Antrim Lions Robbo & Bingers Ride Roughshod as Robinson Services Team at Gran Fondo Northern Ireland 2017

It was all Blood, Sweat and Gears as Antrim Lions David Robinson pedalled the metal on the Grand Fondo 2017 with Personal Trainer David Bingham through stunning Northern Ireland countryside.The 174km course passed over mountains and hills steeped in Irish history with the opportunity to view the beauty of the country from the highest mountain peaks to the Loughs and sea.

The ‘Davids‘ started at the iconic seat of the Northern Ireland Assembly at Stormont where June and Gillian waved them off amidst tears and they quickly left the city on the rolling and twisting roads of County Down towards mountain roads that greeted them after 42km

But disaster struck Robbo after almost 40k with a gear cable malfunction which could not be repaired despite the best efforts of the crew and support team ..sadly Robbo’s day of destiny had reached an end !

It was therefore all up to Bingers to bring home the bacon but was he up to the challenge ..only time and his supply of Mars bars and Gregg’s pasties and sausage rolls would tell !

First up was the steep Monte Dree Hill which has the ancient Slieve Croob as a backdrop. This is a designated area of natural beauty with the source of the River Lagan starting as a stream from the top of this mountain and running all the way to Belfast Lough.. After refuelling it was onto the country lanes and smooth twisting roads descending off his first climb Bingers began his passage through towns and villages such as the hilltop towns of Rathfriland and Hilltown as they headed closer to the biggest mountain range in Northern Ireland, the Mourne Mountains as they sweep down to the sea !

More refuelling and then it was a ride up the gradual climb of Monte Leitrim Hills with Carlingford Lough in the background with its high mountain slopes surrounding this exceptional sea inlet.

 

Once over Monte Leitrim Bingers rode further into the Mourne Mountains where he reached the foot of the jewel of the Gran Fondo Northern Ireland, the climb of Monte Spelga Dam The steep switchbacks and the high peaks greeted his entrance to this climb which saw him hit the “roof” of the Gran Fondo with the highest elevation for the route at its peak.

Another refuelling stop with views across Co. Down to Co. Armagh were both breathtaking and spectacular with one of Northern Ireland’s largest reservoirs in sight once he hit the top of the mountain. His mind was playing tricks on him and his legs were tired but he stayed in the Mourne Mountains as he descended rapidly alongside Tollymore Forest Parkand into the village of Bryansford before starting the homeward trip and the last challenges that awaited him ..but the Gregg’s supplies were gone – he knew then he should have negotiated harder in that sponsorship deal !

He sped through Castlewellan with its wide main street which runs through two main squares lined with chestnut trees, the fast descent out of the town a nice reprieve before he began the last climb of the day to Monte Slieve Croob.

This long climb was food and drink to Bingers as he rapidly moved forward once again to a peak that will pass through the ancient hills. Folklore tells that 12 kings are buried at the top of the mountain. He was greeted at the top with views to Lough Neagh and many of Northern Ireland’s counties and towns.

Binger’s heart was pumping fast now as he imagined the two fish suppers June had promised them both from the Chip Stop in Parkgate( he could eat them both himself as Robbo would have had his dinner by now ) as his last leg home passed through Dromara and into Saintfield on rolling roads before the gradual descending through Moneyreagh and into the historical town of Comber. The final leg of his epic Gran Fondo provided him with stunning hilltop views of Stormont House as he began the homeward journey through Dundonald and back through the famous gates and onto Prince of Wales Avenue with just one last effort that saw him wobble across the finish line and securing that Gran Fondo medal.

What an achievement! Well done Bingers and better luck next year Robbo !