16 September 2008

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Cycling Through the Winter

Noel Boyce this week launched the first part of his programme which is aimed at maximising the North Down Cycling Club’s clubrooms during the long winter months.  In addition to the customary meetings and social get togethers, Noel has planned a series of bicycle maintenance classes, which will be available to all members and will be of interest and value to everyone, regardless of their expertise.

The course, which will be taken by our very own bike guru, Declan McMackin, will commence on Friday 26 September on a bi-weekly basis, lasting from 7pm – 9pm.  The content of the sessions will progressively advance to cater for the needs of the group.  For example, it will cover simple tasks, such as road side repairs to more advanced maintenance like headset replacement.  To book a place on the course it is necessary to contact Noel before Wednesday 24 September.  This can be done by Email: noel@kestrelp.fslife.co.uk .  This certainly promises to be a very worthwhile venture which will be appealing to many, especially the recent converts to the sport.

Cycle Touring

As Noel plans for the months ahead, others are already thinking of next year.  Over the rather dreary summer this column has tended to focus on the racing side of cycling.  However, cycling is a multi-faceted sport with something to appeal to everyone.  One element of the sport which is growing in popularity is the recreational aspect of the sport.  North Down Cycling Club, under the direction of touring secretary Terry Nicoletti have offered a full programme of events throughout the season.  Most of these, however, tended to be of the single day variety.  Few in the North Down, with the exception of intrepid explorers like John Hicks, have ventured on ‘mega’ tours lasting for several days, weeks or even months. 

Cycle tours such as a camping trip in the Rockies or a trip in Europe has an appeal all of its own.  The lure of the open road can be intoxicating and a departure from anything which many of us have ever entertained, but to organise such a venture may seem daunting.

To embark on such a cycle is well within the grasp of any North Down member, but to do so necessitates a degree of forward planning and organisation. Over the next few weeks I’d like to offer some pointers so that a grand tour in 2009 might become a reality for some and a whole new world.

For example, it is important to consid
er whether you want to go solo or with companions. To go with an organised group has the benefits of security and shared responsibility.  However, to travel independently or in a small group offers greater flexibility.

Secondly, it’s necessary to consider whether you are happy to rough it or stay in style? Roughing it with a tent has great attractions as it is much less expensive and enables participants the opportunity to ‘get back to nature’.  However, for others the idea of cooking a meal and sleeping in a tent after a long day in the saddle is a step too far. The internet is a great tool for exploring what other people have done and where they've gone. Look at blogs, websites and magazine articles to get inspired. Reading about the experiences of others and talking to the likes of John Hicks, will help you decide what you want from touring.  Perhaps John might even key into Noel’s winter programme and give some first hand advice on what to consider and what to avoid.

Pacemaker Challenge


Eric Blayney’s initiation of the season-long Pacemaker Challenge this year has proved to be a huge success.  The league came to a conclusion last Wednesday night with the  Hill Climb in Holywood.  After a long season the outright winner was Matt McInerney who edged out Mark Hodgins with Paul Swenarton taking third place. As a result Matt, not surprisingly, wins a new heart rate monitor!!  The prize will be presented at the club’s social night and prize presentation.  The full results can be found on the North Down website.


Leisure and MTB events this weekend

We’re all looking forward to the promised Indian Summer and with that in mind there are several leisure events this weekend.  On Saturday 20th September the Marie Curie Charity run takes place and starting from Downpatrick (East Down Institute car park opposite the Ulsterbus station) at 9.00am.  The entry fee is £8.


The plan is to meet at our Clubrooms at 8.45am and set off for Downpatrick at 9.00am (about 30miles).  Do the charity run and then ride back to Bangor giving an overall mileage of around 90miles (weather permitting).


The John Lindsay Memorial – Torr Head Challenge, for the Northern Ireland Hospice takes place this Sunday 21st September at 10.30 am from Ballygalley on the Antrim Coast. The charity cycle is open to anyone who wishes to be involved, and third party insurance cover is provided for all participants. You choose the distance that suits you.

Last year 184 riders raised £4115 for Marie Curie Cancer Care.  Sponsorship forms are available to download from www.team-madigan.org.uk or from Madigan Cycles in Carrickfergus. Sign on at Ballygalley Public Car Park is from 9.30 am. Come along and have a go for the fun that will help others less fortunate! Refreshments also provided at the finish.

Juiced – Orchard Cycling Club are also running a 100km end of season charity ride to raise money for the Age Concern Day Centre in Dungannon this Sunday.  Sign on will be open from 9.00am with the first riders leaving from outside Groucho’s Bar in The Square at 10.00am. The 60 mile route will take in the towns of Tandragee, Banbridge, Waringstown, Moira, Aghalee, Lurgan, Portadown and Loughgall before returning to Richhill to finish outside the historic Richhill Castle where tea and refreshments will be served. Car parking will be available at the Hardy Memorial Primary School and the entry fee for the event will be £10.

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