Sunday, 27 December 2015

Home for Christmas

I think rotund was the politest thought I had when I saw 1st Cat this morning, but despite the extra few pounds he still has a bit of power.... The weather as I left my house at altitude was perfect, but as I descended into the mirth the temperature plummeted.

At Forestside Digger, Retro, Hannibal, 1st Cat and Simon who's visiting from Edinburgh were waiting. With ice all around we headed up the Saintfield Road in to the fog, but by Cairnshill we'd emerged into sunshine. The ice hadn't melted, so we stuck to the main road all the way to Saintfield, where we picked up Catherine who hasn't been out with Castlereagh in about 15 years - another "home for Christmas" visitor.

We still weren't confident in the back roads, so onwards to Crossgar and Downpatrick alternating between sunshine and freezing fog. We reckoned salt air on the coast was our best bet, so kept our course due south to Killough. Round the coast soaking up the scenery via Ardglass, Ballyhornan and Kilief where 1st Cat reminded us why he's 1st Cat.

It turns out the Pantry is closing shortly but despite a limited menu we got enough in the tank to get us home. Just for the laugh I called a left up a climb and down into Raholp and then back up to Saul. From the Quoile Bridge over to Annacloy, Kilmore, Listooder and home - those roads never get any easier even when your nickname says they should.

Another lesson in why the route is never set in stone. Brilliant riding by our guest stars from Portovelo and Manchester Wheelers. Our visitor from London needs a bigger wardrobe - he barely fits in the current one.... Really good fun, with a lot of laughs.

Saturday, 26 December 2015

Bones and the Berg go Boxing

Bones and the Berg go Boxing.... Two of us had a morning pass for Boxing Day and fuelled by a weird mix of cabin fever, offset by Christmas Dinner lethargy, we put in a morning of hard efforts interspersed by cruising and talking nonsense (mostly me).

The start took us up the Ballygowan Road and we kept the hammer down all the way. From Ballygowan to Balloo was more leisurely, with the odd hit up the hills. Castle Espie offered up lovely scones and a short respite before we saddled up again and headed through Comber and up to Scrabo. A loop around and over Craigantlet to empty the tank, doing our best gorillas in the mist impersonation, before dropping down Ballyregan Road and home.

Enough to feel like training, but still good fun and home before the passes expired. I think Bones won this round on points although I landed the odd good shot.

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Four Hangovers and Partridge in a Peartree

"Four Hangovers and Partridge in a Peartree". While the youngsters slept off the night before, the men of maturity went for an immature spin to jog the hazy memory of Nu Dehli and The Perch. Lee was at Forestside to catch Mark roll up first, followed by Phillip, then the Ghost of too many Christmas's past. Hannibal and Digger rolled up last, looking so bad it made me feel good!
The wind didn't let us take it as easy as we'd like - it's bad when you're giving it full gas up the Saintfield road and barely hitting double figures - it's worse when those figures are in kph.... We reckoned we wouldn't get coffee til after 11, so the third most popular plan (after go home or sleep under a hedge) was to do a 90 min spin to Hillsborough. Man it was hard.

Bar Retro looked after us as always and we even got a belated text from Retro who'd missed the mothership. With a good feed and a strong tailwind we shot back towards Carryduff and home. Thanks to everyone for the company and the laughs. Merry Christmas!

Saturday, 19 December 2015

The Night Stage!

These are just of the prologue - fog at altitude (and good judgement) prevented further coverage of the mountain stage.... 

Big thanks to Steve for his organisational skills and to General Chaos for his work on the night. Thanks finally to all the members and friends of the club for a great year.

A report of today's run will follow - after I have a wee sleep.

The Day Stage

I'm not sure if my problem was over doing it on the bike Christmas decorations or over doing it at work and festivities this week - either way, when we took off hard I suffered. But like we've said before, if you aren't prepared to suffer, don't give it out and I've given it out plenty over the years.

Seven of us wiggled into the fierce wind, around the lanes are past Ballynahinch to Spa. We took a bit of a loop along back roads, then back through Spa for coffee at Hollys in Ballynahinch - great scones.
Another wiggle to get home via Saintfield. Day stage done, time for the night stage!

Sunday, 13 December 2015

The Iceman Cometh

"The Iceman Cometh" - the 500yd walk from my house to the nearest gritted road told me all I needed to know this morning (I'm nuts) - we were headed to the coast, sticking to main-ish roads especially on the way out. At Forestside we had a mixture of people who live low enough not to have seen the ice, and the idiots who saw it and ignored it.
Four of us rolled across the carriageway and out the main road to Ards. Retro was talking about a coffee stop in Greyabbey and we set that as our target - I should've smelt a rat, when his description didn't fit the ones I knew.... For Martin and David's sake we kept the pace steady, but when a North Down rider came past it was like a red rag to a Retro and before you knew it, three of us were banging through gulping down cold air. I was hugely impressed by Martin and David who hung on brilliantly.

At Greyabbey we pulled in so Retro could figure out he'd mixed up Greyabbey and Kircubbin.... We quickly came up with a plan that Retro and me would recreate the old days round to Kircubbin, while the others had coffee in The Villager.

Off the leash Retro hit it hard round to Katch 27 in Kircubbin, where we grabbed a quick cuppa. Back to Greyabbey where the guys raved about the bacon sarnies. Single file back to Ards, the up Bradshaws and home. About 75k in a bit under 3hrs, not bad considering the conditions.

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Cycling Ireland licence 2016

Cycling Ireland licences expire 31/12/15 and are now available to renew at

The renewal process is a bit of a faff, so I've shared what I learnt below - I didn't get any renewal notification so I'm guessing no one has yet.

What I learnt:
You choose a Competition; Leisure or Non-Cycling Licence.
If you choose Competition there's a drop down choice for Full Competition or Limited Competition (all types of race including club races, but not open road races) - a limited competition costs £53.
Once you renew, the club has to approve it, then you can pay.
When you go to pay its Paypal, but you don't have to have a Paypal account.
Once you're done you get an email and temporary licence.
Hope my pain helps someone...

Sunday, 6 December 2015

They're behind you

"They're behind you!" - almost every ride with Retro is a pantomime, so as a seasonal special we took him to the coffee stop that loved him so much, they named it after him. They even gave him a sandwich so big he had to ask for volunteers to finish it. To say thanks he unleashed some of his smoothest lines....
The day started with Derek calling by on his cross bike and Mike almost missing the bus being even later than me. No one had any big ambitions and with a strong WSW wind we reckoned we'd stick together. Using a mixture of less taken roads and a few regulars in reverse, we made our way out to Lisburn, Moira and on to Aghagallon. From the far side we swung back and through Magherlin to Orange Lane.
Digger and Scotty we're loving the climbs around Redhill, Mike and Lanterne maybe felt differently, but everyone was happy to get in to the warmth of Bar Retro. Refreshed we took a pretty direct route home. Great weather and some good efforts from the cast. Just what we needed after being blown around recently.