Sunday, 1 February 2015

Ice Ice Baby

As i write this my toes are just about returning to life, having been in the freezer for the past 4 hours - somehow i get the feeling our mates in Gran Canaria aren't having the same issues.
The club room at Forster Green's saw 8 souls up for a ride - in no particular order, De Niro, Neil, Sean, Dara, Flashdance, Jeremy, Mike and Philip. So, where to go? Thankfully yesterday's beaufort scale winds had abated to a strong westerly gust but that still ruled out a ride to Donaghadee as the return ride would be a heart breaking ride home into a headwind. What about Islandmagee then?, a few shrugs/grunts later and off we went bound for the Gobbins.
Going on memory from a few months back we made our way through the city and on to the Shore Road, just past the Abbeycentre i knew we had to turn left but my memory wasn't as good as i thought when turn into Rathcoole - this can't be right i thought and Jeff got us back on course and onto the Doagh Road. We were having a good chat as went, Dara and Sean recounting yesterday's ride to Downpatrick (flying in one direction only to crawl back home). By the time we'd turned onto the Old Garrick Road ice was starting to make an unwelcome appearance on the verges of the road bring out warning calls of Ice!, Ice!, Ice! through the pack which gave Flashdance a chance to reminisce about Vanilla Ice and the aforementioned "Ice, ice, baby" - with his fluro shoe covers he wouldn't have looked out of place on an 80's dance floor. On to the Upper Road and we were all keeping our eyes peeled for the white stuff and working well as a group, everyone taking a turn at the front - although we allowed the stronger riders a longer turn to ensure they got more out of the ride.
After Marshallstown Road a quick right/left took us on to Dalway's Bawn Road, still mindful of ice we treated fast descents with caution. Still riding as one the group fractured on the climb at Bridge End Road just before Ballycarry - at that point I found and extra gear (that'd be reverse!) as Dara, Sean, Jeff, Jeremy and Flashdance ripped it up. We regrouped at the top of the climb and hung a right in the village towards Islandmagee - a warning of caution on the descent proved timely as ice lay in wait on the fast corners down to Larne Road.
Over to Ballystrudder and a opportunity to ride into Whitehead or extend the ride as we did before by circumnavigating the island. Good on everyone for picking the extended ride (or as i like to call it, the 12" remix). This was a chance for Neil to see what he had missed the last time and for me to relive that gawd awful drag along the misleadingly named Low Road and Brown's Bay Road - once again the group was strung out along the road but dutifully the faster riders waited patiently at the top. The view over to Shane's Hill being particularly impressive - the hills cloaked in snow, creating a picture postcard panorama.

Through Mullaghboy/Portmuck and with the wind on our backs - did i forget to say that the last drag also had an arctic headwind for good measure? The ride down past the Gobbins Road provided an HD view of Scotland and Ailsa Craig. We were making good progress and returned back to Ballystrudder where Flashdance broke off for him as he had planned to go metal detecting with Flashdance Jr. And then there were 7, time for tea/coffee if you ask me - off we went to he vintage tea rooms in Whitehead as we had done previously. Dara got served with the best china so it was pinkies out (his wee finger ya filthy bunch!). The chat turned to dream bikes, ti frames and encounters with Sean Kelly - one track minds the lot of us!

Post caffeine hit and a flake or two of snow sent chills through the group (in more ways that one), now we were homeward bound and it was all downhill from now on - well, give or take! We picked up the pace a bit, mindful of not breaking the elastic. With little to report, we cycled through the Eden, Carrickfergus and Whiteabbey before joining the cycle path alongside the M5. Into the city and Jeff and Jeremy broke off at Lagan Weir while the rest of us headed for Ravenhill Road. Sean's stats for the ride showed a total of 55miles riden, a good effort for the lites I'm sure you'll agree. And so we went are separate ways. Thanks lads for making a day of it - great craic as always. See you all next week.

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