11 November 2008

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Cycling Club’s Winter Programme

The very successful North Down Cycling Club winter programme continued last Friday night with an in-depth talk by Commonwealth Games manager Alistair Irvine. Once again it was standing room only as Alistair shared his considerable knowledge of how to optimise performance through perfecting the set-up of racing cycles. To help him explore the myths and the research in this area the highly acclaimed former international rider and All-Ireland champion was ably assisted by his beautiful assistant, who will remain nameless.

Amongst aspects tackled were the height and position of the seat and the handle bars. Time was also taken to consider the adjustment of shoe cleats. In all of this Alistair brought to the fore all the experience gleaned whilst racing internationally, current scientific thinking and also some good old common sense. With the latter in mind if anyone sees Terry Nicoletti swinging his legs enthusiastically as he sits on a kitchen table – just don’t ask any questions.

The winter programme continues this Wednesday at 7pm in the Club Rooms with another turbo sessions. So popular has this aspect been that it’s vital that all participants turn up early to book floor space! On Wednesday night past the club’s own sports scientist, Darren McWilliams was on hand to help club members test their blood lactate levels, to ensure everyone is working at the correct intensity.

Child Protection

It’s great to see so many younger members participating in all aspects of the club. To ensure that we are properly covered, from a Child Protection perspective, Noel Boyce has arranged than an official from Cycling Ulster will come to the Club Rooms in early December to help raise awareness and make sure that no member of North Down Cycling Club is at risk. Noel has also been advised that anyone who is likely to be in contact with young people, in other words every adult club member, should complete a Disclosure Certificate Application Form ( Part A, B & C ) for submission to Access NI. There is no cost implication, but it is clearly in everyone’s interest, given the age in which we live, to submit a form to the Cycling Ulster Child Protection Officer. Noel will have forms in hard copy at the club on Wednesday and Friday nights and they can also be downloaded from the Cycling Ulster website.

Underage Training Camp

All underage riders are asked to note that their will be a one day coaching camp in Richill Leisure Centre on Saturday 6th December. The day will consist of a 2hour and 1hour cycle for the U16 and U14 respectively. On the day the U16’s will have the pleasure of cycling and talking with the 2008 Rás winner and professional cyclist, Stephen Gallagher.

Stephen will also give a talk to everyone on training and life as a professional. The Irish underage manager for the European Youth Olympics, Kenny Dunlop, will outline proposals for all the youth events in 2009. This is obviously a very important event and one not to be missed. Anyone with any queries should ring Kenny Dunlop on 028895 21681 after 1800hr or Mickey McKenna 00353 4787619.

Social Night

The club social night on the last Saturday night in November is almost upon us and Eric Blayney informs me that tickets are going fast. It would be great to see all club members and friends there but it is particularly important to see major prize winners.

Amongst those who must fall into that category this year are up-and coming stars such as Nathan McLeer. In his first year as an under-16 Nathan rarely missed a club event and was seldom outside the first 6 in open events. In the ladies section Jessica Laird made a smooth transition from mountain biking to road racing and competed with distinction both in Ireland and abroad.

In the junior section Northern Ireland Young Sportsperson of the Year, Stuart Henry continued to keep the pink and black colours to the fore. Even though he was only a first year junior he took the first junior prize on no less than 8 occasions, was 3rd in the Ulster Road Race Championships, won the senior Aghagallon Cup and was 21st in a World Cup event in Belgium.

Undoubtedly the best senior rider this year was Neil McKenna. Although Neil’s season was blighted early on because of injury he demonstrated enough in the latter weeks of the season to clearly show that he can mix it with the best. The history books might suggest that the gold in the Northern Ireland Hill Climb Championship was the peak of Neil’s season. However, in my opinion performances such as in the Ulster Championship, when he was 4th or his 3rd place in the Tour of the Lakes, are far more impressive, especially when one considers he was up against experienced, professional opposition. Within the club itself Neil also won the final road race of the season the Ardil and Patterson Trophy.

Choosing someone in the veteran’s category is somewhat more problematic. Evergreen Paul Swenarton continues year after year to turn out exceptional times in both club and open time trials. However, there was a ‘new kid on the block’ this year, in the form of John Hunter. John demonstrated that he too can produce head turning performances and week upon week improved upon his personal best times.

Event organiser, Eric Blayney would be the first to point out that the social night is not just about honouring those who have achieved in the racing scene. We have a hugely successful recreational section of the club and to complete some of the gruelling sportif cycles is just as meritorious as many of the achievements claimed by the racing men. In addition, there are other club distinctions, such as the much sought after Clubman’s Trophy. Traditionally this is awarded to someone who works tirelessly behind the scenes. Last year there was a very fitting winner, when the huge trophy was awarded posthumously, for the first time, to Brian Marshall.

Anyone who has a trophy from last should endeavour to get it to Eric Blayney as soon as possible. Tickets for the social night are still available, but they are selling fast.

Manchester Revolution

Julie Stevenson is planning to organise a trip to the Revolution event in Manchester Velodrome on Saturday 2nd February. Anyone interested in going along should contact Alistair or Julie immediately at julielstevenson@yahoo.co.uk

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