Monday, 27 July 2015

Sticking Together for a Soaking

I was hoping my phone would dry out before I did this post so that I could add some photos, but no luck yet - I think that says everything about the weather. Seven of us braved the deluge to meet up at Forster Greens. We offered a separate Lite ride, but given the small numbers and strong wind, it was decided to stick together.
Having watched three weeks of Le Tour I now feel the need to prefix every word with "super" and say "full-gas" at every opportunity, so we set off super-steady across the carriageway to knock and then out the Kings Road. Trying to keep the route super-flat Digger and I sat into the wind across to Comber. No one grumbled about the weather, we were long since super-soaked and no-one could do anything about it. From Comber we kept going to Lisbane, before finally turning right out of the wind.
The road has been resurfaced and took us smoothly towards Ballygowan where Digger, the Beast and me stretched our legs for a few miles. Fair play to Digger for leading it out and still having the super-strength to win. Straight back to Belfast seemed the sensible option and gave Derek, Martin, Tony and Damian about 1hr 45mins training that not many people would have been brave enough to do in pouring rain.
The super-foolish three decided that given we were already soaking, we may as well do some work and so we did an hour of full-gas speed work. Through and off to Saintfield via Carryduff, before swinging left and powering back through Ballygowan - It made a cute butterfly on strava. Well done everyone for braving the elements and well done Tony and Damian for their first rides - it's not always like that!!!!

Saturday, 25 July 2015

Tackling Divis

As usual the route was decided democratically by the riders who turned up - if it was a different group the vote and route would've been different. My vote was a little flatter, but it was bright and sunny, so why not tackle Divis! Plus it gave Neil the chance to lose his Divis virginity.

Five of us crossed town and up the horseshoe. Nitemare took us on a weaving route round the Co Antrim back roads, taken at a strong pace before pointing back up Divis Road. The climb is never easy and with a headwind it was harder, but the reward was spectacular views. I never checked who got the polka dot Jersey, but last I saw Bones was in the lead.
We descended back to the cafe for a caffeine shot and politically incorrect conversation, before dropping back in to town to watch the tour. Bones decided to make the most of the weather and do an extra hour - fair play. Really well done to Neil on a great ride - "If you want to be a lion, you must train with lions".

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Force 10 Lites

A lite boost this morning got us up to a force ten! Last night’s forecast promised plenty of sun on the Donghadee side however, winds were heading east which would suggest a head-wind return leg - not traditional Castlereagh style.

At 9.36 the 10 headed east on the Upper Knockbreda Rd. On Campbell College roundabout we took our first turn for the day which led us to the Old Holywood Rd. A few ‘change-up’s’ were called which allowed everyone the opportunity to get a bit of conversation going. We soon reached Demesne Rd which resulted in a ‘We aren't doing Church Road Sam…are we’? To Bobby’s relief (and probably a few others) we turned left and wiggled onto Victoria Rd and on up to Ballymenoch Rd.

The conversation that had been rather plentiful soon disappeared and was quickly replaced with laboured breathing during the sheer ascent of Creightons Green Rd (the first category climb of the day). The group split which enabled the slightly more frisky riders a chance to get out of the saddle - the idea that everyone regrouped near the end of the road. This worked well and gave the opportunity for a little competition (Im not sure who reached the top first but my only concern was that everyone did)!
After regrouping we popped out onto Whinney Hill and followed it through onto Craigantlet Rd and Ballysallagh Rd. A few more ‘change-ups’ found us crossing the carriageway and on the Old Belfast Rd heading for the Springhill Rd. A swift right turn and all ten of us were on the Crawfordsburn Rd. At this point I was very pleased with my shorts and short-sleeved top wardrobe choice as the sun was out and it was a real (Northern Irish) summer’s morning.

We then meandered our way round Seacliff Rd, Ballyhome Rd and onto the Groomsport Rd. Bearing left on the roundabout we followed the Bangor Rd onto the Donaghadee Rd, Waren Rd and into Donaghadee. Approx 40km done and we were ready for our coffee stop.

Having frequented Cafe Manor several times with Castlereagh before I suggested we head there. For those of us who were warm before the coffee stop were now sweltered with the heat inside. Tea, coffee (water for me) and a few bacon baps and we were once again ready to hit the road.

We hit Killaughey Rd at a brave pace which definitely pushed the fitness levels of a few due to the rolling hills (but this is how fitness is gained). We all held together well and hit Movilla Rd for the decent into N’Ards. Bobby headed home at this stage while the rest of the group was split slightly because of the traffic.
 The group pounded on and hit Scrabo (2nd - and final category climb for the day). Myself and Stephen caught up and we all had a slight breather at the top of the climb. The final stretch home took in Ballyhenry Rd, onto the carriageway for another jaunt, round the outskirts of Comber and headed along the Comber Rd. We scooted up the Old Dundonald Rd, passed the ice bowel and along the Kings rd. Derek headed Gilinahirk direction, Martin headed straight at knock lights, I headed right and the remainder of the group headed left (Castlereagh direction).

According to strava everyone made it home and not in bad time either. Really enjoyed the ride and the group functioned well. It was good that we didn't shy away from the hills, no pain no gain! I hope you all enjoyed the ride. This was a healthy bunch, lets build on this.

The Internet Lied

The internet lied - twice! Firstly it said no rain and secondly it promised an open coffee stop in Richhill on a Sunday. The rain put paid to plan A which had been coffee in The Moy, but we'll save that for another time.
Five of us left Forster Green for a long one, although Flashdance quickly advised he would be turning round early. With a strong west wind, Nitemare, Flashdance, Retro, me and Susie (who'll be known for a while as the Gypsy) headed straight up to Carryduff and on to Hillsborough. The wind was tough, but we crossed the carriageway and took the Ballygowan Rd down through Blackskull, working round to Laurencetown and Gilford.
There Michael turned right for home, while the remaining four of us kept on to Tandragee and then Richhill. In increasingly heavy rain we realised I'd been sold a pup and headed to the pub - Lyness's who were at least able to give us a caffeine fix, although seeing the effect it had on Nitemare I'm not sure whether I was glad or not....
We headed on to Portadown and then towards Lurgan, but Retro and the Gypsy were in need of a refuel so we stopped at Costa Coffee on the way. Nitemare and me abstained on the basis we have sufficient reserve tanks (big asses), and the fact that he was talking like a washing machine after one coffee. Home through Moira and straight down the line to Lisburn - Susie gets a medal for digging in, as the pace was pretty strong. Finally a wind down by Hilden and Sandy Lane home enjoying the reappearance of sunshine. Not exactly what I'd planned, but still good fun.

The Saturday 50

I have no idea how Saturday's always seem to come out so close to 50 miles, but it ain't a bad thing. Today Ronan joined Lanterne, Nitemare, Hannibal and me having been recommended by Snake Hips - any friend of Snake Hips is a friend of ours.
I had an idea and asked Nitemare to set course for Moira. The way he chose was pretty direct, with a little detour around the flatlands. The wind was strong, but the five of us were all working through and taking whatever shelter we could from the hedges.
From Moira we turned right on to the Old Kilmore Road and then once over the railway bridge we turned left on to the Kilmore Rd. That was a new one for all of us and took us perfectly into Lurgan on the right side of the tracks. We stopped for coffee and a variety of calorific snacks in lovecoffeeni where Nitemare added to his fan club.
A light shower came on just as we were finishing up, giving Nitemare the excuse (as if he needs one) to suggest the main road home. That meant high speed across to Moira and on to Lisburn, single file with the strong riders taking longer turns to even things out. From Lisburn it was through Lambeg and Ballyskeagh home. Credit to Lanterne, he confessed to seeing stars three times, but set PR's up Purdysburn Rd and Cairnshill Rd just before home! Shows that the work pays off - respect.

Monday, 13 July 2015

All Over the Place

Castlereagh CC were all over the place on Sunday;

- Mark, Paul, Nitemare and Colin took in the Shimna Wheelers sportive:

- Brian took on the Innishowen 100:

- And the usual club run left from the Forester Green bus stop! They seemed to be riding full gas... Picking up 24 Strava PB's:

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Tour of the Glens 2015: Entry Open

The Tour of the Glens is now live on Entry Central:
200km- You can see the route on strava here:

100km - this route starts and finishes in Cushendall Boat Club. This is aimed at cyclists who don't think they would be able to complete the full event but still want a challenge they can be proud to complete.

More info here:

Saturday, 11 July 2015

Just What the Doctor Ordered

Seven of us rolled out of Forster Green this morning with no fixed plan. After an afternoon of drinking slush puppies (Castlereagh navy of course), I was balancing a sugar high and vodka low but not feeling too bad. Hannibal was coming down with a cold and wary of pushing too hard, but otherwise everyone was on good form.
Nitemare called a route which mixed regular roads with a few rarer ones, winding us down to Ballycreen and then retracing the Fondo route up to Begney Hill. Lanterne and Hannibal took a direct route home, while Bones, Digger, Flashdance, Nitemare and me turned for Drumkeeragh. I have no idea who took the polka dot points as I wasn't even on the radar at that point.... Regrouped we dropped down to Spa where I put down a marker for the green jersey.
Following up the recommendation we got last week we checked out Hollys Coffee in Ballynahinch. They made us very welcome and opened up the back garage which has been kitted out specifically for bikies. Maybe a bit cool for late season, but a great place for this time of year.
Nitemare pegged back a couple of points for the green jersey with an early attack in to Saintfield, but it was still all to play for until I exploded on the final kick to the House of Sport. Freakishly yet another 51/52 mile Saturday, a new coffee stop and a tough climb, just what the doctor ordered.

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Castlereagh Youth Ride

It's was a great turnout today despite the Forecast. Mathew, Ben, Cameron, David and Finn were joined a full complement of Dads and two extra adults. We headed up the Saintfield road for a little hill training following the back road to Saintfield. The heavens opened 2 miles from Saintfield and roads didn't clear the water so it was swimming pool after swimming pool. Unfortunately Cameron took a tumble but brave man that he is he was straight back on his bike. A quick stop at the petrol station for tea, hot chocolate and plasters we headed over the Jacobs ladder back to Carryduff.
A short ride for the boys these days but on the way back another potential rider spotted us at the lights and asked if he could join!
Well done boys - best looking youth team out there!
Next ride out - Sun 19th July

A Sean Kelly Quote

The famous Sean Kelly quote was about winter training, but it's just as applicable to the sort of weather forecast today. The quote was something along the lines of "You can't tell it's cold looking out the kitchen window. You go out do 4 1/2 hours trading, clean the bike, then say it's cold out there...". Anyone relying on the forecast this morning would've stayed in bed, but other than one lightish shower we got our training done and added a few more freckles to my collection.
Bearing in mind heavy rain might come in, we took a route that allowed a short bail out option back to Belfast from every point. Very few Lites were out and no-one seemed keen to split it from the start, so we kept a lid on the pace over to Balmoral Avenue and up Glen Road. The climb is long, but not steep and a good bit of training. At the top we swung left on to the sheepwalk and out towards Ballinderry.
From there we wiggled to Moira with Bones helping out with a little local knowledge. Philip kindly agreed to go with Derek and Mike from there across to Hillsborough, while six of us turned up the pace on a longer route. Major credit to Mike who is progressing by the week and dug in really well to stay in the shelter of the bunch - smart riding.
We took a different route than normal across to Hillsborough with 90 sec turns tugging on the legs. The plan was to take Windmill Rd, but the Annahilt Road was closed, so we tried out a new one - Magheradartin Rd across to link up with Windmill Rd. Sean was amazed there was a lane in Co Down I didn't know. There was more shock when we turned left rather than straight over to River Rd, but everyone was still strong, so we had the opportunity to take a twistier route via Middle Rd, Creevy Rd, Gannon Rd and Knockany Rd.
Now just under 3 hours in, we were relieved to see a sign outside Woodlawn Garden Centre promising coffee. Unfortunately we were half an hour too early, but the coffee gods looked down kindly and while we debated alternative venues we were invited in - thank you! Sean seems to reckon my coffee stops this weekend have a bit of a pensioner vibe, but no one complained about the apple pie.
Although we'd avoided a shower, the lure of home and Le Tour was too much for everyone, so we decided against heading to Comber and just dropped in to Carryduff and on to the Castlereagh hills via Clontnacally Rd. I suspect the big ring climbing will have earned a few Strava trophies....
Something a bit different and a lot more beneficial than sitting on the sofa. Till the next time.

Coast to Coast

Right, get the apologies out of the way first.... Two go to Snake Hips - one for the fact that the three photos I took of you on the front up a tough climb, were so dark as to be unusable and two for the emotional upheaval of having to watch your idol crumble right in front of your eyes. The third apology was also connected to my meltdown and is an apology to the general population of Co Down who had to witness my bare chest, as I struggled home, undershirt off and winter Jersey flapping open a la Tommy Voeckler - not pretty....
The guys called a SSE wind, so I set course ESE - close enough. That took us "coast to Coast" down the Peninsula, going through Ards on the way out and Newtownards on the way home (private joke). In honour of our own national treasure, Retro who is on hols, we decided to have coffee courtesy of the National Trust at Mount Stewart.
Really good fun. Bones gets awarded the green jersey, Snake Hips gets the white jersey, Sean gets yellow as Mr Consistent, while I get the red number for big kahunas but not really the legs to make it stick. I'm away to get in a cold bath....

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Chris Wins Ards Race

Castlereagh CC rider, Chris Richardson, took the win this week in the Ards CC promoted Carrowdore Race. Next to the line were Keith Phillips in 2nd and Paul McMinn in 3rd.

Full results and report can be seen here: