Saturday, 29 August 2015

Tour of the Glens Goodie Bags

150 Tour of the Glens goodie bags - done! Pre-register to be sure of yours:

The Tour Of The Glens is one of the toughest events on the Cycling Ireland calendar and incorporates many tough climbs through the beautiful Antrim Glens. The event has long been a must do for local cycling enthusiasts and with the Giro D'Italia having passed along parts of the route last year, we are hopeful of a big turnout of cyclists to take on the roads the Giro missed through the scenic Glens of Antrim.

More info here:

Kirkistown Kids Race

We managed to dodge the showers tonight at Kirkistown, a big turnout as you will see from the results sheet for the last one this year, a great effort from the boys after a long summer. Big thanks to NDCC for this well run event 

Andrew 2nd at North Down GP

Congratulations to our new A3 licence holder!!!! Andrew took a great 2nd place today in North Down, adding to his points tally and earning an upgrade - really well done!
A4 Race Results
1 Glenn White – Stamullen Martin Donnelly
2 Andrew Ferguson – Castlereagh
3 Ryan Wallace – Ballymoney CC
4 Rob Carr – Kings Moss CC
5 Michael Boyd – Unattached
6 Patrick Mulroe – Emyvale
7 Neill McAllister – Banbridge CC
8 Mark Kendall – Banbridge CC
9 Colm McKenna – VC Glendale
10 Fergus Byrne – Bann Valley


You Arn't Made Of Sugar

At 8:30 this morning it looked a complete washout, but to quote Sean's friend "you aren't made of sugar" and sure enough by 9:30 it was warm and dry although the roads were soaking and covered in mud and stones.
With only two riders for a Lite run, I suggested we all stick together to Bangor (due to an East wind and the off chance we'd catch Hannibal racing), then I would guide the Lites home. In the end we stayed as one group all the way to Groomsport and Sean, who had an afternoon of celebration ahead also took the short option. The route had taken us along the Kings Rd then up Greengraves and across Bradshaws to the Ballybarnes Rd. Then into Bangor and around the coast.
Retro, Digger and Flashdance turned left, while Sean, Martin, Nicky and me headed inland towards Carrowdore throwing in a few wiggles to keep it scenic to Ards/Newtownards. Sean and I both had things to see and people to do, so with everyone's blessing we just had a garage splash and dash rather than a three course coffee stop.
Home led us up the front of Scrabo and right round to the carriageway where Sean and I could stretch are legs heading home. Something like 2hrs 45 which is a lot better than I expected first thing. Yet again I over did the clothing, so expecting it to be Tuesday before I pee. Hope the other three had a good one.
P.S. doesn't the Strava route look like a pig?! Appropriate given the state of the roads....

6 is the magic number

De La Soul reckoned 3 was the magic number, no more no less, but today it was I reckoned it was 6. A good balance of form riders (Bones & The Beast of Ballymena) and off form riders (Digger making a miraculous recovery from his gruesome injuries & joining the dark side on Campag, and me still a bit short on bodily fluids - don't go there Joe!). Ronan and Comrade were playing it safe, staying under the radar stealth style.
The other change was me rolling on a clean bike - titanium no less, a big thank you to my benefactor for the loan, while I try and resurrect one of mine. The wind was light, so we headed south to Saintfield, then through Kilmore to Annacloy and on to Ballyduggan Mill. Back to Downpatrick and across the Quoile Bridge. Somewhere around there I had to break-up the bromance between Bones and the Brazilian Booty as they were ripping the legs off us. Putting myself between them wasn't the smartest move, but kept things a little calmer.
Left along Scaddy Rd, then a wiggle to Shrigley and on to Clay Rd regular territory for me, but fairly new for some of the guys. We popped out of the Derryboye Rd and lit it up in to Balloo and coffee. Refreshed I offered the choice of flat or rolly and Bones called rolly, making it left and right to take the Saintfield Rd - on google maps it's straight as a die, but bike riders know it's a roller coaster of a road and nearly brought up my carrot cake.
Right on to Carrickmannon Rd and another one of my 20 second attacks launching Bones (the victor), the Beast and Ronan on a 2 mile attack for the Ballygowan 30's. A winding route from there to Moneyreagh and home. I've been doing this so long, sometimes it's good to be around riders, who aren't so blasé about the amazing roads and scenery on our doorstep. A really fun 3 hours. Bones and the Beast were clearly the strongest, but ride of the day goes to Jeff who was amazing given his injuries only 7 days ago!

The BCC Camlough Hog Run

I decided to support a friend riding the BCC Camlough Hog Run in South Armagh, and when Comrade and Sean saw the medal on offer they jumped at the chance to come along. The lure of a hog roast and caramel squares at the end didn't hurt either. We bumped into an incognito Derek in the car park, making a total of four CCC's.
The weather was perfect and a huge thanks to Sean and Darragh for helping me pace Conor round. He hasn't been doing this long and really appreciated having three wheels to sit on. The hosts were great and the route was beautiful including an excursion down Mexico way.
By the sound of it we had a lucky escape, avoiding some terrible driving causing havoc on the club run....

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Mixed fortunes at John Beggs Memorial

Mixed fortunes for Castlereagh riders at the John Beggs Memorial today. Andrew had a brilliant result with second in the A4 race which anyone riding with him recently knows, is highly deserved, and unfortunately stitches for Jeff after a nasty crash at the finish resulting in a chainring slashing his calf.
Speedy recovery to Jeff and congratulations again to Andrew!
Thanks to Derek for the photos.

Billy Kerr Sportive 2015

A superb day out at the Billy Kerr Sportive starting in Ballymena with 8 intrepid Castlereagh members, the roll call was Comrade, Sean, Stuart, Sam, Mike, Philip, Brian McC and myself Mark.
The day got off to a great start with pancakes, scones, tea and coffee served before we left, the route was was fairly straight forward and quick up to Ballycastle for the first of three food stops. It was then over the mountain bypassing Cushendun following the coast road into Glenarm with the 19degree climb up Town Brae and then climbing over the Feystown Road into Ballygally. Turning back up the coast road into Carnlough then turning with a 4 mile climb over the mountain into Ballymena. A good feed awaited us in the bar, a great day out with great company.

Nicky's First Club Run

With a big contingent riding the Billy Kerr we weren't expecting a huge turnout today. Add to that it being Nicky's first club run, Broke Back's (formerly Spartacus) first club ride in ages and I was a pint short of blood, we weren't looking to set the road alight.
Four of us rode across to Holywood, then up Creightons Green Road. My usual rush of blood up the climb was even more short lived than normal leaving Ronan and Broke Back to fight it out. We dropped down towards the George, then into Ards via Mountain Rd. Up the front of Scrabo as far as the car park, then back down to coffee in Comber.
Keeping it classy, we dined Al fresco at the Georgian where I re enacted my 70's childhood trying to lure away the wasps with jam. After lovely food and coffee we saddled up again and headed out to Lisbane. Right and across to Ballygowan, before nipping into the lanes and over to the Clontnacally Rd.
Nicky did great on his first ride and seemed to enjoy it. Nothing too strenuous for the rest of us and nice to get out in a bit of sunshine.

Andrew and Jeff in the results again!

Andrew and Jeff Romped home with more results tonight at the A4 Bangor Crit! Well done Guys!

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Wednesday Social

Tonight was a classic of the "Wednesday Social" variety. It's terrible to admit the nights are getting shorter, but we still managed 1hr 45mins and a lemonade stop. We started by nipping through the hospital, then up Glencregagh. I threw in a lap of the Lisnabreeny Loop just to introduce it to everyone as a handy training spot, then headed into the wilds skimming Moneyreagh, Comber and Ballygowan before popping out of the Manse Rd just above the Ivanhoe - coincidence?
Hard luck to Mark for just missing out on a debut 30's, no shame in being beaten by Digger! Good fun, good company and good beer.

The Lites call Ferry

Thanks to Mark for a report and photos of today's Lite run. An example of the "route decided by the riders that turn up" mantra.
With all the Big Guns racing around the Hills of Dromara and further afield it by default left only a Lite run this morning, we had eight to start, Sam, Philip, Derek, Mike, Neil, Stewart, New Tony and myself Mark. With a very light wind this morning the plan was to head to Downpatrick and loop around Clough through Ballynahinch to home, that was the plan!
We had a fairly direct route to Downpatrick, on our way Philip had a fall out with Linda McCartney, after which he knew to stick to the big ring. Arriving into Downpatrick someone called FERRY, seemed like a good idea, so we swung left and right towards Strangford where we had a near miss with two Dublin coaches, we had missed the ferry by a couple of minutes to decided to have coffee in the Pantry in Strangford, good coffee and great service. We made the 12 o'clock ferry into Portaferry where our route went a bit scenic, we followed the coast path until we met the main Portaferry road and quickly turned right to get off the main road, the plan was to cut right through the middle towards Carrowdore but we missed a couple of turns and ended up touring the coast through Cloughy and Portavogie eventually turning inland to Greyabbey towards Ards, unfortunately Sams sugar levels dropped quite a bit near Ards and we had to stop to call for the team car and a tin of coke.
A great day out apart from Sam's misfortune, we done well by the weather and around 110K completed. Looking forward to Ballymena next Saturday.

Dromara Hilly 125

Hugely proud of our wee club today after a brilliant turn out at the Dromara Hilly, one of the oldest and toughest sportives on the calendar. Even more impressive were the smiles, especially from the four first timers on the long route and the three brave first timers taking on the 85k route which takes on three of the hardest climbs in Northern Ireland!
Hilly veterans know it isn't the big name hills that get you, it's the mass of small hills and drags between them which make recovery impossible. The seven of us tackling the 125k hit the Cornmill with the front 30 riders, mainly as a tactic to keep safe and avoid the fallers. Once over that we split a bit, but Nitemare was on angelic form and did a great job of guiding the strong men round the twisting route.
In Leitrim we regrouped and once fed, hit the road again with a new friend Liam. We stuck together until Fofanny School Rd, but were within sight of each other over Spelga. Comrade was on a flyer, but a poorly timed puncture meant me and then Sean were able to catch him. They were loving the route in that twisted kinda suffering way cyclists have and proved the competitive spirit was still strong when we lit it up on the run in.
Nitemare and the Beast rode home, while the rest of us ate our pasta and took the lazy (smart) option to get home, but not before checking up with Melissa, Mary and David who had tackled the 85k - it follows the same route to Leitrim tackling the Cornmill, Dree Hill and Windy Gap. Huge respect to them for finishing such a tough event - really well done!
Finally a big thanks to Dromara Cycling Club. The helpers, marshals, motorbike outriders, photographers and facilities were all brilliant - a great example of a club sportive done to a really high level. Hopefully we'll see some of the same faces (and asses) at the Tour of the Glens in three weeks.

Hilly Warm Up

For a rare nice day it was a surprise to only have four riders. Three of us were signed up for the Dromara Hilly so the plan was to not use up too many biscuits. The route wiggled around our regular turf taking in Saintfield, Darragh Cross and Crossgar, before swinging across to Shrigley. Hostilities broke out on the rollers, but the threat of the War Crimes court in The Hague and a general reminder of the Geneva Convention brought peace.
Up towards Clay Rd then back on to the coast and round to Wacky Daves (long story). I think Lanterne was playing some sort of fruit machine app on his phone and I think he kept hitting the jackpot - either that or time to silence the heart rate monitor....
A quick coffee and a rendition of "Age of Aquarius" from Nitemare complete with dancing, then round the coast and back home via Lisbane and Ballygowan. Nothing too strenuous, but enough to count as training. Lovely to get out in the sunshine.

Monday, 3 August 2015

Living Out a Fantasy

Today I got to live out a fantasy and ride to The Moy. I don't know why I wanted to, it just kinda appealed to go west, have coffee and come home - they even served flat whites!!!!
Seven people ignored the weather forecast and showed up at Forster Greens. Three opting for the Lite option and three more trusting me to guide them on a longer run. Sam had planned a Lite run via Lisburn, so I suggested we'd take them there steady, then do our own thing - somewhere along the way Mark W caught us (which shows we really were going steady - no offence Mark) making it four four.
I had half a plan to go to Scarva, but looking around I saw we had four pretty strong engines, local Tyrone knowledge and improving weather, so I floated my Moy fantasy. With no objections, we went on to Moira, then ducked into the Lanes after Magheralin and followed the Bun Run traditional route as far as Bleary. From there we used my spidey sense and the odd check of Strava to get us across the Bann at Portadown and out the Loughgall Rd. From Loughgall we swung right and through Charlestown to the promised land - The Moy Larder.
Comrade Crossdresser and Sean (who still hasn't done anything stupid enough to warrant a nickname) explained the local ways. The bacon soda and flat white was everything I dreamt, so refuelled we pointed home. Sean knew a bridge was out, so we headed North towards the motorway, then back into Portadown fighting a crosswind. We then retraced our way back to Moira for a quick shop stop. The Beast had already added Brazilian Booty to his list of nicknames and by getting changed in a phone box can now add Superman.
With a few tired legs we took Route 9 across to Down Royal, but still high on endorphins I swung right and into Culcavey, before leading the way home through Ravarnet and Carryduff. A long day, but one of the most enjoyable in a long time. Apart from a 3 mile session into The Moy, there was never more than 6 feet between us, everyone worked for the good of the group and the craic was great. Combine that with new roads and another tick on the bucket list, what more could you want!

Eight left … four returned!!

Today's report is courtesy of Nitemare. I had places to see and people to do, so I swung home early with Mark and Comrade. I think I'm now Endorphin Boy - just because I was in a good mood!
Eight left … four returned!!
We headed southwards with intentions of Downpatrick via the lanes and by-ways of Co. Down … three left early including “Endorphin Boy” who had been out since dawn …
However, with sun shining and the promise of “Summer” reverting back to normal tomorrow we (I) decided to change tact and we headed across to Castlewellan and Urban Coffee via some “lumpier” (scenic) roads including revisiting the Gran Fondo drag into Castlewellan …
Sean soon had the 1000 yard stare and after coffee we began the climb of Kilnhill Road to the Slieve Croob he was gone … service revolver in hand! That left 4 intrepid pedallers to make use of the tailwind via Dromara and Annahilt … nice of me to give them a recce of next week’s Hilly … see me I’m ALL heart!
With rain looming and blackening skies the last miles soon rattled past … we broke at Ballymacbrennan and I bimbled over the Tullyard home while Retro led the charge back to base!!