BROWNFIELD REGAINS FORM IN IRISH CHAMPIONSHIP RACE
After a disappointing fourth place in the Ulster cyclo-cross championship in early December, North Down Cycling Club’s Ray Brownfield returned to form at last Sunday’s Irish championship race at Lurgan Park. In a race that was dominated once again by Robin Seymour (Team WORC), who took his 17th national title, Brownfield rode a strong and well calculated race to finish 6th overall. More satisfying was the fact that he was the second Ulster rider over the line, a position that better reflects the kind of form that he had been showing in the cyclo-cross league races that led up to the Ulster championships a month ago.
Back then, Brownfield had been quietly confident of a podium finish but on the day he was pipped by riders who had been regularly finishing behind him. The upshot of all this was that Brownfield came to the Irish championships in a more relaxed frame of mind and before the race he was declaring a modest target of a top ten finish.
Interestingly, ground conditions at Lurgan were similar to those at the Ulster championships which were held in Kilbroney Park, Rostrevor; a heavy frost keeping the surface fairly firm and making for fast riding.
By the end of the first lap Seymour was in a clear lead and it was obvious that only a serious mechanical problem was going to stop him from winning. His club mate Greg Ryan was battling with Newry Wheelers rider Conor Campbell for second place and close behind these two was a group of three that included Brownfield. The order changed little as the laps ticked by although at one point, around laps three and four, Roger Aiken of Banbridge caught up with and then pushed ahead of Brownfield’s group. Aiken had not ridden the Ulster league and little was known about his form but he has a formidable record in cyclo-cross and on the road. However, by lap five Aiken’s challenge faded and he fell back sharply over the final two laps. With Seymour comfortably ahead the focus moved to the battle for second place. With 200 metres to go Greg Ryan led Conor Campbell to the final barrier. Ryan dismounted and ran over the low barriers but Campbell executed a risky but successful ‘bunny hop’ and emerged two bike lengths ahead but Ryan found a bit extra on the drag up to the line and he came in to take the silver just ahead of Campbell.
Seymour and Ryan’s one-two guaranteed the team prize for Team WORC and in the junior race the event was again dominated by one rider. This time it was Matthew Adair (unattached) who rode away from the opposition with a show of strength that reflected his pre-Christmas form when he dominated the Ulster cyclo-cross league.
North Down’s Michael Hamilton completed his cyclo-cross season with a respectable performance, finishing one lap down. A special mention is also due to Jonny Webb who, not having ridden a competitive bike race since his BMX days way back in the last century, decided to make his comeback in the Irish championships. Well, I have to report that Jonny found it hard going but nonetheless satisfying and, although he came in two laps down his enthusiasm has been ignited and he promises to return to a full race programme next winter.
In fact, Sunday became a family outing for the Webbs and for the first time in many years there were two North Down riders in the under 12 supporting race. Jonny’s son and nephew were inducted into North Down’s hall of fame and although Robbie had to withdraw with mechanical problems Tim completed his first competitive race with honour.
SURGE IN MEMBERSHIP
This is the time of year when clubs start to enrol members and North Down’s signing on night earlier this week produced a staggering ninety enrolments. With the new season barely two weeks old North Down’s 2011 membership already stands at around 120 with many existing members still to renew their membership. The clubrooms were bunged to capacity with many members staying to try out the new club kit. The new design is posted on the club website and sample jerseys and shorts will be available for a few more days for riders to decide on sizing. Orders will be finalised over the next two or three weeks and it is hoped that the new kit will be available for the start of the new racing season in March. Prices have yet to be finalised but it is likely that the club will offer a subsidy on the new clothing.
The icy conditions of recent weeks has kept many riders off the road but last Saturday seemed, at first glance anyway, to signal a return to normal conditions. However, unseen ice caused a minor pile-up near Groomsport and the normal run was abandoned. Young Cuan Bell came off worst in the crash but after detailed medical examination he was diagnosed with nothing more serious than road rash. We all wish him a speedy recovery. Several riders who turned for home ended up at DW Fitness’s lunchtime spinning class. One such rider was Andy Young, accompanied by his wife Leanne. Andy is regarded as a fit man and highly competitive while Leanne presents herself as feminine, fragrant and fragile so imagine the audible gasps of incredulity when the spinning instructor awarded the sprinter’s jersey to Leanne. Andy went home to a darkened room and hasn’t been seen since.
New or renewing members are reminded that club and Cycling Ireland membership forms can be downloaded from the club website at www.northdowncc.com. Prices of the various licences available are also listed.
The winter turbo training classes have resumed on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Also, starting on Monday 24th January there will be a three week course on bike repairs and maintenance. The class will be taken by North Down’s Declan McMackin, a qualified mechanic with many years experience in the retail trade and as a mechanic for international teams. The sessions will start at 7.30pm and there will be a cover charge of £3 per person per night