Mickey ReganNathan KingerleeGail Martin
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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!

Instagram Inspiration - 10 'Must Explore' Walks This Summer

Posted on May 30, 2019 @ 10:01 AM in Walking

When it comes to thinking of where next to walk in Northern Ireland, Instagram is full of inspiration. We have pulled together our top 10 inspiring walks to discover this summer across Northern Ireland. From the rugged Causeway stones and city views to forests and summit selfies there is a walk to suit all. Detailed route descriptions and walker comments on each of these walks can be found on WalkNI.

Giant's Causeway

#GiantsCauseway

The rugged stones of the Giant's Causeway in Co. Antrim along the Causeway Coast way is a popular walk for tourists and locals alike.  Managed by the National Trust, photographers can often be seen at sunrise and sunset capturing the light dancing off the stones.

Mourne Mountains

#Mournes

One of our favourite pictures to see on #WalkNI are the 'summit selfies' that walkers take after a day exploring the Mourne Mountains in Co. Down. A popular retreat for keen walkers, the Mournes offer a range of peaks suitable for those starting out, right the way up to those with lots of experience on the more challenging peaks.  

Cuilcagh Boardwalk

#Cuilcagh

One of the most Instagrammed walks in Northern Ireland, the Cuilcagh Boardwalk in Co. Fermanagh is a must do walk for keen walkers this summer. Please note that no dogs are allowed on this trail due to the habitat you will be exploring via the Boardwalk. 

Cloughmore Stone

#CloughmoreStone

A little hill with big views, the Cloughmore Stone offers panoramic views over Carlingford Lough and the surrounding landscape. Declared a National Nature Reserve and more recently an Area of Special Scientific Interest, maximise the length of your visit by exploring the Cloughmore Stone via Fiddler's Green

Cave Hill

#CaveHill

If you are in search of spectacular city views look no further than Cave Hill Country Park, Co. Antrim. Just a stone's throw from Belfast city centre, this is a popular walk for visitors and locals alike. The views are spectacular at any time of day, however we have noticed the 'golden hour' at sunrise and sunset is a popular time of day for those in search of the perfect Instagram photo.

Scrabbo

#Scrabo

Located on the shores of Strangford Lough, The 2.3 miles Scrabo Hill Walk takes in the summit and the famous Scrabo tower built in 1857, one of Ireland's best known landmarks. The views over Strangford Lough and North Down are some of the finest in the country. The walk descends to a disused sandstone quarry before returning to the car park.

Gortin

#GortinGlens

A favourite walk amongst locals in Co. Tyrone, it isn't surprising that the walks in Gortin Glen Forest Park appear frequently on Instagram. There are a number of fantastic walks to enjoy within this forest park and more are being developed. We recommend following the Pollan Trail up the course of the Pollan Burn as it tumbles down the mountainside or the Ladies View Trail, which is ideal for those looking a more strenuous walk to superb views.

Giant's Lair

#GiantsLair

The Giant's Lair Walk in Slieve Gullion Co. Armagh brings a magical living storybook to life through a trail of intertwined fairy houses and arts features. A childhood land with dragons, giants and fairies inspired by legend and mythical folklore.

Carrick-A-Rede

#CarrickARede

Carrick-a-Rede famous for its rope bridge connecting the mainland to Carrick-a-Rede Island provides an exhilarating coastal cliff walk in Co. Antrim. Highlights of this walk include spectacular views of the rugged cliffs, Rathlin and a noisy seabird colony. Managed by the National Trust.

CS Lewis Square

#ConnswaterGreenway #CSLewisSquare

The Connswater Community Greenway provides two different routes along the Connswater, Loop and Knock River. This walk takes you through Belfast's own wildlife corridor so there is lots to see along the way. One of the highlights of this walk is C.S. Lewis Square where you can stop and explore the seven sculptures inspired by the characters from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

Don't forget to share pictures from your favourite walks with us on social media using #WalkNI.

Jayne Woodrow
Jayne Woodrow  Marketing Officer & Active Clubs Coordinator for Walking

Jayne joined the marketing team of Outdoor Recreation NI in March 2014. She oversees the marketing and communication on WalkNI, OutdoorNI and Walking in Your Community Project. Most recently she has been working with Parkrun Ireland & UK to introduce the 'Walk @ parkrun' initiative.

Get Involved in Watersports at Get Wet NI’s 2019 Taster Weekend

Posted on May 9, 2019 @ 2:53 PM in AdventureCanoeing

Make a splash and try something new this May as part of Get Wet NI 2019. Clubs from across Northern Ireland are offering watersport sessions for just £20 or less on Sat 11th & Sun 12th May. With no experience necessary and all of the equipment provided, there has never been a better time to get out on the water!

 

For the Adrenaline Junkies:

Learn to Waterski/Wakeboard With the Experts, Meteor Water Ski Club, Lough Henney, Bresagh Road, Sun 12th May, £15 for under-18’s & £20 for 18+

Come and try water skiing or wakeboarding in a safe and controlled environment!

Alive Surf School Surf Club, Alive Surf School, West Strand Beach Portrush, Sun 12th May, £10, annual membership for £60

Come for a taster surf session with award winning surf instructors in Portrush!

Kayak Marathon Race, Belfast Canoe Club, Lower River Bann at Portna Lock, Kilrea, Sun 12th May, £9

Compete with or watch the best racing canoeists in Ireland!

Day Out with the Family:

Give Rowing a GoPortavogie Coastal Rowing Club, Portavogie, Sat 11th May, £3

Have a splash on the water and try your hand at rowing on their St. Ayles Skiff boat on the sea. 

Community Currach Rowing on the River Lagan, Lagan CurrachsRiver Lagan, Stranmillis Mooring Dock, Governors Bridge, Belfast, Sat 11th & Sun 12th May, £5

Join the Lagan Currachs on their community built traditional currach and experience being part of a mixed age and abilities crew as they row the River Lagan.

Have a Go Rowing in KircubbinThe Black Neb Rowing Club, Lockview Rd Belfast, Sat 11th & Sun 12th May, Free

Experience the fun sport of community coastal rowing, in a traditional locally-built St Ayles Skiff boat.

Fun with Friends

Try Rowing with Lagan ScullersLagan Scullers, Lockview Rd Belfast, Sun 12th May, £5

Feel the sleek boat glide through the water underneath you and enjoy being part of a team learning new skills. See Belfast from the river!

St. Ayles Skiff Rowing for BeginnersKillyleagh Coastal Rowing Club, Killyneagh at the Netwalk, Sun 12th May, £2

Enjoy Strangford Lough from the water with Killyleagh Coastal Rowing Club.  

Have a Go Row Dundrum, Dundrum Coastal Rowing Club, Castlewellan Forest Park, Sat 11th & Sun 12th May, £3

A great way to have fun and keep fit. Get instruction on rowing from the current Skiffie World Champions and find out about the fun events and challenges you could be taking part in.

 

Push the Boat Out (Try Sailing):

Push the Boat Out: Try Sailing Taster DayCarrickfergus Sailing Club, Carrickfergus, Co. Antrim, Sat 11th May, Free 

A great opportunity to get out on the water for free and try your hand at sailing! 

Push the Boat Out: Sailing & Kayaking Taster Sessions for Adults And ChildrenCounty Antrim Yacht Club, Whitehead Promenade | Marine Parade, Whitehead, Sat 11th May, Free

Free taster-sessions give you the chance to experience crewing a sailing dinghy or taking a sit-on kayak out for a paddle. 

To check out more events taking place, and to keep updated throughout the summer check out GetWetNI.com and follow us on Facebook.

This campaign has been funded by Sport Northern Ireland, with support from the National Governing Bodies of watersports in Northern Ireland.

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!

Best Bluebell Walks In Northern Ireland

Posted on April 29, 2019 @ 11:07 AM in Walking

It’s that time of year when it’s all about the Bluebells! These pretty little flowers have started to make an appearance across Northern Ireland's countryside and forest floors. To help you discover new and exciting walks with some of the best bluebell displays check out a few of our favourite spots below.

Bluebells Northern Ireland

Castle Ward, Strangford, Co. Down
There are around 5 miles of bluebell trails waiting to be discovered in this stunning 820 acre demesne complete with 18th century mansion and over 13 miles of multi-use trail. 

Minnowburn and Giant’s Ring, Belfast, Co. Antrim
Wander through the woods in spring to see a haze of bluebells at this tranquil refuge next to the Lagan river.

Downhill Demesne, Castlerock, Co. Derry~Londonderry
A magnificent clifftop walk, affording rugged headland views across the North Coast. Discover Mussenden Temple and the striking 18th-century ruins of Downhill mansion. 

Scrabo Hill & Killynether Wood, Newtownards, Co. Down
Enjoy some of the best views over Strangford Lough and North Down from the iconic Scrabo Tower, one of Northern Ireland's best known landmarks built in 1857 before indulging in a woodland walk.   

Glenariff Forest Park, Co. Antrim 
Specular waterfalls, breath-taking glens and wild woodland scattered with bluebells await. 

Bluebells Northern Ireland

Clare Glen, Tandragee, Co. Armagh
A delightful walk along the banks of the River Cusher in County Armagh. Hazel is abundant, with oak, ash and wych elm over a stunning ground layer of wood anemone, wild garlic and bluebells as well as several different species of orchid.

Castle Coole, Co. Fermanagh
An 18th century mansion surrounded by ancient wood where you will be captivated by a carpet of native bluebells. 

Castlewellan Forest Park, Co. Down
One of Northern Ireland's most famous lakes, a stunning Victorian Castle, incredible panoramic views, scenic walking trails the forest park comes alive in Spring. 

Bluebells Northern Ireland

Murlough National Nature Reserve, Co. Down
Home to one of the most stunning beaches in County Down with paths running through the dunes and heathland you’ll witness carpets of wildflowers in spring.

Mount Stewart Newtownards, Co. Down
The mild climate around Mount Stewart with its recently restored neo-classical house allows a wide range of plants to grow, from the Mediterranean specimens to the bluebells which are the stars of the show in Spring.

If you spot Bluebells on your next walk make sure to send us your pictures using #WalkNI on Instagram, Facebook & Twitter.

Latest comment posted by Rosie Smyth on May 1, 2019 @ 6:01 PM

Portglenone forest is bluebell stunning Read more >

Jayne Woodrow
Jayne Woodrow  Marketing Officer & Active Clubs Coordinator for Walking

Jayne joined the marketing team of Outdoor Recreation NI in March 2014. She oversees the marketing and communication on WalkNI, OutdoorNI and Walking in Your Community Project. Most recently she has been working with Parkrun Ireland & UK to introduce the 'Walk @ parkrun' initiative.

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!

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