14 June 2011

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North Down Cycling Club’s annual charity ride to raise funds for the Ulster Hospital’s Diabetes, Stroke and Cardiology units will take place on Sunday June 19. Now in its tenth year the ride has so far raised £50,000 for the hospital and with the PSNI having approved an increase in participants to one thousand, the total money raised should make this event one of the most successful charity rides in the country. Continued support from BikeIt Cycles, Grand Parade, Belfast and Ards Borough Council has been crucial in offsetting costs so that North Down can maximise the donation to the hospital.

Already, online registration has reached 800 and with decent weather at the weekend the 1000 mark should be easily attained. Registration and car parking is at the Ballykillaire sports complex and the official start is at 10am. All participants will receive a tee shirt and lunch will be provided at Portaferry. Event co-ordinator Harry Scott has acquired the support of a large contingent of club members to assist with marshalling and other duties. The club bus will be used as a ‘broom’ wagon to pick up riders in difficulty and Bikeworks of Balloo will once again provide mechanical support.

This event normally attracts a large number of casual and recreational riders from all over Ireland, the relatively flat, 100km circuit around the Ards peninsula being an achievable target for riders with basic fitness levels. Nevertheless, all riders are requested to ensure they carry adequate food and drink to maintain energy levels.

Although technical support will be available on the day all riders should make sure their bike is roadworthy, with good brakes, steering and tyres. It is recommended to bring at least one spare tube, pump and tyre levers and with rider safety in mind, riders are strongly advised to wear a helmet. With so many riders perhaps unaccustomed to riding in groups, inattentiveness can easily result in a fall or crash and although first aid will be available in the event of accidents, good riding practices will, hopefully, obviate the use of their services.

Riders are also reminded that the event takes place on open roads and all riders must obey all normal traffic laws. To accommodate other road users riders should not ride more than two abreast. Police vehicles will be attendance and flagrant examples of inconsiderate or dangerous riding may result in police intervention.


Club and open racing has been badly affected by the return of wintry weather. The Donegal three day race ended with appalling weather, so bad in fact that on the final stage over forty riders abandoned or failed to start. North Down’s Matty Blayney, after a fine fourth place in the opening stage, decided on the safer option. Mark Irvine entered the final stage in a strong position as leader in the U23 competition but the ghastly weather saw him lose valuable time and he dropped to third place by the end of the race. The ride of the race for North Down was that of Shane Farren. New this season to open racing, Farren soon got upgraded from A4 to A3 status and he has built a reputation as a tough contender with a liking for the hills. Well, there was no shortage of hills or tough conditions in Donegal and Farren cemented his reputation by finishing up in 11th place overall.

Last weekend’s double bill began with the Emma McMullan trophy at Annahilt and North Down’s main interest was in the Over 50’s race where the ever-present John Hunter and a reinvigorated Andy Templeton took up the challenge. A range of factors had sidelined regulars Harry Adams, Philip Downie, Robert McGarry, Chuck Russell, Ian and Eric Blayney. The race followed a familiar patter with Hunter hammering the opposition, and himself eventually, but Andy Templeton got up once again to take seventh place in a bunch sprint and Hunter held on to finish eleventh.

Sunday’s action moved to Banbridge for the Noel Teggart Memorial and, guess what, it turned out to be wet, windy and wintry. The race was won by Simon Williams (Team Basso) giving him his second win on successive days and once again it was Shane Farren who finished best of the North Down riders.


The main race action this weekend is the popular Newry 3 Day event for A2 and A3 riders. With Ross and Matty Blayney in Canada for a family wedding, North Down have not entered a four man team but Mark Irvine gets a ride as a solo competitor.


Last week’s club event was a ten miles time trial and the rotten weather reduced the starting group to twenty riders. Fastest on the night was guest rider Robin Millar (Team Bikeworks) with 22.26. The remainder of the top ten were as follows;
2. J Hunter 23.41
3. P Dorman 24.40
4. M Hodgins 24.42
5. M McMullan 25.10
6. P Nugent 25.20
7. D Montgomery 25.46
8. B Simpson 25.52
9. A Patterson 26.00
10. G Swenarton 26.07

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