Sunday, 29 November 2015

The answer my friend, is blowing in the wind

"The answer my friend, is blowing in the wind". That was rough, properly rough. Five of us met up at Forestside and I gave out high fives just for getting that far, although standing there in the shelter you could've been forgiven for thinking the weather was fine. With the wind, no one was planning on a long one but we at least thought it couldn't get worse - it did....
The idea was to keep between the hedges and we ended up behind one to fix Sean's puncture. Remounted we bulldozed on, trying to zig-zag into the wind. When we got caught in a deluge between Temple and Saintfield the Big Lad turned for home while the rest of us gunned it to get warm and try to outrun the storm.

By Saintfield the rain was somewhere over Bangor (the wind was that strong) as we turned back into it. At one point we had possibly the worst wind/rain I've ever experienced on a bike (the day we considered leaving two riders to die up a mountain in Gran Canaria still counts as worst overall weather - you know who you are). The rain/hail was hitting that hard it cut my lip. Looking ahead was almost impossible and "log left" was the day's most common shout.
More back roads for safety, soon brought us back to Carryduff and relative safety, although I did come close to ditching in a hedge a couple of times. Respect to the brave and foolish. Quote of the day goes to Sean for "I hate myself, but I hate you more". Sure aren't you glad you did it?!‪#‎rule9‬ ‪#‎badass‬

Saturday, 28 November 2015

Glory Days

As Retro and Bruce Springsteen have been known to say, "Glory days, pass you by in the blink of a young girls eye". Today we took a wet and windy trip down memory lane to some of the race circuits Castlereagh used to use for club races in our glory days, which we're hoping to use again soon. The side benefit was it kept us close to home.
Comrade, M. Poulet and me decided to aim for about 2 hours with no stop and a few hard efforts. We headed out past Purdysburn and up to the Mealough Road Race circuit. 2 1/2 laps was enough to teach the guys the layout and show them how the wind can change the tactics. Next came the Temple TT circuit, but only after Comrade brought up his breakfast - fair play for not turning home.
By the time we'd done that we decided it was time for home, with one final lash up the hill to Carryduff. Tough, but good work by everyone. If it's too wet and cold for a long ride, may as well make it short and hard.

Thursday, 26 November 2015

The Wookie Speaks

The Wookie speaks (and he's picking up country lingo....).
"Tempo Thursdays" (or CCCTTT, as Darragh has christened it!) Is done and dusted for this week. The weather was fierce mild - not too cold, roads surprisingly dry and the wind not too biting.

Five of us made it out; myself, Sean, Darragh, Derek and Sam. The first lap of the airport road through holywood exchange wasn't too brisk, and we got to work on smoothing out our rotating pace line, with pleasing results.

Loverboy had to disappear after the first lap, so the fantastic four stayed behind and slogged through another lap into the growing wind, this time picking up the pace and taking regular turns in single file.
With a very sneaky last minute change in rules (on my part) the final sprint started from dee street roundabout, finishing at the TQ lights. I went early but didn't have the legs, and it was strongman Sean who sailed past me to take the win. Valiant efforts from all!

Taking a moment to compose ourselves, and while comrade waxed lyrical about the moon, we discussed the night's events. All of us are keen to keep it a regular fixture, and keep working on its current format of drills, with an effort towards the end. I'll be away next week, but hope to see more of you at CCCTTT soon!

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Turn on the Lites

"Turn on the Lites!" 
Cold and dry was the forecast...with the exception of a very brief shower, it held true. Five riders, wrapped up tightly in bioracer's finest, huddled together at forestside looking for some lite action; myself, Derek, Joe, Sam and Mark. With heavyweights Digger and Berg also in the mix, it was decided to stick together, but keep the pace comfortable for all. Cruising over the rolling hills along the Killynure road, we arrived in Saintfield in record time. Straight through and on towards Balloo, the hills got a little meaner, but it was a chance for Digger and Bullet to stretch the legs out, punishing themselves on the hills but waiting to regroup at the top every time. 

The heavyweights opted for an extra loop and Bullet headed home early while the rest of us fought for bike parking space at Daft Eddies. There, it was with glee that we realised Castlereagh 's long term goal of world domination is well underway; a Kaners rider was sporting a castlereagh/tour of the glens cap!

Refreshed, we RV'd with the heavyweights and headed back towards Comber, encountering Neil "el pistolero" Smith on the way. Derek and I took a brief detour to test our legs on Bradshaw 's Brae, but met up with the others again at Ormeau park to cheer on Hannibal as he tackled the extremely technical CX race route and finished high up in the pack. Congrats!

All in all, a great day out. There will be another lites run next Sunday, and we hope to have a few more along.

Saturday, 21 November 2015

A Seaside Adventure

Arrrggghhhhhh it was a fine day for a seaside adventure, but shiver me timbers it was cold. Four salty sea dogs hoisted the main sail and headed out this morning, but sleet in Ards brought out Stephens sensible head and he walked the plank, leaving First Mate Digger, Captain Ice-Berg and Cabin Boy Skull & Cross-Bones to head on.

We were soon soaking and cold and any thought of setting anchor at a coffee stop went out the porthole. My ad hoc route was probably a bit far for Bones given the weather, but he suffered like a good pirate and once his fingers grow back I'm sure he'll raise one or two to me to show his appreciation.

One of those rides you enjoy more looking back on, than at the time, but sure if you don't wanna suffer, you can always take up golf.


Sunday, 15 November 2015

The Smiles In The Photos Say It All

 The smiles in the photos, say it all. The forecast last week for Sunday was shocking, but the view from my kitchen morning was damp roads but no rain. It did catch up with us at one o'clock but we were well warmed up by then and it didn't last long. The temperature was high anyway, with most of us stopping after 5 miles to strip - not quite the full monty....

Martin was the only rider for a Lite run, but was happy to head out together and turn off. We reciprocated and kept the route reasonably level and the pace calm into a west wind. We seem to have a habit of heading towards the cross races without actually getting to the event - we're generally too early. This time we dropped Martin off in Moira and headed on to Lurgan. Out past Oxford Island and a loop up to Derrytrasna. The point was just to explore some new roads and get a few more miles in before coffee. A few of those miles were done at pace to make sure everyone deserved their grub back at Oxford Island.

We decided on a pretty straight hit home, but me being me we used back roads and threw in a few variations which as planned got us back in good time.

68 miles without getting cold is a cracking result for a day other people might have spent in bed. Mark surpassed himself and got really stuck in. A couple of short sessions (which I spent mostly on Jeff's wheel) also made sure everyone got a bit of quality as well as quantity. It really doesn't take much to make us smile....

Saturday, 14 November 2015

Rule #80


After some Rule #80 "casually deliberate" lounging, the first official ride from our new meeting spot at Forestside set out under dark skies, but that didn't dampen the spirits. Whether you subscribe to Rule #9 or not, winter riding is good for the soul. Fair play to Derek for offering to take a Lite option, but unfortunately there were no takers this time - build it and they will come.

Saturday's are perfect for mixing it up and taking the road less travelled. On that vein we wiggled over to Drumbo and out towards Hillsborough. The hills were tough, but meant we had our work in the bank. Pretty early on, we agreed to forgo a coffee stop and just aim for 3 hours non-stop. With a mixture of regular and new roads we ended up on the Dromore-Ballynahinch road just as the weather worsened.

A puncture for Scotty took a while to sort meaning the Wookie was shivering despite his hairy ass. We tried to get warm and set a direct course for Ballynahinch and home. Apologies for the poor photography, but given the conditions. Anyway we made it home with about 65k on the clock which isn't as much as usual, but is a lot more than you'd get on the sofa. Fingers crossed for more fun tomorrow.

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Surprise Surprise, Ballymena

Amazing weather with barely a breeze (unless you're on top of the Antrim Plateau). Surprise surprise when I asked Retro where he wanted to go, he called Ballymena. Paul suggested a return trip through Doagh and Tildarg to The Battery. Derek chipped in that the Antrim Rd had road works both ways. So as we rolled in to town I put all those in the cement mixer that is my mind, and out popped a trip up the Doagh Rd, out towards Ballynure, through Ballyclare, Ballyeaston and up to Shane's Hill.
From there we split, with four riders going over the top of Shane's Hill for coffee at the battery and over Big Collin home (I was impressed with the right turn down through Burnside and then the right off the Longshot - back roads = cool).

The remaining three musketeers descended Shane's Hill towards Larne, then sharp left on to Starbog Road, a hidden gem if you've brought your climbing legs. The views were stunning and from the top we explored a few more unnamed lumps before a five mile session into Broughshane. Our eyes hadn't deceived us a few weeks ago, there is a coffee shop in Broughshane, open on a Sunday, serving great value pancakes and flat whites - we will be back!
After a discussion of the Flower Pot Men and the Soup Dragon, we saddled up again and tried out Woodside Road - on a beautiful autumn day it was a classic. That took us back to the Battery and we pointed for home over Big Collin and through Ballyrobert. We don't know what it is about Retro and the Antrim Road (maybe memories of convent girls), but each red light became an excuse to practice our team pursuit start -and we got plenty of practice.

Good fun, brilliant weather and some bonus climbing - it's the only way to get better at it!