Sunday, 25 January 2015

Just The Two Of Us

 We learnt two things about Nitemare today 1) he is mad as a hatter (88 brutal miles in January!) and 2) more surprisingly he can write! This is his account with minor editing - I think he was still in attack mode.... Just to reassure people, this is NOT a typical January Sunday run, just two crazies!!!! Ps he called it "Just the two of us" (I hope Hannibal doesn't get jealous!)

Right … mess at start … FATs rebellion … thinking of their tan lines in Gran Canaria next week possibly!?? Anyhow, secondary plan to hit the Mournes via the A24 to Newcastle and A2 Kilkeel ... that gives you about 44 miles prior to grub stop (CafĂ© Eclipse, nice Hot Choccy). Average to there was 17.7mph into a tough headwind. Fair do’s to Michael who hung in until after Ballynahinch but I knew he was turning anyways after about 20 miles or so, so well done him for NOT wavering and having a go! Retro .... is a determined 60 year old and I knew he would “hang tough” on the wheel and YES he did venture to take the lead several times giving me a welcome drink break.

After grub it was the Mournes via the B27 Moyad Road to the “Top of the Mournes” at 1440ft! Then fast descent out of the gloom to Bryansford and then right up to Castlewellan. Another “sugar” stop for Retro and we headed homeward via Spa and Ballynahinch and on up to Carryduff. A 90 mile day with an average of 18.2mph … thanks Retro for the company even if I didn’t see you much, but much kudos to you for not missing the FULL FATS and not being semi-skimmed!!
Nitemare …

A Kevin Costner Moment

Today was a Kevin Costner moment - "if you build it, they will come". James Earl Jones, Ray Liotta and Burt Lancaster couldn't make it, but thanks to a few defectors from the full-fat group it still felt like we had a cast of thousands. In total I think it was 18 Lites - if I remember them all I deserve a medal.... In no particular order, Chairman, Bullet/Mike-ro, Terminator, Hannibal, Terminator, Resurrection, De Niro, David, Phillip, Jeremy, Neil, Alan, Derek, Fred, Mark, Sean and Dara plus me.
After a few weeks of dodging ice it was nice to have a free choice of routes and we settled on a kind of reverse of what we did 2 weeks ago. The idea was to re-use a few roads to get people familiar with them, while introducing a few new ones to mix it up. From the feedback I got, I think it was a success.
 We rode steady up the Saintfield Rd to Purdysburn, then up Mill Rd arriving at the top grupo compacto, which showed everyone was on good behaviour and thinking of the group. Across Mealough Rd and then along the Hillsborough Rd until we hit the Upper Ballynahinch Rd. After a little confusion (I shouted RIGHT), we turned right and then down Green Rd past Duneight and into Ravarnet. Straight across into Carnbane Rd and same again to Harry's Rd and Culcavey.
 It may have looked like I was making it up as I went along, but for once I had it figured out. Nightmare calls that area the flatlands and I knew it was good terrain to get a few miles in before coffee while keeping the group intact.

 Halftown Rd, Bog Rd, Gravehill Rd, then across the racecourse on Dunygarton Rd. Right along Derrynahone Rd and left following Route 9 along Halfpenny Gate Rd to Thornbrook Rd. Finally we deviated again from the "traditional route" and turned left along Lany Rd. With only a minor mechanical that took us all the way to Hillborough with a short cyclo-cross shortcut to get us to coffee.
 Kaner's had beaten us to Barretro, but we just about all squeezed in and got refuelled. The Terminator went for the luxury option - smoked salmon, while the rest of enjoyed the scones. Back on the road, we headed for Annahilt, then left along Glebe Rd, before a right into Ballykeel Rd and then Bailliesmills Rd.
Taking the opposite route to 2 weeks ago we used River Rd, Drennan Rd, Creevy Rd, Gannon Rd and Ballynagannon Rd, to get to Drumbo. One last climb then back down Mill Rd to Purdyburn Rd and home. Everyone rode great and by keeping it together we made good time. Some day I'll get a Garmin and won't have to list the roads, I'll also be able to give a distance, but best guess was about 65 enjoyable kilometres. Well done to the new and pretty new riders - everyone did great!

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Wild at the Seaside

Four go wild at the seaside - Another icy morning meant another day of salt air. This time Bones, Hannibal, Nightmare and me headed straight along the carriageway (including a spell behind Motoman and a spell abusing Lanterne for being in a car). From Knock straight across the Upper Newtownards Rd to Ards - it's a long time since we took the main road all the way, but it just wasn't worth taking risks.
The pace was brisk, but steady as we all took long turns down the inside of the Peninsula. Other than the cold, the weather was perfect and kept the mood upbeat.
After Kircubbin we turned inland to get away from traffic and took Rubane Rd, Manse Rd, Glastry Rd and Tubber Rd looping back to the other side of Kircubbin. I'm sure we could've found another way to come back out further north, but Nightmare did a great job of showing us new roads. Pausing only for the daftest photo I've ever taken - not my idea - we headed homewards.
On MTB Girl's recommendation we stopped at Harrisons outside Greyabbey, where Hannibal and Nightmare struck up a bromance over hot chocolate complete with marshmallows and malteasers. In wasn't a huge surprise when one of MTB Girls good friends turned up just as we finished, so we hung on and gave Fluoro Chick (self-named) a bit of company home.
As I sung Sinitta's biggest hit on his wheel, Nightmare lifted the pace and we flew back into Ards. By this stage we reckoned Bradshaw's Brae would have defrosted and worked our way up giving everyone a final test of fitness. Back onto main roads we cruised home with everyone smiling.

Sunday, 18 January 2015

The Raging Storm

We knew we were in trouble this morning when Retro rocked up in his shades, he was back on form and meaning business after last weeks events.
Today's brief was simple, keep away from the back roads and keep it coastal so that's exactly what we did. Without Nightmare as our trusty guide and coach we were on our own, 1st Cat, Bullet, Retro, Michael aka Flashdance and myself left the Lites and sped our way out to Dundonald, Comber and N'Ards before hanging a right onto the Portaferry Road. The pace was brisk with 1st Cat putting us through our drills of turns at the front. Working hard at keeping the pace going, we upped the tempo until Greyabbey. It was decided at this stage we would turn inland at Kircubbin, 4hrs riding would plenty especial at our brisk pace.
Once we turned left at Kircubbin it was a direct route to Ballyhalbert and the onslaught of the wind. One minute we were riding along one side of the peninsula blissfully oblivious to the storm raging on the other side, we went from an average of 22mph down to 11mph, it was tough going and felt is if we were going backwards at one stage. At this point Flashdance, wisely headed back to the nicer side of the Ards Peninsula for home, as he had family commitments to get back for.
With just four of us left, 1st Cat drilled us on our through and off techniques into the wind, with 1 minute efforts. Through Ballywalter we battled into Millisle, a call went out for the 30s in Millisle. I don't think I've ever seen a slower sprint in all my life, the head wind was that bad. As the Berg often says they don't pick us for our looks or intelligence!!!
A quick regroup to collect the bodies and we high tailed it into Donaghadee, with more through and offs. What was supposed to be a quick coffee stop at cafe manor turned into a slightly longer affair with much of the usual banter us Castlereagh guys are known for.
Suitably refuelled it was onto the Killaughey Road and Movilla Road for a blast into Ards. Discussions were afoot for the direction home Bradshaws Brae or Scrabo? Retro made the choice and led the way. The Bullet and 1st Cat were feeling frisky and showed a clean pair of heels up the Scrabo Road climb.
Taking the Unicarval Road and Ballyrainey Road brought us out onto the Comber Road and eventually the Upper Newtownards Road, the scene of today's excitement. Pulling out onto the main road I heard it. First the CLICK, then the CLUNK, then back wheel locked up. Looking down I realised my rear mech shouldn't be sitting at that jaunty angle in between the spokes of my rear wheel. Luckily we were nearly home and with a quick diagnosis that it was terminal the rear mech was dispatched with. Out came the trusty chain tool and after shortening the chain I was on my way again, SINGLE SPEED style. So close to home it was great that everyone waited while I got myself back on the road.
Another great days riding with the full fats with a route slightly over 60 miles, great weather except for the wind.

Strava link:

From Strength to Strength

As I sit on a warm sofa typing this without falling asleep or the slightest ache or pain, I almost feel guilty for taking the Lites out again and missing "playing bikes" with the big boys, but something tells me it's a guilt I'll get over.... The Lite group is going from strength to strength and despite the temperature, there was a really good group again.
Given the ice on back roads and a south easterly wind we simply headed along the carriageway to Knock and right along the Upper Newtownards Rd. Along the way we tagged on behind Dave Kane looking well and a group of Northern riders. Up Bradshaw's Brae the group stayed together really well and dropped into Ards wary of ice. Casanova was making a rare appearance on the road with us and blew his biscuits sprinting solo for the 30's.
I was tempted to loop round Scrabo, but instead we took the carriageway to Comber, picking up the pace with a temporary tailwind. We headed on out to Lisbane only pausing for a puncture. A left took us towards Nendrum, looping back to Castle Espie for coffee. This is where I accidentally insult someone by forgetting them, but I think the crew was De Niro, Casanova, Lanterne, Philip, Brian, David, Mark, Fred, Bobby, Derek and me.... I never even counted the riders so hopefully 11 was right.
From Castle Espie we returned to Comber and turned left towards Ballygowan, then right towards Moneyreagh. By keeping it steady on the climbs the group held together well allowing us to keep a decent overall pace. We nipped through Moneyreagh and on to my traditional Ballykeel Rd route home. We were surprised to still see plenty of ice and tip-toed on to Knockbracken Rd, thankfully all staying upright.
We split to head home with the majority climbing over Lisnabreeny to empty what was left in the legs. Everyone seemed to really enjoy it and I can see a good group forming. Hopefully as the weather warms up, we'll encourage a few more out and get a few regular routes. I don't do computers, but I reckon it was about 53k back to Forster Green.

Sunday, 11 January 2015

The Last Supper

Right folks the post you have been waiting for, I hope you are all sitting comfortably. After 99 miles I'm not!
In keeping with today's theological theme, today's full fat run could be entitled as the last supper. More on that later.
With a record number of riders out today it was a surprise that only six brave souls ventured out with the full fats. The usual suspects Retro, 1st Cat, Nightmare, Bullet, Michael who I think should be nicknamed Flashdance (because of the classy welding job of the down tube on his Bianchi ) and myself.
I already had 10 miles of a taster of today's strong winds when I rode out to join the group, so I knew it was going to be a hard day at the office.
With the wind gusting from the South-west, Nightmare suggested our target for today should be Lurgan.
We hit the carriageway out by Tesco and towards the House of sport, hanging a left past Dub stores, Drumbo, Lambeg and into Lisburn. Today was to be one of those days when we were to stick mainly to the bigger roads making the going in high winds slightly easier to bare.
From Lisburn we headed out the Moira Road towards...... yup you've guessed it Moira! From there we followed the main road to Magheralin before venturing onto the back roads we are famed for. Just outside Teemore we had our first of two punctures. These were put down to condition of the delightful country lanes or perhaps it was the scud of Flashdance, who was secretly hoping for a puncture earlier on. Not far along the same road Flashdance suffered his puncture, be careful what you wish for boys and girls!!
Scarva was our designated coffee stop, Nightmare took great delight in making us work hard for our treats in taking us the longway round. We took the scenic route into Markethill, past Gosford forest and onto the Tandragee Road. Swiftly turning onto the Shanecrackan Road which will now be renamed Retrocrackan Road where Retro had a visit from the man with the Hammer, not a pretty sight. 
We regrouped in Poyntz Pass and a quick jaunt up the towpath into Scarva had us refuelling in the tea rooms. That brings us to today's title of the last supper. After his meeting with the hammer man Retro was full on feeding frenzy and was eating as if it was his last supper. Anyone that has suffered the knock knows it's not nice and all you want to do is refuel. I don't think I've ever seen one person eat so much in such a short space of time.
Suitably refuelled it was time to venture back out into the wind, a more direct route home was on the cards. Up the hill out of Scarva we turned towards Lawerencetown, Donaghcloney and dog legged our way towards the Maze and Lisburn. From Lisburn we were on the homeward straight and kept on the flat towards Dunmurray were we went our separate ways.
It was a tough day but thanks to Nightmare and 1st Cat we kept it mostly all together, with lots of good training and decent miles. Chapeau to Retro for such a recovery and Flashdance on his new nickname.

Here's the Strava link:

Let there be Lite

And he said, Let there be Lite and there was Lite. He separated the Lite from the Darkness and it was good.... This morning saw a total of 16 riders at Forster Green including 4 new faces amongst the haggard old faces. As promised we split, with 9 taking the Lite option. My feeling is we shouldn't avoid hills, as they are the best way to improve fitness and learning to master them is a big part of cycling. The important thing is to allow everyone to ride up them at a pace they can manage.
It took us a while to figure out the right pace, but after climbing the Saintfield Rd to Purdysburn we turned right and took Mill Rd. At the top we turned right again and continued to Drumbo. That's a lot of climbing, but after that the group got tighter and we were able to continue across Front Rd on to Ballycarngannon Rd and Gannon Rd to Boardmills. We turned right along Drennan Rd, then into River Road and across to Bailies Mills.
By now the group had settled and we headed through Annahilt, then straight over on to the Magheraconluce Rd. After a couple of miles we swung right along Drumlough Rd. That was the last climb before coffee and dropped us down just outside Hillsborough. I'm not used to looking for coffee stops quite so early and the first two we tried were closed, however we persevered and on Philip's recommendation ended up in Bar Retro (a first for me, sober). They made us feel very welcome and after various scones (no jokes) and coffees we saddled up again.
From Hillsborough we could've simply taken the Comber Rd home, but we took a slight detour into Ravarnet, then along Legacurry Rd just to show off a few more roads less travelled. That brought us back to the Comber Rd, where not far short of Drumbo two riders punctured. Given we were so close to home, The Chairman kindly took Mark, Lanterne, Derek, Philip and Fred on home, while De Niro, Bones, David and me had an innuendo laden race to swop two tubes.
All sorted, we lifted the pace a bit, before nipping down the Upper Mealough Rd and Mill Rd home. I reckon back to Forster Greens would've been around 55k or 35 miles plus whatever people did to get there. As the newcomers noticed neither the Chairman or me are big on technology, but we know our way round the back roads. Given the fierce wind, cold temperatures and hilly route everyone did brilliant. Thanks to the old hands for keeping things steady and providing a bit of shelter. Next week's challenge is to see if we can persuade some ladies to join us. Hopefully everyone enjoyed it. As promised, I did my extra solo loop to push up the miles, but all I proved was why it's so good to have company on such a windy day....
Here's a link to our route on strava:

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Humble Pie

This morning started with a text conversation with Nitemare. Even with a photo he couldn't believe it was pouring at his house and blue skies at mine, but that's how it was. I need the miles, so I was determined to head out and was relieved at Forster Greens to meet Retro and Jeremy who I've only ever ridden beside indoors at a spinning class.
 Jeff then rolled up, making it out for the first time in over 6 weeks after being the innocent victim of a "Ronin" style car chase, which left him seriously battered and bruised. I was going to make Ronin his nickname, but after seeing the intensity of his suffering later in the day I've decided to christen him De Niro - impressive work after a long lay off on such a windy day.
We headed out the carriageway and over Shaw's Bridge, past Lady Dixon's and out to Sandy Lane. Through Hilden and Lisburn to the Maze. Across Down Royal and along Route 9 to Moira. All the way we were fighting into a block headwind, but we managed to duck behind the hedges and zig-zag into it. From Moira we headed to Magheralin and turned on to Orange Lane finally getting the wind behind us. De Niro was pulling some serious faces, not because anyone was pushing the pace, just because six weeks of painkillers, rest and Christmas indulgence isn't ideal preparation.
We headed on over Red Hill to the Ballygowan Rd and into Hillsborough. There we stopped at Humble Pie which was a new one on me. As we left we felt a few flakes of snow and decided to take the straight-ish road to Carryduff. The cold meant the views were beautiful, but I was glad to be well wrapped up.
I was really pleased I headed out and counted it as a real bonus ride after such a bad forecast overnight. Hopefully we'll have more good weather for the return of the Lites tomorrow.