Sunday, 26 April 2015

Future Stars

A quick report from Lee on our stars of the future.
As we rode down to our meeting point at Forestside it seemed like a good day for cycling. Forster Green was already filling up with Castlereaghers and the Dave Kane squad was out in big numbers.
Our group consisted of Danny (the coach - we'll forgive him for wearing his new Phoenix kit as his Forestside strip has only just been ordered) my self and Ben, Michael & Mathew, David ( who is well on his way to Princes trust award) Mark & Cameron and finally a guest appearance from Fred (fresh from a few winter rides with the Castlereagh hardcore!)
Danny took the boys out onto the Ravenhill road and headed for the Titanic quarter. Once there we did a lap of the docks area allowing the boys to do few few drills and build up some speed. We then headed out towards the coast road and hugged the Lough all the way to Loughshore. Whilst the older boys enjoyed a cup of tea to warm up the Youth squad had ice cream! Back on the bikes we headed back the same way finishing at Forestside some 33 miles later - I think these boys are good for at least 40-50miles within a couple of weeks.
Next trip out is the NDCC Kirkistown races this Weds - wish them luck! Lee

Shoe Envy

Had a bit of a scare today, when I suffered shoe envy and for a split second wondered if I was a girl (sorry!), but fairly soon normal red blooded service resumed. Other than that, things couldn't have worked out better, despite the complications of trying to balance 3 routes and a few riders needing home early.
We all rolled up the Saintfield Rd, less Chef who suffered an early mechanical. After Temple, 4 riders (Quintana, Philip, David and Martin) took a direct route for Castlewellan, while the rest of us turned right on to Creevytenant Rd and in to the hills. Everyone heard the health warning and knew what they'd signed up for....kinda.
Top Gear and his friend (sorry, my memory is terrible for names) turned for Ballynahinch and home, while the rest of us climbed Bawn Hill Rd and then turned right on to Begny Hill Rd. I'd guess the clue is in the road names - they aren't easy roads. From Dromara, we headed out the Rathfriland Rd. Anyone that knows it, knows the hills are relentless - nothing major, but the repetition pulls your legs out even without turning on to Dree Hill, Legananey or Windy Gap (we'll introduce them some other time). Big G turned at the top, leaving the rest of us to descend into Moneyslane.
There we split again, with Lanterne guiding first timers Jeremy and James left for Castlewellan. That left 6..... Retro was a bit concerned, that we were planning to gothrough Kilkeel without stopping (Kilcoo, not Kilkeel), but we told him just to pedal - they don't pick us for our brains or looks.... With no risk of collateral damage and about 13 miles to coffee, the changes were called thick and fast, lining things out for the 30's in Rathfriland. After a quick regrouping, the hammer went down again all the way to Castlewellan. Digger took both 30's, with Bones getting in the mix (we reckon he'll be pinning on a number by August).
When we arrived at Urban, everyone was there which reinforced its all one club. Rather than hang about, the Lite and Semi-Skimmed options saddled up together. If it wasn't for Lanterne having a slight mechanical I don't think we'd have seen them again, and even then it was only in Carryduff! The 6 full fats worked well together, with standout performances from Digger, Bones and Hannibal, making sure everyone got home with the needle on or close to empty.
Not exactly warm, but sunny, dry and fingers crossed 16 riders all got what they needed with good few laughs along the way. I did

Axl was just rocking

After a night of rain, we could only hope for better and we got it. Digger rocked up in racing form, Sean was rocking his new bike and calf muscles (check out the photos) and the newly christened Axl was just rocking.
My job was just to sort out a route and given that there was only a small group and no innocents, I thought we'd take in some same but different roads. After crossing the carriageway we flicked left through Milltown and Ballylesson to the foot of Fort Rd. I thought I was climbing okay until our resident minstrel came past singing Val Doonican hits (is that an oxymoron?). From there we went through Drumbo then past Duneight to Ravarnet and Culcavey.
On a notion I cut off the Moira Rd on to Artifinny Rd, then Kilwarlin Rd and St Johns Rd, all helping Axl's climbing tally. Mazeview Rd probably wasn't the smartest call and dumped us on to the A1 hard shoulder for a mile or so, before we ducked back in to Grove Rd and round to Dromore. In Scooby Doo style I would've got away with the 30's if it wasn't for a pesky dog - next time. Once Axl had his tea (everyone has an addiction), we headed straight to Ballynahinch with digs flying in from everyone all the way (some were more successful than others).
I didn't think any one would moan if we took a lumpy road home and introduced the troops to Ballylone Rd leading on to Drumconnell Rd and in to Saintfield. Just to make sure the tanks were empty we took the Killynure Rd back to Carryduff and after an incident with a clothes basket, the others disturbed my usually gentle tootle home along the Cadger and Beechmount Roads.
Good craic, good training and a new nickname, what more could you want on a Saturday morning. Shout out to Brian and Nitemare enjoying the Mallorcan sun. Hope Nitemare is well creamed up (saddle and sun) for the 312 today

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Infamy, infamy. They all have it in for me

"Infamy, infamy. They all have it in for me!". This morning was cool, but had promise of a sunny afternoon. That brought out 18 riders including a welcome return for Philip, recovering from his injuries. There was a bit of a North East wind, so my suggestion was two groups heading for Donaghadee. Fitting 18 riders into one cafe is a challenge, so my hope was that the Lites would be close to finishing up, as the rest of us arrived. Judging by the amount of dishes left b...y the Lites I'm beginning to wonder should they take over the "full-fat" moniker????

 All of us rode across the carriageway to Knock, then split. The Lites turned right towards Bradshaw's Brae , while 7 of us took the Old Holywood Road. For one reason (make that 6) or another, I knew I was going to struggle on the climbs, but that's no reason to avoid them.... We climbed Creighton's Green Rd, then dropped down towards Helen's Bay (shout out to Hannibal's mum!). Somehow I got myself dropped on the climb and descent, but if you can't take it, don't give it out and I've given it out plenty of times. Through Crawfordsburn and Bangor, we hugged the coast through Ballyholme and Groomsport. As we swung left towards Donaghadee the pace lifted for a final kick, taken cleanly by Digger showing he's benefiting from this racing lark. Our cafe strategy worked perfectly and after a short mechanical, a test ride of my potential new bike and a quick handover chat, we sat down to pick up where the Lites left off. Miss T arrived to join us and then accompanied us down the coast to Millisle. We turned inland along Abbey Rd to Carrowdore, then North to Four Roads end and back in to Ards. The pace wasn't too hard, but smooth and reasonably fast. We climbed the Poggio out of Ards and into the Castlereagh's Hills towards Braniel and home. By this stage the sun was well and truly out and we still had a whole afternoon ahead of us to enjoy it. Frustratingly after dying on every hill all day, I found my legs for the last 3, but maybe that was just the thought of being close to home.

 Thanks to everyone for good company and a safe ride, hopefully the Lites got the same. It was really cool to see everyone heading out the carriageway - looking good!

cruising in the sun

Summer's here along with tons of new kit. Today was a pretty casual run in the sun, out to our favourite Saturday haunt of Wacky Dave's. There was an optional session on the road home, but only a couple of takers. What did we learn along the way.... We learnt that Hannibal now has a super cool navy helmet that perfectly fits his bizarrely small head (or maybe just doesn't fit my bizarrely large noggin). We learnt that Bones now has fluro green shoes and quads - definitely... getting stronger. We learnt that for Brian, it is about the bike and the bike fit - looking lean and low on his new ride. We learnt that Noel is a long way from Dunloy, but knows weekend rides should be sociable (which it was). We learnt that Marks getting stronger and doesn't need to worry about hanging with the big dogs - must be the new shoes. And finally we learnt that Retro can't attack because he's "just put on my gilet!". Good fun, good friends, cruising in the sun. Looking like pros - halfway there....

Friday, 17 April 2015

One Brave Soul, Martin!

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

One in the Bank

Today's write up from Lee. Many thanks for forwarding the pics on to me so I can post them up.

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!

Home Alone

Seeing as mama and papa bear went off on their holidays, us kids were left home alone for the weekend. Four very big kids met at our usual hang out, Digger, TG Jezza, Bullet and myself.
Considering the wind was light but coming from a south west direction and bullet had never been to our Saturday haunt, crazy daves before, it was only fair that it was our chosen coffee stop. Off we headed up the Saintfield Road like kids just out of school, at a Carryduff we swung a left towards Saintfield, taking another left onto the Lisdoonan Road and Monlough Road we kept out of the traffic into Saintfield. Next stop Listooder before venturing onto a few roads I haven't been on in a while, Drumaghlis, Drumnaconagher before passing through Annacloy and back onto more familiar roads. Swiftly across the Finnebrogue Road and full steam ahead to contest the 30s in Killyleagh. A little wiggle inland seen us through Shrigley and out across the Comber Road onto Ringdufferin Road, Ballymorran Road and into Whiterocks. 
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.