Five Go Riding the Ras
1500 kilometres. 300 gels. 100 water bottles. 80 massages. 25 kilos of bananas. 9 sponsors. 8 stages. 5 riders. 4 crashes. That is just a little of what it takes to become a Man of the Ras. This is no easy accolade, as four NDCC riders and one guest rider found out as they competed in the grueling An Post race that took them the length and breadth of Ireland. Dave Hamilton, Dave Watson, James Ambrose, Lewis Ferguson and Darnell Moore were representing County Down, a sub category of the main race. James Ambrose was riding his first Ras (pronounced ‘Ross’) and it was with a sense of trepidation and excitement that he and the other four riders headed South for the start on Sunday 22nd May.
After 25 minutes on Day One, Dave Watson had a crash and was forced to ride his spare bike but thankfully this was not an omen of things to come. James did a have a couple of contacts with tarmac and a parked van but always made it in before the time cut. Speed can be ferocious in the Ras, as Europe’s best gather for this eight-stage race, so to become isolated can spell a death knell as you will not make it over the line in time. The time cut is decided by a percentage of the stages winner’s time, so if you are unlucky to have a mechanical or are not feeling well, you still have to ride on the rivet to ensure you can start the next day.
The County Down team showed their class, consistently finishing high up the rankings, with Lewis Ferguson excelling himself by leading the A2 rider category from the start. At one point he had over four minutes on his nearest rival, and being ably supported by his team he held onto the lead until the finish at the Skerries on Sunday. Lewis’s background is in mountain biking and has represented NI, so with his base ability and his quiet but aggressive style of riding, he is a very deserved winner of the An Post Ras A2 category.
Of course, teamwork is what a big race like this is all about and with the riders all keeping a watchful eye on one another, to come fourth in the County Team category is a huge achievement and all at NDCC would like express our pride in having four out of the five lads as club mates.
Behind the scenes, there are a band of unsung heroes, without whom the riders would not have it ‘so easy’. Team Manager, Dave Watson Snr has worked tirelessly this year ferrying the riders from race to race but it was the best preparation for the Ras. Ensuring that the riders had all they needed before and after the race is a logistical nightmare but it was carried off with aplomb. Harry Adams ensured that weary legs were given good massages every day to flush the toxins out, whilst mechanic Declan McMackin, who is co-owner of The Bikehouse and one of the sponsors of the team, kept the bikes in perfect running order. Again the club would like to pay tribute to these three, who have given up their time to help out.
County Down Ten Mile TT – Warrenpoint-Newry-Warrenpoint
NDCC were well represented at the County Championships held on Saturday 28th May, in both the Mens and Ladies events. The course was the Warrenpoint to Newry dual carriageway, a relatively flat and fast course. Conditions were good, in that there were light winds and warm temperatures. TT specialist John Rafferty finished fastest of all the NDCC men with a blistering 21.16mins and was just outside a medal in the Vet category. Michael McMullan and Johnny Webb both had credible rides, finishing in the top 15, whilst Gillian Orr and Alison McMullan performed well, both of them just pushed out of the medal positions. Local man Ian Inglis showed everyone a clean pair of heels with an amazing ride of 20.34mins.
Reid & Black Kirkistown Criterium
Wednesday night is club night, and this week it was Round Two of the Reid & Black Kirkistown League. Such a difference in conditions from Round One, for once the wind was calm and the sun was warm. A great turnout of riders of all ages, from the U8s to the Over 50s but it was the main race, lasting 45 minutes that had the most riders. Each bunch, of which there are generally three, has to both catch the one in front and stay ahead of the one chasing them. Colm Watson, VC Glendale took the honours in a fast sprint from Mark Kane, Dave Kane Cycles. Johnny Webb was first NDCC rider.
1st Karl Rockett
2nd Matthew Knight
3rd Elliot Maitland
1st Reuben Maitland
2nd Oliver Duffield
3rd Luke Wilson
1st Daniel Cardy
2nd Ewan Ferguson
3rd Harry Lennie
1st Nathan Keown
2nd Patrick Watson
3rd Tristan Cameron
Main Race (NDCC members only)
1st Johnny Webb
2nd Matty Blayney
3rd Michael McMullan
Ladies (NDCC only)
1st Alison McMullan
2nd Maia Simmons
Northern Ireland Month of Cycling – Club Membership Offer
A little known fact is that June is deemed Northern Ireland Bike Month. There will be events held across the province, and our own borough council have set aside a week in June to promote cycling in the area. In recognition of this, NDCC will be offering free membership to every tenth applicant who wishes to join the club. What can NDCC offer, you may ask? One of the biggest clubs in the country, we have daily organised club rides aimed at all levels. Wednesday night is race/TT night if you are feeling competitive or if you are just starting out in cycling, we run novice rides during the week. Aside from this, our biggest sponsor, Chain Reaction Cycles regularly holds discount nights and we have a great deal on joining the new gym at Bangor Sportsplex. If that isn’t enough, there is the annual trip to Mallorca, social nights and much more. So don’t delay – head over to the NDCC website and sign up.
Bangor Coastal Challenge
With hundreds already signed up to ride this great charity event, if you haven’t entered, don’t worry there is still time. Again, just head over to the NDCC website and follow the link.