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!


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