1st November 2005

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Former Northern Ireland road race and time trial champion Ray Brownfield has made a welcome return to competitive cycling in recent weeks and he was one of three North Down CC riders who took part in last Saturday’s round of the winter cyclo-cross programme at Banbridge. Irish champion Roger Aiken ( Banbridge CC ) has been unbeatable this year , having won his two previous races, but on Saturday he lost valuable time when he punctured. He took a wheel from another competitor and finished the race in third place but he was then disqualified for doing the wheel change outside the designated area. Brownfield was promoted to third place, a terrific performance in his first outing of the season. His clubmates at North Down are delighted to see Ray back in competition and they are hopeful that he will use the winter’s cyclo-cross as a foundation for a return to road racing next year.

Of the two other North Down riders, Michael Hamilton has plenty of experience to bring, having been a NICF cyclo-cross champion a few seasons ago, at a time in his racing career when he wore his club jersey, albeit a smaller one, to great success on the road as well as the grass. In the first race of the current season, held in Lurgan Park, Hamilton came ninth in a field of over 40 riders but his ambitions to improve on that took a knock last week when he punctured shortly after the start of the race.

The new man on the cyclo-cross scene this year is veteran Keith Millar who has decided to take on the challenge in a search for something different from the normal chain gang on the roads. At times during a cyclo-cross race the riders have to dismount and run, carrying the bikes over their shoulders, so Millar has been doing some road running to vary the training routine. He has found it a welcome change and has been pleased with his form, finishing all three races in the top half of the field and on two occasions he has been third in the veteran category.

The next race on the cyclo calendar is this Saturday when the Ballymena RC hosts a race at Sentry Hill; the race starts at 12 noon.

The remainder of North Down’s riders are now well into their winter training patterns and there are a number of training runs to suit all levels. The Saturday run from the clubrooms in Park Drive at 9am has grown in popularity and with decent weather the run has been recently attracting around 30 riders. The run now splits into two groups, one bunch doing the brisker 60 mile tour of the peninsula while a second group completes a shorter 40 mile circuit with a pleasant coffee stop at Hoops in Greyabbey. The shorter run is ideal for someone looking to get involved in group cycling for the first time but it also attracts the experienced road racers who, at this time of the year, are content to recover from a season’s racing with a less demanding, more sociable run.

There are also two runs every Sunday morning. A fairly long run at a decent pace sets out from the clubrooms at 9am and anyone interested in finding out more should contact Brian Marshall for details, or simply turn up at the clubrooms. At this time of the year expect a run of at least 60 miles. At 10 am on Sunday there is a shorter, slightly hilly run of 40 miles that stops halfway at Castle Espie for coffee.

During the week there are regular runs every Monday and Thursday morning, leaving the car wash opposite Bangor Fire Station on the Newtownards Road. The group consists mainly of retired men but it also attracts riders who work shifts or who are on holiday. The run covers about 50 miles, mostly on minor roads, with a tea stop in Ballywalter.

While most of the riders who participate in these runs are members of cycling clubs, they are open to anyone and new faces are always welcome.

North Down CC’s AGM will be held on Monday, December 5th, at 7.30pm in the clubrooms. Anyone wishing to present a Notice of Motion should submit it to Harry Adams by November 14th.

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