Warren McConnaughieKieron GribbonSally Thomas
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Welcome to our cycling Blog. Whether you are a cycling enthusiast or complete beginner, looking for ideas for the family or planning trips with friends this blog will aim to provide you with up-to-date, relevant information on cycling in Northern Ireland. CycleNI.com staff will be keeping you in touch with local events and new routes whilst industry experts will be revealing their secrets on everything from bicycle maintenance to hidden gems for cyclists of all abilities to explore.

For your definitive guide to cycling in Northern Ireland visit www.cycleni.com

Dan Wolfe at Castlewellan Mountain Bike Trails

Posted on June 28, 2019 @ 11:51 AM in CyclingMountainbiking

In our new #TipsFromAPro series, Dan Wolfe takes us through the fundamentals of mountain biking we can all improve on.

In our second #TipsFromAPro video, Dan Wolfe takes us through tips we can follow to improve our results when riding at an Enduro level, be it local or on the biggest mountain bike series in the world.


Dominic Lyttle
Dominic Lyttle  Assistant Marketing Officer

Dominic has recently joined the ORNI team following completion of a MSc in Marketing from Queen’s University Belfast.

In his spare time, Dominic enjoys trekking, travelling to new and exciting places, and playing basketball, alongside drinking far too much coffee!

An Incredible Fundraising Story from This Year's Giant's Causeway Coast Sportive

Posted on June 14, 2019 @ 11:16 AM in AdventureCycling

We caught up with Kathy, who contacted us at the Giant's Causeway Coast Sportive with the incredible story of seven friends who are raising money for a very special cause.

 

Hi Kathy, thanks for speaking with us today. You and your 6 friends have been doing some fundraising this year – can you tell us more about that and why you decided to take part in the Giant’s Causeway Coast Sportive?

We are all school mums who met a few years ago and someone suggested we start a Book Club. So we did, meeting every Wednesday morning in Ballyhackamore, East Belfast. Occasionally we would share a book but mostly it’s just coffee & sharing chat. At one of these mornings we learned the devastating news that Julie was ill. She elected to go to the Christie in Manchester for treatment, and they really provided light at the end of a very dark tunnel.

We continued to meet every Wednesday, sharing a lot of laughter and a lot of tears too. However, after gruelling chemotherapy treatments and, despite her iron will she was not able to pull through and very sadly passed away in February this year. The Book Club girls were looking for a way to honour her memory and raise funds for the Christie so we decided to sign up to the Sportive 2019. Julie loved spending time on the North Coast so this challenge felt just right.




That’s incredibly sad to hear Kathy – your fundraising really is incredible and it’s such an amazing thing to do! Is there somewhere we can find out more about this and donate to your cause?

Our Just Giving is https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/ForJulieMcKH?sfns=mo Here you can read our back story to this fundraising effort and donate.

 

Thanks Kathy, we’ll be sure to check it out! Have any of your group ever taken part in the Sportive before?

Two of us (Kathy & Poppy) completed the 35 mile route in 2017 & 2018 and have signed up to the new 60mile route. Jennie, Mary, Maxine & Suzanne (Julie’s eldest Daughter) are novice cyclists and have signed up for 35 miles. We also have Cheryl and Lynda, the support team providing cheers and jelly beans along the way!

 

It’s great to see you come back and also to welcome your friends for the first time – I’m sure they’ll have a fantastic experience. What are you looking forward to most on the day?

We’re looking forward to the beautiful route along the Coast Road past Ballintoy, Whitepark Bay and on past the Bushmills Distillery. We must remember to smile at the camera in the Dark Hedges! 

We chose this Sportive as it is safe, well organised and marshalled, it’s all-inclusive and open to all abilities. This is not a race for us, and we’ll be enjoying every moment taking in all the sights and sounds. The camaraderie and support from the more professional cyclists was much appreciated and I hope we’ll be supported again.

 

That’s what it’s all about – enjoying the amazing scenery and having fun with the other cyclists. What made you take the jump up to the 60 mile route after having previously ridden the 35?

We decided to take on the 60 mile route as a new challenge, a step into the unknown! We have been training most weekends for the past few months and just hope we’ve done enough!

Hopefully all of your training pays off! Finally I have to ask – are you going to tackle Torr Head!?

Torr Head you ask? Never say never!

 

Maybe you’ll be persuaded on the day! Thanks very much for sharing your story with us Kathy :) We'll see you on the 22nd!

 

Julie's Crew (L-R): Mary, Maxine, Poppy, Cheryl, Suzanne, Jennie, Kathy

Keep an eye out for Kathy and her friends on the day – they’ll be wearing special t-shirts made for the day with their friend Julie’s photograph on the back. To find out more information about their fundraising and donate to their cause visit https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/ForJulieMcKH?sfns=mo 

Dominic Lyttle
Dominic Lyttle  Assistant Marketing Officer

Dominic has recently joined the ORNI team following completion of a MSc in Marketing from Queen’s University Belfast.

In his spare time, Dominic enjoys trekking, travelling to new and exciting places, and playing basketball, alongside drinking far too much coffee!

Training Advice from Cycling Expert Dig Deep Coaching

Posted on May 31, 2019 @ 6:09 PM in AdventureCycling

With only three weeks to go until the big day, your training will really be paying off now. In this month’s blog, Dig Deep Coaching training expert Stephen has responded to some of the questions you’ve been sending in. Better still, he recorded a live video detailing everything you need to know about training for the Sportive. You can still purchase Dig Deep’s training plans here: bit.ly/SportiveTrainingPlans

 

In Stephen’s live video he talks through a whole range of subjects including training, nutrition and equipment, and much more! Check out the live video on our Facebook page now!

 

Coming from a different sport:

If you go to the gym 2-3 times a week or go out running 2-3 times week, now is the time to really start focusing more on getting out cycling.

 

Do you need a specific bike to take part in the Giant's Causeway Coast Sportive?
Nope! Participants can take part on a normal road bike, mountain bike, fat bike, E-bike, Mary Poppins bike - any bike you'd like!

 

How far on a cycling training programme should I be doing to get up to distance for the day? I’m signed up for the 85 mile/100km route and it’s my first time doing this type of cycling.

I would suggest that you are completing 60-70mile training rides without too much fatigue in the 4-5 weeks prior to the event. If you can be at this level then I would have confidence you can complete the 85mile route on the day.

 

The 115 miles, is it a tough course? It’s my first time doing this one!

The course is hard but so is the amount of time you will spend in the saddle. The biggest factors doing this distance is the terrain and how you hydrate and refuel. Make sure you keep energy levels topped up so you can tackle Torr Head at the end the best way possible.

 

Anything that would help with hill climbing would be greatly appreciated. I will always make it to the top but just so much slower than everyone else. I would be strong on the flat.

Climbing is all about general fitness and technique, to improve in both of these areas I would advise riding hills as much as possible in training. Not only to improve fitness but confidence. Look at increasing your cadence on climbs, get used to riding at a good rhythm and set out your own pace and don’t get too concerned about others, ride to your own limit and not others, as this will see your legs fall off later in the ride.

 

Any good advice for stretching? Pre or post ride?

I am a big believer in foam rollers, these are really good to help get the body ready for a long day in the saddle and help loosen out the muscles post ride. 15-20min a day on this will make a big difference.

 

Is the 35 mile route really hilly, and would I need to get loads of practise in?

The 35 mile route isn’t very hilly but there are a few reasonably tough climbs, the most notable being on the road after Bushmills. This Garmin link has the elevation chart on it: https://connect.garmin.com/modern/course/14818557

For the 35 mile, we would suggest doing 10-15 miles pretty consistently over the last few months and that you attempt at least one ride of around 20 miles prior to the start of the event to make sure you're comfortable with that distance. If you are within this range, then you should be fine to complete the 35mile route. The more training you can do, the better it will be on the day. Also, it depends if you do any other sports.

The two most important things to keep in mind for the last three weeks before the event are:

  • Stay healthy, including staying hydrated and eating healthily
  • Stay injury free

 

Try to strike a balance with your training so you’re not training too much or too little so as not to derail all the hard work you’ve put in.

 

To keep up with all things Giant’s Causeway Coast Sportive, follow us on Facebook and Instagram.

 

Dominic Lyttle
Dominic Lyttle  Assistant Marketing Officer

Dominic has recently joined the ORNI team following completion of a MSc in Marketing from Queen’s University Belfast.

In his spare time, Dominic enjoys trekking, travelling to new and exciting places, and playing basketball, alongside drinking far too much coffee!

A Day at the Giant’s Causeway Coast Sportive

Posted on April 25, 2019 @ 9:58 AM in Cycling

Is this your first time signing up for the Giant’s Causeway Coast Sportive? Are you wondering what a typical day at Ireland’s most scenic sportive looks like? Read on as we take you through what to expect on the day when cycling the 115-mile route.

 

6:20am: Bleary-eyed, we reach for the alarm just as it goes off and hit snooze. 5 more minutes.

6:25am: Must get up, must get up. This will likely be your second most challenging task today – but you can do it! Summoning enough willpower to get out of bed, we stagger to the shower, quickly get changed into our best cycling kit before fuelling up with a big breakfast for the day ahead.

 

7am: We set off for Event HQ at Páirc Mac Uílín GAA Pitch from our accommodation for the weekend, An Caisleán (there are a number of accommodation providers which you can find here). It only takes 5 minutes from the centre of Ballycastle to reach Event HQ. By this time, there’s already marshals on hand at Event HQ to help us find a good parking space. The familiar buzz of preparing for a big event finally overtakes the desire to go back to bed. Let’s do this!

 

7:05am: In the clubhouse, there are big sheets with the 1000+ participant names laid out alphabetically, so it’s easy to find your name. We quickly sign on and scope out the new jerseys for this year’s sportive.

7:10am: At Event HQ, there’s also a big board showing all 4 routes: 30 | 60 | 85 | 115 miles, and where the famous 4 feed stations are. There’s time for a chat now with the other participants:

‘Which route are you trying?’

‘Are you doing Torr Head?’

‘What was the highlight last year?’

The atmosphere is growing and the craic is one of the best parts of the day.

 

7:35am: We have time to squeeze in a last-minute pre-ride banana and double check the bike is in perfect condition with the Decathlon mechanical support team.

 

7:45am: Marshalls call our wave together – it’s finally time to head out on the 115-mile route of Ireland’s most scenic sportive!

8:30am: Pit-stop for a selfie along the Causeway Coast road – blue as far as the eye can see.

10:00am: We arrive at the first feed station at Ballinlea Road. It’s great to be able to catch a breather and see if these feed stations are worthy of all the praise you’ve heard. They are. Optionable: eat own bodyweight in jellybeans. 3 cups of tea later it’s time to head back out.

 

11am: Flash a sweet dab in Game of Thrones territory at the Dark Hedges for one of the official event photographs. Say ‘Winter is Coming!’.  

 

2.30pm: A final stop at the 4th and final feed station of the day in Cushendun. This is right before Torr Head, and the nervous excitement is palpable – should we tackle Torr Head or opt for the bypass? We can hear our stomachs rumbling at this point so it’s good to stock up on fruit and biscuits before drinking our 76th cup of tea for the day.

 

2.40pm: Torr Head it is! Our legs are definitely feeling the burn, but the views are worth it. Also the marshalls at the junction gave us an amazing 15 second pep talk as we approached. This also means we get to take part in the KOM/QOM segment, a 1.2 mile stretch on Torr Head where the fastest man and woman wins King and Queen of the Mountain. To enter, we simply join the Giant’s Causeway Coast Sportive on Strava and upload our times.  

4.30pm: With a final push, we cross the finish line. We’re back where we started at Event HQ, legs heavy with exhaustion but thrilled we finished the route. There’re loads of spectators around now, adding to the atmosphere. We collect our medal and freebie and opt for a quick rub down from one of the physios. Picture time! Then it’s off for a well-deserved hot meal inside and shower.

 

8.30pm: Time for the After-Party in O’Connor’s in Ballycastle – we’ve never looked forward to a drink so much in our lives! Highlights play on the walls as we over in intricate detail the ups and downs of one of the best days we’ve ever had out in the saddle. Cheers!

 

Dominic Lyttle
Dominic Lyttle  Assistant Marketing Officer

Dominic has recently joined the ORNI team following completion of a MSc in Marketing from Queen’s University Belfast.

In his spare time, Dominic enjoys trekking, travelling to new and exciting places, and playing basketball, alongside drinking far too much coffee!

Meet the Team Behind the Giant's Causeway Coast Sportive

Posted on March 22, 2019 @ 5:24 PM in Cycling

It can be easy to assume that cycling events such as the Giant's Causeway Coast Sportive just come together themselves. In actual fact, our small team works hard for months in advance - so we thought we'd introduce ourselves!

 

Beverely Magowan

Beverley is the Commander-in-Chief of the Sportive. A founder of the event, it has been her baby since it began in 2011. Everything from the number of toilets rolls, to the number of exclamation marks in a Facebook post right down to the mechanical expertise for bikers, you can trust her to know inside out. An avid cyclist herself, it was also Beverley who created our brand new 60 mile route for this year’s event!

 

 

Sylvia Watson

Sylvia is one of the lesser known faces of the Sportive but she plays an integral role in its success. Coordinating feed stations, volunteers and staff rotas are all part of her task, not to mention ensuring our whole team is fed, watered and sheltered during our time in Ballycastle. You can usually find her at Feed Station 3 in Glenarm.

 

 

Aideen Exley

The voice behind the phone. Aideen is another founder of the Giant’s Causeway Coast Sportive and works hard behind the scenes ensuring our riders make it home safe and sound. Coordinating with the onsite paramedics and mechanical assistance crew, it’s Aideen you’ll speak to if you ever need to call the emergency number.

 

 

Jayne Woodrow

Probably the most recognisable member of our team! Jayne is often selling our jerseys, giving out medals and generally cheering participants on over the course of the weekend. She loves meeting as many people as possible at the Sportive, so if you see her at this year’s event be sure to come up and say hello!

 

 

Dominic Lyttle

Dominic is our marketing guru for the Sportive. All the Facebook posts, Instagram stories (yes, we’re on Instagram now!) and other adverts you see peppered across the interwebs in the months leading up to the event are down to him.

 

 

Diane Crookes

There are a whole squad of other helpers at our Event HQ and feed stations. Diane is one of those, and likely to be among the most familiar having helped out at the Sportive since it started. Usually to be found at Feed Station 3, she (and all our team) are there to support you as the legs start getting tired.

 

 

Robert Downes

Robert is Chairman of the Causeway Cycle Club and a long time supporter of the Giant’s Causeway Coast Sportive. We work closely with Robert and the club every year to ensure all eventualities are prepared for. Causeway CC provide many of the marshals and motorcycle marshals for the sportive. Robert is happiest when at the intersection of Torr Head, driving riders to take on the epic challenge.

 

If you'd like to join us all for Ireland's most scenic sportive on Saturday 22nd June, visit the Giant's Causeway Coast Sportive website and sign up now!

Ethan Loughrey
Ethan Loughrey  Mountain Bike Officer

Hardest thing about Mountain Biking? Definitely the trees.

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