Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Tour of the Glens 2015 - A Rider's View


Sunday 30th August 2015, 0730 hours... The dull grey canopy of overshadowed sky and the cool, crisp air mirrored the drawn and disquietened faces of those assembled at the Loughside Recreation Centre. It was the Tour of the Glens, one of the most arduous events in the Irish Cycling calendar, and riders had come from afar to test their mettle against a selection of County Antrim’s most unforgiving climbs, but also to enjoy some of its most scenic roads.

The drab morning was attenuated by the colourful carnival of cycling kits which was rapidly unfolding from car boots; iridescent pinks from North Down, the fluorescent yellow of the Kaners, the spritely blue of King’s Moss, the refreshing palette of white, lime green and royal blue from Phoenix and Ards, as well as ardent reds from Madigans and the rich, umbrous navy blues from Shimna Wheelers and Castlereagh. Other flecks of exotic colours were provided courtesy of riders from Ballycastle, East Tyrone, Steady CC, Portadown, Dromore, Kinning Cycles and the Rouleurs (and many more!).

0800 hours... clustered tightly together in the chilly air, Club Secretary Colin Morrissey addressed the 100 – strong peloton. A route change had been introduced due to roadworks in the Ballynure area, but otherwise everything else would proceed as planned. Then we were off! The group worked up to a comfortable speed behind Chairman Gordon in the lead car as we rolled down the Shore Road in a long, strung-out pack, before biting into the long drag up the Doagh Road. At this early stage, legs were spinning nimbly as riders focussed on getting warmed up. The chill would not last long – the first cracks of sunlight were peeking out from behind the thin smatterings of cloud, and smiles were spreading contagiously throughout the pack. The Gods of the Glens were going to smile on us today after all!
Having conquered the Doagh Road drag, we proceeded onto the Carntall Road and then the newly-laid A8 into Ballynure. There was a brief moment of confusion upon joining the A8, but Ronan and I were able to assuage the doubts of the rest of the pack and convince them that we would soon take the slip road for Ballynure and get back to some more familiar territory. Indeed, it was less than two miles before we saw the welcoming red arrows on the tarmac and felt the bunch breathe a collective sigh of relief behind us.
The rest of the trek into the first food stop at Bally galley proceeded without incident, and we were able to enjoy the gentle rolling terrain on offer along the Deerpark Road and through Killwaughter, the diversion along Hannah’s road (the dual cabbageway) and the Ballymullock Road. The latter, with its long, gentle descent and spectacular view of the Irish sea ahead of us, served as a succulent appetiser for the roads further ahead of us.
Rolling into Ballygalley, most opted to stop for a bathroom break and to partake of the selection of gels and other goodies on offer. I would have followed suit, but while unclipping, heard a furtive “Oi! Stuart! Let’s go!” I looked up – Nitemare was rolling straight through the food stop and wanted company (for a while at least). Uh oh... Every piece of advice I’d ever gleaned from other members of the club (including the immortal “Don’t blow your biscuits!”) flashed through my mind in an instant, but I ignored it all and went anyway.
The two of us cruised steadily along the coastal road, effectively doing part of the Giro route in reverse. By now, the sun was beaming brightly in the sky and beating down on the vast expanse of water between us and the Scottish coast. Millions of shimmering waves reflected the sun back at us. This was truly some of the most beautiful road I’d ever ridden.
The first real challenge of the day came in the form of the Munie Road; starting in Glenarm, it turned back towards the south and then meandered steadily upwards for a couple of miles. The reward for our effort was the panoramic view on offer on the fast, twisting descent. From the top half, Carnlough bay seemed to open its arms out wide and welcome you all the way down, waiting to embrace you at the bottom. Alas, the comfort I sought in Carnlough bay would have to wait; we turned left on the Coast Road and continued onwards to the second food stop. Along the way, another brief effort was called for; a sharp hairpin bend preceded a short steep climb which carried us around the back of St. Killian’s College via Tower Road. This was easily one of my favourite parts of the entire day – cycling through a corridor of sheer rock face is just so cool! Back on the Coast Road, we flew through Waterfoot and into Cushendall, despite the headwind which was starting to pick up.
Having taken part in the Billy Kerr Sportive just a couple of weeks prior, I was fairly well-aquainted with Cushendall, so I knew exactly how far I was from the food stop at the yacht club. My goofy, grateful smile must have been much too perceptible, because as we rolled in, I was met with a half-stern, half-laughing, “We’ll not stop too long here. Straight in, straight out...” from Nitemare. The advice that I’d ignored earlier replayed again in my head, but nothing changed...
Topped up with sugar and water, courtesy of the Castlereagh volunteers who were monitoring the stop, we set out together again for what is arguably the most challenging part of the entire route. Starting on the Tromara Road just outside Cushendun, we had to complete a vicious figure-of-eight loop which takes in the highest A- and B-roads in the county. Beginning with a steady drag, the route then took a left after the viaduct and crept up the much steppier Glendun Road. I was extremely glad to have the scenic river and forests to keep me distracted while I fought desperately to keep Nitemare’s wheel up the climb. My optimism and strength depleted with the scenery, however, and I was dropped just before the misty and barren Slieveanorra Forest, a stark contrast to the inviting scenes I’d been witness to just minutes beforehand. I was unable to appreciate much of the scenery on the rest of the loop, but I promise the reservoir is beautiful when you’re not on tired legs!
Castlereagh had rather strategically (vindictively?) stationed photographers Joe and Ian on the Glenann Road to catch the grimaces on film. I’m sure many people experience the same bizarre phenomenon I do; under the glare of a camera lens, the legs come back to life (until you’re out of sight again). By all accounts, the photos from Slieveanorra were a wonderful showcase of both the number, diversity and strength of riders we had out on the day. Everyone certainly looks much fresher than I felt at that point!
The second food stop at Cushendall was even more welcome than the first. Nitemare had been and gone, of course. “You could still catch him,” Kyle offered encouragingly. “I doubt it,” I mumbled forlornly through a fig roll. The food was fantastic, with sandwiches, fruit loaf, tea and coffee and a veritable smorgasbord of biscuits on offer. It definitely gave me the pep I needed to make it back home!
My account of the remainder of the course is necessarily more brief as I don’t remember a lot of it, having actively tried to ignore the pain in my legs! More punishment came in the form of a long drag out of Cushendall and into Cargan, but the scenery of Glenariff Forest was a welcome distraction. There was no respite afterwards, with lots of steep rolling hills through Broughshane and into Ballyclare; perhaps not the most taxing on their own, but definitely a challenge with 100 miles already in the legs. At this point, I was passed by two riders from Dave Kane’s and Ballycastle CC (both absolute animals on the hills!). After Ballyclare, it wasn’t far back to HQ, and the final descent down the Antrim Road was a great opportunity to spin out the legs.

The welcome back at Loughside was second to none, with Martin on photographry duty, Mark G handing out shiny 12-tooth-cog medals, and Philip and Kyle making sure everyone was well-fed. Nitemare, and the Kaners/Ballycastle duo were waiting for me, all looking remarkably fresh! All that was left to do was wait as riders rolled in, all elated at having completed the Tour of the Glens.

With the exception of an ETCC rider who had an unfortunate spill near Slieveanorra (but soldiered on with a nasty gash on his hand...machine!) everyone had made it round safely, and the feedback was unanimous; a tough day in the saddle, but the weather was amazing, the scenery beautiful, the food delicious, and the accommodation and effort made by Castlereagh top-notch.

It will be Castlereagh’s ambition to make next year’s Tour of the Glens just as much a success (if not better!) than this year’s. In the meantime, we wish everyone a safe year of cycling, and invite them to wear their Castlereagh/Tour of the Glens caps with honour. We would also like to extend our warm thanks to all the riders who participated, and hope they enjoyed it as much as we did. The atmosphere on the day was incredible. We certainly hope to see you next year!

Finally, a very warm thank you and congratulations to all involved in making the Tour of the Glens a success, including (but definitely not limited to); Colin, Gerry, Andrew, Gordon, Mark G, Mark W, Mark M, Ronan, Sean, Darragh, Ian, Brian, Sam, Michael, Neil, Jeff, Karen, Kyle, Philip, Drew, Ruth, Steve, Joe, Mike, Martin, Chain Reaction Cycles, the volunteers at Cushendall who prepared food, the PSNI, Cycling Ireland, and the staff at Loughside Recreation Centre for being so hospitable. My most sincere apologies if there’s anybody I’ve forgotten. Your dedication and individual efforts were a testament to Castlereagh and I consider myself very privileged to be a member of the club.


https://www.strava.com/activities/380953232

Stuart Burns
Castlereagh Cycling Club

56 comments:

  1. Great information. Thanks for providing us such a useful information. Keep up the good work and continue providing us more quality information from time to time. click here

    ReplyDelete
  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Customarily when we choose to make another responsibility to fitness we join a rec center, or a running club, or attempt another sort of diet. The absolute generally essential and powerful body weight practices like squats, jawline ups, crunches, and push up. fitnessbond.com

    ReplyDelete
  4. The material and aggregation is excellent and telltale as comfortably. dissertation writing services training for a german shepherd

    ReplyDelete
  5. Remarkable article, it is particularly useful! I quietly began in this, and I'm becoming more acquainted with it better! Delights, keep doing more and extra impressive! power harrow

    ReplyDelete
  6. What a thrilling post. It is extremely chock-full of useful information. Thanks for such a great info. pernis online

    ReplyDelete
  7. My subsequent option in transport tours of the Canyon turns out to be one of the top tours you can take toward the West Rim. Tripda

    ReplyDelete
  8. I really like your writing style, great information, thankyou for posting. 토토사이트

    ReplyDelete
  9. i am always looking for some free stuffs over the internet. there are also some companies which gives free samples. 토토사이트

    ReplyDelete
  10. This is a truly good site post. Not too many people would actually, the way you just did. I am really impressed that there is so much information about this subject that have been uncovered and you’ve done your best, with so much class. If wanted to know more about green smoke reviews, than by all means come in and check our stuff. click here

    ReplyDelete
  11. You have done a great job on this article. It’s very readable and highly intelligent. You have even managed to make it understandable and easy to read. You have some real writing talent. Thank you. 토토커뮤니티

    ReplyDelete
  12. You have done a great job on this article. It’s very readable and highly intelligent. You have even managed to make it understandable and easy to read. You have some real writing talent. Thank you. 토토사이트

    ReplyDelete
  13. You have a good point here!I totally agree with what you have said!!Thanks for sharing your views...hope more people will read this article!!! 토토사이트

    ReplyDelete
  14. This is the type of information I’ve long been trying to find. Thank you for writing this information. 릴게임

    ReplyDelete
  15. Keep up the good work , I read few posts on this web site and I conceive that your blog is very interesting and has sets of fantastic information. 먹튀검증커뮤니티

    ReplyDelete
  16. Great post, you have pointed out some fantastic points , I likewise think this s a very wonderful website. buy youtube views high retention

    ReplyDelete
  17. Good website! I truly love how it is easy on my eyes it is. I am wondering how I might be notified whenever a new post has been made. I have subscribed to your RSS which may do the trick? Have a great day! pii-email

    ReplyDelete
  18. Great post, you have pointed out some fantastic points , I likewise think this s a very wonderful website. 먹튀검증

    ReplyDelete
  19. Positive site, where did u come up with the information on this posting? I'm pleased I discovered it though, ill be checking back soon to find out what additional posts you include. 88카

    ReplyDelete
  20. Nice post. I was checking constantly this blog and I’m impressed! Extremely useful info specially the last part I care for such information a lot. I was seeking this certain info for a long time. Thank you and good luck. joker123

    ReplyDelete
  21. This is actually the kind of information I have been trying to find. Thank you for writing this information. 먹튀검증

    ReplyDelete
  22. You have a good point here!I totally agree with what you have said!!Thanks for sharing your views...hope more people will read this article!!! kissanime

    ReplyDelete
  23. Thanks for this great post, i find it very interesting and very well thought out and put together. I look forward to reading your work in the future. Jeannie Gaffigan

    ReplyDelete
  24. I’ve been surfing online more than 5 hours today, yet I never found any interesting article like yours without a doubt. It’s pretty worth enough for me. Thanks... 파워볼사이트

    ReplyDelete
  25. Thank you because you have been willing to share information with us. we will always appreciate all you have done here because I know you are very concerned with our. 토토사이트

    ReplyDelete
  26. I have bookmarked your blog, the articles are way better than other similar blogs.. thanks for a great blog! 대전마사지

    ReplyDelete
  27. Before clicking at the "Submit Order" button, it's miles essential that consumers specify the variety of merchandise they need, in addition to the colours and sizes.Shipping from China to Usa

    ReplyDelete
  28. Nice knowledge gaining article. This post is really the best on this valuable topic. ฉีดใต้ตา

    ReplyDelete
  29. At Inovi, we’re committed to achieving the highest success rates while providing personalized care to our patients. Our Houston location offers expert care and is home to our state-of-the-art embryology lab. go right here

    ReplyDelete
  30. Merely a smiling visitant here to share the love (:, btw outstanding style. 토토사이트

    ReplyDelete
  31. i read a lot of stuff and i found that the way of writing to clearifing that exactly want to say was very good so i am impressed and ilike to come again in future.. 먹튀폴리스

    ReplyDelete
  32. This blog is so nice to me. I will keep on coming here again and again. Visit my link as well.. 토토커뮤니티

    ReplyDelete
  33. I read a article under the same title some time ago, but this articles quality is much, much better. How you do this.. 먹튀폴리스

    ReplyDelete
  34. This content is written very well. Your use of formatting when making your points makes your observations very clear and easy to understand. Thank you. 대전건마

    ReplyDelete
  35. Thank you because you have been willing to share information with us. we will always appreciate all you have done here because I know you are very concerned with our. https://sites.google.com/view/buy-twitch-followers/

    ReplyDelete
  36. 바카라사이트
    This is my website and it has been very helpful. How did you come up with this brilliant idea? Positive site, where did u come up with the information on this posting?I have read a few of the articles on your website now, and I really like your style. Thanks a million and please keep up the effective work. Please visit my website and give your opinion.

    ReplyDelete
  37. Instagram is one of the largest social networking platforms, with billions of users since at least a decade ago. Buy Instagram views has become a widely used platform where people can post pictures and videos with just a few clicks and share them with others. Buy instagram followers

    ReplyDelete
  38. I am happy to find this post very useful for me, as it contains lot of information. I always prefer to read the quality content and this thing I found in you post. Thanks for sharing. https://westasianetwork.com/ashford-formula-middle-east.php

    ReplyDelete
  39. This is my first time i visit here. I found so many interesting stuff in your blog especially its discussion. From the tons of comments on your articles, I guess I am not the only one having all the enjoyment here keep up the good work https://westasianetwork.com/ashford-formula-distributor.php

    ReplyDelete
  40. If you are looking for more information about flat rate locksmith Las Vegas check that right away. passive income

    ReplyDelete
  41. I can give you the address Here you will learn how to do it correctly. Read and write something good. 토토사이트

    ReplyDelete
  42. Very good written article. It will be supportive to anyone who utilizes it, including me. Keep doing what you are doing – can’r wait to read more posts. 토토사이트 인디벳

    ReplyDelete
  43. Great web site. A lot of useful information here. I’m sending it to several friends ans also sharing in delicious. And obviously, thanks in your effort! 야설
    Feel free to visit my blog :
    야설

    ReplyDelete
  44. Very good information. Lucky me I recently found your website by accident I have book marked it for later!
    일본야동
    Feel free to visit my blog : 일본야동

    ReplyDelete
  45. This blog is very informative the stuff you provide I really enjoyed reading 국산야동
    Feel free to visit my blog : 국산야동

    ReplyDelete
  46. I am very happy to discover your post as it will become on top in my collection of favorite blogs 일본야동
    Feel free to visit my blog : e 일본야동

    ReplyDelete
  47. I have read your blog it is very helpful for me. I want to say thanks to you. I have bookmark your site for future updates.
    야설
    Feel free to visit my blog : 야설

    ReplyDelete
  48. Awesome and interesting article. Great things you've always shared with us. Thanks. Just continue composing this kind of post. private investigators in madrid

    ReplyDelete
  49. Thanks for taking the time to discuss this, I feel strongly about it and love learning more on this topic. 토토사이트

    ReplyDelete
  50. The way you write, you are really a professional blogger. YesMovies

    ReplyDelete
  51. I have a hard time describing my thoughts on content, but I really felt I should here. Your article is really great. I like the way you wrote this information. 꽁머니

    ReplyDelete
  52. Very useful post. This is my first time i visit here. I found so many interesting stuff in your blog especially its discussion. Really its great article. Keep it up.  writing a business plan tips

    ReplyDelete
  53. I gotta favorite this website it seems very helpful . 토토사이트

    ReplyDelete
  54. Great post, you have pointed out some fantastic points , I likewise think this s a very wonderful website. IBCBET

    ReplyDelete
  55. Thanks for sharing nice information with us. i like your post and all you share with us is uptodate and quite informative, i would like to bookmark the page so i can come here again to read you, as you have done a wonderful job. 꽁머니

    ReplyDelete
  56. Thanks For sharing this Superb article.I use this Article to show my assignment in college.it is useful For me Great Work. Handyman Watford

    ReplyDelete