the plan we got 55 miles and a coffee stop in, without getting wet (the rain came on at my house 30secs after I got back). Eight of us headed up the main road to Saintfield and then Crossgar. By doing long turns into the wind we were able to dull the fit legs and rest the wobbly ones. Seeing a brighter outlook I changed the plan of the hoof and kept us going in to Downpatrick.
From there we climbed up past the hospital towards Ballyhornan. I once had a bad experience following Nitemare up a dirt track out that way (I'm still paying for the therapy), but this time we got it right, turning left after Ballyalton and keeping going to Ballyculter - brilliant road, with beautiful scenery. At this point people started to realise they were further from home than advertised in the brochure, but everyone was on good behaviour and El Bandito was doing a great job as chaperone.
Straight back to the Quoile Bridge, then up through Killyleagh to Balloo. The lumps took it out of some legs and I think everyone was glad to get in to Mufflers for coffee.
From there we headed straight across to Ballygowan. I thought the crosswind was bad until I saw Gent Wevelgem on TV - Ian Stannard leaning at 30degrees to keep upright! It was tough enough for two of us to "double team" Bobby on the last stretch, the biggest challenge was holding a line one handed.
That was about it, as we split off for home. A real bonus day considering the forecast. By riding smart everyone got a good workout and saw some lovely countryside. Home about 13:20 muddy but smiling. There's nothing like a windy day to clear your head. Ps Sam and Stuart missed the mothership and did a short loop - listen learnt #alwaysstaywiththemothership
Saturday, 28 March 2015
Posted on 15:51 by mikem
Nitemare called today's theme as "Force 10 from Navarone" - a 1978 film for any youngsters. Five of us left Forster Green in sunshine with a strong south westerly wind. Later we had spots of rain with strong wind, then sunshine and strong wind, then cloud with strong wind and finally sunshine with a strong wind - you can see where he got the theme. Where I got my new nickname - Mr Darcy is more of a mystery, but let's not go there....
We headed up the Saintfield Rd then into the lanes up Mill Rd and Mealough. We took a few different turns to mix things up, but eventually cut on to New Road in the direction of Annahilt.
Despite the smooth Tarmac, as we went past The Pheasant I blew. I don't mean I lost the wheel, I lost the plot and still haven't totally got it back - no reason I know of, just one of those Rule #5 days. We turned right on to Windmill Rd and wound our way on to the Edentrillick Rd. The wind was properly epic and Nitemare, Retro, Bones and Jeremy did their best to keep me out of it. Coffee in Dromore hit the spot and somehow during the slagging I forgot I had no legs and called Kilntown Rd as our route home - big mistake.
It's at times like that you learn who your friends are - the people who drop back time and time again to inflict multiple punishment beatings, just when you think you can't take anymore.... Bones suggested we set a "safe word" at the start of every run as sometimes it hard to tell if my attacks meant I'd come round or if they were just the death throes of a wounded animal. I quoted Bernard Hinault "As long as I breathe I attack".
The Ballygowan Rd to us back to Hillsborough and a deviation round Tullyard Rd to Drumbo meant sure I was properly empty (my Valverde tribute 30's nearly killed me). Anyway a really fun day despite my suffering. Home one-ish which is what we're aiming for.
Before I forget, Sam was speaking to Philip during the week. He seems to be recovering well, but it sounds like he has an awful long way still to go.
Sunday, 22 March 2015
Posted on 15:34 by mikem
Hannibal knows what it's like when you spend 30 mins writing this rubbish and Facebook suddenly wipes it out - the result is a short write up.... 16 riders left Forster Green bang on time heading up to Carryduff and then into the lanes to Saintfield. From there we cut across to Listooder and Kilmore back tracking our route home from last week.
We cut across to Annacloy. The main group turned left a few miles after the village, while Cav and Chef making their first appearance this year took the option to head straight on for Loughinisland/Seaforde.
The pace lifted a bit as we headed for Ballyduggan Mill and round Lake Rd. From there we headed off piste, turning off the Clough Rd on to Tobercorran Rd. Big G took the direct route to Clough while the rest of us soaked up the view of Murlough Bay from Carrickinab Rd. A loop round our hidden gem Ardilea Rd and then a headwind slog in to Newcastle arriving about 11:30.
The town was bunged so half grabbed coffee at Niki's while the rest settled at Olives Bizarre. It made sense to split for the way home and the Big Lad "volunteered" to guide a steady group with Mark, Sean and Lanterne home.
That meant the other 9 were free to light it up through Maghera and Spa home. With Hannibal, Bullet and Digger not on race duty there were plenty of strong legs to drill it alongside Nightmare. No one was destroyed, but there was plenty of "stretching".... Home for 2 to watch Milan-San Remo, what more could you want.
Saturday, 21 March 2015
Posted on 08:58 by mikem
Castlereagh definitely attracts a certain type of bike rider. I don't know where it's written down, or how people know, but we are very lucky to have a great bunch of down to earth and plain likeable members. Idiots yes, but the nice kind of idiot....
The photos tell the story better than I can, so I'll just give you the highlights. We all headed to Ballyclare, only splitting before Doagh to offer two routes in. The Beast is a Beast - he rode a full run on a mountain bike that cost less than some people's sunglasses! Nitemare won the Blue Steel competition hands down - I wish I had video to capture the full head whip - I almost pee'ed. Snake Hips goes heavy on the jam and isn't afraid to ask a girl for what he wants - great to have him back on a bike. The Terminator made the right call to head north. Nick picked a good day for his first ever group ride and gets the ride of the day award by miles. Bones is finally learning what the big ring is for. Pots has an upstairs - who knew?!
I'm sure there was plenty more I can't remember, but overall a good laugh in the sunshine with good friends. Today's musical recommendation in honour of our loop from Doagh is RL Burnside, as requested by Snake Hips try "Let my baby ride" for an uptempo number. #dontblowyourbiscuits
Sunday, 15 March 2015
Posted on 15:35 by mikem
"Captain on deck!" - this mornings route was inspired by three things. First and foremost was an East wind making that the ideal direction. Second was a mid-week conversation with a young lady who had never heard of the Strangford Ferry and third was the line of salutes I received when rolling up at Forster Greens (unnecessary, but I did kinda liked it....).
Probably due to Mothers Day duties, Derek C was the lone rider looking a Lite run. It was a shame, but my best suggestion was to sit in for a bit and hope for the normal turn out next week. Judging by his Strava link he did a great route and good training.
We all took the carriageway over to Knock then out the Upper Newtownards Rd and up Bradshaw's Brae. Through Ards then straight down through Greyabbey and Kircubbin towards Portaferry. Everyone was warned that things would light up towards the end and with 4 miles to go the order went out to "let slip the dogs of war" (we know Shakespeare - who knew!). Nitemare duly threw it down the block and we were off. At the end of a solid workout, Nitemare and Digger showed they're on good form, but a few others aren't far behind despite a mixture of summer and winter bikes.
I can never remember the name of the coffee shop in the courtyard, but it hit the spot and no-one refused the 20% cyclists discount. They were even good enough to give Bones some tape to repair his mudguard (shame his technical ability let him down). We eventually prised Granda Nitemare from his rocking chair and hopped on the ferry.
Once on the other side the pace was pretty relentless across to the Quoile Bridge, then through Annacloy and Kilmore. After Listooder word went out again that it was every man for himself into Saintfield and again Nitemare and Digger showed their form. Most of us took the Killynure Rd back to Carryduff, draining the last bit of go juice out of some legs.
Overall it was a great day out. Bones is learning to turn the big ring and Lanterne rode out of his skin to hold the pace all day - chapeau! One of those days were everyone got everything out, but somehow we still kept it together.
Saturday, 14 March 2015
Posted on 15:32 by mikem
Short 'n' sweet - this morning we rode straight up to Saintfield. Across to Killyleagh, then up to Balloo and across to Wacky Dave's. After coffee and scones we turned right towards Ardmillan,then left before the village for Lisbane.
Straight across to Ballygowan and then a slightly different wiggle through the lanes back to Lisnabreeny catching Retro out secret training in the process. Credit to Brian for holding a pretty hard pace - proof of a solid winter.