1 December 2009

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Having achieved record levels of membership in 2009, North Down Cycling Club is aiming to top that with an ambitious target of 150 members for 2010. Recruitment begins next week when the clubrooms in Park Drive will be open on two nights, Tuesday 8th and Thursday 10th December. Club registrar Florence Millar will be there from 7.30pm and new and existing members are advised to get down early.


Annual membership consists of two parts. Membership of the club as a cyclist costs £20 per year for an adult and only £10 for riders under 18. Non-cycling membership is only £5. Riders wishing to take part in competitive cycling, whether at club or open level, will also take out a licence issued by the sport’s governing body, Cycling Ireland. This licence is essential for competition and it provides the rider with third party insurance cover as well as limited personal accident cover. Racing licences begin at £58 for the whole year. This compares favourably with other sports such as rugby where an adult player can expect to pay £150 or more for the season.

Many riders do not take part in competitive events so there is a specially reduced Cycling Ireland membership of only £27 per year which offers the same insurance cover as that available to racing members. It is worth pointing out that the insurance cover is in force at all times, whether it be for a short cycle to the local shop or an organised training or touring run. As an inducement to cyclists who have never been a member of Cycling Ireland, the annual fee for 2010 is an incredible £9….yes, nine pounds for the whole year.


The club strongly recommends Cycling Ireland membership. Apart from the insurance cover the federation provides a wide range of services to clubs. For example North Down members have already benefited from training courses on child protection and coaching. Over the last two or three years North Down riders have represented Ulster and Irish teams in domestic and overseas races. These and other initiatives, such as support for disabled riders, cost money and, therefore, membership affiliation fees have become a major source of revenue.


At club level there have been a couple of recent initiatives which have been undertaken with an eye to the future. Seven club members completed a two-part First Aid course run by Ken Patterson of the British Red Cross. With large numbers of riders participating in training rides and racing on the Kirkistown circuit, it was considered wise to have a group of trained people who could offer initial help in the event of falls or crashes.


Cycling is increasing in popularity at an impressive rate as a form of transport as well as a recreational activity and there are several members at North Down who have achieved considerable weight loss while improving fitness levels. However, no-one can pretend that the roads are risk free so it is important that all riders develop skills that will maximise safety. This applies not only to young riders at primary school but adults who have returned to cycling after many years behind a steering wheel. North Down Cycling Club has always recognised its responsibility to promote safe cycling in the community; witness the successful Bike Skills event organised each year for local primary schools by Tom Henry. However, having identified a gap in the wider provision for cyclists and with the virtual demise of the old Cycling Proficiency Scheme, North Down’s Noel Boyce has taken the first steps towards setting up a programme to teach basic handling skills and roadcraft to new cyclists of all ages. Noel attended a training course, run by British Cycling in Manchester, that he hopes will lead to him, as an authorised instructor, being able to offer approved training to learner and returning cyclists. Plans are being drafted that will see Noel launch the first course next spring, with the primary schools likely to be the first beneficiaries.


The weekly power training sessions, First Aid training and the promotion of safe cycling will certainly do a lot to safeguard the physical welfare of club members but the newly formed Cultural Society is equally concerned to nurture the more cerebral and intellectual parts of the brain. To that end a self-improvement group planned a train journey to Belfast to visit the continental market this week. Assuming they adopt a sensible sampling policy towards the kangaroo burgers and German beers on offer, we hope to report on an interesting and incident free experience in this column next week.


Details of membership fees for 2010 and downloadable application forms, along with other club news, are available at www.northdowncc.com

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