18 November 2008

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Cycling’s Roll of Honour

The North Down Cycling Club will be honouring its prize winners at next Saturday night’s social event in the Pickie Bowling Club. As mentioned in this column last week, riders such as Neil McKenna, Paul Swenarton and Stuart Henry grabbed most of the headlines in open events this season, but there were many others who achieved much in club events.

In the club’s time trial league Paul Swenarton was pushed closely by Matt McInerney and John Hunter. Clearly Matt, who was a top underage and junior rider, only returning to competitive cycling in 2008, has ‘plenty in the tank’ and will be a real asset to the club next year in the open scene.

The road race league was won by McKenna, edging out Alan Lavery and Noel Boyce. Alan was unfortunate with injuries this year but is a rider with a real focus and desire to reach the very top. Noel concentrated more on the recreational aspect of cycling this year but is determined to achieve in road races next season. Having had podium finishes in 2007 and 2008 who would argue that he won’t be on top of the podium in 2009?

Stuart Henry picks up the Gillespie trophy for the hill climb league. Second place is occupied by the Northern Ireland Hill Climb Champion, Neil McKenna with Matt McInerney taking third place.

North Down has a history of encouraging the potential of future champions. In that regard Nathan McLeer, Craig Swenarton and Jessica Laird all demonstrated their ability this year.

As noted last week, this night will not be simply about the racing aspect of the club, but will also reflect the burgeoning recreational side of cycling. Indeed on a purely social level, this promises to be an opportunity for everyone to meet and enjoy an ‘end of term’ celebration. Anyone wishing to attend must contact Eric Blayney by this weekend to secure a ticket.

Cycling Safely

With the long dark winter nights upon us, perhaps cycling safely is more pertinent at this time of the year than at any other. Certainly North Down Cycling Club has always taken safety very seriously and they are indebted to new touring secretary, Terry Nicoletti, for formulating a set of clear recommendations for all club members.

As Terry points out… ‘cycling is intended to be a healthy and enjoyable leisure and sporting activity and in pursuit of our chosen sport it is necessary to share the roads with other road users.’ With the tremendous increase in vehicular traffic on the local roads, Terry sees a real risk for not only cyclists but all road users. He argues that it is, therefore, important for…’ motorists, pedestrians and cyclists to establish a climate of mutual courtesy.’

The document, which can be found in its entirety on the North Down Cycling Club’s website at www.northdowncc.com/ ,offers some useful safety suggestions which would be particularly appropriate for anyone cycling on our roads. The recommendations are simple common sense and have the objective of… ‘reducing risks when cycling and  helping to minimise potential or perceived inconvenience to fellow road users.’ Central to all the advice is the fact that all road users (including cyclists) must abide by the rules of the road and the recommendations of the Highway Code.


Just as lights are imperative at this time of year for safety, so mudguards are invaluable when cycling in groups. This relatively inexpensive piece of equipment takes so much of the pain out of cycling for other cyclists and is in many respects essential.

Recreational Cycles

North Down Cycling Club organise a number of recreational cycles, geared to the needs of all. One of the most popular of these is the 9am cycle which leaves the clubrooms every Saturday morning. The only problem is that this event has become a victim of its own success, with more and more cyclists turning up week upon week. To ensure safety for the cyclists and other road users, it has been suggested that the bunch should be split in future. Those who intend cycling around the Peninsula via Portaferry will leave at 9am. A second group will leave at 9.05 – this group will travel as far as Ballyhalbert and back via Kirkubbin and a third group will leave at 9.10 cycling to Ballywalter and Greyabbey. As always, everyone who is interested in cycling, at whatever level, will be made very welcome on any of these runs.

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