Sunday, 31 May 2015

Jeff 2nd at Dunloy GP!

Castlereagh CC rider Jeff Baines takes 2nd at the Dunloy GP!

Jeff was racing along with Andrew Ferguson, also Castlereagh CC, today at the Dunloy GP. Both riders were riding strongly when a split appeared in the bunch on a climb on the second lap. At this point Jeff managed to bridge across to it. Coming into the finish Jeff decided to start his sprint early, he was seen to be leading coming into the finish, however Phoenix CC strong man Michael Tolan managed to come around and take the win. Jeff held on for an awesome 2nd place and looks to be in great form for the coming races!

A4 Race Result

  1. Michael Tolan (Phoenix CC)
  2. Geoff Baines (Castlereagh CC)
  3. James Dempsey (Dunloy CC)
  4. Owen Henry (Newry Wheelers)
  5. Neil Brown (North Down CC)
  6. Conor Bradley (Dunloy CC)
  7. Mark McCann (Harps CC)
  8. Barry Grimes (Clann Eireann CC)
You can see Jeff's race data from the Dunloy GP here:

And a full write up on the days racing can be found on Sticky Bottle:

A Quiet Pint

Things didn't go exactly to plan today, but they still worked out pretty damn good. The first part of the plan was to nobble The Pro by taking him for a "quiet pint" last night. The flaw in the plan was that whatever damage it would do to him, it would also do to me and I don't have the fitness, youth or good looks he has to offset it!
So two hangovers left Forster Green with Retro, Nitemare, Sean, Mark, Lanterne, Philip, Snake Hips and Mike (I've a feeling I missed someone....). Nitemare and Retro called North which suited the NW wind, but don't think I was in a position to argue. Unfortunately without a Lite leader it meant taking everyone over a tough climb. The pace was controlled, but there is no easy way up the Crumlin Rd, round the Horse Shoe and right on to the Upper Hightown Rd. We stopped to re-group at the top, then split.
The plan was for the Lite group to do a loop round to Templepatrick, while five of us drilled it to Randalstown. The route was called by Nitemare and whether it was the hangover or the wind, I found it tough. The reward was was some good training. Sean's Strava link explains it better, but after a detour past Parkgate, Tardee and Kells we made it to coffee, with The Pro leading out The Berg for the 30's (I'm still sore).
After promised baps and buns in Truffles (the bacon bap is awesome) we hit out for Antrim. I was hoping for a fairly direct route, but passing through Crumlin, Aldergrove and Glenavey told a different story. Retro gave us the best comedy moment of the day, diving round a corner in full crit mode into an apartment block car park oops.... It was bound to happen at some point, but things exploded on the climb up to the Glen Rd - I could actually taste last nights beer running down my face.... A final plunge down to Finaghy and home.
Probably the most I've suffered in a while, but done with friends and don't they say what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. Next time I leave the beers til post ride....

Knees Out

10 degrees C doesn't really justify shorts, but it's almost June and all five of us decided it was time to get the knees out. Stuarty was a first timer joining Nitemare, Comrade Darragh, Sean and me for a spin. I reckon the recent weather had kept the numbers down, so there was no opportunity to have a separate Lite group (I'm hoping for a big turnout tomorrow), but we kept a lid on it despite being passed by a Phoenix group climbing out of Purdysburn Village - they had a lucky escape smile emoticon
Stuarty turned off at Hillsborough and not unexpectedly the pace went up - I was as guilty as anyone, although more than once I was tempted to take Nitemare's new wheels off him! I need them more. The route was a pretty simple South west into a light south west wind, along Ballygowan Rd, then through Blackskull to the Tullyrain Rd. The De Rosa Appreciation Society kept the pace high across to Waringstown and coffee.
Refuelled we wiggled across to Orange Lane and just when you thought we were pointed home, Nitemare swung us left towards the flatlands and Culcavey. Across to Ravarnet and then another detour climbing up Lisnoe Rd before dropping back down to Lisburn. Sean and Darragh were then introduced to Plantation Rd and Ballymullan Rd eventually joining Tullyard Rd where we bumped into The Pro, who rode with us through Drumbo and back home.
Exactly what I need on a Saturday - shortish and tough-ish, but still socialable-ish and good craic-ish. Hopefully good weather isn't far away and we'll have sufficient numbers on Saturday to have two groups too.

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

A Night At The Races

The Kirkistown racetrack is the venue for the NDCC open race hosted once a month over the summer months and as it is open for all age groups is a perfect opportunity for our youth squad to strut their stuff.
We arrived around 6.30 and with rain the whole way from Belfast to Greyabbey, it was great to arrive in Kirkistown with no rain, we had Ben, Matthew, Cameron and our youngest member Luke, the boys quickly got their race numbers and had a quick practise before the race started.
The race got started at 7 with a very simple format, 15mins of laps and then a sprint on the last lap, the track was quite wet with one of the other racers coming off at the last corner, our boys did well, the 3 older boys stuck together the whole way round and finished as they took off with Ben leading Matthew and Cameron, Luke did very well finishing 3rd in his age group on his first outing, they all finished with a smile on their face with the rain starting just as we were heading home….Perfect!!

Monday, 25 May 2015

Castlereagh do Conamara

Saturday was Castlereagh's third appearance at the Tour of Conamara and I doubt it'll be our last. It's a long drive, but that's part of what makes it a great weekend destination and more than just a bike ride. Six of us piled in to two cars and set off at lunch time on Friday. We arrived in time to sign on, get dinner and familiarise ourselves with a few local establishments - nothing too wild, we saved that for Saturday....
The 140k started at 9:30 in steady rain, but at least it wasn't too cold. Retro went off like a scalded cat, with Digger following with a knowing look - we knew what was coming. Brian and I took it a bit steadier, jumping from group to group, moving forward until we found a decent working group. Melissa and Mary started the 80k at 10:30 by which time the weather was if anything worse.
The Tour of Conamara attracts 2000 riders, so you're never short of company. It wasn't too long until the rain started to lift and we got sight of the beautiful scenery around us. We all skipped the first feed and regrouped at the second in Maam Valley, which lies between two of the three drags on the course - the climbs aren't steep by Co Down standards. Digger and I checked out a nice Fondriest in team green, then refreshed we climbed up and over to Leeanne and turned on to the coast along the fjord.
The last climb comes after Letterfrack, by which time the 80k and 140k routes have converged, giving everyone a chance to empty their legs. Everybody stayed upright, rode brilliantly and enjoyed a welcome pint at the Station House to celebrate mission complete.
With the day stage done, we headed to our B&B's to shower, change and get ready for the night stage. In true Castlereagh tradition we enjoyed it and hopefully made a good impression on the locals. A lot of riders stay for the night and it's worth it. We considered a short spin on Sunday morning, but decided a leisurely breakfast, short dander and early start up the road was a better option. Cheers to everyone for the company and the craic - til the next one!
We put our ride on Strava:

For more info on the Tour of Conamara, check out their webpage:

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Captain Sensible

I had things to see and people to do this afternoon, and needed back early. As I wouldn't be there for the full run, I didn't want to call the route, but after Retro suggested Ballymena I overruled him on the basis of a strong SW wind and earned a new nickname - Captain Sensible. I think we had 14 riders including Jonny on his second club ride and Mike on his first.
We set off up the Saintfield Rd and then into the lanes up Mill Rd and across to Boardmills, then Bailies Mills. A puncture on route gave everyone a chance for a chat and for Retro to try out some modern bikes - a whole new world. The pace was nice and steady to keep everyone together, but we split briefly after Annahilt for those feeling frisky to get a taste of the Cornmill. Everyone survived and after a few rapid miles we met the rest at the Kinallen junction.
There a few riders swapped groups, and while Retro ledBones, Digger, Bullet and Comrade Darragh towards Kinallen, Loughbrickland and Scarva (fingers crossed they found their way), I led the others through Dromara to Ballynahinch. With a tailwind and no one looking to hammer it, the Lite group was able to practice a bit of group riding taking turns on the front.
After coffee in Maud's, we took the Ballylone Rd up the berg and across to Saintfield, then a few twists along Ravara Rd to Moneyreagh. From there we split a bit, with Philip and David heading towards Comber, Snake Hips and Mike taking the Ballygowan Rd, while Lanterne (aka El Pistolero) and Mark went over the hills with me.
For a bit of an ad hoc plan, it seemed to work well and the Lite group stuck together well. Thanks to Martin for the photos and well done everyone.

8 Eejits

My first club run after returning from sunnier climes. I don't know which was more of a shock, going from 40oC to 12oC or being tasked to do the write up for today's adventures.
We had 8 riders out this morning proving just how popular our Saturday rides have become. Roll call as follows Big G, Terminator, Bergmeister, Resurrection man, Digger, Bones and a guest appearance by Snake hips himself.
As per the normal MO on windy days the route was straight out into the south westerly headwind. The hope of picking up some of the racing at the Tommy Givan Memorial near Hillsborough before a coffee stop in Dromore.
With Big G as our navigator the pace was always going to be on the quick side. Snake hips set a new strava PR up the Saintfield road, he held on well until peeling off just after Carryduff.
That left the 7 of us to battle on through the wind, we hung a left at Carr primary school and a right onto the Knockany Road. Crossing over the Saintfield Road we passed through Boardmills, Cargacreevy and into Annahilt.
Big G's timing was spot on with us passing the racers on our way into Hillsborough. At this point Resurrection Man and Bergmeister swung off and headed for home.
The fantastic 5 then took the lumpy route into Dromore via the Old coach Road, Edentrillick Road and Ballynahinch Road.
After our well deserved refreshments at cafe thyme we headed home in the same direction along the Ballynahinch Road before turning onto the Magheraconluce Road and into Annahilt again. Heading into Legacurry we were caught by the racers and pulled over to see them pass.
Being so close to home Terminator made a bee line in that direction, while big G stayed on to watch the rest of the race. I called the route home from Legacurry. My plan being out to Drumbo and home via Purdysburn direction. Digger and bones however had other ideas. Remind me NEVER EVER to leave these two eejits at the front on a downhill section where you hope to make a turn halfway along. They will just ride and ride until the end of the road grrrrrr.
With my route plans in tatters it was just straight home through Drumbeg and out to the house of sport where we went our separate ways. After a week away in a peloton built for one it's nice to be back riding with a group of friends(even if they are a competitive bunch)!!

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Echelons and American Flyers

Today was educational. Nitemare gave a lesson on echelon riding in fierce crosswinds, while I was shocked and saddened by the lack of knowledge about the cinematic cycling great which is American Flyers and did my best to explain why it's a such a classic - pure cheese, but classic cheese. Doesn't Darragh look like the Russian?
In planning the route I took into account a strong southerly wind and tried to think of a few bail-out options for anyone who fancied a short cut to coffee. What I can't predict is who is going to turn up and what legs they are going to bring. We went straight to Ballynahinch battling into the wind, then flicked left up Valverde Hill to Drumaness. Lanterne was on an off day and sat up early on - probably a wise choice.
Straight on, all the way to Tyrella (pausing only to take a quick pic for Sean's folks) and then left along the coast. For a lot of riders forming a diagonal echelon was a new experience, but with a strong cross tailwind they learnt quick. Through Killough and Ardglass where I turned with Brian for a direct hit on Downpatrick.
Nitemare took the rest on to Ballyhornan, then back to Downpatrick with a pure crosswind. 1000 yard stares over coffee told a story of dark dark times.... educational! Downpatrick isn't a common stop for us, but Norma J's served up bacon baps and fries that hit the spot.
Home was via Annacloy, Kilmore, Listooder and Saintfield catching a lot of tired riders doing the Dromara Coastal. I'm sure almost everyone will have tired legs tonight, it's amazing how the weather has every bit as much influence as the route. Well done to everyone for digging in and in the words of the Velonomati Rules "enjoying their work".

Chris 6th at Groucho's GP

Castlereagh CC rider Chris Richardson took 6th place in the 2015 Groucho's GP. This is another result in an already strong season from Chris! We look forward to more! You can read the full report from Marian Lamb of Cycling Ulster here:

the value of Crunchy Nut Cornflakes!

Never underestimate the value of Crunchy Nut Cornflakes! This morning a 3 hour training ride in a "fasted state" sounded like a great idea (the theory is your body will burn more fat). 4 miles from home when the lights went out and I went out the back it didn't feel so smart..... Live and learn.
Hannibal and Retro are off sunning themselves, and with Nitemare missing in action there was a rumour today might have been an easy one - no chance. Eight of us rocked up at Forster Green including Snake Hips who made it clear he wouldn't last the distance. The wind was North West so it gave an opportunity to do something a little different. The only downside was that the major climbing would come early.
The route below explains it better than I will, but basically from the top of the Glen Road we pressed the turbo button and with assistance from Sgt Major Resurrection the seven remaining riders hit it hard across to Stoneyford and Glenavey. Bones was on home turf and introduced us to Pigeontown Rd, which took us across to Ballinderry Lower and Aghalee. A new left on me, took us towards Moira station and then into the bottom of the town.
Between a few 30's and whipping up the pace everyone was getting a good workout and was ready for coffee at The Fat Gherkin (thank you to whoever told me about it recently?). Noel and Bones were enjoying the speed work, so I reckoned Route 9 would keep it going across the race course and all the way to Sprucefield.
Axl doesn't know any Abba songs, but it didn't slow him and Sean up Waterloo Rd - the only mercy was I was too far behind to hear him singing. As a special bonus we took Gardners Rd to totally drain the legs, before pointing for Carryduff at which point my tank hit empty.
Ride of the day goes to Mark W who is head and shoulders above where he was a couple of months ago. Apologies for the sparse photos, but by the end I wasn't fit. Thanks to everyone for a great morning out.

Monday, 4 May 2015

Bank Holiday bonus ride

 Bank Holiday bonus ride.... As its a holiday, I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.

We had an incident with a chain today so take note from this video tutorial:

Here's the strava link:

Tour of Ulster and a quick spin

On Saturday morning we marshalled our local section at the Tour of Ulster. Thanks to everyone for representing the club on Tour of Ulster marshal duty. It sounds like there was a touch of wheels before Jameson's garage putting at least one rider out of the race - shame, but part of racing. Good luck to all the remaining riders in that brutal weather.
Seven of us went for a quick spin after the race passed through. We might not have had a team car, but Snake Hips did have a helpful police outrider.... With the weather getting worse we only did a 90 min loop then home to get warm.
Thanks again for the support. Finally, good luck to Digger and Hannibal racing in Clogher Valley on Sunday!

Here's the strava link for our ride: